Campaign for Sonairte Eco-Centre

I created this series of videos to promote the ecology centre Sonairte. The centre is located less than a mile from the seaside, close to where I grew up in Laytown, Co Meath. Founded in the 1980’s, it was set up to promote hands on learning about the environment, and to exhibit alternative energy, a radical idea at the time. It’s a remarkably tranquil place, where visitors can walk a nature trail or learn sustainable growing techniques in a seizable Victorian market garden.

I shot these videos over two days at the centre, and developed the campaign around promoting the distinct experiences available, from Yoga classes to delicious organic fruit and veg. I may have stolen a few apples, hanging from the heavily laden branches of Sonairte’s twenty-seven distinct species of apple tree.

Sonairte are actively seeking volunteers, especially people with experience in organic horticulture or fundraising at state and European level. You can contact them by phone on 041 982 7572 or by email at hello@sonairte.ie.

Production Details

Everything was shot on the Panasonic G80, with a Sigma 18 – 35 Art lens. Most shots were captured on the Crane 2 gimbal. Editing and grading was done in Da-Vinci Resolve, and titling in Final Cut Pro. 

All music is by Alexander Kyd, donated with kind permission, from his records 51 Pegasi and These Waters Remember, which are available to purchase on bandcamp.

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Why do people kill? Psychology in Mind Episode 6

The Murderer 
Franz Stuck (1891)

Download: Why do people kill? Psychology in Mind Episode 6
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Read: Show Notes

A new series in which psychologist Dr Andrew P. Allen and writer and broadcaster Gareth Stack, turn to psychology for answers about our minds, brains and personalities.

Todays Question: Why do people kill?

We’ll be exploring the topic of murder – more specifically spree killings. Joining us is Dr. Robert King of University College Cork. Rob’s  controversial work uses evolutionary and anthropological perspectives to examine the ultimate motivations behind human violence and sexual behaviour.

In a wide ranging discussion we examine the status protecting evolutionary motivations behind ‘spree killings’ by ‘spare males’. Rob’s work has identified two separate populations of spree killers, older men who have ‘failed’ in keeping their families together and younger socially isolated men. We also discuss Hybristophiles – the women who fall in love with killers, including spree killers like James Holmes. Other topics touched on include the headhunters of Borneo, Mira Hindley’s nazi fixation, Margaret Mede, the Shankill Butchers, lynchings, and ‘non violent’ tribal cultures, ‘an heroes’, and Gregory Stanton’s 8 Stages of Genocide.

Questions Explored

Do we live in a particularly violent time?
Have spree killings really increased? Or were they underreported in the past?
Do media depictions increase the amount of spree killings?
How does psychopathy interact with wealth and power from Gengis Kahn to Wallstreet traders?
How has the concept of psychopathy evolved – from Cleckley’s the Mask of Sanity to Hares Psychopathy Checklist to the DSM definition of anti-social personality disorder, to John Ronson’s Psychopath Test?


References

● Hive Mind (Rob’s Blog at Psychology Today)
● Mass Killings: An Evolutionary Perspective
● Deficits in fear conditioning in psychopaths 
● Frequency dependent selection in psychopaths 
● The demonisation of evolutionary psychology, as typified by Cordelia Fine’s ‘Testosterone Rex’ 

Wicklow Sudbury Promotional Videos

Wicklow Sudbury School is an experiment in Irish education. The first  curriculum ‘free school’ in the country. A school where students spend all day long, pursuing their real interests. The Sudbury Valley model, pioneered in Massachusetts in the late 1960s, puts children in charge of directing their own education. A few years ago I organised some events along these lines in Dublin. Learning and teaching as self directed fun. Those experiences, and my time volunteering at Exchange Dublin – the democratically organised art space in Temple Bar forcibly shut down by Dublin City Council in 2014 – have shown me the power of learning as play. The  importance of genuine ‘third spaces’, where people can explore through play to offer the kind of deep personal enrichment that bureaucratic curricula and educational measures cannot hope to define, let alone measure. These spaces are so rare in our contemporary societies, where every inch is commodified and defined, every intervention tailored, every creative work moulded and marketed to a constructed audience, that they can seem fantastical. They are spaces that literally remind us what it means to be human. Connection, creativity, love in action.

