Gaining Momentum

Last night, I had dinner with friends. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but last night was different. Last night, we filmed our dinner.

I created a project called WhyBHM at the beginning of this year. WhyBHM is simple. I ask a local resident to sit down with me and answer two questions: why did they come to Birmingham in the first place and why have they stayed. It's been a fun project and I've met a ton of wonderful, passionate people through it. After recording and posting over a dozen stories to the site, I've gotten to the point where it's pretty easy for me to maintain the project. So what's next?

After I spoke at TEDxRedMountain in May, Mark Kelly approached me about his new venture, Weld. He'd seen the WhyBHM project and wanted to know if I'd consider contributing to Weld. I told him I'd consider it and get back to him. A few days later, Andrea Walker and I sat at Rogue Tavern and brainstormed the next evolution of WhyBHM. We called it Momentum. Mark, I suppose I still owe you an answer on the original question.

WhyBHM is a lovely little project. It has a very defined scope. It's self-contained. I like it and I don't want to change it. But I look around this city and, especially after the civic involvement we witnessed after the April storms, I see the opportunity for its citizens to be active participants. WhyBHM is not a project centered on activism, but on reflection. I wanted a different venue, and out of this desire was born Momentum.

Momentum is a riff on Jon Favreau's Dinner for Five concept. In this show, Favreau sits down to dinner with four friends from the entertainment field and tell war stories: what it was like to work on this film, how they landed that job, how they approach their work. It's one of those shows that makes me stop and watch every time I come across it when channel surfing. There's something about people joining together over food and telling stories that's absorbing. Andrea and I took Dinner for Five, added a big gob of community activism and a sprinkle of agile methodology and came up with Momentum.

I've spent the last month calling up friends, acquaintances, and strangers asking for cameras, lights, microphones, riggings, make-up, flowers, set design, great food, and most importantly, time. Incredibly, all of these things came together on the first try. We started late and ran long and there were technical hurdles to leap over (and partially stumble on) but in the end we succeeded in what was important: we started.

I owe huge debts to: Robby Melvin, Michael Marlow and the whole crew at Salt Fine Catering. Seriously, that was one of the top three dinners in my life.

Ned Boggan, Noah Williams, (Dan) Greenough, Kenn McCracken, and Chris Hilleke for manning and remanning cameras, figuring out how to light a tiny room, and being able to rig out three sound configurations until we got one that worked.

Chance Shirley, Wade Kwon, and all of the folks at Vazda Studios for trusting me with some *really* expensive equipment. Celine Russell and Erin Street for making us all look fantastic.

Jen West, Shaun Chavis, Jamie Sandford, and Christopher Davis for not grumbling about a late dinner. And for being lovely dinner companions.

And an pre-emptive thank you and "dude, we have a lot of work to do" to Joe Walker, editor extraordinaire. Joe, we have a lot of work to do.


Wade Kwon said...

Glad I could help. Good luck with the new project!

Jeremy Carter said...

Sounds awesome! Look forward to seeing it.