DMR Productions


We’re done!

After a semester’s worth of planning, shooting, editing and more planning, we’re pleased to announce that “Micro Miracle,” a DMR Productions documentary that examines the implications of micro-enterprise in Ithaca, N.Y., has been completed. We will be screening our documentary at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications’ auditorium, and all are invited.

It’s been a rewarding semester, full of hard work and determination, and we would like to again thank all those who were helpful along the way, most notably including the staff at Alternatives Federal Credit Union, specifically chief lending officer Carol Chernikoff and Business CENTS program director Leslie Ackerman, and the businesses that we filmed, including Alex Colket and his Swidjit, Samantha Abrams and the rest of the staff at Emmy’s Organics, and Heather Sandford and the rest of the crew at The Piggery!

Our documentary would also not be what it is now without the help of Elaina Dionisopoulos, external relations director at BRM, and all those who agreed to participate in our man-on-the-street interview brigade on The Commons in early April.

We hope to see you all at the screening this Wednesday. If not, our documentary is now available on our home page, so please be sure to take a look!

Contributed by Patrick Duprey, May 7, 2012

Shooting complete!

I'm happy to say that after months of hard work, the DMR Productions team has completed all our shooting for "Micro Miracle." Yesterday, we visited The Piggery! — a local deli and butchery that obtained a microloan to purchase a delivery van and has used several of Alternatives' services, financial loans and other business guidance, in the past several years. The business is now a fixture within the local community, and we got some great footage in our interview with co-owner Heather Sandford and in our b-roll shooting of the kitchen/restaurant. Tonight, we shot Leslie Ackerman's Business CENTS class to offer more context to the 'guidance' portion of our documentary. So, despite a late start and some technical difficulties, which included the apparent smashing of an external hard drive, we're moving forward in working with what we have.

As for where to go from here, we'll continue to work on developing the latter half of our documentary, as I believe that's where we need the most development. Our first half is solid in terms of making the connection between micro-enterprise and local business. Now, with the addition of The Piggery! we hope to further develop the 'community' feel of our documentary, as that is, aside from micro-enterprise, an overriding theme of our work. So we'll continue in working on editing over the next week before next Wednesday's screening. But we can at least recognize a brief victory in completing all our shooting!

Contributed by Patrick Duprey, May 2, 2012

The editing continues.

The countdown is officially on. Our documentary, which we've dubbed "Micro Miracle," will be screening in 12 days in the Park Auditorium. The precise date is Wednesday, May 9, at 1:30 p.m., and you can RSVP and/or find more information on this Facebook page. The editing race continues as we are seemingly locked in a perpetual phase of cutting up footage and matching b-roll with our interview audio. It's a long, drawn out process but will undoubtedly be rewarding in the end. We're excited with the footage we've compiled, and we can't wait to screen "Micro Miracle." In the meantime, you can view our trailer on the main page of our website. We will release other video snippets as the week progresses and we dig further into editing.

Although the primary focus right now is on editing, we still are wrapping up a few loose ends. We're talking to our third and final business this Tuesday — The Piggery! You may know The Piggery! as one of the best deli spots in Ithaca, but it's also a business that has benefited from the micro-enterprise guidance offered at Alternatives Federal Credit Union. We're also shooting some of the Business CENTS class, taught by one of our own interviewees Leslie Ackerman, at Alternatives this Wednesday evening. This will provide some useful b-roll that can put a face to the guidance Ackerman offers to, essentially, her students — present or prospective entrepreneurs. After these shoots, we should have, barring a last minute impulse, all of our footage for the final "Micro Miracle" product. So, stay tuned, as we race to the finish, we promise to keep you all in the loop.

Contributed by Patrick Duprey, April 27, 2012

And now for the editing...

After a bit of a late start, we're wrapping up our shooting. Now, it's on to the editing stage, where we've encountered some problems with Final Cut Pro X but are working diligently to correct them. We're having troubles matching our audio and video once we drag so much footage into the timeline, so if you have any ideas as to why this may be, don't hesitate to email us in the 'contact' section. The footage airs correctly in the events library, but once it's dragged into the timeline, we occasionally run into some issues. Our diagnosis is that we're overloading the timeline with too much footage, but we can't be sure. So, again, if you have any ideas as to why this may be, don't hesitate to shoot us an email.

As for what we've shot, on Monday, Brian and I traveled to South Meadow Street, where we met Alex Colket. Colket, a Cornell University alumnus, is about to launch Swidjit, a local hub for communicating with other individuals, businesses and organizations, out of his own house. Although he has not received a microloan in launching his business — he's instead relied on his own money, investors and some support he's received through the online crowd-funding platform Indiegogo to get started — he's received guidance from Cornell University's BR MicroCapital, a local microfinance organization featured in our documentary that's been proactive in encouraging local start-ups despite not yet handing out a loan. We'll include more of what Colket had to say about Swidjit, BRM and the local business culture here in Ithaca in our documentary and on the website, so please stay tuned.

Now, it's on to the editing stage. We're still working on piecing all of our footage together for the second rough cut deadline due to some technical difficulties, and this weekend we'll work on developing our own 60-second trailer that's sure to inspire us all to watch our documentary and see how the culture within Tompkins County, specifically the City of Ithaca, whether it is through small business loans, guidance or both, fosters such an entrepreneurial spirit.

By Patrick Duprey - Dated April 20, 2012

It's been a busy week here with DMR Productions, to say the least. On Tuesday, Brian and Kevin met with Carol Chernikoff, chief lending officer at the Alternatives Federal Credit Union, and today, we put a human face to a lot of the ideas Carol's talked about in terms of how Alternatives helps local entrepreneurs get started and offers guidance along the way when we met with Samantha Abrams, co-owner of Emmy's Organics.

