6 Points with YELP Director Tiffany Shlain

 

What inspired you to make this film?

Sophocles once said, 'nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse,' and this couldn't be more true of technology. My team and I were hard at work on our feature documentary film, Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology which we are excited is also playing at the SF Jewish Film Festival. We were writing, texting, tweeting, emailing, talking, deciding, cutting, and pasting, when we heard that an organization we are involved with called Reboot was doing a National Day of Unplugging. They asked us to try to unplug for a day. Immediately it was clear: “We must partake!”

I was r
eally feeling like I needed to take one day of the week off from technology. Recently addicted to Twitter, I became the kind of person I hated—the one pulling out her iPhone while actually talking to someone, sneaking email fixes in bathroom stalls. It was getting ugly. Clearly, I needed a technology Shabbat. My whole family did.

My husband Ken Goldberg (and co-writer of several films) and I decided to rework one of our favorite poems by Ginsberg—we have a Howl book cover framed and signed in our kitchen. And so Yelp came to be. We had a blast writing it.  Then I gathered my team, my wonderful co-editor Dalan McNabola, and I created the short film from images we had culled for our feature doc and original animations by the visual magician Stefan Nadelman. And then Peter Coyote lent us his amazing voice and the film came to life.

What was your greatest challenge during the filmmaking process?


My biggest challenge during the filmmaking process was not checking my email or texting in the editing room.


Any thoughts you’d like to share about screening this film in a Jewish context?


My husband and children do technology shabbats each week for shabbat and it has changed our lives. As we light the shabbos candles,  cell phones turn off and so do computers. It is a very profound 24 hours where we are in the present in such a beautiful way with each other. I highly recommend it. 

What film/media has inspired you lately?

Two recent art shows have inspired me.

The Alexander McQueen show at the Met in NYC,
"Savage Beauty". Very powerful. I love fashion and I love art so this show hit my sweet spot. http://blog.metmuseum.org/alexandermcqueen/ & my husband Ken Goldberg & Gil Gershoni's show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, "Are we there yet?"  I love questions and I love my husband so this show is right up my alley.

What do you do when you’re not filmmaking?

When I'm not filmmaking I spend a lot of time with Ken and our children, our families and friends.  I also garden, write in my journal...all things close to the ground.

Lastly, gefilte fish: delicious, or disgusting?

With hot enough horse radish, I love it. Why do they call it horse radish?


About Tiffany Shlain

Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Tiffany Shlain is a filmmaker, artist,  founder of The Webby Awards, co-founder of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences and a Henry Crown Fellow of The Aspen Institute. Tiffany’s work with film, technology and activism has received 44 awards and her last four films have premiered at Sundance. Her films include “Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness,” about reproductive rights in America and “The Tribe,” an exploration of American Jewish identity through the history of the Barbie doll, “Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl,” about our addiction to technology and the importance of “unplugging”, and her new award-winning feature documentary, “Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology.” A celebrated thinker and speaker, she just gave a keynote at Cannes MIPdoc in France, has advised Secretary of State Clinton, is on the advisory board of M.I.T.’s Geospatial Lab and presented the 2010 campus-wide Commencement Address at UCBerkeley.

 

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