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What’s A Fogey To Do?

December 18, 2011

Mitzi and I attended the last-ever Video Arts Holiday Party the other evening. It was a sad occasion, in that the much-venerated institution in San Francisco video circles will be closing at the end of the year. As we walked in, I looked around and tossed off a bon mot about the seeming preponderance of gray hair. My lovely wife responded quickly, “Checked a mirror lately?” Ouch, and point taken. Later, when I caught up with Kim Salyer, the long-time head of VA, he seemed resigned to “losing the brand” but upbeat about the future. And one has to admire that. It’s no secret that the business of video is changing rapidly and those who can’t or won’t adapt are being left behind. It reminds me of the warning most of us heard coming up, “This is a young man’s game.” (Of course, we soon discovered it was a young woman’s game as well, and that became a goodly part of its appeal.) As I see it, the larger point is this: The changes we’re witnessing are not due to the enabling power of do-it-yourself technology, the democratization of communications or the lowering of standards to the YouTube level. Instead, it’s simply the natural order of life. The old is replaced with the new. It’s always been that way, and always will. For those of us in the Boomer generation, that’s an uncomfortable fact. We’ve been accustomed to having it our way for 65 years and now it seems the world no longer needs us. And the truth be told, in most cases, it doesn’t. But that’s not a death sentence. Because what the world does need now, more than ever, is the power of expression. Of ideas. Of stories. Of whatever’s on your mind. Okay, so we’re no longer shooting $200,000 videos with grip trucks lining the streets, fully-staffed departments and other quaint artifacts of days gone by. I say, get over it. Run over to Best Buy and pick up one of those little cameras you’ve always made fun of, and learn how to use it. Sit down with iMovie and cut the footage on your own. Pick up a guitar and strum something into your laptop, then make a title in Photoshop and surprise yourself. In short, turn the New Paradigm on its ear. And make your movie.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. jason b permalink
    December 18, 2011 10:57 pm

    DIY is the New World Order…but “small” gives those people starting out less opportunity to receive mentoring.

  2. December 18, 2011 11:02 pm

    I will always be grateful to the people at Video Arts who helped me out when they had no reason to help me except that I really needed their help. The SF Production Community has lost something quite precious.

  3. December 19, 2011 10:09 am

    Tom, you’re right, it’s the way of things, but I will say this: the world way undervalues older people. There is a lot to be said for experience, and even though knowing too much can sometimes could one’s judgement, in general, knowledge gained from experience is worth a lot. Of course, the real beauty of our systems is that I can’t force this on people; they’ll have to learn it for themselves!

  4. December 19, 2011 10:19 am

    Lovely comment, Jeff, and especially considering I’m older than you.

  5. January 13, 2012 12:22 pm

    Nice post Tom.

    Interestingly, I made a similar post to the changes underway in 2009!
    http://bit.ly/AgO77C

    Best of luck and continued success in navigating a life of continual learning and accelerating change.
    And Happy New Year!

  6. January 13, 2012 3:22 pm

    Thanks, Paul. Great minds.

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