How we stumbled across Samantha and Emmy's is quite interesting, actually. I was stumbling through Alternatives' 2010 Annual Report, where I saw that they had received a microloan, with funds of up to $50,000 provided from the Small Business Administration. We learned today that this loan was to pay for, in layman's terms, a macaroon making machine so that her and her co-owner, Ian, wouldn't have to do it all by hand as the orders piled up. So I called over to Emmy's over a week ago, and I asked to speak to Samantha. Ian answered the phone and said she was out of town, but they would be interested in participating in the documentary and would get back to me when she returned. That night, searching through the Google News wires, I learned that Samantha had actually been in Washington, D.C., where she had the opportunity to stand with lawmakers behind President Barack Obama as he signed the American Jobs Act.

We sat down with Samantha today to discuss how her business has grown since she received that loan and other personal support from the people at Alternatives. Emmy's has added staff, moved to a bigger location and has been able to offer much more to its customers. Now, Emmy's Organics' macaroons and other organic, gluten-free and completely vegan products are distributed in stories in almost all 50 states. One of the messages Samantha emphasized today that our documentary intends to prod at is that she couldn't have done it elsewhere. Without the support of Alternatives and others, as well as Ithaca's local-first focus, she said her business would not have succeeded.

The shooting will continue at Alternatives with an interview with Leslie Ackerman, director of the Business CENTS program, and toward the end of the week with Alex Colket, who's used guidance from Cornell BR MicroCapital to help develop his own business, Swidjit — an Ithaca-only version of Craigslist that serves as a forum to connect area residents to promote goods, services and events.

By Patrick Duprey - Dated April 13, 2012

Today was our busiest day of work so far. After emailing back and forth with Alternatives Federal Credit Union for a week or so, we finally got the chance to sit down with Chief Lending Officer Carol Chernikoff and Leslie Ackerman, Director of the Business CENTS program.

During our 40-minute meeting, Brian, Patrick and I specifically outlined what we want to achieve with our documentary. It was kind of like we were pitching our idea in class all over again, but this time with a narrower focus on start up businesses looking to get microloans. Carol Chernikoff had suggested taking us around the community and showing us all the businesses they have provided microloans to — an offer we will certainly take her up on. We also want to take a look at a class offered by the credit union for people who are looking to or have received a microloan. We realized that microloans aren’t always as small as we originally thought they were, and could range up to $50,000 depending on how long a period they were given out for.

The Cornell Microfinance Club helped us out again earlier today, allowing us to film at a discussion on micro financing in other parts of the world such as India and China. The talk, which featured two of the university’s professors, was part of Microfinance Week at the institution. Brian and I filmed the two speakers as they discussed the impact of microloans and why they worked in some areas and not others. While our documentary plans to focus more specifically on the microlending in the Ithaca community, we would like to interview one of the professors to get an outside point of view on the issues surrounding the process.

P.S. Check out our updated Facebook page now that we have switched to timeline.

By Kevin McCall - Dated April 4, 2012

After a long hiatus from production, we had our first one-on-one interview with a subject in the Gerontology department’s lounge on campus.

Patrick, Brian spoke with Elaina Dionisopoulos (try saying that 10 times fast, or even five), who is the Director of Internal Development at BR Microcapital. It was quite an ordeal for her to get from Cornell University’s campus on the East Hill to the Ithaca College campus on the South Hill since she had hurt her ankle earlier in the week and was on crutches.

After taking the TCAT bus and walking all the way up to the other side of campus, Dionisopoulos sat down with us to talk about the prior to attending the Johnson School of Management. Brian and I asked her about how the student-run organization helps student entrepreneurs reach the goals for their small business and as well as what the criteria for getting a microloan is. Patrick took some production stills, which we will upload shortly.

We unfortunately found out toward the end of the interview that BR Microcapital has not actually given out any microloans despite offering coaching classes for three different individuals looking to open a business in the Ithaca area.

Dionisopoulos said she would refer us to other organizations on the Cornell University campus and other businesses BR Microcapital has been working with to make them eligible for microloans. Now that we’re well versed in the topic, our next big steps will be talking to representatives from Alternatives Federal Credit Union, who gives out most of the microloans in the area. We also plan to attend events for Microfinance Week, which is scheduled to take place during the first week of April.

By Kevin McCall - Dated March 7, 2012

As we continue to build our official website, we will take this time to outline where we now stand. My distinguished co-producer Brian Rank has exchanged a plethora of emails with the Cornell University Microfinance Club, who've agreed to participate in the project. This Monday, in fact, Kevin and I attended an hourlong roundtable discussion in Statler Hall in which not only were key issues of microfinance addressed, but also two Cornell students, both of whom have traveled to separate continents to promote microfinance in helping the economically unfortunate climb out of poverty, offered first-hand knowledge of how microloaning works.

As informative and unique as this presentation was, we hope to spend most of our documentary localizing the issue to Tompkins County. Alternatives Federal Credit Union in downtown Ithaca has been a microloaning pioneer, and we hope to use our contacts with them as a means to reach out to business owners and people who've taken advantage of what microloaning, especially from Alternatives, has to offer. What are the implications of microloaning, specifically in Tompkins County? To answer this question, we will closely examine the relationship between loaners and investors ... and much, much more. Get excited. We are.

By Patrick Duprey - Dated February 17, 2012