TITLE: Trailer to “SAINT STEPHEN’S DREAM: A Space Opera”

BACKGROUND NOTES: Here is the trailer to “SAINT STEPHEN’S DREAM: A Space Opera.” The rock opera/musical/eco-fable/cli-fi story made its world debut at FestivALL Charleston in June 2011, a citywide cultural fest in the Charleston, W.Va. And then I dropped the ball. Trying to decide whether to pick it up again.

The space opera unfolds the tale of what happens after Earth reaches a tipping point and seems no longer able to support human habitation. Ten thousand ships of all sizes flee into low-earth orbit and beyond, as a dazed humanity struggles to reorganize itself in what comes to be known as Nuova Terra (New Earth). Powerful leaders ordain that a return to the dying Earth is no longer possible. They decrees that all should just lay back and be content.

After all, they have rich, full-immersion web environments. There are endless alternative realities into which people can escape, fleeing from the reality of the warehoused beds and tiny metal capsules where most people now reside on the great space vessels. ‘Who are you going to be today?’ asks the computer each new ‘morning’ in space, as people rove through history, their avatars pursuing the latest characters, happenings and trends.

One of the most powerful leaders, the Doge of Nuova Venezia, has brought to life 16th century Venice as a dominant immersive environment on his great ship, La Serenissima. A merry band of performers, rebels, dreamers and fools, aided by the strange ‘trans-humans’ known as the Shua, oppose this new order.

They willfully ‘unplug’ from the immersive web and gather in a space-borne club called Third Eye Cabaret, where most of the musical takes place. They keep alive the hope of returning to Earth someday, inspired by the 9th century writings of an Irish monk named Brother Stephen, whose ‘dream book’ diaries seem to foretell the planet’s despairing future, with just the slightest hint of possible salvation.

VIDEO: “It’s a Cuba Thing.”

BACKGROUND NOTES:  Early in 2019, my wife and I took a cruise to Havana, Cuba. The attraction being, well, Havana, and also the wonderful singer-songwriter Susan Werner, who gave two concerts— one going, and one coming back, upon the high seas. Along the way, I interviewed her, talking about her songs inspired by past trips to Cuba.

This video marks the debut of a new web show called “THE LISTENING ROOM,” featuring intriguing people put into a room and listening to them about what they do (and think and sing and more). In this case, the listening room was a cabin on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship somewhere between Havana and Miami (my first oceanic interview). I interspersed the interview with shots I took while in Cuba. Let me know what you think.

PRODUCTION NOTES: This is a Medium-Fi  Production. I interviewed Susan with my iPhone and also my new Sony a7 mirrorless camera, which, frankly, intimidates me, still. On the other hand, the full-frame 4K sensor allowed me to snap shots from moving tour buses and the backseat of a 1958 Chevy, which in post-production I could crop in on without losing any resolution. Amazing. It made for some cool scenes you’ll see in the video’s still photography.

PS: Susan Werner is one of my top 5 fave singer-songwriters of my life. Let’s see. Who are the other 4? Off-the-top-o’-my-head: Elton John (Bernie Taupin)/Neil Young/David Byrne/Cat Stevens/Springsteen/Foy Vance/Midge Ure ….. Oops. Went over my limit.

VIDEO: “LILLY’S CLASS: Kids Talk About Climate Change”

BACKGROUND NOTES: This video brings to life the booklet “Lilly’s Class: Kids Talk About Climate Change,” by Eleanor Spohr (copyright 2018). The booklet is sponsored by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby of Charleston WV. It’s available for purchase for classrooms and individuals by e-mailing: ehspohr@mountain.net. For more on the Charleston WV CCL chapter, visit: http://facebook.com/CCLWV/

PRODUCTION NOTES: Pretty simple. I scanned the booklet. Cropped out characters and images. Sequenced it . Nabbed a free soundtrack (from ones given out to subscribers to the wonderful video instruction offered at IzzyVideo. Hauled them all into Final Cut Pro X. The End.

