mandy mcgee

Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson's DIY musical instruments

By Mandy McGee

I am a huge fan of DIY musical instruments. Here is one of the exquisite hand-made acoustic/electronic instruments played by the late, great Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson of Coil and Throbbing Gristle. He was was a musician, video director and designer. Many more at Pacmasaurus’s Flickr set of “UnkleSleazy’s Instruments.”

Maya Deren-Experimental Filmmaker

Written by Mandy McGee

“I make my pictures for what Hollywood spends on lipstick” -Maya Deren

I have always been fascinated by avant-garde and experimental visual arts. European visual artists started developing their ideas into film in the 1920’s. There was a great deal of collaboration between artists, photographers and musicians alike to create abstract shorts. In the U.S. at this time, didn’t have many experimental films and they were usually not seen by many; if at all. By the 30’s there was a flourish of experimental filmmakers. A very small amount of these filmmakers were women; Maya Deren was one of these women. She wrote, directed, edited, and performed in her own films.

She was born Eleonora Derenkowsky in Kiev in 1917. Her family emigrated to America in 1922 and settled in Syracuse, New York. She received her Master of Arts Degree in 1938 from Smith College (where she met her first husband) and was active in the American Socialist Party throughout the 30’s. In 1943, she changed her name to Maya Deren. Maya is the name of the mother of the historical Buddha as well as the dharmic concept of the illusory nature of reality.

Maya loved to dance, becoming very involved in modern dance where she worked as a publicity assistant and secretary to the Kathrine Dunham Dance Troupe. While on tour with the dance company, she met the Czech cameraman Alexander Hammid, whom she later married. Hammid and Deren collaborated on her first film, Meshes of the Afternoon, which was shot using a 16mm Bolex in two weeks in 1943. Music was later added in 1952 by Teiji Ito, her third husband. At Land followed in 1944, A Study In Choreography For The Camera in 1945 and Ritual In Transfigured Time in 1946. During this time Deren also worked with Marcel Duchamp on the film Witches Cradle, which was never completed. Meditation on Violence was made in 1948 with Chao-Li Chi. Deren also collaborated with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet School and Anthony Tudor in 1958 to create The Very Eye of Night. She made only a few other titles which were unfinished and the footage for her documentary, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti, was edited and released by Teiji in 1985 (well after her death in 1961). The footage was shot from 1947-1954.

In 1947, Maya was given a Guggenheim Fellowship for “Creative Work in the Field of Motion Pictures”, and won the Grand Prix Internationale for 16mm experimental film at the Cannes Film Festival for Meshes of the Afternoon.

Maya’s films were an attempt to put into images things she could not express in words. The images from her films are haunting, lyrical and enigmatic. She explored the fear of rejection and the freedom of expression in abandoning rituals. She choreographed movement to display emotion and the marriage between violence and beauty. She melded her nightmares with her love of dance and translated them into beautiful images on screen. Maya, not a fan of Hollywood’s monopolistic film standards, made very little money and distributed her work through lectures and screenings in the U.S., Canada and Cuba. 

She was inspired by the world around her and used it to her advantage. She took risks with her artistic expression and didn’t look back. Maya Deren is truly an inspiring individual.

There are several documentaries out there and you can find most of her films. I highly recommend checking her out and read more about her.

Meshes of the Afternoon is one of my personal favourites.

The unfinished film of Marcel Duchamp and Maya, Witch’s Cradle.

A really good documentary on Maya was done by Martina Kudlacek, In the Mirror of Maya Deren.

You can buy these films on amazon:
Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti

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Maya Deren: Experimental Films
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2013...it's been a year

A lot of things have happened (good and bad) this year. It was better than 2012. I am probably the happiest I have been in a long time despite being utterly poor most of the time. I have cut ties with some things in my life and made room for others. I have had some fantastic times with my chosen family! I have let some new people into my life as well. 

This is just a few highlights of the year. I can’t post everything because it would be such a loooooong post. Some of this may not even be in order but fuck it. I am happy to share some of my best moments with you.

Let’s start with the beginning of the year. 

One of my oldest friends, Kelly, was working for an airline and would randomly have a layover in Seattle. This was one of those times. It was a great surprise. 

Some more shenanigans happened with Monica Kenna and Eddie Furlong at the SIFF premiere of Matt’s Chance. It was a weird night.

Celine has been my savior on more than one occasion. 

Lucy and Stanley, cute as ever!

I have had Elmo for 12 years. He is about 13 I think.

The Steampunk card game that I photographed portraits for, created by these two lovely people, made it’s kickstarter goal. Look for Incredible Expeditions!

Keep reading

Matt's Chance

A few weeks ago I got the chance to work with Mirror Images LTD on their feature film Matt’s Chance. I am going to be doing an interview with the director in the coming weeks that will be posted on the Extollere blog. For now are a few pictures from the set.

Me and Eddie Furlong

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Marshawn Lynch (from the Seahawks) and Mark Riccardi (who is John Travolta’s stunt double)

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The director, Nicholas Geyney with Eddie Furlong

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Janice (on set MUA), me, Margot Kidder and Brandy Kopp

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You can find more photos on my Facebook which I am slowly updating.

Safety Not Guaranteed Review

By Grace Ibrahim and Mandy McGee

If you haven’t seen Safety Not Guaranteed, put it on your to watch list as soon as possible! It is destined to be a cult classic of the same caliber as Little Miss Sunshine and Across The Universe. Made by Big Beach (the producers of Little Miss Sunshine) in collaboration with Duplass Brothers Production and Film District. Production costs for the movie were reported to be around 750,000. However, after winning the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, then later opened in limited release, in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland it grossed around 4,000,000. Safety Not Guaranteed is a great story of three reporters who travel to a small town in Washington state to investigate and maybe interview the person behind an advertisement claiming to be looking for a time travel companion. The Advertisement states companion for time travel is wanted, you will get paid when you come back, bring your own weapons, safety not guaranteed.

What they find is a off beat but goodhearted, eccentric grocery store clerk, who’s plan is to go back in time to save the only girl he has ever loved. Safety Not Guaranteed is more about risks in love and life then time travel but it doesn’t take away from the original plot. The characters are likeable, some of them loveable and all of them relateable. It is the perfect movie to watch if you need of a geeky mood lift.

It stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, and Jake Johnson. It is directed by Colin Trevorrow, written by Derek Connolly with beautiful cinematography by (Seattle based) Ben Kasulke. There is also a special appearance from Seattle’s own Lynn Shelton as well. (I am mentioning those special people because I am from Seattle…-Mandy).

Your Standard, Regular Lunch #2

By Mandy McGee

I hosted episode #2 of “Your Standard, Regular Lunch” (my video podcast) this week with special guests Annie Hardy (from Giant Drag) and her intern Ann Jones. We talked about crafting while crafting, among other things. We did go longer than I though we would but it is still awesome. Watch (or listen in the background…cause we all do that)… 

Stay tuned for more episodes. Since I have joined Full Psycho Records we will be doing more crafting shows among other types of web shows. 

Please email me about getting your hands on the crafts we make in the video. The proceeds will be going to a good cause.