Our People on PeopleWhoMakeThings

Recently featured on PeopleWhoMakeThings was our very own Mr. Mann and Woman of Many Hats - Gina Duci. See the full post to see his photoshoot and excerpts from his conversation with photographer Matthew Schmidt


Eric Mann - director/cinematographer/filmmaker

1/2 - director/cinematographer/filmmaker- Eric Mann

"You gotta have the beginners mind. When you’re first learning something you don’t judge yourself. You just learn. That’s when beginners luck happens. Then you start thinking, and that’s when the judging and self-doubt creeps in." - Eric Mann

2/2 -director/cinematographer/filmmaker- Eric Mann

"I see a lot of people getting excited about new camera equipment. Technology is so accessible now, which is great. But it has to be about the story. We’re storytellers and I think we hold a responsibility being that, because people subconsciously make decisions after being exposed to a story." - Eric Mann

Gina Duci - actor/dancer/singer

1/2 -actor/dancer/singer- Gina Duci

"I didn’t have the easiest time with girls when I was younger. In fourth grade my class came to see me in the musical I was doing. The next day in school I went to sit with my 3 best girlfriends in class, and all three put up these dry erase boards and started whispering behind them and wouldn’t talk to me. It was hurtful. These were my friends. I realized that because I was in the show the day before that these girls felt threatened or jealous. It’s bullying. I thought they came to be supportive. I wish I could say that stuff like that stops when you get older, but it doesn't. You just grow a thicker skin." - Gina Duci

2/2 -actor/dancer/singer- Gina Duci

"My dad is a carpenter and for a Christmas gift he build me a dance studio in our basement. I was always down there. The neighborhood kids would come over and I'd teach them routines. It's crazy to think that 12 years later I'm basically doing the same thing, and can call this my living." - Gina Duci

Arkansans Seek To Explain Paris Climate Conference Through Camera

Here's the Climate Countdown team's interview with KUAR FM 89.1 :

Arkansas is a long way from Paris. But at least one Arkansan is there covering the climate conference, known by the shorthand, COP21. 

Eric Mann, a Little Rock native is the producer and director of photography of a documentary web series called Climate Countdown.

As leaders of the world and thousands of activists have descended on the capital of France for high-stakes climate talks, Mann's production company Unreel Films, based partly in Little Rock, partly in New York, is documenting what's happening. He and Californian Kaia Rose, the creator and director, are both there now.

Mann and Rose work together at Unreel Films, where Rose is an editor. But Mann says with this project, he and Rose want people to understand the gravity and importance of COP21.

“There are friends of mine who don't know what it is," he says. "So, [we're] getting them to know it, getting Arkansans to know it, getting the U.S. To really keep their eyes and ears on it." 

But the Climate Countdown team is only on the periphery of discussions.

“You know, I'm not a diplomat. I'm not a scientist. But what I do have is a camera,” Mann says.

Rose says the video project, which began this year with installments leading up to the big event, is solution-based.

“Understanding how bad this problem is and how urgent it is, but also, we're facing a crisis and we have to do something about it," she says. "What are we doing about it?”

In Paris, Rose says that means talking to the multitudes who are not only involved in the negotiations, but the activists conducting art projects and forums nearby.

“It's kind of overwhelming actually. We're still actually finding our groove. There's so much happening every hour of every day here,” she says.

That's why the team also includes production manager Mikita Thompson, a Viola, Arkansas native who's doing social media, research and other paperwork from New York. She says she finds the documentary style to be illuminating.

“It's taking something that is so complicated and laden with acronyms, that nobody knows what they mean, if you're not part of COP delegates and puts it into this really distilled, simplified, attainable format.”

Thompson and Mann met at the Arkansas Repertory Theater's production of Elf last year. Thompson was the dresser and costume designer, Mann an actor. Mann started Unreel Films in 2013. 

In Climate Countdown, Mann's hand-held shots accompany Rose as she talks with Climate experts and activists. That's interspersed with overhead shots of post-its and notebook illustrations mapping out some of the loaded climate policy. Mann explains the reasoning behind the process.

“If we ask someone what this jargon is or what they're doing, let's put it on a Post-It, because that forces you to be very concise and very to point,” he says.

The project won't stop at the end of the Paris conference, which ends Friday. The production team members say they're planning for a season two of episodes not only unpacking a COP21 agreement, but also to see how effectively the policies are implemented. 

