One of the most exciting projects I've seen in awhile is California Is A Place, a collaboration between filmmaker Drea Cooper and photographer Zackary Canepari. It is precisely the kind of place-based journalistic effort I called for here, and the quality of what these two produce compared to the video shorts seen on cable news networks and network news magazine shows diminishes my already contemptuous estimation of America's mainstream broadcast journalism.
Awhile back, during the discussion about how CNN might be salvaged, I wrote that the network should take advantage of the fact that it operates in a visual medium by broadcasting visually compelling images, taking advantage of the many documentary filmmakers capable of producing work that evokes actual places, rather than just showing us an anchor woman on scene in front of a police station or a high school where hours earlier a teacher had sex with a student.
Below is a case in point. Marvel at how this short film takes the viewer into a corner of Oakland they could never see on their own.
Those bikes look damned cool, especially when they all roll out into the street in parade formation. Seeing the visual is so helpful for understanding how a bike club might actually loom in the imaginations of these kids as an alternative preferable to gangs. And the kids themselves, their expressions and movements, are so endearing, inspiring and heartbreaking by turns.
Go take a look at the other videos on their site -- all of them are exceptional; the one about the used car salesman is my favorite.