Posts by: casimir

A Map to Urine Nation

I like to think Urine Nation succeeds as a guide for the bathroom challenged. But let’s face it – we’re a little low on actual facts and numbers. It’s all well and good to say find a hotel, find a Starbucks, find a phonebooth. But if I’m on corner A in neighborhood B, where the fuck is that actual fine hotel with the fancy handsoaps? We speak in generalities because it’d be more like a feature film, a decalogue even, to cinematically render ALL the locations deserving and accepting of your piss in Manhattan.

We keep it short video style because there are people out there like Tommy Mintz – an old high school chum of Rafi and I – who will go that extra mile. Ladies and Gentlemen, witness…


As seen in The New York Times.

Pee smart. Deuce smarter.

The Pee is still Free: Urine Nation Screening at Chelsea Market this Monday

In this effed the eff up economy, it is important to capitalize on those special events where the organizers are promising free local wine, free cheese and free delicatessen snacks.

As it turns out those are my favorite kinds of wine, cheese and delicatessen snacks.

If you are as down for freedom as the ICs are, free up your calendar this coming Monday March 24 for a Rooftop Films New York Non-Fiction Short Film Screening Extravaganza!

They’re playing all kinds of movies including our very own public pee opus, Urine Nation!

If you couldn’t tell what was going on in the phone booth on the small screen, you can savor every detail on the bigscreen this coming Monday. Here are the details:

What: Free short films in Chelsea Market with a live performance by Drew and the Medicinal Pen.
Where: Chelsea Market
Enter at 75 9th Avenue in Chelsea,
(Between 15th and 16th Streets)
When: Monday, March 24th, 7:00 PM
Music at 7 PM | Films at 7:30 PM
Admission: FREE

The ICs will be in attendance. We might even have some stickers.

Guerilla Filmmaking 1: Don’t Be A Jerk

You’re not allowed to shoot video on the subway

You’re not allowed to shoot video in Whole Foods or at the Time Warner Center (or urinate in phone booths)

You’re not allowed to shoot video at 2007’s biggest hiphop concert

And basically, if you asked a lot of places (supermarkets, banks, MSG, etc) they’d say you’re not allowed to shoot there either.

So should you?


Get the shot. Get what you need to make a good, rich movie.

Just don’t be a jerk about it.

If you need a shot of Brooklyn from a subway car, then go get one. Just don’t be a jerk about it. Don’t film a lot of commuters just trying to go home after their crappy job. Don’t film people in the supermarket just trying to buy some groceries. Don’t film people at your local Commerce just trying to cash in their change. Don’t film people at the Knicks game spilling beer on the seat in front of them (apologies to the people I spilled beer on while trying to film Lebron go off for 50 points at the Garden last week).

If you are a jerk about it, you become a paparazzi. Photographers and videographers who don’t give a fuck who they film and are actually hoping that their subjects look like chumps on camera are paparazzi. Putting someone on camera against their will is a bad look.

But there are exceptions

Filming a woman who carries around her dog in a baby bjorn while she casually leafs through CDs is not being a jerk. She’s the jerk. And her jerkitude trumps whatever jerkitude you enact by filming a person against his or her will.

So run your potential guerilla shoot through the Jerk Matrix (the Jerk Matrix presupposes that you are an essentially decent person). Who is a bigger one? The subject or the shooter?

If you are confident you’re not being a jerk about it, you can feel comfortable filming anywhere or anyone you think will provide good information for your movie.

Why can’t you film at Whole Foods?
Why can’t you film on the subway?
Why can’t you film at the Hip Hop Honors?

THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT ANSWER: Establishments create rules about recording devices because they don’t want you bothering their customers, interrupting their business flow or fucking up their money.

When we were in Whole Foods, we just wanted to film the bathroom and film us sitting around enjoying an organic parfait. We weren’t trying to get in a customer’s way. So if you go back to the Jerk Matrix you don’t have to worry about the benefit of the doubt answer.

