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Shhhh, Here’s a Secret

Shhhh, Here’s a Secret …

We got your attention, didn’t we? But before we go on, you must promise to keep our little secret. If you agree, read on. If not, go back and read something else. There is plenty to do and see on our website.

Are you ready? Here it is: We don’t shout about every project we complete. Crazy, huh?

It’s not that we’re ashamed of the work we’ve done. Far from it. In fact, for one project, of which we’re quite proud, we didn’t even use the name “Reel Change Films.” (We did use our own names, however.) Why did we do this? Why would we do this? There were a number of good reasons, but one was that the project was for a non-profit, and we felt that the purpose of the video work was less about our work than the good work this organization does.

The project involved filming and editing a series of online training videos, which together replace (or at least augment) the face-to-face training the organization had been doing. And from the feedback we’ve received, the videos have been successful. Now, you may be able to see for yourselves. The four video segments were on the website for the Environmental & Conservation Organization website, but now the organization has become MountainTrue. If you want to find our videos, search their new site for Biological Monitoring or SMIE.

ECO stream monitoringThe videos help volunteers understand why healthy streams are important to the larger ecosystem, and then they set out to instruct the volunteers how to determine the health of a particular stream. The focus of the series is collecting, identifying, categorizing, and counting the fish and insects in the stream. Mostly, the insects. (Parts of these videos are not for the squeamish or bug-o-phobes.)

We thoroughly enjoyed completing this project, even though it was a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am gig: one day of shooting followed by a relatively short editing period. But we think the videos came out great—and we learned more than we ever thought we’d want to know about stream health … and bugs.

We’re proud of the work we do. We put our hearts into every project, and it shows. This non-profit organization benefited from the videos we delivered, which have improved how they do their work. We can do the same for you.

The History of Comedy

The History of Comedy,

Introducing Why Not Bobby?

Bobby SlaytonThere have been a few confluences of genius throughout history: the Golden Age of Greece, the Italian Renaissance, and San Francisco’s stand-up comedy scene of the mid-1970s. At that time, San Francisco was a counter-cultural comedy breeding ground, the center of which was the Holy City Zoo. This working-class neighborhood bar, reborn as a comedy club, was where the comics we know and love today “learned to fail.” How this came to be is a story in itself.

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In post-World War II America, working comics cut their teeth in strip clubs, dive bars, and Elks Club smokers. These men — such as Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, and Shecky Greene — had to learn not to fail very quickly. It was a tough business. “Tough, I tell ya,” as Rodney would have said.

In the 1950s and early ’60s, stand-up finally got some respect, with two clubs in San Francisco leading the way. The Purple Onion launched such stand-up legends as Lenny Bruce, Phyllis Diller, Bob Newhart, and the Smothers Brothers, while the hungry i birthed the careers of Mort Sahl, Godfrey Cambridge, and Woody Allen. While the business was still tough, audiences no longer threw bottles or punches… as often.

Starting around 1976, the place to fail became the Holy City Zoo, a tiny bar that could fit 40–60 people, all uncomfortably. This young, raucous crowd wanted comics their own age who, like their music, were smart, snarky, and filled with attitude. The Zoo was one of the first clubs to have a sign-up sheet for time on stage. Soon, everyone was coming to the club to showcase their first (and in some cases, their last) five minutes. The next generation of comics to break out nationally — Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Paula Poundstone, and Bobcat Goldthwait — came out of this hothouse of humor.

Emanating from this creative epicenter, sending tremors of laughter through the entire Bay Area (and later all of America), was the Pitbull of Comedy — Bobby Slayton. He grabbed the mic at the Holy City Zoo and never gave it back. He still has it, in a closet.

After the national success of his friends Mork and the Church Lady, the Pitbull became the pack leader of San Francisco’s comedy scene. While Robin and Dana rocked the large and small screens, Bobby rolled across the club circuit, becoming the best stand-up comic of his generation. Headlining for over 35 years, he is regarded, even in the take-no-prisoners world of stand-up comedy, as the Comic’s Comic.

Why Not Bobby? producer David Castro was there with Slayton from the beginning. One night at the Zoo, Castro took the stage for the first time to some laughs, some groans, and some silence, like most other first-timers. Slayton, a veteran of precisely five more minutes of stage time, draped an arm around David’s shoulders, and said, “You have great material… you shouldn’t be doing it.”

From that initial Pitbull bite, a friendship and two careers were born. That night, Bobby used his food money for the week and bought $15 worth of jokes from Castro’s index cards. Twelve hours later, against the better judgment of everyone ever in Show Business, David quit his day job. After all, he’d just made an easy 15 bucks.

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Thirty-six Super Bowls later, Slayton is still headlining 40 weeks a year and Castro is still writing. They’re still friends.

The Pitbull used that time to hone his craft and make a name for himself. Yet despite appearing in big movies with big stars and big directors and despite playing every city in America with an airport and an Applebee’s, the Comic’s Comic — as great as he is on stage, as respected as he is by his peers, and as beloved as he is by his audience — has yet to become America’s Comic. And that right there, folks, is the reason, the overriding premise, and the basic idea behind Why Not Bobby?

Introducing Walking the Path

Introducing Walking the Path,

Our Spiritual Documentary Project …

Krishna Das, Walking the PathWhat have we been up to lately? We haven’t exactly been sitting around on our mcduffs swilling iced tea. One recent project has been one we’ve wanted to produce for years. And now we can unveil it, or at least some of it. But first, some background:

Jason Scholder formed Reel Change Films to make movies that mattered. The first thing he did was begin interviewing spiritual teachers with the intention of manifesting a feature film. In this way, Jason captured hours and hours of engaging footage. He soon realized how lucky he was: most spiritual seekers would never have the opportunity to gain private audience with so many contributors to today’s spiritual palette.

Although we initially published just a taste of this project, we have many more hours of interviews with spiritual masters, gurus, and scholars “in the can.” Jason conducted extensive interviews with visionaries such as Krishna Das (the most famous American kirtan singer), Coleman Barks (who translated Rumi’s poems into English free verse), and Swamiji (an Indian mystic considered a “living legend”).

Instead of limiting this project to the structural constraints of a 90-minute film, we have decided to open it up to the infinite possibilities of the Internet. To do this, we elected to preserve the integrity of the shared wisdom by editing it into manageable doses (i.e., short video clips). Not everyone has the patience or bandwidth to watch an hour-long interview in its entirety. These videos allow you to, as Coleman Barks said, “take sips of wisdom and assimilate that.”

Both Jason and Mark are equally excited about this development. (OK, Jason is little more excited.) Watching these clips is like sitting at the feet of the master, hearing the words of wisdom pour over you like honey. In this respect, we believe these videos will not only hold up for multiple viewings, but your experience will be enhanced by multiple viewings.

Reel Change Films will continue to explore the spiritual path and the many detours along the way. As we add more and more cohesive interview segments, we invite you to watch these discussions unfold. Our hope is to eventually post all the footage we have, but it will take time. In the meantime, watch the available interviews whenever you have the space and time to assimilate them.

Please contact us to be notified when we post new interview clips. It’s all part of the ongoing, online spiritual documentary we call Walking the Path.