VIDEO: ‘A Westy Retrospective’

BACKGROUND NOTES:  I wrestled all four years in high school. My senior year, way back in 1975, we had a farewell-to-the-seniors gathering in the Forest Park High School cafeteria. Our much beloved coach Ed ‘Westy’ Westerkamp  was there, along with the other assistant coaches,  wrestlers and Wrestlettes (the wrestling team version of cheerleaders who also helped with matches and invitationals). I got up to speak and said to Westy how much we appreciated him and that we hadn’t gotten him a remembrance yet. But that: “It is coming…”  It has bugged me all these years that I  never delivered on that promise. Then, I thought: ‘Wait, Doug, you’re a social media video producer. What about a ‘Westy Retrospective’ video?!’ Hence, dear Westy, and assistant wrestling coaches Noltemeyer and Swihart—and any wrestlers, wrestling sympathizers out there—I present to you:  ‘A Westy Retrospective.’ It’s a little bit of social history of us all from back in the day. And, as Westy observes at the end, about wrestling’s status as one of the oldest sports in human history: “You either wrestle or you run! Those are the two main sports!”

PRODUCTION NOTES: This is a pretty ‘lo-fi’ media production, with the interviews shot with an iPhone and a $10 lavalier mic, then edited in Final Cut Pro X.

SOUNDTRACK: The soundtrack is “Rosie’s Lullaby,” composed by Bob Webb off my first CD, “Saint Stephen’s Dream” under the title of garagecow ensemble, an ad hoc recording group of some of the best players in Charleston, WV. I am pleased to see the songs off that CD have somehow migrated onto Spotify, iTunes and Amazon (where you can nab the tune for 99 cents.) I include the link not because I am encouraging you to send me some pocket change (which you are most welcome to do). But just because there is even such a link to be had. Which is still cool to this old-school/new-school guy,


VIDEO:
“Guiding Light,” a cover version of the Foy Vance song by Douglas John

BACKGROUND NOTES:
Had a rough day. I decided to end it with recording a music video of the gorgeous Foy Vance song “Guiding Light.” May it spark a slightly better few minutes for you in your day. After I posted this to Youtube, a dear dear friend passed away at age 82, part of my karass. I re-edited the song to include a homage to Chuck at the end. And sang it at his memorial service in his name and honor. Fare thee well, Chuck!

PRODUCTION NOTES:
This music video meets the standard of our Lo-Fi Media Production Manifesto: ‘Performed, Produced and Released in less than 6 hours.’ In this case,  using Garageband, Final Cut Pro X, a Yeti Blue mic and a Mac laptop.,  In the spirit of wabi sabi imperfection, we leave in at least one imperfection. In this case, see if you can hear where I clear my throat.

“THE KEY TO MY GRANDFATHER’S HOUSE,” written and photographed by David Imbrogno and video produced  by Douglas Imbrogno is a powerful, moving photo-poem-essay on the immigrant tale of one Italian family. But it could be the kindred tale of millions of families across innumerable cultures through time.

This particular story began on a steep Calabrian hillside in the early 20th century  in the southern Italian Province of Cosenza., moving through Ellis Island to the small town of Lorain, Ohio. It circles back upon themes of family, loss and heritage through text, photographs and sound effects.

IT IS A BIG ASK IN THIS SHORT-ATTENTION-SPAN ERA— 16 minutes of your undivided attention for this brotherly collaboration which reaches across two continents and two centuries. But after it is through,  we feel you will come to understand the rewards of settling into a quiet space with your computer or phone and experiencing this journey with undivided attention. Your feedback is welcome and any other reactions it stirs in you from your own immigrant roots. In one way or another, we are all descendants of immigrants from somewhere and someplace. As my elder brother David puts it:

“The Key To My Grandfather’s House” story is not mine, not brother Doug’s, it is our family’s story … Normally I would say that I wrote it. Actually I feel as if I “channelled” it from our ancestors. I am usually a visual communicator but here the words came to the forefront and my photographs reverted to snapshots… Our Aunts Teresa and Loretta who accompanied us might have been the mediums through which our ancestors channelled the story.”

David adds: “Please, find a quiet place to enjoy the sixteen minute show. Turn on the sound and watch it full screen.”

A rose bush flanked in the back by an olive grove at the top of the Calabrian hillside where our father was born. | Photograph by DAVID IMBROGNO

THIS IS AN EXCERPT OF A MUCH LARGER written photo-essay (a prose-poem, really)  by David. If interested in reading and viewing the longer piece, visit CowGarage.com or EvidenceofmylLife.com. This video can be viewed as a separate stand-alone work of art, but it is also a companion piece to a spoken word live performance.

FOR MORE ON THE VIDEO, to read the longer photo-essay or to schedule a live performance of “The Key,” subscribe to the websites above and to this website, TheWebTheater.com by clicking on the “subscribe” option in the right-hand top of the home page. You can reach either of us through those sites. Grazie mille!