THE CYNICAL ANSWER: Establishments create rules about recording devices because they don’t want to be caught doing embarrassing or shady things.

More institutions that do shady things or take advantage of their customer should be put on camera. We’re about to make a documentary about an institution that serves various communities in useful ways but certainly makes a decent amount of their money through semi-nefarious methods. If you are making a non-fiction film that exposes a double-standard or sketchy situation, you definitely don’t have to worry about the cynical answer

THE WHO GIVES A FUCK ANSWER: Establishments create rules about recording devices because they don’t want you making money off the live event they’re going to make a huge amount of money off of.

Hmmmm. I don’t have an ethically defensible position here. I just don’t feel bad filming something when I paid 100 bucks to come see it. I don’t feel bad filming an event when the company behind the event is disgustingly rich. This is the office supplies stealing justification. The truth of the matter is whatever video I make at a live event isn’t being sold or licensed for any money (unless I’ve been contracted to do so). It’s going up on youtube and probably making me more of a pr person than a bootlegger. So you could argue that a Jerk Matrix can be created based on how your recording is going to be used. If you went to a concert and recorded it and sold that recording, you are starting to tip the jerk scale.

In this day and age, you have the ability to shoot video anywhere you like. With small high-quality cameras, patience, a crew/cast that are good sports and a quickness, you can orchestrate documentaries and some narratives in locations where the official word is No Recording. Guerilla filmmaking creates the possibility for more great art.

Life happens quickly and our memories aren’t trustworthy. If you see something that is awesome, that demands being recorded and improves the world by being shown, you may not have enough time to ask whether you can film it. You just have to dive right in, focus your lens with a little help from your moral code and record the transcendent but fleeting moment you’re witnessing (or contriving) at the Apple Store.

Just don’t be a jerk about it.


What do you call a 30 second version of a 3.5 minute movie?

D.I.Y BIG MAC from Casimir Nozkowski on Vimeo.

A contest entry!

It’s hard to have a good answer when someone asks what my business model is regarding short videos and their presentation on the Internet. But two things that I think a group like Internets Celebrities or a filmmaker like me has to employ in search of livelihood is:

1) Flexibility

2) Prolific Output

The former is essentially the ability to take your #2 (prolific output – pun intended) and mold it (pun still intended) into an infinite amount of permutations (pun intended but not really clear now). By producing different editions of your video you can generate capital through licenses to websites and sometimes channels OR by entering them into contests. One edition by itself isn’t necessarily going to pay a lot (the going rate for a short video license seems to be $500 – no matter the exclusivity) but the rough model here is producing multiple editions and licensing non-exclusively as much as you can. Contest prizes depend on the sponsor. But for a minimal to irritating amount of editing, they can pay nicely. The contest above pays the winner a $1000 American Express giftcard. Not bad for 3 hours of work (if we win).

When it comes to licensing or entering your video into contests, those sites and/or channels almost always want a different version of your movie than the one you made originally. It’s usually an issue of timing (and when it comes to timing ALWAYS about shortening it) but sometimes it’s presentation. The original video – Ghetto Big Mac – definitely owes a lot of its success to Dallas’s inspired title. But in 30 seconds, I didn’t feel we had enough time to get into the socio-economic angle of the original video nor explain why we were calling it a GBM – so I thought re-titling it DIY would give the viewer a headstart towards appreciating its right-to-the-sandwich style (be careful of overthinking your re-edit).

Does creating multiple edits of a piece mean you’re compromising a singular vision? I worry about that but I don’t think so. By practicing flexibility, I think you take advantage of the infinite spectrum of the online landscape. You get to invent the remix over and over again. You can honor your favorite version by placing it in the most identifiable space (the site, channel or in the festival that will potentially get the most views). Then, go ahead and spawn extensions of the original vision. Remixing a video is both cathartic – a healthier less uptight view of your work – and good practice – all online filmmakers could do a lot worse to sharpen up their editing skills.

