Apr 29, 2009

My Video Cameras: Part 1


Since the ripe old age of 12 I've owned my own video camera and have been shooting under the banner of my personal studio, Fandrix Productions. Now 25, I can easily say that it's been one long and exciting learning experience using a series of cameras that have each marked a new level and challenge in the development of my video work.


I've always championed that it's not solely the equipment one uses, but the drive and conviction that an artist approaches an idea with that determines how successful they'll be. A filmmaker without resourcefulness is just a dreamer. Comparatively speaking, I've never had the best or most expensive stuff, but it hasn't stopped me from producing quality work or being recognized by my peers, strangers or film festivals.

Excluding the number of film and digital cameras that I experimented with in film school, I've personally owned 4 cameras in my now 13 years of producing independent video. While they vary in price and quality, they've all served me well and have each been used for projects that I consider personally significant. Here are the first 2:


Camera #1: Sony CCD-F46 (1997-2000)
8mm (Video 8) Handycam


My first ever camera was purchased with the help of my folks, who matched the money I had saved so I could get this camera used. Like I previously mentioned, I was 12 so aside from an allowance and birthday money I didn't exactly have a lot of options.


At this point it was really about starting out in any way possible.

I felt pretty sure that I wanted to make movies, but I can't say I blame my parents for being cautious. It took over a year before I had $125 saved and when I saw an ad in the newspaper for a used camcorder in early 1997 I pounced.

Having that camera was amazing. I remember making shorts just for the sake of seeing myself on camera, finding any excuse to use it for a school assignment, capturing my first homevideos, and teaching myself the basics (along with editing on the VCR). While there wasn't much produced during this time that was meant for critical review, the one thing that I have shared on this blog from this camera was the Alaska Edits that I shot in 1998.

In 2000, having pushed myself as far as I felt I could and nearly breaking this camera several times, I decided to sell it when I finally had the money to purchase my first brand new piece of video equipment (which incidentally could still play all of the 8mm tapes I had shot).


Camera #2: Sony DCR-TRV110 (2000-present)
Digital 8 (D8) Handycam


When I turned 16 I had been working for a little less than a year, but had managed to save enough money to purchase a new camera. I suppose most kids my age were saving for a car, but my priorities were clear.


I was hired to shoot a seminar in the summer of 2000 and was asked to help select a camera to buy for the shoot. After it was complete, I was asked if I wanted to purchase the camera and I agreed - shelling out around $1200 for it (a slight discount).

What made the camera worth emptying my bank account for, was that it was digital. This was the beginning of editing on the computer, higher resolution and most importantly, more options. Having a digital camera and a decent family computer meant that for the first time I could add music, titles, and transitions to my work. I could actually edit with some accuracy! It's something that now seems so easy, but at the time it was a rush - and truthfully, my evolution in using the computer was slow going.

Through most of high school and into my first few years of university this was my camera of choice. I opted to use it on my productions in early film school courses because it seemed just as good as what they'd let us use. The quality still seems good to me, and the list of projects that I've made with this little camera is long - including Keys to Existence which has screened at several international festivals and venues. For more just check My Selected Videography in the sidebar between 2000-2005.

In late 2005 I decided it was time for an upgrade mainly because of how much I was using MiniDV in my production classes. Without a doubt, I got my money's worth from this camera though. These days, my D8 is used mainly to access my old footage, but on occasion I've still used it for homevideo shooting. This is one camera I'll never sell.

Apr 27, 2009

Please VOTE for My Movie: Round 3


This is the start of the 3rd week of the Yobi.tv Film Contest, and so far my short The Gizmo Tree has progressed from the Top 30, to Top 25, and now into the Top 20! Please VOTE again!

I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to check out my movie and cast a vote. Each week as 5 films are eliminated from the contest your individual vote becomes even more valuable. With the votes not reseting throughout the competition your continued support is very much appreciated, and obviously key to keeping me in the running. Thank you!

To cast a vote for the Gizmo Tree:
1. Visit
Yobi.tv and use your email address to join the site.
2. Once logged in, simply visit my
Gizmo Tree semi-finalist page.
3. Click the THUMBS UP under my movie. That's it!

For more details you can review the first few weeks of the contest here, or watch the promo video I made for my short below. Thanks for your help everyone! Here's hoping I'm back with more good news next week.

