Get a discount on “This Land…” for the holidays!

8 Dec

Ka-chinnng! Starting now until the end of the year, we’re offering 25% off This Land is Your Land on DVD! The perfect gift for anyone interested in issues about citizenry in the age of modern corporatism; head on over to our store and simply enter HARDWORKINGMOVIES as a discount code before checking out, and 25% will automatically be deducted from your order. Santa is unionized in 2012 – go get This Land is Your Land now.

The new currency

7 Dec

We’ve always been interested in the concept of bartering – we did it ourselves with Carolina Caycedo, who makes an art out of  bartering, literally. We like Barter Theater, are surprised that Craigslist  seems to have an active barter section and wonder if big company barter systems like Gulf Coast Trading really work.  Brooklyn Torch is a new currency project based on the concept of bartering for the communities in North Brooklyn. Groups like Time/Bank are trying to be more international. Here’s one of T/B’s recent projects:

The Austin Motel Revisited

3 Dec

Even though there is an expensive hotel next door, with fancier soap, I couldn’t imagine visiting Austin and not staying at the Austin Motel. Unless of course it’s packed, which is often the case. This time I checked in, but didn’t see the cardboard cutout of Elvis in the lobby. The girl at the front desk said it was put away because it’s faded and old. A little disappointed because even a faded Elvis is better than none at all, but then I saw the picture of the motel’s owner, Dottye Dean, on the wall. I knew Dottye didn’t put that picture up herself but was afraid to ask.

Dottye’s segment in This Land Is Your Land was one of my favorites of the whole film. She tells a story about the fire that hit the motel a number of years earlier. Instead of firing employees when there were no guests to service, the employees were used to fix up the motel, making it ready for them to re-open again. She didn’t have to let go of any employees during that hard time. And, as Dottye says, if she had been a corporate-owned business, accountable to shareholders, she wouldn’t have been able to do that. With one anecdote, she was able to summarize a big problem in American business today. Accountability to shareholders, instead of people.

When I checked out of the motel a couple days later, I asked the front desk clerk what happened to Dottye. He said she died April 22, 2011 after a struggle with illness. Dottye inherited the business from her mother, and the family tradition continues. Her son Mark is now in the process of relocating his family from Massachusetts to run the motel. Asked if he’s hopeful the motel will stay the same place we love, the desk clerk sighed and said, “I will tell you this… I think we’re shocked by just how employee-friendly she was. The profit margins are very low in this place.”

I’m hopeful they’ll keep it going! In 2011, The Austin Chronicle named The Austin Motel the Best Motel in Austin – for the 15th year in a row. We’ll miss you, Dottye. So Close But Still So Far Out!

http://www.austinmotel.com/

Branding Morgan Spurlock

30 Nov

We’re a little confused. Morgan’s “POM Wonderful” was promoted as a satire on branding in films and last month he announced he’s started a company to help others get financing from brands for their documentaries. Sheffield Doc festival seems a little confused, too, working with Reuters Institute at Oxford to study the subject while discussions on the subject at IDFA doc festival last week got hot.

Shop local

25 Nov

After 9,000 people storm Macy’s at midnight on Black Friday, we decide to wait until tomorrow for any shopping at nationwide Small Business Saturday. There’s usually more interesting things to buy and we like supporting our friends and neighbors, like Otto or Unnameable Books or Metal and Thread or Music Matters or the Brooklyn Superhero Supply store.

The Verizon building never looked better

18 Nov

Projectors are our friends. When they’re not busy showing movies, they can also throw supportive light on large surfaces. Well, at least if you have a ginormous projector, that is. At yesterday’s OWS march, starting at Foley Square and slowly making its way across the Brooklyn Bridge, the massive crowd was fueled on by a bat-signal of sorts, projected onto the flat window-less surface of the Verizon building. It was the handywork of a certain Mark Read and some of his friends, and you can read about how it all came about here.

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60’s OWS

10 Nov

Our friend Bill Mac took this photo of David Crosby (with Graham Nash) the other day on Wall Street. A bit of a musical flashback- Bill filmed with us during a Patti Smith/Ralph Nader rally down on Wall Street some years ago.