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Film Trailer: “The Long Night” Coming Soon from MediaStorm, Tim Matsui, and The Alexia Foundation

November 3rd, 2013

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View the original post at the Alexia Foundation’s blog on 9/04/2013.

The Long Night, a feature film by Tim Matsui and MediaStorm, gives voice and meaning to the crisis of minors who are forced and coerced into the American sex trade. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/publication/the-long-night

From the Alexia Foundation’s blog:

“Tim’s honesty and belief in the importance of the story allowed him access to these difficult scenes and emotions. Carey Wagner worked with Tim to provide additional footage and encouragement. The Long Night is a testimony to the lives of those who have lived, and survived, the crisis of domestic minor sex trafficking.

“This isn’t a film with an agenda,” explains Tim Matsui. “It’s a story about people facing circumstances that I cannot imagine having to deal with myself.”

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Posted in behind the scenes, Canon 5D Mark II, documentary, human trafficking, journalism, Leaving the Life, movies, multimedia, photography, pimp, prostitution Comments Off on Film Trailer: “The Long Night” Coming Soon from MediaStorm, Tim Matsui, and The Alexia Foundation

ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “The Motel, Part 2” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

October 20th, 2013

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This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 10/15/2013.

(Caption: Lisa in an interview room while in jail. She was arrested for prostitution and spent a week in jail, just long enough to suffer through the physical effects of heroin detox.)

I happened to drop in one evening when Lisa wanted to do a movie and dinner in Jane’s motel room. Lisa wasn’t there yet, so I accompanied Jane to the grocery store across the street.

Jane left home at 13, spent the last of her teenage years in Mexico, and has four children with an abusive husband. She has another child with a boyfriend who spends more time in jail than not. She’s got a crack habit. And she’s got a soft spot for Lisa.

This wasn’t always the case. As we walked through the produce aisles, picking avocados for fresh guacamole, Jane confessed she’d been pretty mean to Lisa. I don’t remember the details, but it seems that on the street, especially with drugs, you don’t have much more than your reputation.
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ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “The Motel, Part 1” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

October 15th, 2013

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This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 10/11/2013.

There’s a series of low-slung motels along Pacific Highway South. They sit side-by-side, their balcony-style hallways shouting distance apart. Every day, thousands of cars stream along the median-split thoroughfare, passing weathered signs and week-long specials.
I visited one motel regularly, looking for Lisa, the girl in the robe. Since she hung out in the area, I did too.

In August, hundreds of cops descended on the motels. They drove up with armored vehicles, wore black tactical gear, and shut the motels down. The cops said the motels were “crime dens.” The owners allowed residents to sell drugs and prostitution – the phrase needs reworking, another work to make it clearer – to sell drugs and to commit prostitution, something like that, taking a fee for each visitor, each transaction.

I’d heard complaints about the owners and their fees. But the people living there, many who were self-admitted addicts, didn’t see much choice. It was part of the lifestyle.

What follows are a series of vignettes from the place I frequented while filming “The Long Night.”
Some names have been changed.

Jane waiting at the motel, her room busy.

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ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “Tom, A Father’s Search for His Daughter” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

June 29th, 2013

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This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 6/27/2013.

He’s a big man, tall and broad in the shoulder, with large hands. They are no longer rough and calloused, like I imagine they were when he was a trucker. The deep huskiness of his voice, a smoker’s, lends itself to the cadence of his speech. Deliberate, thoughtful, and paced so a drag on the cigarette feels natural.

Tom, along Pacific Highway South, also known as "the track."

Except that night.

Tom was speaking fast, a fluid stream-of-consciousness monologue. The window to the rental car was cracked, drawing his smoke out into the evening air. Rap played loudly on the satellite radio.

“To be a hunter,” he said, “you need to think like your prey.”

“I hate this music,” he gestured toward the dash, “But I used to listen to it. It’s what they listen to.”

Tom was showing me what he used to do, every day, while his daughter was missing. He would start in Tacoma, amongst the seedy motels and clubs, then drive Highway 99 north until Everett. The old highway changes names along the way; Pacific Highway South, International Boulevard, Aurora. But for many it is just one thing: The Track. It’s where one goes to find prostitutes, and Tom knew his daughter was one.

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ON STORYTELLING: IT’S NOT THE GEAR, IT’S YOUR SKILL

April 6th, 2012

With the release of the new Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D Mark III, both amateur and professional photographers have new tools at their disposal. Questions abound: Which camera is better? Should I upgrade? What will it let me do? Should I go pure-video like a Canon C300 or a Sony NEX-FS700?

I am appreciative of the Canon 5D Mark II; I own two, and these compact DSLR’s have allowed me to shoot more video for my clients and for my personal projects. I’m enjoying the medium and how the combination of video, audio, and stills gives me more tools for storytelling, in spite of the increased complexity and greater workload. Will I upgrade? In due time, when it makes financial sense and there’s a need. For me, my main concerns are better ergonomics, audio capture, rolling shutter and moire.

The thing is, it’s just gear, and without story you’ve got nothing.
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DOCUMENTING “PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY ON THE ROAD” WITH PETE BROOK

December 10th, 2011

With an eye toward prison reform, writer and academic Pete Brook analyzes prison photography from behind his desk. After three years, he decided it was time to get out, on the road, and meet the people he’d written about. Especially the prisoners.

Pete is clear that he isn’t a photographer. Instead, he writes for Wired.com’s RAW File and runs his own blog where he dissects photography about the prison system in America. I knew him peripherally through the photo community and through introduction several years ago by a mutual friend. I like what he does, so when he put out an ask to help make a Kickstarter video, I offered to shoot it and Seattle Times staffer Erica Schultz edited it with Pete in an 11 hour binge.

