Arts & Crafts


portrait of the artist as a young man

In 1948, 24-year old Norman Mailer wrote “The Naked and the Dead”.

It was his first novel. But not his first short story. That had been published when he was 18.

Mailer graduated from Harvard in 1943, and went into the military. He was sent to the South Pacific, which is from where he garnered his material for the novel.

It was hailed by The Modern Library as “one of the best 100 English language novels ever written”.

Pretty good for a 24-year old.

Mailer was a writer.

Was he a ‘professional’ writer?

At Harvard, Mailer studied aeronautical engineering.

He never took a ‘writing’ course

He did not spend years ‘learning to be a writer’.

He simply wrote, because that was what he was driven to do.

And he was able to do so because all it took to be a writer was a pencil, a piece of paper and an idea.

There has been a great deal of discussion here and elsewhere about ‘Citizen Journalist’ vs. ‘Professional’, with myriad attempts to define ‘professional’.

As I wrote earlier, the term ‘Citizen Journalist’ is what we might term ‘mutually inclusive’. Every Citizen is a ‘journalist’, or at least has the right to try to become one.

Writers like Mailer write because they have something to say. What they have to say is their vision, their statement.

I would like to think that the people we are empowering with video and edits and training are being empowered to create video that reflects their personal vision.

Craftsmen are hired to create a product for someone else. It is someone else’s vision. They may do it extremely well, with great craftsmanship, but it is a craft.

Writing however, is an art.

As is painting, or composing music, or sculpture…

For a long time, video has been a craft.

An army of professional cameramen gladly answered the call and shot what they were asked to shoot – whether it was local news or a PBS Documentary. And they did it well. But it was a craft.

Now, for the first time, video can become a creative art.

Take a camera and create what is in your head and in your heart. Not what someone else has hired you to do.

Arts and Crafts.

on shows like “whats your trip” we are looking for artists.

Mailer was very much an artist.


12 responses to “Arts & Crafts

  1. Interesting… of course. As are most of these debates.

    Journalism, I think, carries with it also…. a “social” value…. a “social” characteristic…. and a “social” purpose.

    Certainly, one’s “personal” vision can become a social concern, or address a socially relevant topic. I think it is only when one’s personal vision has an effect on society…that it becomes journalism. I am just making this one up as I go…

    The point is, there are millions of individuals who will shoot and edit their own personal visions. They might document their own lives, perspectives, and facts.

    But people have been living lives since life was first produced. Simply living ….then capturing it on video…. does not equal journalism.

    Taking “journalism” out of the discussion….certainly “art” is a worthy effort to make. I encourage everyone to shoot and edit to their hearts content… and the coolest, most though provoking, entertaining and compelling personal videos can make an impact on society.

    There is no way to stop anybody from shooting anything… and claim it to be journalism, or art. Michael certainly knows this, encourages it, promotes it and is marketing it. There is nothing wrong with doing this. As a matter of fact, there is no doubt that more and more people will indeed be shooting their own personal visions and posting them. Right now, it is new, and almost a novelty. Video storytelling by citizens will mature, and more content, commitment and creativity will be seen. Some of it will surface and have an affect on society. Some will have social value. The vast majority, probably, will not.

    I might start shooting my “trips” and edit it into a cool video. Perhaps I will submit something at some point, and pick up extra spending money? II will need to get a personal video camera first.

  2. Hmmm. Let’s see. Did I ever take a class in how to shoot video? Nope! Just like Mailer!

    Yet Mr. Rosenblum attempts to sell people on his classes at $2500 for four days!

    Seems to me Mr. Rosenblum is telling people it’s a waste of time to take classes in video just like it was a waste of time for Mailer to take classes in writing!

    Norman Mailer is like a lot of us who know taking a class to do something artistic, whether it’s the written word or using a camera is generally a waste of time if your goal is to be an “artist” and get paid to do it like Mailer and me!

  3. Michael, I’ll be damn if I can understand some of the self-promoting comparisons that you’ve been making, it’s a slap in the face to great people like Norman Mailer to be used as an example to motivate a bunch of amateurs with cameras on vacation. Someone of his statue deserves better. Also you should let your audience know that most new writers don’t actually write the book, they write the story and then there’s a professional writer that puts it a correct book form.

    Mailer wasn’t exactly digging ditches before he started writing and he didn’t go to a community college either. I would say that in order to graduate from Harvard with any degree you probably also got to be pretty darn good in writing; I would also imagine that’s a requisite. Beside, Mailer was also a writer and won writing awards while studying at Harvard.

    I can believe that you are the same person that have been saying for years that there’s no need for education in the production business, beside the $2500 for you that is, but I guess that doesn’t count as education.

