From Talking Top Playing now available online for free!

Posted in Artist Profile, Documentary, From Talking - To Playing, Mira Armij Gill on September 19th, 2014 by Dave

I’m pleased to be able to offer my film, “From Talking to Playing” online for free beginning today, September 19th.
The film, which was released in 2013, is a bio of the fabulous New York City pianist and teacher Mira Gill. Mira’s playing is truly electrifying, and she brings to this film, both in words and action, the passion and struggle of a life dedicated to music.

If you feel this film was worthwhile, and would like to support the continuation of similar worthwhile projects by Agricola Media, please donate by using the button below. Or you can purchase From Talking To Playingon DVD for 19.95

“From Talking to Playing” online for free on Friday!

Posted in Artist Profile, From Talking - To Playing, Mira Armij Gill, Uncategorized on September 16th, 2014 by Dave

I’m pleased to be able to offer my film, “From Talking to Playing” online for free beginning this coming Friday, September 19th.
The film, which was released in 2013, is a bio of the fabulous New York City pianist and teacher Mira Gill. Mira’s playing is truly electrifying, and she brings to this film, both in words and action, the passion and struggle of a life dedicated to music.

“From Talking to Playing”, A Film about Concert Pianist Mira Armij Gill Released!

Posted in Artist Profile, From Talking - To Playing, Mira Armij Gill on February 3rd, 2014 by Dave

Agricola Media is pleased to announce the release of  its’ latest film,  “From Talking To Playing”

From Talking To Playing is a 25 minute film profile of performing artist Mira Armij Gill.  With incredible drive and a passion for excellence both as a pianist and as a teacher, this New York City-based artist  has won the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere she’s performed.

Get a glimpse of what it takes to be a concert pianist at the highest level in a film that celebrates the passion and striving of a determined soul.

The film contains additional bonus features including two performance by Ms. Gill plus topics of interest to piano instructors, students, and performers. To purchase this film, please click the PayPal button below.

First Screenings of “From Talking To Playing”

Posted in Artist Profile, Mira Armij Gill on August 22nd, 2013 by Dave

Mira Armij Gill answering audience questions at film screening in Lubec, Maine.



Agricola Media’s newest film, “From Talking To Playing“, had it’s first screenings last week –  first in Lubec, then in Eastport, Maine.  The film, which runs 25 minutes, profiles New York City – based concert pianist Mira Armij Gill. Many members of the audience had followed Ms. Gill’s performances in Maine in the past and showed great interest in learning more about her and her work.  A Q&A following the film in both locations was gratifying as hardly anyone left after the screening. Audience members had questions for both the pianist and for the filmmaker that were interesting and perceptive.

The film will be released in early September and will be available online as well as on DVD.

Working with a film subject…

Posted in Artist Profile, Captain, Documentary, Filmmaking on April 28th, 2013 by Dave

This will be the first of three posts on lessons learned from three of my films: Captain, and two artist bios…
Many and wondrous are the rewards garnered from working with a film subject. I mean “film subject” as in a person I’m interested in filming – and not a theme or topic per se.

The people I’ve filmed are people I like, find interesting, and who I find inspirational in one way or another. Someone I can learn from, someone who has something to share or who has qualities or traits that are elevated – even virtuous. Richard Updaw, the character I followed in Captain is certainly such a person. After meeting, getting to know, and ultimately making a film with Rich, I can finally say that I’ve met a man’s man, (I’d heard that expression throughout my life, but never really knew what it meant – or maybe I never knew an individual I could apply it to!). Dick is good looking, calm, confident, charming, down to earth, – and a born leader. Those were my impressions of him the day Ann, my wife, and I met him and they still hold true today. Amazing how those first impressions can be so dead-on… He rendered us Good Samaritan assistance by jump-starting our car which had developed a dead battery due to a case of my leaving-the-headlights-on-negligence. He was glad to help out. I noticed his Marine cap, of which he has an amazing assortment, and within moments were were talking about his days as a United States Marine, his time in Vietnam, and his own personal quest to learn more about a dead World War 2 vet that eventually became the basis for the film we made.

We socialized for at least a year (with no thought of making a film on my part), just enjoyable, regular get-togethers, until it finally dawned on me that Dick’s story about a long dead Marine could make a good film. And once I proposed the project, there was complete buy-in from Rich. So the timeline for the film was thus: we became friends, got to know each other pretty well, and then we made a film. I realize now that the trust bank that we had built up prior to making the film was the foundation for the success of the project.

There was never a time that Dick didn’t give complete cooperation to the needs of the film. He was always willing to accommodate my, “just one more shot”, requests. He respected my judgement during the editing/shaping of the story. And I learned to respect his wish that the story be focused on Robert Hodes, the 19-year old killed at Iwo Jima, and not himself. Ironically, in doing so I believe Dick’s character comes through all the stronger.