Prison Photography has built a community over the years. There’s no money involved, so for Pete to get on the road, he had to ask for help. The Kickstarter campaign began. By using social media and crowd-sourced funding, he successfully raised more than he thought it would cost to make the grand American tour, meeting photographers in person, visiting prisons, and seeing education programs at work.

Click here or below to read more and see a scene cut from the video.

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BACK IN THE HILLS: MT. RAINIER, VIA THE DECEPTION CLEAVER

July 25th, 2011

It was an effort of putting one foot in front of the other and keeping my mind occupied enough that I could press on. It was mountaineering; not terribly technical, but physical, requiring some skill, and managing risk from crevasses, rockfall, and altitude.

At 14,000 feet I shuffled like a 80 year old, teetered like a drunk. Altitude is a hangover without the party. My head was starting to hurt and my nausea passed only after I dry heaved. Forcibly hyperventilating was the only way I could capture enough oxygen; even so, I was out of breath and, more annoyingly, low on energy. Two fast breaths for each step. I wanted more red blood cells.

(Mt. Rainier by moonlight. 13 second exposure, f5.6, ISO3200, using a rock as a tripod. Note the three lights on the mountain of teams on different routes starting their ascent ~2.00am)

For all the effort, it was also a huge relief. I’ve been missing the mountains. I hiked up the Muir Snowfield by the light of a half moon. I watched the sun rise from eastern Washington, spilling its light across the Cascades to brighten the dark valleys below. I made my body hurt, and in that hurt was presence and connection. Immediacy.

It was Frank’s idea to do it in a day from the car; it’s not uncommon, but most people choose to hike the Disappointment Cleaver, a heavily guided trade route, in two or three days. By doing it in a day, with optimal weather conditions (sunny and calm), we could lighten our loads and move faster.

Frank was great company and, as another photographer, understanding of the camera weight we carried and our pausing for pictures. His only complaint was that I was wearing all black on the summit, which isn’t so great for his photos. Fine by me. At that moment, all I wanted to do was head down to the thicker air below.

See more images in this gallery:


Deception Cleaver, Mt. Rainier – Images by Tim Matsui

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COMMITTING TO LONG-FORM STORYTELLING

June 29th, 2011

I couldn’t help but write about another Tucker Walsh post at the Digital Naturalist because he interviewed Noah and Tim Hussin or America reCycled. I was one of the 103 backers who donated a (meager) sum to their Kickstarter campaign, and continue to enjoy their long-form storytelling as they bicycle across the country and document “people…finding innovative ways to come together and make revolutionary change on a local level, to regain control of their lives, rediscover independence, and recycle the American Dream.”

Along with their Kickstarter campaign, they won a $5000 grant from National Geographic, have a PayPal button, and manage to get by living simply on the road.

It’s definitely a commitment to a lifestyle, and having met Tim Hussin in the MediaStorm office (he’s another alumnus of the MediaStorm family…and another Tim) before he left on the trip, I enjoyed getting a glimpse of how the journey is unfolding. If you read the interview, you’ll find a lot of the MediaStorm ethos in the brothers’ words, as well as some insight in their process.

Say the brothers (and I agree):

“…it’s common that people hardly spend time producing their stories, so how can they expect people to spend the time to watch them? We spend months shooting and editing some of the longer stories in this project, so in the end 20 minutes of material isn’t really too much.

“We firmly believe that as long as a story is interesting and engaging, then people will continue to watch and listen. And it’s important to show and prove to people that the content you produce is in fact worth dedicating more than three minutes of your time to. Then, when people come to your site to watch whatever you’ve produced, they’ve already set aside enough time to watch it all. ”

Set some time aside, I think you’ll enjoy it.

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HDSLR CAMERA “RIGS” – STORE BOUGHT (then modified)

April 11th, 2011

Part of shooting good video means capturing good sound, which is nearly impossible using an HDSLR. The solution I’ve chosen is to record audio to an external device and then sync the sound in post production using the Singular Software application “Pluraleyes” with Final Cut Studio.
The ergonomics of an HDSLR aren’t very conducive to shooting video. Add an audio recorder and microphone(s) to the mix and it’s even tougher–but it’s opened up a great market for accessory manufacturers who design HDSLR “rigs.” You can definitely do it yourself, but I’m not a terribly handy person. So I decided to go with a store bought solution.
I’m listing my kit as well as those of a couple other videographers whose solutions look quite workable (and which I might emulate if the situation calls for it).
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I’M GOING: A CELEBRATION OF LIFE

April 6th, 2011

It seemed important to record the events that ended up in this piece. First, I was visiting my Grandma last year, and she’s got some stories. We’re celebrating her 90th this month. Second, it was Carol, who’s 60th we celebrated last year. That said, it is family, it is informal, and I wanted to participate. So, while I took my camera out, I was making snapshots and “snapshot” video.

But there is a short story here, one I wasn’t anticipating creating. It’s about family, love, and strength in the face of adversity. I pulled this together, from those “snapshots,” for myself and for everyone else who’s been in a similar place.

For the tech-types: I used a tripod while recording Doug. I had the mind to use a tripod and an audio recorder for sync-sound while interviewing my Grandma. Everything else was hand-held, using the camera’s audio input and, sometimes, the just camera’s mic. You’ll hear the automatic gain control overwhelmed.

I’m Going from timmatsui.com on Vimeo.

Family and friends gather from across the country to celebrate my aunt Carol’s 60th birthday in April of 2010.

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TIM MATSUI CONTACT INFO

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