  4. Dear Nino,
    I can see that you don’t know too much about writers or writing books.
    “most new writers don’t actually write the book, they write the story and then there’s a professional writer that puts it in a correct book form.”
    Boy, I don’t know where you came up with that one, but many of my friends are writers, (some you may even have heard of) and I can tell you that none of them ever worked in that way. They may have and editor who works with them once the book gets sold, but they work for months and sometimes years writing and re-writing. No one works with a ‘professional’ writer, (except for Donald Trump, who worked with my friend Tony Schwartz who wrote “The Art of the Deal” that Trump put is name on but probably never saw.
    You may know something about lighting, but it is pretty obvious you know very little about how the world of literature works. Also, I have many friends who graduated from Harvard who cannot write their way out of a paper bag. You would be surprised. Many a great writer went to Community College, by the way.

  5. No Michael, I don’t. I’m a member of the WGA and writing screenplays has been my hobby since there were only manual typewriters, not even the electric ones. I’m what’s know in the business as a script doctor, or ghost writer in the book business. I’ve written 18 screenplays and sold 12 of them to agents and 4 four are optioned, sold them for peanuts by comparison of what they are really worth but still a lucrative hobby, better than collecting butterflies. Those scripts are then given by the agents to their own clients, well established writers who modify the writing with their own style, some were re-written as novels. That’s as close as I care to be to the Hollywood scene. I can assure you that everyone here has seen one or more of my screenplays.

    I’m not a headline or a limelight guy like you are, I like to do thing with my hands and in the background, I leave the fame and glory to people like you. The most important thing is my life is to spend time with my family as a complete unknown, fame at any level can really screw up a family. That’s why I chosen to be behind the camera.

  6. BTW Michael, still photography is another of my hobbies, particular still life of flowers, I can spend hours creating images of flowers; it’s good therapy, much cheaper and a lot more fun that seeing a therapist.

    I don’t make them for money, actually I don’t even want to think about money when I work on that stuff.

    I know that this might come as a surprise to someone like you, but making money is not very important to some people. It just happens, when you get to be good at what you do money always finds its way into the checkbook. I have two commercial interior decorators that buy those flowers images as fast as I can make them. that’s why learning, real learning is important.

    You can see some right here

  7. Now that anyone can purchase an inexpensive HDV camera that is capable of making close to broadcast quality pictures (please don’t argue this point, every major network has a policy in place now to acommodate the use of HDV in commissioned programs) and a Mac with FCP there are thousands and thousands of people who want to express themselves with video. Even though you can use a point and shoot HDV camera out of the box and make great looking pictures, and even edit them together into something decent, people who want their videos to really look good, or want to sell their stuff on-line or on the air will benefit from basic instruction. The course that Michael is offering gives people the basics they need to produce much more professional looking videos. In four days it is possible to learn basic disciplines of shooting and editing, because frankly, it’s not that complicated or difficult. The fact that Michael’s course is associated with a broadcast network adds a tremendous amount of value and makes it unique in the world of video instruction.

    There are thousands and thousands of courses offered all over the country to teach people how to use Word, Excel, and various computer operating systems. People who purchase computers are glad to spend hundreds of dollars learning how to save files and word process. Are you also critical of these courses? Do you resent that the people who run the courses make money with them? What’s wrong with taking a course to learn how to better use your HDV camera and video editing system?

  8. The resentment comes from the sales pitch for the course and it’s false claims of a market to sell ones product and skills after they have paid and taken said course.

    There is nothing wrong with taking a course to learn to produce a better video product as long as those people know all they are doing, for the most part, is producing better vacation video sand not beginning a long, lucrative career.

  9. The course is designed with and offered in partnership with The Travel Channel, who actively pursue the best of the graduates of the course, and open the door to anyone who has graduated to sell their content to several new streams of user generated content for the network.

    There is something very new and very real here, and if there is any resentment it comes from those who felt they were in some kind of ‘exclusive’ club suddenly finding that the door is now open to anyone who wants to join in.

  10. So in order to have the privilege of “selling” you have to pay for the course first and successfully “graduate”?

    Something doesn’t seem correct when a person has to pay a company for the privilege of possible future employment.

    $2500 for four days of training?

    That’s an expensive job interview.

  11. Oh no.
    We will buy product from anyone. Just finished cutting first three shows and bought about 50 pieces (or bits there of), from about 50 different people. All got paid. And I understand that Gannett is running a VJ bootcamp for their newspapers and stations where applicants pay for the course, take it, and then MIGHT get a job, if they are good enough. Have you written to them to complain?

  12. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

    I was going by your earlier words, “The course is designed with and offered in partnership with The Travel Channel, who actively pursue the best of the graduates of the course, and open the door to anyone who has graduated to sell their content to several new streams of user generated content for the network. ”

    I apparently jumped to an improper conclusion.

    Thanks again for making that clearer for me.

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