Media Impact Spotlight Ep1: Jabari Zuberi

I’m pleased to announce the start of my new web video series Media Impact Spotlight. In each episode, I’ll chat with professionals utilizing various forms of media for positive social change. To subscribe to the series, click here.


In this first episode, I catch up with Chicago-based photographer Jabari Zuberi, who spoke at the Tell Us Your Story event organized by Inspire Films. I ask himĀ about his work with CeaseFire – a campaign working to end gun violence in Chicago – and the impact he hopes to have on viewers.

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Message Received… The Making Of (part 2)

After such a fun time on weekend 1 on the set of Karolyn Szot’s Message Received, I was stoked to return for another dose of movie making magic. On the agenda for the second weekend? Blood! Car Crash! Cops! Uh, exchange students!

I was lucky to get a couple of hours off Saturday morning as only a bare bones crew was needed to shoot our two actresses, Emily Marso and Blake-Briana McKay, driving. Just a couple of shots and a simple scene. Easy as pie, right? Well…

Sign reads "Movie Set! Not Real!". What we mean: please don't call the cops on us again.

The story I heard when I arrived on set? A very concerned passerby had called the cops that morning thinking that the two wrecked cars we had on set was the scene of a real accident. Oh well, at least that means a big thumbs up for prod design well-done. ;)

Karolyn gave herself multiple cuts and bruises before putting some on Johnny.

Another challenge that filming a car crash scene brings is the ridiculous number of people who deliberately slow down to get a better glimpse of your set as they’re driving by. Maybe it was to see if there was a famous actor in the vicinity. Maybe it was to get numbers to buy the American version of 4D. Maybe it was to gawk at the awesome blood effects Karolyn did for our actors. Either way, our crew definitely learned more about directing two-way traffic in one lane. It also helped that we had two actors in cop uniforms on set. I’m not sure what it was, but people tended to drive past faster when it’s a cop signaling them to move. Or so they thought! ;)

Taking a crane shot of the entire crash scene.

When it was time to set up for our beautiful crane shot, it was all hands on deck. Like a life-sized balance scale, we had to figure out the exact number of sandbags to hang on one side to counter the weight of our camera on the other. It was almost like watching a team challenge on Survivor. “Take one more bag off,” one would say. “No, you just have to move one closer to the center!” another would reason. The team eventually emerged triumphant! And our crane shot went as smooth as silk.

Shooting outdoors often means racing against time, especially when you’re dependent on sunlight. Good thing our crew heads had their act together. We completed our shots with time to spare and made some new friends with the many deer roaming the woods near us. I’d say our day was a success! :)

If you thought the shoot so far has been packed with plenty of adventure, wait until you hear about the happenings on our final day of shoot. That story to come soon.

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Oprah… 2011’s too soon…

So it’s official. After months of speculation that Oprah was going to move her show out of Chicago to join the rest of big time TV in LA, the word is out that it’s not a move she’s planning. The Oprah Winfrey Show will record its last episode in Sep 2011.

While this will mean a huge loss to Chicago, it’s the bigger loss I shall mourn: The loss of what I believe is the most influential and life-changing show on television. 25 seasons of touching peoples’ hearts. Wow. She’s the earliest influence I’ve had that’s fueled my belief the powerful world of media can indeed be used for positive social change.

I have shed many a tear watching her show. And I’ve laughed out loud in front of the telly, from halfway around the world in Singapore. I often joked with friends that my reason for choosing to study in Chicago was because i harbored a secret desire to be a part of her live studio audience! By a stroke of luck, that dream was fulfilled. Being in that studio was tremendously exciting. It fascinated me how huge the place was and how much crazy action was going on outside of what we often see within the frame on TV. Oh life is funny that way. The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know.

But when one door closes, one more always opens. I’m thankful that she’s not leaving the media completely. Just look forward to what she does with the Oprah Winfrey Network. Afterall, change can be created in more ways than one. And based on her track record, the most influential woman in media is bound to move mountains there.