A Visit from Alex Garcia

“If you have an idea, stop thinking somebody else should do this – DO IT yourself!”

Alex Garcia of the the Washingtonpost.com certainly seems to practice this motto that she presented to our packed classroom last week. A graduate of our very own American University’s School of Communication, Alex began her work at the Post as an intern and is now a successful (paid) employee. While this emphasizes the importance of connections and getting your foot in the door when getting a job, there is no doubt that Alex’s persistence, creativity, and personal spunk helped her our along the way. She shared some of her work with us, but more importantly she talked about the learning process involved in getting where she is today. She talked about how many skills she has today are self-learned through trial and determination, such as learning how to properly combine audio and photo’s for slideshows. She shared her initial excitement when working on her first projects, leading her to shoot entirely too much film. She expressed her difficulties in learning to get people to come out on camera…

scene in

…something she either learned how to do or was a natural at, as is evident by her Scene In series for the Washingtonpost.com. This was one of her “do it yourself” projects – after admiring a similar project done in New York, she decided to bring it to the District. In each part of the series she focuses on people’s personal styles within different neighborhoods in the city. She gives each video a local flair by featuring street music specific to each neighborhood as the soundtrack. With that as the backing, she gets people to talk about their own style. And she certainly finds people with unique styles. What I thought was the most interesting thought was not the styles featured, but the glimpse into each personality that Alex was able to beautifully portray on camera. Perhaps it is her own knack for style or her enthusiastic persona, but something about her got these people to simply open up in front of the lens, which is an amazing thing to see.

Overall, Alex’s visit was very insightful and enjoyable… perhaps it will even lead to a new SOC major.

Camera Works – ‘Guernica’ in the Kitchen


Watch ‘Guernica’ in the Kitchen!

This video, filmed by Jennifer Carpenter of The Washington Post, discusses the idea of food as a form of art. In the video, art critic Blake Gopnik visits the DC restaurant mini bar, which serves such “radical foods” as:

cotton candy foie gras…

cotton candy foie gras

lightbulb of flavor…

Lightbulb of flavor

and watermelon air…

watermelon air

Throughout the video Gopnik talks to chef José Andrés about the food he serves, trying to address the question of whether food can be as unique and profound as radical contemporary art (such as Picasso’s Guernica, pictured at top of post). Chef Andrés sure believes so – during the interview he expresses his beliefs about food, emphasizing the fine line between food and art and suggesting that food should be able to push the boundaries of our mind just as much as a painting can. He states that the goal of the restaurant is not to “feed people,” but rather to “have a conversation” and help people learn about the world. He hopes that their ‘Guernica’, or revolution, is going to be changing the way people eat and think about food.

The videographer uses almost all close ups or extreme close ups in this segment. This is done in order to help the viewer focus on the minute details that go into the preparation of the food, and then the eating of the food itself. This video also utilizes an interesting variation of split screen, where instead of having two shots showing at once, there are multiple shots spaced across the screen playing at the same time. This is effective in giving the viewer a feel of the energy in the restaurant. In a restaurant, especially in the kitchen, there is always movement, noise, ect – always many things going on at once. Having many things happening on the screen at once helps capture that for the viewer.



Pixar seems to be where Disney was 50 years ago, beginning to roll out classics that will be watched for years to come. From the original Toy Story, to Finding Nemo (another one of my top favorites), to Wall-e, Pixar has yet to disappoint. Up, released only earlier this year, is certainly no exception. Directed and written by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, everything about this film works. The story is simple, yet quirky. An old widowed man named Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Edward Asner) who doesn’t want to be put in a nursing home decides to go to Paradise Falls, where he always promised his wife they would one day go. The twist? He decides to get there by tying umpteen helium balloons to the top of his house and flying there. He ends up getting stuck with a “wilderness-explorer” tagalong named Russel (voiced by newbie Jordan Nagai). On the way they meet oversized tropical birds, talking dogs, and Fredricksen’s childhood hero, Charles Muntz (voiced by Christopher Plummer). While I won’t spoil the ending for any unfortunate souls who have yet to see it, Fredricksen and Russel find out something about themselves on the journey too.

I feel as though this movie came out as an instant classic. The animation is made with the most modern technologies, but avoids being flashy and manages to retain a hand-drawn feel. The “cinematography” is beautiful and the music, something I feel can make or break a movie, fits perfectly. Up also contains one of my favorite movie scenes ever: the montage recounting the relationship between Carl and his wife, from their wedding day to her funeral. The whole four or so minutes contains no dialogue; only beautiful images of two people who love each other growing together, accompanied by music that could not be more emotionally fitting. On that note, the emotional range of the movie is also incredible; I know people who both laughed harder and cried more during the 1 1/2 hours of this film. The humor is side-splitting and witty without succumbing to the slapstick, crude, or pop-culture humor that many animated films use these days. The characters are endearing. While you may not think you are like them at all, by the end you find yourself empathetic to Carl’s desire to live life how he wants to, free from outside interference. You feel in your own heart the love he felt for his wife, Ellie. You also understand Russel’s need to accomplish something in the hopes that he will be loved.

But most of all, I love up because of how UPlifting it is (pun absolutely intended). I’ve seen the movie three times so far, and every time I have not only left the theatre beaming, but continued to feel elated (or elevated) for the rest of the evening. It is a beautifully made, feel-good film that also leaves you meditating on your own life. What more can you ask for in a movie?

If you would like to see the trailer, see here!

If you would like to see the movie, which you all should, I am afraid you will have to wait until November 10!

Business Card

As a project this week, we were asked choose a mood that we felt described our “profession” and then take pictures related to that mood. I decided my profession is still “student,” and therefore chose my mood to be exploratory or curious. While taking my pictures, my goal was simply to explore things more thoroughly with my camera. Then we used the pictures to create business cards for ourselves. The picture I decided to use for my card was one of my guitar, Constantine.


Then, with the help of photoshop, I created the following double-sided business card:



I feel like this card represents some important characteristics of being a student, as well as some important characteristics of my personality. First of all, it is a curious card. It isn’t clear to the viewer what the picture is representing, which makes them think about it. Thinking about things in different ways is certainly something that good students need to be able to do. The rectangles on the front of the card are very organized and systematic, yet the designs within the rectangles and on the other side of the card are more organic and free. As a huge fan of organized chaos, I feel that this design represents me well.