The National Journal writes that when Arun Chaudhary was a teenager, his father asked him why he didn't want to get into politics. "I can't, Dad," he recalled saying. "I have a funny name." Now Arun Chaudhary, the son of an immigrant Indian father and a Jewish mother, is as close to politics as one can be: He took leave from his day job -- professor at the NYU film school -- to become Barack Obama's videographer (or, so the official title, director of field production).
After 10 months on the campaign trail, Chaudhary has more than 850 videos posted (three of them below) on the BarackObama.com website and on YouTube. His short clips from Obama's town hall meetings, big rallies, and on-the-road moments draw an average of 10,000 viewers each, and they have become a main tenet of a campaign that has successfully translated the concept of web 2.0 (or however you want to call it), with its collaborative formats, micro-crowds, public deliberation, and social aggregation, into the realm of political communication.
A new type of political auteur in the age of YouTube, the 32-year old filmmaker has developed a unique style that is innovative, fresh, and -- like the candidate -- challenges convention. Obama's campaign is a networked, open-sourced, and interactive effort, as Henry Jenkins observed, and in this spirit of "from me to we," Chaudhary playfully (and with distinct irony) remixes elements of amateur-style video, traditional polit-documentary, CNN b-roll, slick TV commercial, cinematic production, and behind-the-scene outtakes into a vibrant, eclectic, and authentic voice of the campaign that is bigger than the sum of its parts. As the maker of moving pictures of a movement, he achieves what every great documentary filmmaker wants to achieve: To document and write history at the same time.
Arun Chaudhary will speak about his work for Obama and his experiences traveling with the campaign in a special edition of frog's Design Mind speaker series on July 16 in New York. The event will be videotaped, of course.
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