Behind the Scenes : Q&A with Brett Brownell (World Wide Moment)

2

Brett "Benji" Brownell is a 29-year-old filmmaker/photographer based in Chesapeake, Virginia. After film school at USC he spent much of his time making music videos and documentaries about touring bands. Currently he's helping produce a documentary for the band Jack's Mannequin and directing videos for the bands Vedera and Copeland. Along with his friend Jacob Marshall, he started "World Wide Moment", a photography project that aims to gather people around the world for a simultaneous moment of peace. The next WWM will be happening soon, and everyone is encouraged to participate! Read on to get to know more about Benji and the World Wide Moment, and the details on how you can join.

Brett “Benji” Brownell is a 29-year-old filmmaker/photographer based in Chesapeake, Virginia. After film school at USC he spent much of his time making music videos and documentaries about touring bands. Currently he’s helping produce a documentary for the band Jack’s Mannequin and directing videos for the bands Vedera and Copeland. Along with his friend Jacob Marshall, he started “World Wide Moment”, a photography project that aims to gather people around the world for a simultaneous moment of peace. The next WWM will be happening soon, and everyone is encouraged to participate! Read on to get to know more about Benji and the World Wide Moment, and the details on how you can join.

The photo above is Benji’s favorite photo. Early in 2008 he was awarded the opportunity to film two documentaries in Guatemala (one about the coffee industry and one about Habitat For Humanity). This was taken on the last day of a Habitat For Humanity build in a small village outside of Retalhuleu. He handed the local kids his camera, showed them how to use it, and let them run loose. It seemed to be the highlight of their day. It was certainly the highlight of Benji’s life. (A note to Yankees fans: Yes, he is a Red Sox fan, but more so the hat bears his initials!)

Hi, Benji! Can you tell us more about the World Wide Moment?
I would love to. World Wide Moment is a worldwide photographic experiment which invites people from all corners of the globe to unite for a revolutionary moment of peace. The concept is very simple. At a specific moment (08.08.08@08:08+08GMT) we are inviting people to simultaneously take a photograph while observing of a moment of peace.

The experiment is meant to 1) prove that peace between all people and nations is possible, if even for a moment 2) create a beautiful collection of simultaneous photographs and stories from all over the world. We want World Wide Moment to be a way for people in Tennessee to find a connection to people in Iraq, for people in Japan to find a connection to people in Uganda and so on with everyone everywhere. With the Internet allowing us to connect to each other, and photography allowing us all to make art with the click of a button, we hope this will be an inspiring way for people to connect and unite in the name of peace and art.

The moment we have chosen was voted on by previous WWM participants. Other possible options were September 11th and The U.N.’s International Day of Peace (September 21). But since the year is ’08 and August is the 8th month, our voters decided on 08.08.08. Thus we have 08.08.08@08:08+08GMT. August 8th, 2008 @ 08:08AM in the +08GMT time zone. This time zone corresponds with most of China and Western Australia and serendipitously coincides with the start of the Olympics as well. So while the moment is August 8th @ 8:08AM in China, it is August 7th at 5:08 in Los Angeles, and so on. Here is a link to help you find your corresponding time: ==http://timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?year=2008&month=8&day=8&hour=8&min=8&sec=0&p1=33&p2=179==.
Or go to our website, look at our list of cities and times, and find a city in your timezone: http://www.worldwidemoment.org

What inspired you to start this project?
Simply put: The Human Essence Photography Group of Los Angeles. In 2002, after graduating USC I was living in Hollywood trying to hustle my way into the entertainment industry. Feeling the overwhelming burden of selfishness I took some time to volunteer for an organization called P.A.T.H. (People Assisting The Homeless). While volunteering there I met a lady named Karen Glass who was photographing the grand opening of P.A.T.H.’s newest housing center. She too was a volunteer and invited me to join the Human Essence Photography Group which donated their time and services to different events around town. Not only was I excited to see an ABC executive volunteering her time, but I was excited to work with a new set of camera enthusiasts.

So each week the ten-person group met to discuss our weekly assignments and share photographs. One week, after sharing my photographs from a Thanksgiving food-drive, I suggested an idea to the group. “What if next week we all take a photograph at the same moment?” They loved the idea, and we decided on 11:00AM on a Saturday morning. It was not known as World Wide Moment at the time. I guess it could have been known as Los Angeles Wide Moment. But it didn’t have an official name at the time.

I decided to take my photograph outside of a Home Depot where dozens of men were waiting in the parking lot looking for work. I found this daily job-hunt noble, sad, and necessary. I thought it would make for an interesting collection of photographs if I captured these men trying to create opportunity, while someone else captured the luxurious lives of Beverly Hills, while someone else captured the serenity of Malibu Beach, and so on. We assembled the photography group the following week and showcased our photographs. Some people had forgotten to take a picture, but those who remembered said they felt a very unique connection to their subjects and the other photographers. Everyone agreed they wanted to try the experiment again with even more people participating next time. But unfortunately there never was a next time because the group disseminated soon after.