THIS VIDEO IS A CO-PRODUCTION by David and Douglas Imbrogno. | Current version as of AUG 11, 2018

VIDEO: “Motherless Child 2018” by The Front Porch Lights
NOTES: President Trump and his cabal lit a firestorm in America in June 2018  with their “family separation” policy at the country’s southern border. (Well, it only really came to widespread light then. The Houston Chronicle has been covering the brewing crisis for awhile.) I have dutifuly tweeted and re-tweeted the most pungent quotes and coverage from righteous outlets I admire and rabbis who speak truth to power, among others.

But then I figured I could do a little more. I got out my tools from my career communications kit: songcraft and videosmithing. Here’s the result, a music video by the newly made-up band The Front Porch Lights (actually,  me and my guitar, multitracked and tweaked a score of times). Perdóname, you native or accomplished Spanish speakers, if my Google Translate-powered Spanish verse is not quite as felicitous as it might be.

I would like to believe “the So-Called President” (to quote my spouse in her more gracious moments) has seen the light with his newly announced Executive Order ending the family separation practice. But Malcolm Gladwell needs to add a new chapter to his masterpiece, because it sure seems like we have passed innumerable tipping points — and nothing has tipped yet in Trumpistan. He’s an outlier of outrage.

“Motherless Child” (or “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”) is a public domain traditional Negro spiritual, to borrow from the song’s Wikipedia page. So, it  fits perfectly in this moment in American history. As the page goes on to note: “The song is clearly an expression of pain and despair as it conveys the hopelessness of a child who has been torn from her or his parents.” But it also has a tinge of hope to it, the author of the entry notes, as it is just “sometimes” I feel like a motherless child, implying the hope of reuniting mother and child (and father and child) remains the promise buried in the lament.

Indeed. Join the fray. Here is a list of groups working to reunite kids separated from parents at the border: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kidsattheborder

HERE ARE MY REWORKED  LYRICS
(Feel free to cover the song, as noted below):
NOTE: The music video version is played with a capo at the first fret

“Motherless Child 2018,” adapted by Douglas Imbrogno:

Em                                           Am                   Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Am                                                                     Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Em                                           Am                   Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
C                               B7
taken from her hands
C                              B7
I do not understand!
C                                    B7                                 Em              B7
Why did you just yank me from her hands?

Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child…
Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child…
Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child…
Sleeping on a mat,
Wondering where’s he’s at.
Curled up all alone upon this mat.

Sometimes I feel like we’re already gone.
Sometimes I feel like we’re already gone.
Sometimes I feel like we’re already gone.
I know that can’t be right… Turn on your front porch light…

A welcome in the middle of the night.

A veces me siento como un niño sin mama
A veces me siento como un niño sin mama
A veces me siento como un niño sin mama…
Tomado de sus manos
No! No entiendo!
¿Por qué me arrancaste de sus manos?

Sometimes I feel like a country-less child.
Sometimes I feel like a country-less child.
Sometimes I feel like a country-less child.
A-wandering in the night.
I can see your front porch light!
Will you leave me lonely in the night?

Em                                           Am                   Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Em                                           Am                   Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Em                                           Am                   Em       Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially. My hope is other musicians may add solos to the instrumental parts or singers add harmony parts — and re-release their version into the wilds of their own social networks.  If you would like to download just the song itself, click over to my Soundcloud page for a free download. Add your own instruments and voice and re-release the song.  

Or just pass the music video on.
Thanks for listening.

PS: Two words:
Remember / November

PSS: For DIY music video geeks, a note. I have long since lost patience with complex new programs. This song and video were cobbled together with spit and baling wire, using a Yeti Blue microphone (I adore the midnight blue one I just bought at Best Buy), Garageband and Final Cut Pro. And coffee.

PSSS: Thanks to the creative shooters at Unsplash.com (hang around for the video’s credit roll) for some remarkable photography, especially the several stirring shots of the Statue of Liberty. May she ever welcome immigrants. (She certainly welcomed my family, including some tough-as-nails Italians.)