The surprising thing here is that the version you like the best may not actually be the best. As much as I complain when I hear the broken record response to videos – Can it be a little tighter? Shorter? Less Fatter? The opposite of more expansive? – truthfully, going back to the lab to pull a minute out of your original video almost always produces a better film.

The original:

A recut submitted to Current:

I thought I knew which one I liked better.

Flexibility = Perspective

Pass The Camera Mic

To camera mic or shotgun mic or lavalier or boom, that is the question.

Recently, I had the opportunity to record a cypher with three unsigned but very deserving rappers on North 14th St. in Brooklyn. For the sake of convenience and quickness, I chose to camera mic.

It was done to promote a live show featuring these and other rappers that the Internets Celebrities were hosting. We wanted to see if the internets would respond to a youtube “ad” for a rap show in the real world.

Then, we dropped a second promotional video in which the same three underground rappers bowl with the Internets Celebrities.

These two clips were filmed with a 1-chip miniDV camera and the rhymes were spit right to camera mic – an aesthetic befitting rappers whose skills I think speak for themselves. Lights in the bowling alley would have been immensely helpful. But the streetlight that illuminates the rhyme sessions outside is more than enough in my opinion. I like it when shoots are that simple – when the event you’re documenting does not need polish save crisp, clean edits and bold, straightforward type. The aesthetic affords mobility and saves time.

I used to fear the camera mic. It couldn’t possibly produce working sound. Ambience would swallow up any elocution. I have discovered that is not the case. Yes, there are MUCH better ways to record sound but in the end, in a video that just has to get done and that you’re making yourself, stressing over hiss and background noise is counterproductive. There are some videos that just have to get done and some events – like a cypher – that may actually benefit from an all around simplified vibe.

And there are some events that benefit from looking and sounding dope.

For something prettier and appropriately so, check out the actual show which was shot by Terrence Elenteny with two much nicer HDV cameras. Plus, the audio came out of the soundboard.

When you need to get it done, don’t be afraid to go raw. If you’ve got the gear and the time to make it look good, by all means give yourself the best chance to apply the proverbial sunblock against the harsh light of a youtube compression.

Every video that strikes a blow against the misconception that live rap always sounds awful is very welcome in my opinion.

Oh Word will be dropping a live video of each rapper from the show over the course of the week. All quality.

Bless the mic with the god: The Rakim Mash-Up

Damn you Rock The Bells press pass! You fucked up! You got the Internets Celebrites close enough to shoot a visually dope video of Rakim performing My Melody at Rock the Bells 2007 but ensured our audio would be absolutely unusable. The bass literally eats our camera mic, leaving in its wake a horrifyingly distorted audio track and us with half of something great.

So this is the Internets Celebrities solution: Take the great Kid Capri intro, the great streaky video of Rakim on stage and mash it together with the original audio from My Melody off Paid in Full. This sync will not fool you but the moments when it matches up are very satisfying.

Note the guy at the one minute mark who says “Fuck You” when we turn and film the crowd. He is now an Internets Celebrity.

YOU’RE ON THE LIST: How to attend an Outdoor Concert Internets Celebrities Style

The Internets Celebrities are first and foremost bringers of knowledge. Having braved the unforgiving sun, the entrapping police and the paranoia-inducing contact highs of the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, The ICs here go through the DOs and the DON’Ts of successful outdoor concert going. Taped at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival in mid-June, this video speaks to all genres of outdoor summer concerts. Take the knowledge supplied here and apply it to an Incubus show in upstate New York, a Boston Philharmonic music festival on Cape Cod, a Cypress Hill summerstage show or any outdoor event where the food is overpriced and the undercovers are trying to get you to buy weed from them.

DO: Watch this video and learn from it.
DON’T: Hold your deuce in.