However, the idea stuck with me for many years. And in May 2007 (12:34_5.6.7) with the help of the Internet and the band Mae, whom I document, the first official World Wide Moment was held. 62 people in 7 countries participated. The response was great, and after a few other “practice” runs we are now ready for a full-scale World Wide Moment. Our Facebook group has 3,000 friends, we have a now have dedicated website, and we also have endorsements from wonderful groups like the Lomographic Society, Invisible Children, and The Australian Photographic Society.

Photos and world peace – how is this related?
Great question. Astorya Entertainment, the company I started with my production partner Jacob Marshall, was founded with the idea that everyone’s story is unique and worthy of being told, and that we all have the ability to be art. For Jacob, he becomes art when he makes music. For me, I feel that I become art when I make a photograph. So not only did I want World Wide Moment to be about giving people the opportunity to simultaneously participate in the art form that I love, but I wanted to use this experiment for a purpose. The first few times we held World Wide Moment in 2007 were exciting and enjoyable for participants, but there was no central theme or cause or motivation. So this time, we figured, what better story to tell than how we can make art by making peace.

What’s the main goal behind WWM?
The main goal behind World Wide Moment is to have as many people around the world, and at least one person from every country, to take a photograph and participate in a moment of peace at 08.08.08@08:08+08GMT. So far we have people from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Estonia, England, and Saudi Arabia pledged to participate. So we still have many many more countries to reach out to. But ultimately we want this experiment to inspire people, excite them, make them feel connected, and continue into the future. We plan to exhibit the photographs on our website, publish a charitable book, and to have a touring gallery exhibit of the photographs and stories as well.

How do we participate?
Everyone everywhere is welcome to participate. Any age, any gender, any nationality. You don’t need to be a professional photographer. You just need a camera. And you just need to make sure you take a picture for peace at your corresponding time: ==http://timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?year=2008&month=8&day=8&hour=8&min=8&sec=0&p1=33&p2=179==

Then, once the Moment has passed submit your photo and a short 1,000 character story about your moment to our website: http://www.worldwidemoment.org

Please make your photo as high resolution as possible.

Any future plans for WWM?
For sure. We hope to exhibit the photos and stories on our website and in galleries around the world, and we hope to publish a charity book of the photographs as well. This is the 6th time we have held a WWM experiment. But we hope it will not be the last. Each time has had more and more support. So we hope in the future this will become a regular event hosted by people and countries all over the world.

Any messages, and related links that you’d like to promote?

http://www.dearjackmovie.com
- A documentary I helped produce about musician and Leukemia survivor Andrew McMahon of the bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin.

http://www.whatismae.com
- Rock music group Mae, a great band and long-time supporters of World Wide Moment.

http://www.flickr.com/chinako
- My favorite photographer Chinako Miyamoto and her “Polaroid Per Day” series.

http://www.brettakabenji.blogspot.com
- My daily blog since January 1, 2008. Filled with photos, stories, and online therapy sessions.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share this idea with Lomography members, supporters, and activists. Thanks for taking the time to learn about World Wide Moment and spread the word. Please email us with any questions or comments – worldwidemoment@gmail.com

Check out some photos from previous World Wide Moments in the gallery.

Photo Credits: 1)New York: Kassie (Klhoj); 2)Toronto: Dawn Kay; 3)Virginia: Brett Brownell; 4)Italy: Rod Blackhurst; 5)Texas: Melissa Sanson; 6)Estonia: Liisa Udevald; 7)Florida: Andrea Clavijo; 8)New Zealand: Rose!; 9) Michigan: Annie-Lynne Koceja; 10)California: Chinako Miyamoto

written by shhquiet on 2008-06-24 in #news #project #interview

2 Comments

  1. mephisto19
    mephisto19 ·

    amazing project and i think i will join
    it's my grandfather's birthday and it had been my grandgrandmother's, too...

  2. 45vaile
    45vaile ·

    count me in
    it's on my birthday too :)

More Interesting Articles

  • Crowdizzle and his Weapon of Choice: LC-Wide

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-06-06 in #gear #locations
    Crowdizzle and his Weapon of Choice: LC-Wide

    For Crow, his LC-Wide, which he fondly calls Elsie, is the perfect camera for his "Don't think, just shoot" attitude. He takes it wherever he goes and even uses the camera to teach his daughter about photography. In this interview, he shares more about his love for the LC-Wide plus some of the photographs taken by his young apprentice.

    5
  • Then and Now: 15-Year Old Filmmaker Recreates Iconic Movie Scenes with Lego Bricks and Minifigs

    written by chooolss on 2014-11-13 in #lifestyle
    Then and Now: 15-Year Old Filmmaker Recreates Iconic Movie Scenes with Lego Bricks and Minifigs

    Young Scotland-based filmmaker <b><a href="http://morgspennyproductions.co.uk">Morgan Spence</a></b> loves filmmaking just as much as he loves Lego, which he extensively uses in his work. That being said, Spence turned out to be just the right artist that Lego artist <b>Warren Elsmore</b> tapped to create a promotional video for his book, <b><a href="http://warrenelsmore.com/brickwonders-1">"Brick Flicks"</a></b>.

