Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Reflecting on 2016

Time for my annual End of the Year Reflection. Warning: If you don’t want to read someone saying nice things about 2016, don’t read further. 😉

This year was, by far, my most productive year.

My personal growth was fantastic. It’s kind of a funny too. When writing this post, I looked back on my past yearly reflections and in My Review of 2014 I felt good about making five videos throughout that whole year and now, in 2016, I made that much in one month! Crazy.

Let’s crunch some numbers on what I’ve made!

Episode Videos for Uncovering Oklahoma: 30
Total Subjects featured for Episode Videos: Over 60
Artist Statement Minutes: 13
Feature Films: 2 (District Up! and Summer Fun Vol. 1)
Short Films: 3 (not counting Quarter Minutes)
Quarter Minutes: 10
Film Festivals: 4

The one thing I didn’t do was publish any new books this year, however, there were hours of videos.

As for personal adventures this year, my wife and I took our first cruise, starting in Tampa, Florida then visiting the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. We also took a road trip from Oklahoma to Georgia to visit my family for Christmas. Visited a bunch of sights in Oklahoma, of course.

Top 5 Most Viewed Uncovering Oklahoma Videos
5. Half a Day with the Halfrican American
4. Heard on Hurd and iFly
3. The Happily Entitled – Friction [Music Video]
2. Uncovering Oklahoma visits The Escape OKC
1. Guthrie Haunts Scaregrounds

My Favorite Accomplishments
My favorite accomplishment this year, no questions, was my feature-length documentary, District Up. I spent over a year making it. I grew in ways that have elevated my skills and defined my style as a filmmaker.

The first video I did for Uncovering Oklahoma this year was about the Norman Music Festival. I wrote here my journey of having shot a totally different interview, but I scrapped it to go into a different direction, which, to this day, I’m so glad I did.

My videos on the Paseo Arts District, Half a Day with the Halfrican American, and Downtown in December were also some of my best travel videos.

I made a music video, Friction by The Happily Entitled, this year! And it was awesome. The band later did a remix music video, which you can watch here, and they did a callback to my music video with them, which I thought was really sweet. (The scene I’m referred to was how the lead singer was wrapped in the blanket.) I would love to do more music videos next year.

I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project for the first this year, making the short film, Guilt Trip. While it didn’t win any awards, we all had a blast and I made new friends.

I started a horror/comedy short film series, Quarter Minutes, working with people from our 48 Hour Project and those who wished they could’ve joined. Quarter Minutes pierces through the multiverse to capture 15-second glimpses of strange and seemly normal oddities of multiple realities. We managed to make 10 stories this year and plan to more next year.

There were some videos I felt “meh” about, but on those, I still learned things. You learn best from doing.

My Top 17 Most Played Songs in 2016
These were my most played songs in 2016 according to Spotify. Keep in mind I will often put a song on repeat when writing or being creative for inspiration.

Top 17 Songs in 2016

As for 2017.

As usual, I’m not one for talking about future projects here until they’re close to being ready, especially when they’re in the early planning stages. I’ve been meeting with friends and professional colleagues to discuss plans for 2017. I have ideas for some new shows. For one of the shows, I think it would be neat to have a studio audience because there’s nothing like that in Oklahoma.

I will release a new book from the 16th Phoenix Universe of Stories! Maybe two. Maybe three.

I am writing scripts for a fictional mini-series.

I am researching subjects for possible feature-length documentaries.

New videos will continue with Uncovering Oklahoma. I am working on stepping up my game.

Anyway, that’s a sneak peek of what I have planned for 2017.

I have accomplished more this year than I have my whole life and I must give thanks to my wonderful and supportive wife, Leslie, who helped made everything possible! I’m excited for what will happen next year.

Downtown in December

Get to know many of the fun activities of Downtown in December in this week’s video. Riley Cole gives an overview of what people can do in Oklahoma City throughout the winter months. Eric Oesch shares Red Earth’s story about Treefest. Michael Baron talks about the Lyric Theatre’s holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Then Leslie Spears discusses the events at the Myriad Gardens, like the Devon Ice Rink and Saturday’s with Santa.

This week’s video features the holiday songs, “Mr. Nicholas” by The Wurly Birds and “Breaking the Ice” by Samantha Crain. Both songs are from the Fowler VW & Blackwatch Studios Christmas Album Series. The albums can be downloaded for free, with 100% of donations going to Norman Public Schools elementary music programs.

I’m super proud as to how well this video turned out! There are many aspects to Downtown in December and so next year I’ll work on highlighting the others, like the shopping events. The video did mention the shopping events, but I didn’t do any interviews with them because if I was going to have one, I would want them all and one, the Deluxe Winter Market, has already passed. I’ll be collecting more b-roll footage to use for next year.

Help support my Uncovering Oklahoma series by becoming a patron today.

Betsy King, A Date With Iris

Shop local with this week’s Uncovering Oklahoma video. First, get to know the Betsy King shoe boutique in Oklahoma City’s Paseo Arts District with the owner, Betsy King. King’s shoe boutique offers a curated selection of women’s shoes in a wide range of styles.

Then on Western Avenue, Kris Balaban and Stephanie Humes of A Date With Iris talk about their award-winning flower and gift shop.

Help support the series by becoming a patron.

Afternoon Snack - still from Quarter Minutes

Afternoon Snack

Just having an afternoon snack.

Made by Clayton J. Blair, Kristy K. Boone, Pallas, and Dennis Spielman. More short strange stories at Quarter Minutes.

On Sunday we had a brainstorming session to come up with some holiday stories for the series. We will be working on those next month.

District Up! title

District Up! Released

The Plaza District, Film Row, and Western Avenue. Each of these Oklahoma City districts may have a unique history and aesthetic, but they also have something in common: over the past few years they all have experienced a revival with the creation of regular events that bring businesses, neighbors, and “outsiders” together. District Up! is a feature-length documentary that shares stories and advice on district revitalization throughout Oklahoma City from the people who helped create positive change in their communities and want to inspire others to do the same.

  • Watch the film on Amazon
  • Watch the film on YouTube

    Director’s Statement
    When I started Uncovering Oklahoma, the main mission was to show people there were interesting and fun things to do in Oklahoma. However, there has always been a secondary mission to make Oklahoma more interesting. District Up! is the first major project to not only help make Oklahoma more lively but other communities as well with stories and advice from those who helped create positive change.

    After over a year of working on the documentary, I’m proud to release it to the public. The movie made its first public appearance at the deadCenter Film Festival to a packed venue. After receiving feedback from the festival, I continued to work on the movie, adding more interviews, filming more events, and showcasing more people while improving the message and pacing of the film.

    For this project, I wanted to focus on positive changes in business districts and community events. There are many aspects, subjects, and stories to share on city revitalization. Truth be told, all the stories could make like a 10-part documentary series, given the time and finances.

    I hope after watching District Up! people feel inspired to travel and make great things.

    Happy adventures!

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