LATEST

Category
  • THE BEST PART

    THE BEST PART

    I took this photo of Kirsten at the Pride Parade in San Francisco in 2015.

    Kirsten and I moved to LA soon after.

    Kirsten worked for Levi's at the time and Levi's was marching in the parade.

    I'd been hired by Levi's to shoot for them for years up to this point.

    I was gonna go just to support gay rights.  I wasn't working at the parade.

    Someone from Levi's asked me last minute if I'd be willing to shoot the parade for them.

    I gave them my rate and they said, "no," and counter-offered me one-tenth.

    I was surprised.  I hadn't had that happen with them before.

    They triggered the dormant punk-rock side of me and I started thinking of Levi's as an evil conglomerate co-opting a grassroots movement, manipulating Pride into an opportunity solely for financial gain to them.

    I never thought this way about Levi's before, with regards to their prior community-activism-cum-marketing opportunities that they'd put together and that I'd been involved with.

    I didn't see this as cognitive dissonance.

    I saw one specific and measurable difference on their part this time.

    The difference was that Levi's never tried low-balling me before.

    It's not like Levi's was strapped for cash all of a sudden.

    Not only did I know that they weren't willing to pay a fair amount for this gig but that accepting the offer anyway would be setting a precedent that it was okay to low-ball every job moving forward.

    It reminded me of a saying,

    "You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics." -Charles Bukowski

    Would it be wrong for me to feel slighted if they weren't willing to save me from missing my rent for the month while working for them?

    Especially when I knew enough of how the sausage was made by then to know that there was literally no reason for them to do that, other than just to be greedy assholes?

    If Levi's, suddenly and out of character, decided that they wanted me at my lowest possible price, such that my fee, prorated over time, would amount to less than minimum wage, while benefitting themselves at an obscene deal greater than that, would it be wrong for me to lose some faith in their motives and intentions across the board?

    Would it follow, then, that if I couldn't trust them to treat me with the respect and dignity I'd earned as a proven colleague, that it might also mean I couldn't believe in the veracity of their performative "cause," as they'd spun it, when it came to Pride?

    I said, "no."

    Then I showed up with my camera and shot photos.

    I was happy to see so many people crowding the streets crying tears of joy.  Gay marriage had just passed.  It was obviously an especially celebratory occasion.

    I got home, edited the photos, and put them on my Flickr account.

    Days later, I heard back from the low-baller at Levi's.

    They thanked me for coming to Pride, as if Levi's were in charge of the invitations.

    They asked if they could see, and possibly share, some of the photos that they saw me taking that day.

    They didn't offer to license the photos from me.

    They didn't offer anything.

    They wanted free work.

    I said, "no."

    Their immediate response was to act like they were doing me a favor by even talking to me at all.

    They blacklisted me quickly afterwards.

    No one at the company would tell me why, even when I broke the passive-aggressive code of corporate conduct and called out the unbecoming gaslighting tactics of middle aged people who should know better.

    I lost a guaranteed 100,000 dollars a year by sticking with my integrity.

    I held onto that and moved to LA.

    I brought the best part of Levi's with me.

    (See above photo.)

  • HANGS WITH JACK RUDY

    The latest installment of my long-running YouTube TV Show, "Hangs With..." is out NOW.

    Episode 2 is called, "TOP FIVE REASONS WHY LA IS THE BEST."

    We've got Bay Area native and LA resident Jack Rudy, the mayor of all hot-takes in the hot seat here at ATC Studios in Los Feliz discussing not only WHY LA is the greatest, but HOW some of the most seemingly-indefensible qualities of Los Angeles are actually useful and beneficial to the Angeleno.

    Written and Hosted by Jack Rudy

    Shot, Cut and Directed by Whitney Dinneweth

    An Above the Cut Film

  • Greaser Reviews Blade Runner 2049

    The greaser's review and analysis of Blade Runner 2049 (2017.)

    Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

    Written by: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green

    Director of Photography: Roger Deakins

    Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer

    I've had complicated thoughts about Blade Runner 2049 since I first saw it at The Arclight in Hollywood when it came out.

    My Citizen Kane is the original Blade Runner from 1982.

    In this review, I discuss why I think the new Blade Runner is a great movie, but also not nearly as good as the original Blade Runner.

    I also discuss the new film's themes, which run the gamut from existential to political, in my estimation.

    I spoil the entire movie, so if you don't want spoilers and the warning at the start of this film doesn't dissuade you, don't watch this.

    Let me know what you think about Blade Runner 2049 and how you think it compares to the original Blade Runner.

    Greaser Reviews Blade Runner 2049

    Written and Produced by Whitney Dinneweth

    FAIR USE is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and "transformative" purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work.