  • Petzval Photography: A Philosophy, According to Michael Fiukowski

    written by zonderbar on 2015-07-26 in #people #lomoamigos
    Petzval Photography: A Philosophy, According to Michael Fiukowski

    For Michael Fiukowski, taking photos with the New Petzval 85 Art Lens is a philosophy. The manual focus encourages him to be more experimental, and when shooting portraits, he seeks for creative ways to position his subject and make the most of the Petzval's bokeh effect. He finds the lens fascinating, and tells us why.

    1
  • Shop News

    Colorsplash your World!

    Colorsplash your World!

    At 30% off you can now color your analog images with 12 different color gels. Experiment with 35mm slide film and play with the built-in color flash for the most intense colors!

  • Camera Collections: b2377's Priceless Analog Possessions

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-04-25 in #gear #lifestyle
    Camera Collections: b2377's Priceless Analog Possessions

    From the simple Vivitar 110 camera he received from his grandmother, Brett Wolff already accumulated close to almost a hundred cameras and accessories in his analog arsenal. Some of the cameras he treasured were even handed down by relatives and friends, making these more precious to him. Let's take a closer look at his camera collection.

    12
  • Petzval Artist: Professional Photographer Derrick Ong from Singapore

    written by edwinchau on 2014-11-15 in #people #lomoamigos
    Petzval Artist: Professional Photographer Derrick Ong from Singapore

    Derrick Ong's portraits give off a feeling of nostalgia and old-world charm. The Singapore-based photographer specializes in pre-nuptial and wedding shoots, and loves to capture moments in vibrant hues as well as in black and white. In this exclusive interview, he tells us about his experience shooting with the New Petzval Lens.

  • Newcomer of the Week: ghost_paper

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-07-12 in #world #lifestyle
    Newcomer of the Week: ghost_paper

    Jacob Swedlund likens the excitement of shooting on film with reading a gripping book that he cannot simply put down. With endless stories to share, he enthusiastically records his daily adventures and innermost thoughts through photography. Let's get to know our newcomer of the week from Baumholder, Germany, ghost_paper!

    2
  • Shop News

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    At 25% off you can take dreamy 35mm images with this little black beauty. Beam coloured light into your shots with its accompanying Diana Flash Back accessory and be the analogue king of the night.

  • Photographer Gilbert Blecken Captures Iconic Musicians on Film

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-03-02 in #people #lifestyle
    Photographer Gilbert Blecken Captures Iconic Musicians on Film

    Back in the 1990s, Gilbert Blecken was a big music fan and wrote for his own small music fanzine. He would interview bands in between sound checks and take photographs of them. He was never a professional photographer or worked for a company; he simply did it for his fanzine. Twenty years on, Gilbert’s photographs have matured into an amazing documentation of some of the biggest music icons of that era. We caught up with Gilbert to ask him about these photographs and the fascinating story behind them.

    10
  • 'Red: A Kubrick Supercut' Highlights the Filmmaker's Use of the Color in His Work

    written by chooolss on 2014-11-20 in #lifestyle
    'Red: A Kubrick Supercut' Highlights the Filmmaker's Use of the Color in His Work

    Have you ever noticed how Stanley Kubrick made use of the color red many times in his movies? Video editor Rishi Kaneria sure has, and came up with this brilliant clip to showcase the filmmaker's preference for crimson hues.

  • LC-A 120 and I: chappelow

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-03-03 in #world #lifestyle
    LC-A 120 and I: chappelow

    For chappelow, 2015 is all about pushing the limits and improving his photographic style. To reach this resolution, he adds the LC-A 120 to his arsenal and set off on his analog adventure.

  • Shop News

    Shoot recognizable images with the Petzval

    Shoot recognizable images with the Petzval

    You want your subject be the center of attention? Petzval lens photos are recognizable for sharpness and crispness in the centre, strong color saturation, wonderful swirly bokeh effect, artful vignettes and narrow depth of field that will make your subjects stand out!

  • Markus Andersen Talks 'At the Edge of the Earth'

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-04-08 in #people #lifestyle
    Markus Andersen Talks 'At the Edge of the Earth'

    "At the edge of the Earth" is an ongoing yearlong project by documentary photographer Markus Andersen in which he captures the coastline of Sydney, Australia on black and white film with the Diana and Lomo LC-A cameras. In this interview, the Sydney-based photographer opens up to Lomography about his latest endeavor as well as on shooting on the streets of his city and the importance of photographing in analog.

    3
  • Swiss Identity in Pictures

    written by Kwyn Kenaz Aquino on 2015-04-27 in #world #lifestyle
    Swiss Identity in Pictures

    With the help of a camera, Igor Ponti searched far and wide to understand his Swiss roots. What he found out goes beyond delectable cheeses, silky chocolates and that world-famous white cross on red.

  • Jack Lowe and the Lifeboat Station Project

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-05-29 in #people #news #lifestyle
    Jack Lowe and the Lifeboat Station Project

    Jack Lowe has set himself a challenge to document every RNLI post around the UK coastline using a Victorian method of photography called Wet Plate Collodion Photography. He has been driving around in an old ambulance converted into a mobile darkroom. Jack talked to us about this fascinating project and the challenges he faces along the way.

    1