Last year I made a radio documentary, following a year in the life of the school – exploring in a small way the opportunities for more libertine forms of education in Ireland in general. This year, as I moved out of radio and into video production, I offered to head back to the school, to help with their crowd funding campaign. I spent a day at Wicklow Sudbury, shooting interviews and capturing the decidedly unconventional educational environment. I combined short interviews with three staff and five students with footage of the learning through play that makes this place unique. The end results are a ten minute mini-documentary and a two minute promotional video. Unlike the documentary this campaign is decidedly partisan. I’ve worked as hard as I can to convey the enthusiasm of staff and students for this new kind of education. 

Hopefully these videos capture a little about what makes this school so different. This really is a place where kids can be themselves. A place to develop the kind of diverse talents that our rigid bureaucratic education system cannot accept, let alone promote. These kids are passionate, creative, and above all independently minded. They give me hope for a future less rigid, heartless and polarised than the present. This is the kind of place that any misunderstood, creative kid might have imagined into existence. It’s the sort of place that makes having kids worth considering. It’s that revolutionary. If you’re interested in learning more, Wicklow Sudbury staff frequently offer talks about setting up your own community school, and you can find information about these, and if you’d like donate towards the school (which naturally receives no government funding), at their website

Pardon Me – Shy Mascot (Music Video)

There’s a long tradition of puppet music videos, from Gabriel Byrne’s cameo in the Rubber Bandits’ ‘Fellas’, to Ed Sheeran’s muppet of muppet. But as far as we know this is the first time someone’s remade ‘Smack My Bitch’ up with marionettes. Inspired by the tough guy lyrics of Shy Mascot’s new track ‘Pardon Me’, we imaged a puppet on an odyssey through Dublin, leaving a trail of mayhem and broken hearts behind him. An off the wall idea turned into six months of preproduction, as special effects guru Frances Galligan created uncanny wood and plaster replicas of Shy Mascot’s Jamel Franklin and Fia Gregg. We shot these diminutive rebels everywhere from sex shops to jewellery stores, Dublin buses to cat sanctuaries.
A tiny crew headed up by writer / director Gareth Stack and DOP Siobhan Madden combined storyboarded action sequences with improvised guerrilla shooting. Whenever a location lent itself to leprechaun scale hijinks we found a way to take advantage. Volunteer performers mixed with season pros to seduce and battle lil’ Jamel’s bad ass homunculus. Probably the most ambitious scene features a bloody dustup between Dublin based performance poet Raven (playing a cassocked street preacher) and Jamel’s balsa wood hard nut. We shot in the crumbling remains of O’Devaney gardens while dozens of local kids milled around and cars pulled donuts between abandoned tower blocks. We fought everything from tangled strings to reluctant sex shop proprietors to get this video made. Our action packed finale even had to be reshot when a memory cannibalised itself This happened after we’d snapped off one of lil’ Jamel’s feet and broken his back flinging him through the air first time around! Fortunately, after a short operation this little legend soldiered on.
Our favourite scene features a date between marionette Jamel and our moonlighting DOP Siobhan, shot in Dublin’s only barcade ‘Token’. To sex up this smokey seduction, we used the golden-age Hollywood technique of stretching cotton stockings over the lens for a poor mans glamour filter. All in all, the shoot took nine days, and the edit another three weeks. But the memories – bench pressing Ireland’s largest sex aid, laying half naked on the floor of the Glimmerman’s ladies while a marionette vomited, fighting allergies to give a puppet a chance to visit a cat sanctuary were absolutely worth it!
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Black Magic Pocket Cinema 4k – Test Grade

The new Black Magic Pocket Cinema 4k camera is due at the end of the month. Black Magic have released some test RAW and Prores footage here.

I grabbed it and did a quick test grade (literally 20 minutes) last night. Results below. Video is only 1080p (as I have the free version of Resolve, although the full version comes with the camera). Overall I’d say it’s incredibly easy to grade – although the basic footage out of the camera is a little sepia by default and a little noisy prior to grading.

