toys in the attic:
ideological furnishings for the homeless mind


daurril resume: video production supplement


The following adjunct to my data processing resume is meant to describe my video production involvement at Tampa's Public Access Center over the last twenty-two years:

 

Before TBCN’s glorious management, production efforts under my own name at Access had been split fifty-fifty between my work behind the camera (principally technical directing using the remote production unit) and in front of it (hosting my own program of social commentary). Incidental to these major credits, I crewed for other Access producers, learning by this exposure other folk's production techniques (but not indiscriminately including all of these into my own work). "Producing" at Access (by the way) includes a requirement for us to periodically demonstrate operational competence in all the functional areas (editing, camera, lighting, etc.) affecting development of product.

 

As between those two production venues, it was my early van work (and even some single camera location work) that won favorable notice from my peers at our Golden Cassette Awards (GCA), and encouragement from Access management (and Ella Geisman ). These programs were made from public events over which I had no actual directing role per se over production content itself; these were usually liturgical musical celebrations or musical theater done in a church auditorium.  Nonetheless in 1987 I won the second place GCA award in Music for my taping of an annual Town'n Country ecumenical celebration, inaugurating a recital sequence I then called Choirs of Advent.  My taping of Seminole Presbyterian's High Tops in 1992 earned a fist-place award for Best Youth Single: I was that year also a finalist in two other GCA categories.  In fact throughout my Access tenure I was fortunate to be at least a finalist in any category I entered, in any year I choose to do so.  I proceeded to tape Semonole’s annual musicals for another three years, literally videocasting 1995’s graduating class thru their entire performing history.  That included Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, and Oklahoma. 

 

Much of my single camera location programming arose with thru involvement with the Catholic diocese of St Petersburg (including seminars and documentaries) and at St Leo college, and also with local Greek Orthodox, Episcopal, and Lutheran churches.  I have also produced for the community, most notably a multi-location study of municipal housing redevelopment designed to liberate the "life-long" renter," called Tampa Heights Revisited (in 1991).

 

Eventually I came to be more involved in production life on camera, doing several seasons work as program host in each of the Center's several studios. These efforts were principally directed toward (quite literally) social commentary, where content was mostly inspired by certain liberal Jesuit theologians and writings from the sociology of knowledge (ala Peter L Berger). My first group of programs (in round-table mode) was called catholicism (from the Nicene Creed with a notable emphasis on the small "c"). Next I went to ecumenism: the road less traveled, which was kind of an anthropological look at our communal religious experience through mostly location footage from a variety of sources. Next was a series called Toys in the Attic (and now the name of my production unit); opening each time with a vocabulary-building tune from Hair, it attempted to get some share of after-11 PM public access viewership. For two years starting in 1994 I was Contra Limbo, which meant to remind viewers that (among other things) most of the world so admired by Rush Limbaugh was tried and (still) found seriously wanting a hundred years ago. CL's roll-in used a montage constructed from June Allyson's early films; her response to the 2-hour sampler sent her then is so far the highest praise I have received from anyone for my work. Per her encouragement I continue in my attempts to plant worthwhile truth in the community.  My Family Christmas Festival (FCF 1990) was again featured in an Access Yule (2001) celebration, and in January (2002) I expected to run a video enhanced commentary on my editorial SM Ignatius

 

Interspersed among these seasonal commitments, I have since 1990 produced and hosted specials simply titled commentary (subtitled by indicating some month and year) that had to do with the politics of public access. These efforts at investigative journalism were usually politely ignored by the local establishment, and not so politely by my peers. In addition to acquiring video production skills, I had early on at Access to ascertain for myself whether I was there as an (unpaid) employee (no!) or as a (non-paying) customer (yes!).  While paid management and staff could hardly deny their employment, rank-and-file Access "members" routinely opted for an even lower order of servility, particularly when they were told their toys would be taken away if they did not so opt.  Of course Access Producers are just the Indians and damn lucky to be there: just ask Jenkins or Austin.  No wonder the CaAC's Griffin could tell the BOCC on 12/19/2001 that everything is wonderful again on West North B. 

