niche of a niche of the publishing world was my terrain for a long
time. The cardinal rule: Respect the reader's time. Do this by
working hard to find the narrative path, and then stay on it.
This principle travels well. That's not to say its application to
video making is always easy or successful. I do my best.
Contact Peter Segnitz
photo by Ryan
Q: Are these FAQs genuine?
A: Not really, but they help cover some ground with a touch
of wry and a little less dry.
Q: Your production values need lots of work. Pros must
grimace. Why this website when you're such a greenhorn?
A: For ages I've been importuning a dear friend to leave the
20th century at peace and to germinate an online presence for the
21st. Something, anything, beyond his solitary email address. His
vocation needs it. "Start with a sort of digital business card and
let it grow," says I, sagely. Recently, I looked into a mirror.
Q: So what are you going to do about those production values?
A: Shed the fear of gear. Seek the advice of people who've
been there. Shed the fear of looking stupid when asking them
questions. Get in the field as often as possible. Actually read
Q: Was there a particular spark for you?
A: Yes. It was a primitive, diminutive, tongue-in-cheek
Christmas video I assembled on a whim for a couple of toddlers in
the family. The "characters" included a small ceramic Santa and the
"set" was the usual quaint holiday stuff. Grown-ups enjoyed the
video even more than the kids did. The spark was the discovery of
what FUN this was.
Q: You've said your strongest affinity is to the short-form
natural documentary. What does "natural" mean?
A: It means no narration. Discarding the overt omniscient
voice helps to bridge the divide between audience and subject. The
hope is to achieve some degree of intimacy. The story emerges, if it
emerges at all, purely from the subject's own words and actions.
This seems natural to me. The idea was around for ages before the
camera was invented. It's a good one.
Q: But the Robert Genn piece IS narrated, which seems a
little at odds with what you're saying.
A: He's still speaking from his own heart, establishing a
bond with his audience. That's what it's all about. Even if that
form isn't natural in the purest sense, it's still well worth
Q: What's your plan?
A: Plan? Hmmm ... to stay true and always to perform a
function of some kind. Aesthetics alone are not interesting to me.
There's got to be a kernel of utilitarianism seeding each
project. Everybody knows what a light bulb is for. Like that.
Q: The world is drowning in a rising multi-media ocean of its
own making. Who needs more video?
A: I think there's room for what I do.
Q: So far your subjects have been professional artists. Will
you explore other subjects and stories as well?
A: The artists are people I've met through my wife's art
gallery and have come to call friends. There seem to be limitless
possibilities within this fascinating group. Landscape painter
Renato Muccillo (a recent subject) has said there's a single
square-kilometer patch of Pitt Meadows so profoundly inspirational
to him that he could make a whole career out of it. I feel much the
same way about the gallery and its artists. But the world is a big
place with lots going on, so let's see what happens. It's tabula
Q: The proverbial blank slate.
A: Right. What a magical circumstance for a middle-aged guy
to find himself in. It wouldn't be possible without my endlessly
patient mate-for-life Dennie. She's always had faith in me, even when I
Q: Any words of wisdom?
A: Keep junk food to a minimum. It's true what they say about
an apple a day. And realize that if something is holding you back,
maybe it's your own hand doing the gripping. Let go and see what
Q: Is that from a Hallmark card?
A: Not that I'm aware of, but I suppose it could be. Sigh.
Maybe Hallmark can send me royalties. That would be nice.