The Health of the Planet and Our Consciousness

If you’ve been keeping up with Climate Countdown, you may begin to notice that in order to not only solve climate change, but put climate solutions and actions into practice this must be done at all levels.  And I mean all levels - top-down to bottom-up.  This is a multi-level fully-integrative problem.  


Since this is true, we have to keep going deeper to the root of all of this.  What comprises systems, organizations, states, nations, companies (and all levels within those systems)?  The individual.  It is within the individual’s power where all choices and actions arise.  And if we are to go to an even deeper level, one might say that these actions and choices arise from presence or consciousness, or a lack thereof.  If we are to look at this fully integrative problem of climate change, it is only natural that we must also look at the state of our consciousness as an entire planet.  


If the power of a single choice can indeed have an impact, we each have an incredible responsibility in the actions we take.  This includes all of us at all levels of the socio-economic scale.  If you make the small decision to buy an energy efficient light bulb, you are contributing to the power of capitalism by putting your money where your mouth is, and ultimately contributing to a path toward a cleaner future.  And perhaps, in addition to the purchasing power you also recognize that this is a more sustainable product than it’s predecessor.  Even if your awareness does not nudge in the slightest, someone out there had the awareness to create a more efficient light source, which contributes to the overall well-being of us humans (whether intentional or not).  


If you are the head of a major organization or company, you too have an incredible responsibility.  I should hope that no one is inherently evil - I would say there are vast levels of unconsciousness which could be mistaken with a label of “evil" - but, I suppose that many people and heads of companies are trying to make a living and create a better quality of life for themselves.  Perhaps, some people cut corners because it may seemingly “better” their company.  However, it is in this act of cutting a corner where the problem lies.  These acts are acts that in fact create riffs and go against the harmony that nature provides.  This is the ego coming into play.  Wanting more, and taking more than is needed.  These tiny tiny acts all add up to a big big problem.  What do they call it? - the butterfly effect.  


What I am getting at is that we can inherently see what the overall choices that we as individuals and societies make by looking directly at the planet Earth.  It is indeed a mirror for us and the small choices we make.  When our air has more and more CO2, this is directly related to choices that people make and have made at any level.  It seems to me that as we heal our planet we also heal our ego, or is it as we heal our ego we also heal our planet?  Either way our level of consciousness as an individual, society, and world will play a role in this matter.  


We always have a choice.


Inspiration is the Responsibility to Create

I read recently on the back of my Trilogy Kombucha bottle, “Inspiration is the responsibility to create.”  Not only do I have inspiration to create the visions that I see in my head, but now I have the inspiration to write about them.  


As a filmmaker, I often get to be a fly on the wall for some many various lines-of-passions.  There is such joy in capturing just the little slice of their lives and putting it to film for the world to see.  This communication, this crossing of passions, is the incredible gift I get to partake in and building bridges between the multitudes of perspectives.  It truly is a powerful gift that I have stumbled upon.


Every person has their own little slice (I could say bubble, but that doesn’t allow for the possibility of seeing outside that bubble - and we can).  This hurtle is a self-made hurtle, but that is why there is incredible power in filmmaking.  If we are to capture the truest essence of the person in their unique “slice,” then that common heart-centered passion transcends just what they are doing on the page.  Watching and conversely filming the magnitude of genres out there, you see what lies at the root of all passions…love.  


This is the common thread that binds us.  This is why film is so powerful, not because it can be seen by the world, but that because it is seen by the world, the edit and the filming must always have a conscious choice to bring forward that passion and love to extend the boundaries of our little bubble.  We begin to see that we are, at the root, all the same.  


If we film because we are focusing on the success of the video or of our pocket books, we begin to make unconscious choices, which leads to more miscommunication for the world to see.  If we just bring in the light of consciousness, we can provide a gift that we can share with the world.  This very act of sharing, is an act of love.  This permeates the video or film and it is my hope that this feeling transcends to the watcher.  Even if it is subtle and almost unrecognizable.  It is the difference between art that puts a fire in the watcher, to get them up off their ass, and entertainment that creates an addictive effect to keep playing the next episode.  Not to say that their aren’t episodics that do this, in fact Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon is such a freakin good example of this.  You watch it and you are inspired to be the best that you can be.  Every time I watch it, I want to be a warrior in real life that much more.  And not every television show has to talk about spiritual things.  It is more about bringing the most conscious choice to every choice to bring out the truest essence of the story you are telling.  This clarity can’t help but transcend to the viewer creating and resonating with something more powerful inside each of us…this is bigger than anything we could possibly imagine.


This is the essence of storytelling.  And we have a choice at every moment.