A School Project With a JVC GY-HM150 U, Apple, and Final Cut Pro X

Because I wanted to try some documentary work, back in January of 2012 I bought an iMac, Final Cut Pro X, and a JVC GY-HM150 U video camera from B & H Camera in Manhattan.  I’ve been meaning to write about how I like these products and what’s it has been like to learn how to use them. The video you’ll see below is something my daughter and I worked on last weekend.  She was to do a project on sheep and so the whole family collaborated over a weekend at Queens Farm. Yes, we do have a big farm here in one of the five boroughs of New York City.

That's Me With the Black Video Camera

Charlotte’s Cover Image for her Video

One of my films is almost finished, the one about Kathy Patrick and the Pulpwood Queens’ Book Club. I’d been researching what sort of camera I wanted to buy, when I realized that my trip to Texas to see the Pulpwood Queens would make for a great story.  So I bought the camera and read the book on how to use it on the way down. If you see the film, it won’t be too hard to figure out I was a rookie cameraman, but the content of the Queens and the authors is so great that I think it carries the documentary.  I was also very fortunate that two friends, Natalie Brasington who is a photographer, and Jeremy Vogt who is a musician, provided some great content.

Since my trip, I took all four of the Apple Pro Lab courses in Manhattan at the store on 14th Street. They were FREE and fantastic.  Now I’m reading Larry Jordan’s Final Cut Pro X: Making the Transition. The “transition” refers to those who are coming from the old FCP programs. I didn’t really have any editing experience so I haven’t had much new to get used to.

I’m calling the Pulpwood Queens documentary For the Love of Books. The second film will be about my father and his buddies and will titled The Mushroom Hunter. I don’t think my daughter and I talked about what she wanted to call her film. Given her title page, I guess it’s Charlotte’s Sheep Project. 

Food Inc: What Exactly Are You Eating?

I wonder if those who farm and those who raise animals can confirm or refute what I saw in Robert Kenner’s documentary, Food Inc? For example, the film reports that chicken farmers often take out large loans so that they can go into business with companies that then begin to make demands on the farmer for upgrades and farm practices.  The farmer must either comply or cease to do business with the company, an act which would surely lead to bankruptcy for the farmer.  This means that farmers lose control of what happens on their own place.  The film reports that today’s chickens are slaughtered in half the time weighing twice as much as compared to animals of the past.  I saw chickens that are raised in total darkness and farmers who wake each morning to go out and clear their buildings of dead birds.  Many of the chickens were so big that they couldn’t support their own weight.

Kenner interviews farmers who feel that they must buy their seeds from one company or else stop farming.  The once standard practice of seed cleaning for the next year has all but ceased.  Because seeds have been genetically engineered and patented, any farmer whose fields have been “contaminated” with the patented seeds risks legal prosecution.

The film claimed many other bits of information that were shocking to me:

  • The USDA doesn’t have the power to shut down plants that have repeat offenses of contaminated meat.
  • U.S. meatpacking companies recruit workers from Mexico and then works with our government to bust small numbers of illegal aliens so as not to disrupt production.
  • 70% of the United States’ hamburger meat contains filler that has been cleansed with ammonia to kill E Coli.
  • The biggest predictor of obesity is income level.  It appears that cheap food is cheap for a reason.

It was my wife’s reading of Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin’s Skinny B _ _ch that has propelled my family’s revision of how we eat.  I know that in Robert Kenner’s documentary I’m hearing one person’s perspective.  I’d love to hear from others about their perspectives on our food supply.  I’m trying to become less ignorant about the food our family consumes, and as a colleague of mine is always telling me, I’m more determined to try and “vote with the way you spend your money.”