    My usage of copyrighted clips and sounds are FAIR USE under copyright law.

    This film is not an infringement on copyright.

    An Above the Cut film.

    abovethecutfilms.com

  • HANGS WITH K BATT

    K Batt explains the top five things you need to know before you move to Los Angeles.

    These are direct, practical lessons from an Angeleno with 14 years of real-world experience in the city of Angels, delivered in her signature creepy, histrionic, court-jester-like style.

    Like and share if you found this helpful.

    Leave a comment and provide you own tips and tricks about moving to LA.

    K Batt:

    http://instagram.com/k__batt/

    Whitney:

    http://instagram.com/atcwhitney/

    An Above the Cut Film.

    http://abovethecutfilms.com

  • My Birthday: $35 For 35

    Kirsten and I threw a party for my birthday on August 4 2018.

    We had some amazing friends over.

    MAS Tattoo was tattooing in our kitchen.

    I turned 35 so he did $35 tattoos.

    MAS Tattoo:

    https://www.instagram.com/mas.tattoos/

    Me:

    https://www.instagram.com/atcwhitney/

    Kirsten:

    https://www.instagram.com/k__batt/

    An Above the Cut Film.

  • Greaser Reviews The Matrix

    My friend Mike was kind enough to invite me to a screening of a 35mm print of The Matrix.

    It was at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills.

    I've been inspired lately by my friend, Hero Bishop, and his YouTube show called "Nerd x Core."

    Watching how passionate Hero is about his content got me stoked, so I offered to help him create a little content here and there for Nerd x Core.

    After seeing The Matrix at the Academy, which was one of the coolest experiences of my life, my feeling about Hero plus my excitement from seeing The Matrix in 35mm coalesced and I decided to put together this film.

    Hope you enjoy.

  • Levi's® Custom Motorcycle

    In 2014, I'd already made literally hundreds of videos for Levi's®.

    Most of what I did, I didn't like.  Almost none of it was my idea.  Of course, to each their own.  But, as a fan of my employer, I felt like I had something that just so happened to by my idea, and that also was good for their brand, and that I could execute with greater authenticity than if it came from anyone's mind out of the corporate office.

    I became friends with a guy named Ryan, the master tailor appointed by corporate for the brand globally.  He lived in New York for a while, but when he came back to SF, I talked him into getting a motorcycle.

    I wanted more friends to ride with.

    He bought a Harley and became obsessed.

    He started tinkering with parts and customization.

    My other friend, Laif, had already been doing that, when he wasn't going on auditions or riding with me.

    There was a local hangout we used like a coffeeshop.  We would all go there almost every day just to hang out.  Sometimes, we'd decide to go for a ride from there.

    It was a community motorcycle garage called Piston & Chain.

    I had this idea suddenly that I could help Levi's® talk to its audience through films and photos, Laif, Ryan, motorcycles, and Piston & Chain.

    Levi's® was always talking in the office about "authenticity," the "workers," the "builders," the "individual," and "rugged" lifestyle.

    Mind you, most of the people working in the office were the antithesis of all of these things.  They were typically uptight, snobby, self-absorbed, prissy, fearful, insulated people who usually came from money and didn't even need their job to survive.

    But I believed in the marketing.  I was making videos for marketing purposes.  I'm a method actor.  I got into the mindset.

    So I talked to tons of people at the company over a few weeks when I'd pop in for other, more soul-sucking meetings and gigs.  There didn't seem to be much interest.

    I figured it was dead on arrival.  But I wanted to do my best, so I knew it wouldn't be my fault if it didn't go.

    So, instead of continuing to talk, or simply dropping the idea altogether, I made this video on a day off.

    It was a private link, and I emailed it to tons of people, including the President and the CEO of Levi's®, both of whom I'd never spoken to via email but who were cc'ed at various points on emails I was a part of.

    I couldn't try to have my pitch heard any harder than that.

    Nothing ever happened.

    Besides the fact that I now have this video.

    I still like it, even though it feels like a painful reminder of a time when my days, unbeknownst to me, were numbered working for Levi's®.

    And, as a reminder of a certain wide-eyed optimism I had then, it makes my stomach turn a bit now in hindsight. (Not only did the video go nowhere and the gigs dry up, but my two friends in the video aren't really in my life anymore either, and I broke up with San Francisco.  Long story.)

    But none of that matters.

    One of the things I love about filmmaking and taking photos is that the truth in films and photos is captured at a time and place, and exists forever in that form.

    Even if things change, like they always do in life, there exists somewhere an infinite loop where a story plays over and over again.  And nothing can change that.  Not even reality.

