Tag Archives: documentary

Students in the Creative Space

Nate Jackson and Erin Kedzie. Prior to the opening of the Learning Commons, the Libraries were piloting a digital Media Lab in the PCL to gauge how useful students would find certain hardware and software in service of their personal and academic creative work.

The diminutive 14-seat pilot helped to guide the development of the robust new 44-unit strong Media Lab that opened as part of the new Learning Commons last Tuesday, and, thus far, its central and very visible location has attracted even greater attention and use than was imagined.

Even during the pilot phase, though, the lab was earning a the loyalties of regular users, many of whom are students in departments that don’t necessary provide access to all of the tools or resources that can help to ballast student productivity.

We discovered one such student through the approval process for filming in PCL, which is a pretty regular occurrence, especially with members of the RTF and Communications programs at the university.

Nate Jackson is a Communications senior at UT who wanted to shoot a short film on synesthesia for a Journalism Portfolio summer class using the 5th floor stacks in PCL as a backdrop. As is the case with almost every request to use Libraries facilities for class projects, Jackson received approval, and enthusiastically agreed to share the finished work with us upon completion so that we could highlight alternate student uses of the libraries.

After viewing the finished product — which coincided with the preparations for the Learning Commons opening — and being extremely impressed with the quality and skill it exhibited, we reached out to Nate to find out if, in addition to serving as a location for his film, he might also have used the Media Lab at PCL as a resource in the process of creating it. As it turns out, that was indeed the case; Jackson used the tools provided by the Libraries to edit and record voice-overs for the project.

The Media Lab at PCL.Nate graciously indulged us by participating in the opening of the Learning Commons, where he and his co-creator of the film project Erin Kedzie talked to attendees to the event about the process of making the film and the value of the resources in the Media Lab to their classwork and creative projects.

“Being able to go any time the PCL is open and having this software available works really well for me because I can’t afford this computer software on my own,” Jackson recently told the Daily Texan.

Jackson and Kedzie are just one story in a massive community of talented students on the Forty Acres who have the opportunity to succeed because the Libraries are finding ways to provide resources that level the playing field for everyone, regardless of program or personal resources.

See more of Jackson’s films at his YouTube channel, and consider supporting the Libraries Think Space initiative to help other gifted Longhorns like Nate and Erin to reach their potential, too.

 

Everything old is new again

In a harried world where you can hardly escape the din of constant communication and the proliferation of electronic gadgets, there’s a nascent desire to slow down and take in the mad rush of life. You can find this peaceful revolt against modernity in the community of vinyl music enthusiasts or the slow food movement or in DIY communities that encourage personal creativity and self-sufficiency. And now there’s a community of like-minded folks who have found a similar passion in a device that is an almost perfect antithesis to modern concepts of technology.

The rediscovery of the typewriter by retro fetishists prompted filmmakers Christopher Lockett and Gary Nicholson to embark on making a documentary about the machine’s importance to both our past and our future.

The result of their work — “The Typewriter in the 21st Century” — will receive its Texas premiere in a screening at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 19, in the Fine Arts Library at the Doty Fine Arts building.

The documentary features 30+ interviews with authors, collectors, journalists, professors, bloggers, students, artists, inventors and repairmen (and women) who meet for “Type-In” gatherings to both celebrate and use their decidedly low-tech typewriters in a plugged-in world. Authors Robert Caro and David McCullough, combined winners of 4 Pulitzer Prizes, 3 National Book Awards and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and both avid typewriter users, provide fundamental commentary about process and the value of slowing down, writing actual drafts and revising in a world of instant, draft-less editing.

The film was inspired by a May 2010 article in Wired magazine called “Meet The Last Generation of Typewriter Repairman.” Director Lockett and producer Nicholson discussed the importance of the typewriter in 20th century literature, their conclusion being that every great novel of the 20th century was written on one, and if typewriters are in their final days, they deserved to be celebrated one last time.

Funded largely through a Kickstarter campaign, the film eventually featured not only typewriter people — the aforementioned technicians, collectors, bloggers, users and fans — but famous typewriters as well. The film features machines once owned by Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, John Steinbeck, Jack London, Sylvia Plath, George Bernard Shaw, John Lennon, Joe DiMaggio, Helen Keller, the Unabomber, John Updike, Ray Bradbury and Ernie Pyle.

The screening of “The Typewriter in the 21st Century” will be followed by a Q&A featuring producer Gary Nicholson and John Payton, owner of a typewriter “museum” in Taylor, Texas.

The event will be preceded by a small public reception at 5 p.m.