An example of Dick’s cooperation-and commitment to the project: when he became tearful during one interview, he didn’t pull in and ask me to remove the shot from the film. He realized it was true and authentic and was enough of a man to be easy-going about this private moment going public. Dick’s agenda was simple: to tell this forgotten Marine’s story. To that end he put his own ego a distant second … at least that’s the way I perceived it.

The film has received some good reviews, and our friendship has continued. Rich still comes to dinner regularly even though he’s a busy guy. At 67, he drives school bus everyday AND maintains a 60 acre farm by himself. He has lots of pets. Cats, dogs, horses, goats, and a mule with that lets go, when he thinks he should be fed, with a bray that reminds me of the alien mother ship from Close Encounters of The Third Kind letting loose with that window-shattering volley of notes…(go to 5:58 in this utube clip to understand my rather obscure reference)

Anyway, looking back I know the film benefited from the trust brought about by our prior relationship. We both knew enough about each other to know that we had each other’s best interests at heart – and that ultimately came to include the best interests of the film as well… So the takeaway moral, for me at least from this experience, is do your homework! Develop a relationship with your film subject. Find out who they are and go with your gut about first impressions, but in the words of Ronald Reagan, “trust but verify”. Do it not only to make a better film, in the sense of delving deeply into your subject, but to ensure that you ultimately avoid the disaster of not having a film at all.

My next post will talk about lessons learned from an experience that didn’t turn out so well…

Cold, wet and tired…filming in New York City at 60…

Posted in Artist Profile, Filmmaking, From Talking - To Playing, Mira Armij Gill on April 15th, 2013 by Dave

This past Friday was a cold, raw, rainy day in Manhattan. The previous day I had journeyed cross-state from my home in Rochester to New York City. A seven hour bus ride and a $20.00 cab ride later, I arrived at my film subject Mra Armij-Gill’s apartment, where I got a few hours of sleep before jackhammers went off from 7am to 7:15. I was in the city to finish filming for my next film about Mira, a top-tier pianist and teacher.

O.k., I’m cramming a bunch of baggage into the title of this post. I could have added the shoot was exhilarating too, as I tried to find the special wavelength that would help me see the images I needed to see to cover subjective parts of the narrative that needed to be covered. Except that I’m a bit cranky, unwinding my sore back from 16 hours or so of sitting on a bus over a two day period.

My filming was fun, especially shooting B-roll in Times Square. And spending a few special moments with an office assistant, name unknown, in a Physical Therapist’s office Mira had an appointment at. This was a young woman who began asking me a bit about my work and my life. I think she was in that lovely stage somewhere in her early twenties where she was finding herself and, interestingly, looking to learn from others – even old guys like me who are usually completely invisible to people her age. I was flattered and moved by her questions. Then goodbye, good luck; just a couple of people who will never meet again but glad to have connected. It was a sweet experience, then gone in the rear view mirror…

Mira’s appointment with the physical therapist was brought about partly by me I confess. Early on, before we even began filming in December, 2012, I learned that she enjoyed figure skating. In fact she let it be known that she could skate backwards, do spins, perform jumps – all that stuff that always amazes a person like myself who clings to the barrier wall around the rink just trying to survive the “fun”. So I asked her if we could include a trip to the ice skating rink during my December trip. I didn’t know how or even if I would use this footage but, in my mind, there is a poetic common denominator between piano playing and skating. She agreed, and in typical Mira fashion, immediately began taking lessons and practicing so that her skating would be up-to-par. Up-to-par for Mira means no-screwing-around-its-got-to-be-perfect. As it turns out, I’m glad I shot the footage. I’m using about 7 seconds of it in the video and it’s effective.

As it turns out, the skating flame did not die out after filming. Mira continued her lessons and skating until a short while ago when she injured her knee during practice and is now in physical therapy. Will she continue skating, I asked. I might has well have asked her if she’d give up piano…Will I take another Trailways excursion in the future? Not a good time to ask…

Mike Carroll’s Revised, “Naked Filmmaking”

Posted in Artist Profile, Documentary, Filmmaking on April 6th, 2013 by Dave

My reward this weekend for finishing taxes is to sit down and go through the newly revised, Naked Filmmaking: How To Make A Feature-Length Film – Without A Crew – For $10,000-$6,000 Or Less Revised & Expanded For DSLR Filmmakers (Volume 1 by Mike Carroll) . Whew! If that title doesen’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will!

