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The Adventuress Spirit

My interview with director and mother of two, Nishikawa Fumie, went live last Friday. If you’re staying tuned to Indievisual updates through the blog, apologies for the delay. You can go directly to the interview by clicking here.

This was also the first time I went to photograph the interviewee for the feature image. I used only an iPhone 7 with lenses by Moment. There was a bit of a learning curve with their app, but I was satisfied with the results, not to mention doing this was a great way to become more acquainted with Ms. Nishikawa. Moving forward, I look forward to mastering both the technical and human interaction aspects of portrait photography.

Owning It

An recent message exchange with a friend went something like this….

Friend: “…and for god sakes put your name on something”
Me: “I’m more public than I’ve ever been….”
Friend: “You deserve to own your content. If Ben Kuchera can do it, you can!
Me: “Oh, you mean like the Byline?”
Friend: “Yea.”
Me: “Thought about it. But when it’s a one man show, it’s weird having literally everything ‘by: Ben Dimagmaliw’.”
Friend: “I hear ya, no harm in a pseudonym for that use either. But just as an observer, seeing only “staff writer” makes it look a little fake. When Kuchera ran that game news site, literally very article was by him, and you know don’t be afraid to own it. In the proud sense, not the ownership sense. You are the extension of your brand after all, or vice versa.”
Me: “I see your point. Will look into an elegant way of doing it.”
Friend: “Hey…I really admire how much you put into it and people should know!”

As I’ve previously stated, I am normally not the most outgoing person in the world. I prefer to be behind the scenes rather in front of the camera. I’d rather let my work speak for itself. But we live in an age when self-promotion is every bit as important and for this reason, I have put myself “out there” more than I have ever before or am personally comfortable. Thus the design of the magazine site acknowledges ownership on the About page, but deliberately favored a “plural” persona in hopes of conveying a more “professional” image. The effect, at least to my friend, was the opposite; generic “editor-in-chief” and “staff writer” bylines worked against credibility. I equated showing who made the site with ownership, but owning it in the sense of being proud of what I have built and the articles I have written is just as vital for Indievisual’s overall presentation.

To be honest, putting my name on everything just seemed weird to me, maybe even a little embarrassing. However, my friend raises a good point: “I am the brand and the brand is me.” That is a fact I can not deny. Indievisual is a labor of love and as I have pointed out occasionally in the past–even in the exchange above–this is a one-man operation and perhaps that, too, needs to be a part of the overall image, not just explained in blog entries like this, but through communicating whose name is on each and every article and, most likely in the near future, photograph. I thought about my friend’s words for a brief period and considered perhaps playful pseudonyms, but in the end, a voice inside me just kept repeating, “Why not? What could be the harm?” Therefore, I have changed the settings on the backend of the site so that my name is displayed on the bylines of articles. In so doing, my intention is to reinforce the human element other one-person magazines, products, apps, etc. have advised to do in their own blogs, pointing to the importance of connecting with one’s audience as a human being which gives them a sense of personal investment in one’s efforts. People are most likely to root for an individual through thick and thin rather than some anonymous group. Given Indievisual’s core principle–to root for independent Japanese filmmakers and bolster their name awareness–my initial attempt at feigning an organizational structure now does seem silly at best, somewhat hypocritical at worst. Thanks to my friend, this has now been remedied.

Dreamhost v. DoJ

Back in August, Indievisual’s web hosting company reported a request they received from the Department of Justice to provide the data of visitors to a political activist site. Dreamhost respectfully declined, but was then met with an order to compel. Ultimately, they went to Superior Court and prevailed. Read the posts from Dreamhost to learn the complete details, but the TL:DR version is this: Dreamhost fought to defend/protect their user’s (and in effect all web users’) data from unreasonable and unjustified requests by the government.
Without taking this blog into the political arena, I wanted to acknowledge and applaud their efforts to keep the internet free of privacy exploitation whether by private, corporate, or political entities. Dreamhost is an independently owned and operated company which allows them to maintain a core set of values and a commitment to customers other companies funded by corporate or venture capital may not. Dreamhost has won an important skirmish in the fight for internet user rights by standing up to the Department of Justice and Indievisual is proud to be hosted with them.

Kitamura Ryuhei Returns

Kitamura Ryuhei, director of the indie zombie-action movie, Versus, is following-up his lukewarmly received live-action adaptation of the Lupin III anime series for Japan with two U.S. productions. First up is Downrange, a riff of the slasher movie which is world premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section. Described as a return-to-basics, but with a twist (the “slasher” in question is a sniper in this case), the setup plays into Kitamura’s resourceful and austere filmmaking utilized in Versus which garnered him world-wide attention. Kojima Hideo, who saw a preview screening of Downrange lauded it as potentially genre redefining. High praise indeed, but should be taken with a grain of salt as the two have been good friends since they collaborated on CG cut-scenes for Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid game.

Variety also has exclusively broken the story of Kitamura’s next project, Doorman,  which has cast none other than Katie Holmes and Jean Reno in the lead roles. Again, exciting sounding news for this Japanese indie director who has been courted by Hollywood before, but has yet to “break out” in the same fashion as say, Gareth Edwards or Neill Blomkamp. Whether this is a result of incompatibility with the system or a vision which ironically becomes more muddled as the budget increases is unknown. Suffice it to say, Kitamura has the stature to attract producers abroad, but the hit or miss nature of the final products so far is the reason for the “grain of salt” comment previously. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Other 00’s

From Daring Fireball’s John Gruber–a bond fan:

I’ve been saying for years that they should do a spin-off movie starring Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter. Also ripe for spin-offs: the exploits of the other agents in the 00 sector. With Bond, you know he’s going to win in the end. Make some movies or a serious HBO-style limited series about the other agents in the 00 sector and you’d never know who was going to die when. There is a ton of untapped potential in this franchise.

One has to wonder why other than Sean Bean’s 006 in Goldeneye, the other agents of the 00 section of Her Majesty’s Secret Service have not been fictionalized at all. The Broccoli’s could have used short movies about the other 00’s as a platform to test potential new Bond directors.  Somewhere, someone is missing the boat on great stories in and around Bond (like Rogue One is a “Star Wars Story”). Will Apple or Amazon tap in to this potential?? Gruber at least throws the idea out there for all of us to consider.