 

By 1998 Access management decided no injury to me would go noticed, and simply canceled my COA shoot the evening before it was scheduled to roll.  Finally, in 1999 James Austin did roll the van for COA, but for whatever reason we came back with next to nothing.  Even 1999's first playback was without video the first 5 minutes, and practically in black all the second hour. 

 

A year or so after Leigh Chambliss’ “sublime” management, the cry went out that Access could not survive unless it was led by an NPO. Thereupon its attitude toward my work mysteriously persisted across Frederica Russell’s promotion to Operations Manager, and under the directorship of SpeakUp Tampa Bay’s Greg Koss.  In May 2001 I attempted to tape services at a gay church particularly (it turned out) hostile to the presence of a “straight” (my attitudes further characterized by a gay friend as “straight but not narrow”).  Under pressures of the moment it seems I failed to secure my camera to its tripod, which while I was away fell to the floor.  I reported the incident to Access and twice asked Fred for a damage report, which was not given.  Last December 2001 the strangeness continued: at least two (of the advertised 3) FVF 1990 replays had Community TV's icon pasted on them and did not show that part of their last minute containing my personal slate: in other words, on a program which TBCN neither produced nor developed, present staff replaced as many of my credits as they could with theirs. 

 

Several Aprils ago I first raised private objection to SpeakUp promoting itself as a First Amendment forum, and was answered in a denial that also demanded (328 days after returning the equipment) the full cost of a replacement camera on last May’s incident.  There is now no trace of the returned camera, either to verify the damage or surrender it to its “purchaser.”  So all we have empirically is that where Access had one but camera it now has two, and a particularly unpopular Producer will be made to pay out of his own pocket for the extra one.  Or be expelled from Access.  (A full set of the e-mail exchange documenting this extortion is in development.)  I think from these and later experiences – reported by other Producers as well – we are seeing at SpeakUp the NPO realized as unconscionable Predator: a proposition I promise to develop in later editions of this paper.

 

Perhaps due to its association with the national public access killer known as the Alliance for Community Media (not to be confused with computing’s ACM), TBCN continued to improve and perfect ways to eliminate “insubordinate” producers and therefore their programming. A special artifact of the farce called “Training,” the new game was named “annual recertification.” Caught in that trap in 2004, I would be denied media access until and unless I choose to re-enter the system as a rank beginner. In the meantime, life behind Access would be temporarily revealed during Cable Advisory’s brief return to the air waves, wherein we would get to watch Thompson lead a new generation of local government’s appointees to denigrate and expel from their ranks and attention the Producers’ pitiful attempt at representation. Then Advisory itself, having “served its purpose,” was dissolved.

 

Noticing as the station went digital that I might lose a big opportunity to have some of my other primary skills denied, I rejoined Access in December of 2007 to explore their NLE training. A summary of both my early analogue and my recent digital work is available online. I am also creating a visual summary of my political career at Access.

 

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While somewhat disposed to being an impoverished independent producer at Public Access, I have never claimed to be above accepting a real money gig there.  During Katho Kampfe's first tour as PAC manager, I tried three times to join Jones Intercable's staff: as a playback operator, as an equipment maintenance technician, and as Assistant PAC manager (then defined as having principle responsibility for creating the monthly newsletter). In the one instance of a response, I was told effectively that my best use to the community was as a producer (and gadfly), so at least some of my effort has gone toward accommodating that directive.  But I have been content most of my life to just be a good technician, as my twenty years of prior experience as a systems engineer in mainframe data processing might indicate. I would certainly appreciate any opportunity to bring my online (web or video) production skills up to and beyond what they were in conventional programming, as soon as possible.

 

return to daurril curriculum vitae: last update 2040 hrs 1 Oct 2002.