Photo by Wellington Rodrigues | Courtesy Unsplash.com

 

VIDEO: Interviewing the Interviewer

BACKGROUND NOTES: Sandy Wells is a beloved,  legendary reporter and profiler at the Charleston Gazette-Mail in Charleston, W.Va. In her ‘Innerviews’ column, the 76-year-old writer has been profiling people of all walks of life weekly since 1988. Head out on assignment with her in this video as she interviews a 102-year-old woman, who may be hard of hearing but is anything but clueless. This is a companion video to go with a story I wrote about Wells’ career in the April 14, 2018 Gazette-Mail, for a column which she once summed up this way:“I’ve learned how extraordinary ordinary people can be. I’ve learned how ordinary extraordinary people can be.” Read up on Sandy’s long career.

PRODUCTION NOTES: Lo-Fi Media production, shot entirely on an iPhone.

UPDATE: Sandy died in February 2019, after facing down cancer for six years. She was a treasure. West Virginia lost a wonderful soul

 

VIDEO: Crowdsourcing the 2018 WV Teacher Strike : PART 2
NOTES: I will admit: I  love the dumb bunnies set-up in this video. Of the hundreds of videos I have created, this is one of my personal favorites (including timing the piece to Lucas the Flow’s killer soundtrack “Angelic”). This crowdsourcing technique is a fascinating way to tell a complex story, although when you get nearly 500 submissions it is a LOT of work sifting through them. The newspaper would never have been able to show-and-tell all that’s covered in these crowdsourced videos with just staff content. It was like having eyes and ears everywhere. Plus, a whole lot of the reader-submitted content was shot with smart phones held vertically, as opposed to the usual horizontal aspect ratio of most feature videos. But here’s the cool thing: strip three vertical smartphone photos (or videos) together and you cover the horizontal screen. Layer and fade and you can get some pretty interesting effects — dumb bunnies included. Take a look.
RELATED:
— Crowdsourcing the 2018 WV Teacher Strike : PART 1
Day 8 of the 2018 WV Teacher Strike: Bands, banjos and honks
— The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s 2018 Teacher Strike Roundup Page

 

VIDEO: Crowdsourcing the 2018 W.Va. Teacher Strike : PART 1
NOTES: I shot a video of the  massive 2018 W.Va. Teacher’s Strike on its eighth day in late March 2018. I awoke the ninth day feeling out of sorts and didn’t get to work until noon. That, of course, was the day the strike was settled to much jubilation and national coverage. Drat! Blaspheme! Curses! But….. wait! There were thousands of cameras there, if mine was not. Why not ask readers for their (literal) view of the strike? Facebook and newspaper solicitations resulted in a torrent of submissions: almost 500 photographs and videos. I lined up a green-screen studio shoot , courtesy of the EDC co-working site in Charleston, interviewed a key reporter covering the strike and wove in reader submissions and staff photography and video. Here’s the result.
NUMBERS: This video got more than 22,000 views on Facebook and was shared widely nationally, especially as teacher strikes took hold in other states such as Oklahoma and Kentucky.
RELATED:
A Crowdsourced look at the 2018 WV Teacher Strike: Part 2
Day 8 of the 2018 WV Teacher Strike: Bands, banjos and honks
— The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s 2018 Teacher Strike Roundup Page

 

VIDEO: A First-hand view on Day 8 of the historic 2018 WV Teacher Strike
NOTES: Teachers from across West Virginia remained on strike on day 8 on Monday, March 5, 2018, on the grounds of the state Capitol Complex in Charleston, W.Va. The wildcat strike garnered national attention. Here are some interviews from school employees who thronged  the state Capitol form  across the state’s 55 counties.
RELATED:
A Crowdsourced look at the 2018 WV Teacher Strike: Part 1
A Crowdsourced look at the 2018 WV Teacher Strike: Part 2
— The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s 2018 Teacher Strike Roundup Page

VIDEO: Time To Deliver
NOTES: I often try to tell somewhat complex stories in the confines of the short time period/window of engagement that people give to social media videos. Sometimes, it’s nice just to try to do one thing. For aspiring video producers, that might make a nice Guiding Principle for Short Videos: Tell One Thing (TOT). So, this video exemplifies the TOT manifesto. My colleague, Bill Lynch, has a series called ‘One Month at a Time’ in which he spends a month learning some new skill. For February 2018, he learned how flower shops operate. After designing some floral displays, the final step in his 30-day apprenticeship was to deliver. And so he does, but not without a few wrong turns. Tell One Thing: Bill trying to deliver flowers in a Charleston skyscraper.

MORE ‘ONE MONTH’ VIDEOS:
Bill Takes on the West Virginia Symphony
Bill, why not try a goat joke?