Saturday, January 29, 2011

They are who they are. - Trail Dance Film Festival review

It's Trail Dance Film Festival weekend here in Duncan, Oklahoma, which is always fun. While some people love seeing the odd, quirky or 'horror' flicks, I like to watch the local, Oklahoma productions and documentaries.
Friday night the festival kicked off with the premiere of "Moving On" which was filmed right here in Duncan. Fantastic show. I'll add links at the bottom for the Q&A I filmed afterward (from my great seat in the audience!).

I wasn't feeling really good this morning, so I slept in and missed On Sacred Ground, but I believe I can buy the DVD anytime. Moving On is also available on DVD.

This afternoon though, I was glad to be one of many, many people to stand in line for Loving Lampposts, the story of Sam, an autistic child, told from his father's perspective and also a great documentary that Todd Drezner (Sam's dad) shot over a 2 1/2 year time span. I went away from the movie feeling much better about autism.
I learned so much and wished I had taken some notes of quotes, but this is what I got from it that I want to share:
They are who they are.
Autism children and people do things for a reason. Whether it's the sounds or actions they do, it is for a reason. If we're not as smart to understand why, the least we can do is TRY to understand why they are doing whatever they do.
It's important to establish a relationship with your autistic child. That's the first step in helping them.
While language seems to be a barrier for autistic children, it's not always permanent. Many autistic children grow up to have functioning, capable lives. And carry on normal conversations. And obtain degrees.
It's not the fault of one parent. In fact, it's not a fault, unless you believe the vaccine connection, which I believe hasn't been completely ruled out. The explanations are difficult for the basis of autism.
Make your autistic child's life as clean as can be. "Heal the body" before the brain is completely damaged. I loved that part! There are so many TOXINS out there that are literally causing the health demise of our population.
The most frightening thing out of the movie was the alarming growth in autism diagnoses. Something like 1 out of 100 today, compared to 1 out of 2,500 just a few years ago. Something is so wrong with that increasing number. I liked that there are actually huge conventions that focus just on Autism and how to make life better and easier for those diagnosed with it.

One person in the movie said there is probably a guarantee that you or I know someone with an autistic relative, or that you have an autistic relative or loved one.
Yes, I do. My grandson, Roman. And we hope that his little brother, my sweet grandbaby Brian isn't going to have it. Their mom, my daughter-in-law, has her hands full, since she and my son are not together now. That's one thing that also was addressed. Autism takes it's toll on families and many do fall apart.
I can remember watching Roman go from a happy interactive little baby, to a little boy who didn't necessarily connect. I loved that after a bit of work, he'd respond to me when he realized I was taking his picture.
When I sat down to watch Loving Lampposts, I'll admit, I was wiping away tears. It was hard for me to just cement myself to that seat when Sam came onto the screen. But I'm so glad that I did. I left without tears and feeling a much better understanding of autism.
They are who they are.
And all you can do is love them. And learn.

I also realized that autism is something that has many people struggling to understand. Even right here in Duncan, Oklahoma. The filled audience was evidence of that.
If you want to see Loving Lampposts, visit (I tried to insert the link, but it wouldn't show up as such).

Sunday, I plan to see the documentary, Blood Into Wine, which is much more lighthearted,
Visit the official film festival site where at the bottom of the page is links for Sunday's full schedule. The day ends with the Golden Drovers awards, a true red carpet event!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Portrait of a Firefighter - Oklahoma photographer

Tim Helton is a retired firefighter and the husband of a friend of mine. He volunteered to be the model for Live Model Night this month at the Chisholm Trail Arts Council Community Fine Arts Center & Gallery. He did a fantastic job. It was a small turnout with three of us, including Tim's wife, Shirley, who were photographers. The others who came were artists and did sketch studies. It was fun and I stayed an hour longer than I planned.
I wasn't going to show or post this, as I wanted to wait and print it for display in the gallery, but economics being what they are these days, that may not happen for a few months.
I love being able to photograph and then getting creative with my work later.

Now a word of caution. I'm going on my soapbox.
Just remember, if you are a relatively new photographer, shoot plenty of things and experiment with your own work, not another photographer's work, if you are learning digital paint programs or textures.

I know that the majority of photographers I know, whether online or in person, don't like it when someone else 'Plays' with their work, especially a finished published piece. Just because it's on the Internet doesn't mean it's up for grabs and if someone shares an image with you they took, that also doesn't give you the right to rework their image to your own liking.
All I'm saying is respect the 'artist's work.'
I don't know how often this needs to be said, because you can see this same type of rant on many a photographer's blog, facebook, forums or other places. Yet, so many people continue to violate copyrights and disrespect artists.
OK, stepping down now!
Get out there, photograph, draw, paint...whatever it is that inspires you. Share it with the world or keep it private. Just find the inner artist in you!