Wednesday, March 18, 2009

LESS Productions' press release on the making of PolyCultures & doing related work in the future

LESS Productions is a digital mixed media company started in 2006 by Tom Kondilas that presently operates out of a converted warehouse in the Quarter district of downtown Cleveland. Our dedication to doing cutting-edge video work in Northeast Ohio is embodied in the name LESS, which stands for Lake Erie South Shore.

PolyCultures: Food Where We Live is a feature-length documentary movie LESS produced in conjunction with the New Agrarian Center that portrays the diverse communities around greater Cleveland coming together to grow a more sustainable and local food system.

LESS is very interested in producing more video along the lines of PolyCultures. We’d like to work with businesses, government offices, non-profit organizations, and individuals to produce more work about food and sustainability. When designing a new project, we actively try to determine what type of product is right for your needs. We can be as collaborative or as hands-off as you want. We’re comfortable creating videos of any length, and we see value in doing both conventional projects as well as those that are more artistic and push the boundaries of video. We’re constantly improving our technical capabilities and are prepared to film in high-definition formats suitable for broadcast. However, the MiniDV we used for PolyCultures may be all that is required for some projects, particularly those that will be compressed and primarily distributed through the internet. Also, we’re able to offer parts of PolyCultures and/or related footage as part of a package. It’s also an option for us to involve the New Agrarian Center in the process to put their special touch on things.

Here’s some additional information about the making of PolyCultures that may interest you and provide some ideas for how your organization may want to collaborate with LESS on a video project in the near future:

The PolyCultures project began in 2006 when LESS Productions was contracted by the New Agrarian Center (NAC) to film happenings in the local food scene. NAC is a non-profit organization based in Oberlin, Ohio that is dedicated to educating diverse communities about their food system and increasing their access to healthy, locally-grown food. NAC wanted LESS to produce a series of short videos for the multimedia section of their website. The resulting videos were combined, along with additional post-production, to create a feature-length documentary video called The Real Low Calorie Diet, which was finished in late 2006.

In 2007 NAC and LESS decided to embark on another video documentary project that would result in a full-length movie featuring the perspectives of experts in the field of sustainable food as well as participants in the Northeast Ohio food scene. Most of the shooting was done on LESS’ Canon XL2 camera in the MiniDV format, with a boom microphone used for most of the interviews. The shooting from 2007 and early 2008 was edited into a series of promotional videos collectively known as Uprooted: Reconnecting People and Food, which enabled NAC to attract more funding for the documentary.

David Pearl joined the project in mid-2008 and helped shoot more footage throughout that growing season. In August of 2008 David and Tom began watching and making notes about all the footage that had been compiled. They used LESS’ new Apple 8-Core system running Final Cut Pro to create a two-hour rough draft of the movie by the start of October. They revised the rough draft and incorporated new footage to assemble a better but still unfinished cut that was submitted to the 2009 Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF). At this point the movie was given the name PolyCultures: Food Where We Life. NAC’s executive director, Brad Masi, served as the executive producer for the movie and raised about two-thirds of the funds for it. LESS has done the remaining work without pay in hopes of capitalizing on the movie through its distribution and in new work it may attract.

In January CIFF notified LESS the movie had been accepted. LESS made further improvements between then and early March before submitting a 100-minute cut for public viewing at the festival. Since then, LESS has been actively engaged in promoting the film, such as in interviews for WVIZ, the Plain Dealer, and CIFF itself. LESS owns the rights to the movie, but it has arranged a joint promotion and distribution plan with NAC. This enables each entity to do what it does best in getting the movie out there, which should provide most benefit to both organizations and to all the individuals and entities that may be enriched by watching it.

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