My Films

Friday, July 25, 2008

July: Personal Update

Oh what a month July has been. I remember graduating from undergrad some six years ago, ready to start working in the real world and living the grown-up life. It took me a whole two months that summer before I landed a job. In hind-sight, two months seems like such an insignificant amount of time in waiting to start one's career, but I remember those two months to be excruciatingly painful from my 22year-old perspective.
Now here I am, graduated from graduate school, and I have arrived in that same space of uncertainty. Luckily, as it's my second time around, I'm a little less panicked, a little more trusting that my experiences and polished skills have only made me more employable and that it is just a matter of time. Yet every now and then, a goblin called impatience climbs on my back and annoys the hell out of me. I swat him off, and he disappears for a few days or even a week at time and I enjoy the present moment. However, recently he has been making more frequent calls.

So many things have fallen away and come to be in the past months since I turned in my thesis. The Power of Peace forum to be held at the University of Waterloo has been canceled. My proposal to make a film about the Rotary Peace Fellow's Applied Field Experience this summer was dropped. While obviously, this is something to be sad about, I'm taking things in stride and trusting that there is something more waiting for me.
I have been keeping myself busy. One aspect of my career that I really want to grow is to start a production company that produces videos for non-profit and non-governmental orgs. I am in the process of building a website for this, but I fret a lot over what exactly I want to say. I know this won't be a money making business, but I see it as a much needed service. How can I use my video skills to help organizations make a difference, communicate better, create awareness, promote their cause? by producing videos for them.
So for the past month I have been making two videos. One for the Institute of Culture Affairs Japan and their upcoming conference in November. The other project is for my friend Emilie and her org Parties 4 Peace. While there's still work to do on the video, here's the first cut of what I have assembled.

Now on to my next step. I have been offered a four month gig on a national cable tv drama in the US starting next week. Yes, nothing to do with peace or documentaries but it is something to get my started back into the industry. It's also paying! After the past two years of what seems like a million volunteer jobs, it will be nice to see the dollar amount in my bank account increase instead of its opposite.
But most importantly this is what I have learnt over the past two years: that there is yet so much I have to learn. If I really want to make a difference, if I really want my media to have an impact, create awareness, and reach as many people as possible then I have a lot of work to do. I have for the past several years focused on improving my production value- working as a one woman production team. Each production, I feel I have produced better and better videos, learning from my mistakes and pushing my boundaries. However, production is only half of the equation of using media for impact. Without distribution, without connections, if the video is only seen by a few hundred or thousands of people (and most likely many of those who are already in the "choir") I have not done enough, I have not really been of service. There is so much professional experience and contacts that I need to make in the industry. So much groundwork to lay down, but I know that I am capable of doing it. I also am more committed than ever.
Some how over the years I have turned my nose up at mainstream media (maybe this was a result of not getting hired at a major network straight out of college.) I realize now that this is foolish. These issues, these causes, these solutions must reach level of mainstream media to have the impact, that's at least what I want to see happen. And so here begins the next leg of my journey: straddling the path between the alternative issues and mainstream outlets. I don't know exactly what it will look like, but don't worry, I won't get lost.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

DOP's first republican co-sponsor

The Department of Peace campaign- which got me started on my peace a career- has just had a major success!

Maryland's Congressional District 1 succeed in getting the support of Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, a Republican cosponsor! This is huge for the DOP campaign!

Since beginning in 2003, the DOP has had growing support from congress members in the house as well as supportive voices in the senate, but to date all of them have been democrats.

Having been involved in this campaign since its inception, one argument I've often heard is that unless we have a republican cosponsor this bill HR 808 ain't going no where. So, congrats to all the volunteers and staff of the Peace Alliance for making this happen.

This is the first step to many more republican cosponsors!

To read more click here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Freeze to prevent a war?

By now many of us have seen the Grand Central Freeze put on by Improv Everywhere in New York City. If you haven't yet check the video below:

We have even gotten around to doing a freeze in Tokyo:

So now United for Peace and Justice, a New York based peace organization, is taking this same tactic to say no to a potential war with Iran. One of my favorite things about protests and demonstrations is the creative expressions people come up with to get their messages across. If the traditional march no longer has the impact that it once did, alternative thought-provoking and visually-grabbing approaches must be explored.

I'm thoroughly curious to see how this Freeze will go over and if other any other remarks other than the t-shirts will state their message against the war. Looking forward to seeing the video.

If you are in New York and want to participate here are the details:

FREEZE in Grand Central Terminal
Calling for No War on Iran



150 people have signed up so far! We would love to bring that up to at least 200! Let us know you are coming (or you can also just show up).

Join us to say "No Attack on Iraq!" The American public needs to know that there are many voices calling for real diplomacy and negotiations with Iran. Former Ambassador to the UN, Thomas Pickering, among others, supports talks with Iran without preconditions. We also need to put a human face on the people of Iran - teachers, school children, mothers, doctors, farmers, engineers, artists. These are the people of Iran whose lives would be at risk if the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran.

We will have "Peace with Iran" t-shirts for $15 and signs that you can pin to your shirts. At 5:30, we will enter the terminal, mill about and then all freeze at 5:40 for 5 minutes. We march, we lobby, we call our congresspeople, we vigil, we commit acts of civil disobedience. This is another creative, simple, visual action that will get the message out to thousands of commuters. We hope you can join us.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

PBWMY accepted to the International Museum of Women

Yay! just got the news this morning. My short film, which I have endlessly plugged on this blog, Peace Begins with Me and You is now part of the International Museum of Womens' July exhibit which ties Religion, Spirituality and Politics together. Have a take a look at my film here. The exhibit provides a platform for conversation to talk about important world issues, so check my film out, check out other films/art and leave comments!

I particularly like my highlighted quote: "Practicing Buddhism and Hinduism, I discovered that meditation and mindfulness are the seeds of inner-peace. Grounded in my spirituality, I started volunteering, holding my elected officials accountable and raising my voice in protest. I have come to believe that women, empowered and supported by their spirituality, can bring about remarkable change."

This is what they wrote about me in their summary of the exhibit:
"Japanese-American peace activist Megumi Nishikura began a spiritual journey that led her to the path of political action. Her short film, Peace Begins with Me and You combines documentary, animation and personal narrative into a message to all women."

Wow, better than I could ever say it!