Project Completeness by Daniel Stephens

It's a sublime delight when a good project finds itself in a state of completedness. Here in the world of goodfocus, we've been working almost non-stop on a project in conjunction with Cross River Productions of New York (the big city, to you and me) and the Council on Foreign Relations, also based in New York.

To say that this project has completely consumed us for the past 8 months is, quite frankly, putting it lightly. Our days and nights and all the bits in-betwixt (and there are bits in-betwixt if you look closely for them; like finding a plethora of change beneath the cushions of a well-loved couch) have been filled to overflowing with filming interviews, paper edits, online edits, music composition, graphics creation and phone conversations about such diverse topics as whether the Isle of Man is a NATO member and what is the precise boundary of the Golan Heights. We have selected scores upon scores (that's several hundred) photos from the Reuters archive to overlay into the final set of films, debated whether a specific image is too graphic, not graphic enough, too biased, not biased enough, accurately depicting the region being discussed by the interview subject, and on and on.

It has been a project of precision and accuracy (thank you Mr. Malone for teaching me the difference). It has been a project of honing and pairing down. It has been a project of completeness. And now, it is complete. And now the world feels just a little strange. Gone are the mornings of rushing into the office to continue choosing images for a film about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, or Interrogation Techniques, or Drones in Pakistan. Gone are late evenings of color-grading or map-making. Gone are the afternoons of listening again and again to the same segment of a film to make sure it truly says what is intended. Again and again. This became normal.

And now it's time to find a new normal. Now it's time to enjoy the feeling of a project completed, a job well done and the gift of new friendships garnered through the process.

And perhaps it's also time to be grateful for time.


The Council on Foreign Relations is an amazing, independent think tank founded in 1921. To learn more about the organization and the work they do, please visit www.cfr.org.

Editing preparedness by Daniel Stephens

It's late Sunday night, early Monday morning and while sleep would be a natural enterprise in which to be currently engaged, it seems to be fleeting at the moment, thus, a blog entry.

Tomorrow (well, technically today), we begin preparing the studio for a four week editing session for the musician documentary we have been working on over the last year. It would be lovely to state the name of said musician, but we've been kindly asked to refrain from doing so. 

Our preparations include organizing the over four (4) terabytes of footage we've acquired over the last twelve (12) months (that's 300GB/month to you and me) into easily accessible, well-tagged batches (technically folders and files with a pile of meta-data attached) and having the last four or five interviews transcribed. There will also be a passel of audio-syncing to complete as a number of our filming escapades involved multiple cameras and double-system sound - though it's a tedious process, it's actually one I find quite meditative. Though I wonder if Brian, who will actually be doing the audio-syncing, will find it so. 

Once the project is prepared for editing we'll have a spate of long, fun, quirk-filled, idea-tossing (and did I say long) meetings to discuss a general structure for the film and identify its specific theme set and feel. Actually, much of that was done at the start of the project and with the mid-project production of a rough-cut, but it's good to do this step on a regular basis as sometimes these bits shift during production and identifying that shift and incorporating it into the finished film is often a good thing. And sometimes simply necessary.

Let the preparations begin! Well, let them begin tomorrow (today) after a bit of rest.

Change... by Daniel Stephens

We are nothing if not the sum of our changes. So here we are nearing the end of twenty-fourteen and already the change has begun. What sort of change? The long answer is, well, rather too long to go into at the moment. But the short answer is: lots. There is much change afoot at goodfocus.

In that light, perhaps it's good to briefly mention what is not changing. We will continue to produce films for the underserved communities in which we live and work. We will continue to tell good stories about good people and good organizations within those communities. We will continue to find inspiration in the amazing thoughts, words and works of the incredible people and organizations around us. 

As for the changing bit, well, it's already started and an example of it can be seen here in this new website. This site hasn't seen a major update (well, truly not much of any sort of update) since the company started in 2007, so it's a bit overdue. And, in true goodfocus fashion, we're tossing aside the well-reasoned idea of building something complete and well-considered and instead bringing the new site into public view as it's being created - consider it a form of transparent web development. Or, a desire to tweak in real-time. Either way, this will be a work-in-progress and could be so for a very long time. Consider it a rough-cut.