Monday, May 21, 2007, May 21, 2007

20 Questions
Todd Raviotta, Richmond filmmaker

Jennifer Pullinger
Monday, May 21, 2007

"My hope is to continue work as a southern filmmaker with a home base in Richmond, the center of the east coast."

Todd Raviotta has lived in Richmond since 1996, and graduated from VCU in 2004 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film. Now, he passes his knowledge on to his students at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, where he teaches a Digital Video Senior Seminar and Film Studies class. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Yellow House, a non-profit theater and film company; an adjunct in VCU‘s Photography and Film Department; and Vice President of the Virginia Production Alliance, an organization whose mission it is to promote the Commonwealth’s filmmakers. Raviotta shares his latest work, "Mediated: The 21st Century Lifestyle," at the Byrd Theater on May 26.

Your film "Mediated: The 21st Century Lifestyle" screens at the Byrd Theater on May 26. What’s it about?

That film was a project I started when I was in graduate school at VCU working on my Masters for film. When I was ending my undergraduate studies, I got this idea to do a film about a guy who is completely isolated from the rest of the world based on his addiction to technology. The script took on a couple of different drafts and different forms and the one that my co-writer Chris and I landed with was a guy who surrounds himself with so many televisions, that the televisions start to talk to him. In some ways, it’s an investigation of schizophrenia where the televisions start to embody his doubt and dread and becomes the nagging voice in the back of his head that tells him to do bad things.

Speaking of media criticism, how can the media do a better job at being a positive cultural force?

The film has two main inspirations. When I was an undergrad, the Columbine tragedy happened, and I, as a young person, was aghast at how the victims were treated, and as it wore on, how the perpetrators were raised up to be seen as icons. The second inspiration was after 9/11 when the media switched onto this [nonstop] coverage – not to understand the cause or how this could have been avoided – but just to profile the perpetrators and offer this constant coverage. Those instances are what made me start to really look at the media. Now to your question, what could they do differently? I think the integrity of the on-camera people – they need to not be so as detached from what’s going. Unfortunately, the Virginia Tech instance happened earlier and everyone in the media descended on the town. I have friends who work in the industry of news and videography and they were getting phone calls to come and shoot the thing – "Come join us. We’re doing this coverage . . ." Instead of thinking about what would get them ratings or what’s going to get them the shot, the media need to think of what the effect is going to be on the viewer and how to disseminate information to them.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

C-Ville Weekly, ABODE, May 2007

Cook your buns off
Win big: Do Dixie in the kitchen

What could be more Southern than sweet potato rolls with sticky caramel-pecan sauce? That’s the recipe that won the 2006 Southern Living Cook-off. The grand pooh-bah of all Dixie region lifestyle magazines is running the annual recipe contest again right now, and there’s a big cash incentive to submit. The grand prize winner will score a cool $100,000—enough dough to buy a lifetime supply of cinnamon rolls. Last year’s other finalists created an array of recipes featuring Southern decadence on a plate, including shrimp bruschette with guacamole and spicy braised short ribs with peach gravy and green rice.

One catch: You have to use at least one of the “sponsor products” in your recipe. Your options include pride-wounding stuff like Crisco and Jell-O, but also versatile and respectable ingredients like peanuts and shrimp. This year’s Cook-Off Finals will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, where finalists will duke it out on October 3 and 4.

If you’re a local and you win, we promise not to make fun of you for reading Southern Living. Last year’s winners were all from the Midwest or West Coast, so our position is that Southerners need to bring bragging rights back home. Go ahead and enter! And, for the love of O’Hara, don’t forget to garnish.—Jennifer Pullinger

Source: May 2007, C-Ville Weekly, ABODE Supplement