    It exists.

    In a film.

    In this film.

  • New York 2012

    In 2012, I was making a living full-time as a filmmaker and photographer.

    I was living in San Francisco and freelancing for a bunch of clients, but Levi's® was regularly hiring me.  I'd been broke my whole life and suddenly I was making more money than I ever thought I'd make.

    I was constantly scared, because I'd managed to scrape my way, after years of trying, out of the minimum wage and service industry worlds, and I never wanted to go back.

    But I also felt like it was sure to go away at any moment, so I gladly became an insatiable workaholic.

    I'd regularly pull marathons where I'd be working around the clock with no days off for up to a month.  That's because I wanted to do all the gigs and all the jobs on all the gigs.

    Every time I worked with anybody else, they'd screw up their job over and over until I'd just take over for them and do it myself.  I'd pitch, plan, schedule, direct, shoot, run live audio, edit, sound design, take photos, etc.

    Generally, when I'd have a day off, I'd get right back into looking for more work.

    But, for once, I decided that, after a typical marathon gig, this time I'd go on vacation.

    I could have gone anywhere in the world.  I'd never had enough money to be able to do that before (and may never again.)

    I chose New York.

    I wanted to take some video while I was there so I could look back on it, in case, at some point, I lost my career, became broke again, and could never go back.

    I wasn't even convinced that I should upgrade to a Canon 5d because I never believed my freelance career would last until the next month for years.  So I brought my t3i, which I'd been using to make the videos that paid for that trip (It's the Indian, not the arrow).

    I'd never been to New York.  Ever since 1991, there were two things that I knew: that I wanted to be a filmmaker and I wanted to live in New York.  I didn't know why, but I felt it was true.

    When I arrived, I immediately felt at ease.  It felt like home.  The noise, the traffic, the energy, the smell.  It warmed my soul.

    It's been six years.  I became a filmmaker and did that job for a living for a long time.

    The time spent that you see in this video is the closest I've come to living in New York.

  • Silverlake Reservoir

    Late last year, I had to pick up a second job.

    I moved from San Francisco, where my freelancing business was booming for years, to LA, where it stopped dead in the waters of Silverlake.

    I arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed in Hollywood in 2015. The prodigal son, who left home penniless, without any direction, and returned, by most accounts, with a pretty impressive self-made business under his belt. Some of the biggest possible clients from around the world. Some high-profile projects. Even LinkedIn references, if you were asking for primary sources.

    In 2015, the Silverlake Reservoir had evaporated, and the ensuing barren landscape mirrored my newfound career drought I’d unknowingly walked into.

    I pursued my connections from San Francisco and New York, but they only lasted me a handful of months.

    I tried establishing new ones in Hollywood but I ran into that famous nepotism wall. The one the white walkers always seem to have such a hard time with.

    I tried DTLA but I was too New York for fake-New-York.

    I tried Santa Monica but I was too skeptical of the brash start-ups I figured would collapse before sending me my check.

    I even tried connections in Silverlake but it was all dried up.

    The wall is protecting the privileged of Hollywood from Wildlings: self-made freelancers who are wary of the unions (full disclosure: I’m a member of SAG) and interested in thinking outside the box (or north of the wall, if you will.)

    The wall is real. I left Los Angeles the first time because of it. And when I returned with more optimism than an MMA fighter with a burgeoning (but tenuous) potential movie career, I ran head first into it again like I’d never left.

    In San Francisco, everything clicked into place.

    But I found myself back in Hollywood.

    In the middle of a draught.

    So, after burning myself out taking freelancing jobs I was way overqualified for while being paid what amounted to less than minimum wage by the hour, six to seven days a week, for months at a time (not to mention, being treated like absolute garbage by that other famous Hollywood cliche: unhinged narcissists), I made a decision I never thought I’d make again: I took a customer service job.

    I picked my favorite coffee shop. One that, in an intentionally maudlin gesture, reminded me of San Francisco, and started working, giving up any ideas of continuing my freelancing career.

    A few weeks ago, I resigned at my toxic customer service job.

    I didn’t know what I was going to do. But I knew that anything was better than staying at that job. Even being homeless. I’ve been homeless before. It was in the Bay Area. It happened only a couple years before I started freelancing full time.

    Then, out of nowhere, a friend connected me with someone who offered me a job.

    I was to start the day before my last day at the coffee shop.

    I’m working on a project, without giving away too much, that’s connected to my favorite director, the one who inspired me in 1990 to pursue the art life.

    In 2015 Silverlake was completely barren.

    Now, from Los Feliz, I can see a shimmering surface.