 

As you can see, the default LUT included for the camera in Da Vinci is way too strong, so you’d want to key it back if you were going to use it, which I wouldn’t recommend.

I graded about half the available clips, might have another mess around later with the other half if there’s any interest. Also might try a more ‘creative’ grade than the neutral one below.

 

Please Oppose Article 13 – A creators perspective.

This is an email sent to my MEPs (Lynn Boylan, Brian Hayes, and Nessa Childers) today, regarding the proposed change to copyright in the EU, known as ‘article 13‘. This change will endanger the ability of small production companies and artists to disseminate their work online. It represents the greatest threat to free communication and creative work online in the history of the EU. You can find out more here or send your own email here.

Dear MEP,

You are no doubt receiving a lot of emails about the vote on article 13 of the proposed European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market tomorrow.

I am a small independent filmmaker and radio producer. I’ve been developing original programming for radio and web in Ireland since 2008. My website which provides free copies of all my programmes is http://garethstack.com

I wanted to explain to you exactly how article 13 would affect my business and creative output. As a radio producer all of my programmes have been funded through the Sound and Vision Scheme and developed using creative commons assets and public domain assets. These sound effects and music are created by a community of engaged creators who allow their work to be further developed by others for free. This means that when I write and produce a new radio drama, some of the sound effects are original, some are derived and remixed – legally and with blanket licensed permission – from other sources, such as the website freesound.org.

Similarly, when I release my programmes, they are available for others to remix as they see fit. When I record original sound effects foley, they are made available for others to use in their films, TV or radio programmes or in their hobby projects, such as short films. These flexible licences empower creators to decide exactly how their work may be used – remixed with or without credit, shared only when the derivative work uses a similar licence, etc etc.

My shows have been broadcast numerous times on RTE Lyric, Newstalk and local stations throughout Dublin. They have won international awards, and been rebroadcast in the United States. None of them would have been possible to produce or release under article 13.

The legal requirement for automatic upload filtering systems would place an undue burden on free public domain and creative commons hosting services like freesound. More seriously, these systems invariably operate on the assumption that the first uploader to lay claim to a sound or piece of video footage is the ‘owner’ of that footage – irrespective of who originally created it, or what the actual licence under which it is released was. Again and again it has been demonstrated, on youtube, on soundcloud and other platforms, that this leads to widespread abuse. That automated copyright enforcement is both intentionally and accidentally used to remove completely legal clips and programmes. This has already happened to me. In a situation where the delicate web of hosting companies that allow online distribution – from wordpress, to soundcloud, to freesound, to bandcamp; are forced to implement these filtering solutions, businesses like mine will be impossible.

Small media creators – every single one of whom is reliant on both purchasing samples and using free samples; whether sound effects, video clips or music; will be unable to reliably host and distribute their original, legally created content. This will enormously impact the following industries and many others – music production, independent music distribution, film post production, podcasting, radio production etc etc.

This is my personal experience – as someone who has already had content removed incorrectly by automated content system. Systems which cannot be challenged without endangering the creators access to the platform. Systems which operate as black boxes where decisions are made without fair and equal access for creators. Systems that ‘big content’ conglomerates have direct access to ‘take down’ content they do not own, without consequence merely by laying claim to it.

This is not even the primary danger of such systems – which can be abused to limit political speech and to target contentious individuals or political groups. It is not the primary danger of article 13 – which will limit the ability to freely disseminate news and information.

It is however the element of article 13 which directly and immediately affects my livelihood and the livelihood of ALL of those working in the Irish radio and film industry, whether directly or indirectly, from actors to grips, from radio hosts to newspaper delivery drivers.

A regime like this will enable a small number of large conglomerates to lay claim to content they did not create, and to serve as gatekeepers for what is disseminated online. It will not help creators. It will not protect jobs. It is copyright law run amok in the service of corporations that exist explicitly and exclusively to exploit the creative work of others.

I ask you as my MEP to please oppose this legislation. As a voter, I will remember your actions on this issue which threatens my income, and more importantly the continued availability of every piece of work I have created in my adult life.

Thank you,
Gareth Stack