I am fortunate, and honored, to have been sent a preview copy of the book earlier this week by Mike who asked me to page through it and share my thoughts about it with him. I’ll be writing up comments for Mike later this weekend…

I don’t know how this guy does it. He works full time as a videographer at Channel KCRA in Sacramento. He’s completed 3 feature length films. “Year” and “Nightbeats” are dramas; Dog Soldiers-A Dogumentary is his one documentary. He’s also written Breaking Into TV News How To Get A Job & Excel As A TV Reporter-Photographer, must reading if you’re a young person contemplating a broadcast journalism career.

Oh, he’s about my age too,maybe a bit younger, (I just turned 60). I imagine that when I’m tucking myself into bed at 8:45pm, Mike, three time zones away, is just getting home from his job and about to begin another workday on his twin passions – writing and filmmaking.
He is ALWAYS thinking out of the box – questioning the conventional wisdom that you need a crew to make a film, or a twenty thousand dollar camera, or a distributor, or a catering budget. The guy, and his terrific wife Bonnie, do it all themselves.
I think the real subtext though in his two books, is what it takes to become a self-made person. It’s not like he has to pound his chest about it; it’s just there. I really like, and am drawn to that Walter Mitty thing he has going…to me it wouldn’t matter what field he was writing about. It could be Naked Shoemaking, and I’d want to read about a guy who has always got his sights on the road ahead…

“From Talking To Playing” – film about concert pianist Mira Gill nearing completion…

Posted in Artist Profile on March 19th, 2013 by Dave

I was very lucky to come across an inspiring artist last summer while on vacation with my wife in Maine. We met-and got to know Mira Armij Gill, a concert pianist/teacher living in New York city. Mira began studying piano at age 7, and has pursued, with a tremendous drive, her artistic goals ever since. She lives to perform, playing some of the most demanding works in the piano repertoire. “She is small, but her music stands tall”, is how one critic has described her. I am about 85% complete with this production and need only a bit more footage of her working and performing and the film will be done. I’m very excited to be involved in this project. It is a privilege to watch and learn about the hopes, dreams, and doubts of a top-tier performer – and a true artist.

Mike Carroll and “Naked Filmmaking”

Posted in Artist Profile, Filmmaking on November 19th, 2012 by Dave

I found a very interesting filmmaker located out in California online. His name is Mike Carroll and he’s been a news videographer for over 30 years. He’s also completed two feature films and one feature-length documentary basically in his spare time. In addition he’s written two books the first entitled “Naked Filmmaking” and the second “Breaking Into TV News“. The films that he produced are professionally made and look like they cost a sizable amount of money to produce. The amazing thing is that Mike wrote, directed, filmed, edited, and the sound for the films all by himself!

I’ve watched his documentary entitled “Dog Soldiers“, and it is brilliantly shot and edited. I’m watching his feature films out of order chronologically. The film I just finished watching is entitled, “Nightbeats“. It’s a very dark film, noir to be precise. It has a beautiful rich dramatically lit style, that is sustained throughout the movie. Mike uses theater actors for his cast of characters and his wife and daughter-in-law are prominently featured. They do beautiful jobs in portraying lost souls. It is hard to believe looking at this film that you are not looking at a Hollywood production. But the film was made for less than $10,000. And most of that money went for filming equipment. I’ve seen the film a total of four times so I could catch all of the commentaries that were included as extras and my appreciation for the film increases each time I see it. I’ve just begun watching his first feature entitled “Year“. I’ve seen the first 10 minutes and it looks like the work of a mature director with a full production crew behind him. Again, it’s just him and his troop of theatrical actors and a lot of talent and a lot of energy and persistence to pull this project off.

One thing I should’ve mentioned that at least partially explains why, as far as I’m concerned,  he’s hit a home run on each of his feature films  is that he has over 30 years of experience as a news videographer and editor at KCRA in Sacramento, which have no doubt has given him the technique that  has enabled him to produce his artistic filmmaking at such a high level.

Here is Mike’s  website .
there’s a link on his website to his Amazon store where you can rent, or buy a download of his films, or purchase DVDs. His books are also on sale both as Kindle and print versions. Very reasonably priced, and perfect for anyone interested in learning about producing truly personal films.


“Not Knowing, But Trusting”…nearing completion.

Posted in Artist Profile, Documentary on October 29th, 2012 by Dave

The latest film project at Agricola Media is nearing completion. “Not Knowing, But Trusting…” is a profile of gifted artist and clothes designer Andrea Geer. Producers Dave Esposito and Ann Pennella happened on Ms. Geer by chance during an open Friday night studio tour in downtown Rochester, NY. A brief but fascinating discussion followed, and within minutes the producers at Agricola Media knew they had their next film subject!

The film focuses on Ms. Geer’s fascinating creative process, along with her goals as an artist, and should be worthwhile viewing for anyone interested in how art coupled with function comes into being.
“Not Knowing, But Trusting…” will be available online for viewing in mid-November, 2012.