The Internets Celebrities are Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam
Directed by Casimir Nozkowski
Cinematography/Audio by Ian Savage
Edited by Terrence Elenteny

Video: Internets Celebrities at Sundance 2007

The Internets Celebrities – as nom de plume – is really first put into effect when we storm down on Park City, Utah. Faced with the daunting task of producing 7 videos in 7 days about the Sundance Film Festival, we decide to form like Voltron and phrase our movies under a name that characterizes what we are: internet dorks with a vision.

Specifically, Sundance comes about through the largesse of one An internet content aggregator – which is to say a website that links to their favorite viral videos – The Daily Reel names Ghetto Big Mac one of their ten favorite videos of 2006 and soon after, licenses the one-week exclusive premiere of our second movie, Bodega. Pleased with the attention it gets on sites like Huffington Post and, they vow to do business with us again soon.

And by soon they mean the following week when they propose sending us to Sundance as would be correspondents. Going to a cultural flashpoint like Sundance with a movie-making purpose sounds right and good – the next step in the Internets Celebrity evolution and a great chance to stretch our video reporting muscles.

We tell the Daily Reel that we have a plan for the shooting and blueprint a scenario that sees us making two videos – one to be posted during the festival and one immediately following. They take two weeks to get back to us while they search for a sponsor. During that time, radio silence convinces us the deal is dead. Then the Wednesday before the festival, we get a call: TDR has found a bed-partner in and we are all set to ride their dime to the festival. Somehow the short notice does not create major waves in our day-jobs and we holler back that Saturday to Saturday sounds like a fine ole time to uncover the Hollywood/Redford/Mormon connection clearly at play in Park City, Utah.

Oh, also GoDaddy wants us to make 7 videos in 7 days. Not 2. No problem. We slept enough last year. This winter its all about the work: In retrospect, its funny to think that we almost head down there with just one camera-man/editor. Said camera-man/editor would have died. In fact, we add Mr. Ian Savage to the mix who brings a fancy camera, extra computers, bright ideas and limitless enthusiasm to the project. Having produced Rocketboom for a couple months he knows what its like to churn out the videos. Okay we’re good to go. Lets catch a plane.

Two of us skid over to JFK at 5AM and just barely make the plane. Two of us miss the heck out of the plane and get stuck at the gate inexplicably unable to board despite the plane continuing to sit at the gate de-icing. Plane takes off with only two of us aboard. This does not bode well. No matter, the two of us on the plane are waylaid anyway in Phoenix when we miss our connection. We manage to find a much later connection and all parties wind up at the Park City Hotel on Main St. in Park City, Utah a comfortable 12 hours after we leave New York City. Time to hit the hay? Hell no. Its time to hit the streets. We’ve got videos to make. Moments after we all rendezvous, were out on Main St. investigating the proceedings: Dallas supplies the theme for the week: Sundance is actually Grown Ass Spring Break.

People at Sundance are dying to be on camera and interviews are easy to come by. We are certainly never for lack of material. The challenge starts to take the shape of managing post-production. Between taking/fighting notes from the website in LA and continuing to accumulate new footage from varied locations (as in not always in front of out hotel – a veritable font of celebrity sightings) theres not much margin for error if were to stay on schedule. We draw out themes for each episode and then quickly eschew those themes when new ones present themselves in the shooting. We tackle opening weekend, swag, the parties, the filmmakers, survival tips (laminate your own press badge) the networking scene, the local celebrities, Robert Redford’s unicorn problem and other “real facts” of Sundance . We stay up very late every night drinking beer and throwing together five little movies while at the festival with two more to follow the Monday and Tuesday after our return.

Highlights include:

A candid interview with MC Hammer
The Hot Tub Party
Spicy Sausage, egg and cheeses at the Clockwork Cafe
Turning local residents into instant Internet Celebrities
Interviewing Four-Eyed Monster
Interviewing the FBI agent from Sopranos
Teaching Hollywood how to fill their hearts with love again
Getting on the bus and asking people in loud voices where all the filmmakers were at

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