Fells Point-based movie maker Jacquie Greff in her own words (edited by Siobhan Hagan).
Episode “The Privy Diggers” of “History at Risk”.
I’m originally from Iowa and my husband is from Illinois. We moved here in 1993 from Cincinnati where I was working for Procter & Gamble and was transferred to their Hunt Valley research center. I later accepted an early retirement package and went to work with my husband in our family business, Tonal Vision. I have a BA in Chemistry from Clarke College (now Clarke University) in Dubuque, IA; an MBA from Arizona State University; a law degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore; and an MA from American University in Communications: Producing for Film and Video. I’m a full-time video producer, although I don’t make enough doing it to live well. I supplement my income with retirement funds from my Procter & Gamble IRA.
I began learning filmmaking on the job when I left Procter & Gamble in 2002. I bought a camera, went to a few seminars and trade shows, and generally did anything I could think of to learn. A friend and I did a free wedding video for a couple and that got us into shooting weddings. I did several DVDs for photographers that were marketed commercially. My friend is into dance, and that got us into shooting dance recitals. I eventually gave up doing weddings because marketing to that audience can be quite expensive, and have gotten into more commercial work, as well as more traditional filmmaking. Even though I’m older than a lot of filmmakers, I’m heavily into digital. My favorite medium is XDCAM shot by my Sony EX1 because it’s high quality but reasonably sized files that are easy to work with. I like HD and produce a lot of HD web videos.
I’ve done video full-time for over 10 years and couldn’t possibly keep everything, even in the days when we shot on tape. When I produce videos for clients, I typically keep an archive of the end product for reproduction purposes, and hold the original footage in editable format for several weeks to be sure there isn’t some change they need. For my own projects, I often archive an uncompressed version of the original onto Blu-ray disc, and sometimes the original clips used in the edit. The most difficult is a long-term documentary I’m working on that has files dating back to 2006. I have the original footage on a combination of DVDs and hard drives. In total, I have about 20 TB of hard drive space, 9 TB of which is in a Drobo, plus hundreds of optical discs (DVDs and Blu-ray discs).
Maryland is beautiful, with a lot of history, a lot of music (my husband is a musician), and a lot happening in general. It’s also close to Washington, DC and New York City. There is an active lobby [in Maryland] to increase support for the arts. However, I think a lot of that is directed toward bringing in outside money into the state. For local filmmakers to do well, there needs to be appreciation for the value they bring to everyday life and a willingness to support they by spending money on what they produce. In general, it’s a lot easier to make a living producing film and video in DC than Baltimore because DC spends more commercially on what we produce.
The “History at Risk” series we are developing in house…is strictly a web series, viewable currently at www.FellsPoint.US. It is inexpensively produced and does not generate income yet, but it is a lot of fun because everything is done in-house and we don’t have a commercial client telling us what to do. [It focuses] on the Marketplace at Fell’s Point real estate development. It was originally started by two local developers who wanted to revitalize a significant chunk of the business district in Fell’s Point. The project was derailed by financial hard times several years ago and has been picked up by another developer who is letting me do weekly shoots as the buildings on the site are finally being redone in a much different form than they were originally envisioned.
My earliest [work] was a DVD for photographer Tony Sweet which is no longer commercially available. I followed that with several DVDs for Jim Miotke of BetterPhoto.com, “Digital Photography Unleashed: Taking Wildly Great Pictures” and “Photographing Kids”. Following that was a documentary, “Fell’s Point Out of Time” which I produced when I was getting my MA from American University in 2004. My most recent instructional video is “Easing Into Yoga with Linda Howard” which is selling well on Amazon. I’m also working on my 2nd film “Memories of the Warsaw Ghetto” with deaf Russian director Alexander Genievsky (the first was “The Gift”). We are part way done shooting Warsaw Ghetto but are stalled because of the need to raise funds to finish the film.