Apr 26, 2009

Alaska Edits (1998)


What makes these edits significant, besides the beautiful and epic scenery, is that it's some of the earliest footage I ever shot and the first vacation video I ever made. It was 1998, I was 14 years old. With my parents matching half of the money, I purchased a used 8mm Sony Handycam at the age of 12, and from there made a wealth of now embarrassing short films and projects.

A family cruise to Alaska in August 1998 proved the perfect opportunity to make my first vacation video - and real home video for that matter. By this point, the film Titanic(1997) was an international box office smash and I couldn't help but think about the movie throughout the trip. Standing at the stern and watching the wake of the ship, looking out across endless ocean, and a trip into Glacier Bay to see larger than life ice, made it seem like My Heart Will Go On was the only thing missing (that, and a nude girl to draw, but I digress).

In the days before I had a digital video camera or editing software, I did my editing on the VCR. So needless to say, the original version of my Alaska video was pretty rough. There was no music added besides the clips of hand made titles that I interspersed between days of the trip. I was also in the frame of mind that more was better, and not wanting to cut out anything from the trip I was left with over an hour of mostly raw footage. Oh, how I've grown up.

In 2003 I cut a brand new version of the video from the original footage titled, North to Alaska. It was far more enjoyable to watch, and by that point I was able to burn DVD copies for the family. By 2006 I decided to cut down all of my vacation footage further and created a series of video postcards, including one for Alaska.

Me with my camera on the deck on the cruise ship leaving Vancouver, BC.


Now over a decade after the trip to Alaska, I still have a special affinity for the footage and the project. It's not just being able to see my early work and style, but also the renewed appreciation I have for what it was I was actually witnessing - it really was an adventure. Highlights can now be viewed in four clips - the original Alaska postcard, Vancouver, Glacier Bay, and the White Pass & Yukon railway.

Part of getting older is realizing how important it is to appreciate the here and now. It's something I wish I would've said to myself back then, because my memories of 14 are pretty scattered and random. It's for that very reason that I've become so enamored with documenting my experiences and travels. It's not as good as being there again, but for me it feels close.

Take a moment to check out my now classic edits below.


Alaska Postcard (1998)


Vancouver, BC (1998)


Glacier Bay
(1998)


White Pass & Yukon Railway (1998)

Apr 25, 2009

The Gizmo Toque





Date:
December 2007

Associated Video(s):

Story:
I remember I was out shopping for some winter clothes and came across this toque. The first time I actually decided to wear it was for the Gizmo Tree project, so it essentially became a piece of my winter costume - never to be worn again after how many times I had to see it in the video. For a simple little toque, it seemed to fit the childish fantasy theme of the short and based on the success of the movie, the $10 investment was well worth it.

Apr 20, 2009

I Need Your Vote: Round 2


The Top 30 films in the Yobi.tv Filmmaking Contest have become the Top 25, and my short the Gizmo Tree is still in the running! The second round has begun!

I still need your vote to continue though, and you only need to vote once for the entire weekly round. Voting is fast, simple, and can make a world of difference for myself, my short, and my portfolio. The grand prize for YobiFilm is over $10,000!

To cast a vote:
1. Visit
Yobi.tv and use your email address to join the site.
2. Once logged in, simply visit my
Gizmo Tree semi-finalist page.
3. Click the THUMBS UP under my movie. That's it!

If you have yet to vote, please take a couple minutes to check out my short and decide for yourself if it's worth your Thumbs Up. I've never been a part of a contest that required less commitment or time from viewers and still delivered such a great reward. You can win prizes as well just for joining the site and voting!

If you'd like to help me further, please consider forwarding this message or my promotional clip that I made for this contest to family, friends, or anyone else you think may be interested. The promo clip can be viewed below.




Thank you all for your time and effort! Cast a vote, and hopefully I'll have more good news next monday at the start of Round 3! Have a great week!

-Luke Fandrich

To recap Round 1 of the contest, click here.

Apr 16, 2009

Yobi.tv Film Semi-Finalist!


I've tried to do my best to make it known that my comedy short The Gizmo Tree is currently one of 30 movies up for a first prize of over $10,000 in the Yobi.tv Film Contest. What makes this such a unique competition is that the semi-finalist's videos are as varied and unique as the movie makers themselves. Animations, comedies, dramas, experiments; There's really no way of knowing where I stand until the first set of films are eliminated this coming monday.

So, I'll make this short and sweet. If you've happened across my blog in the past, if you've visited from BlogExplosion or Entrecard, if you've clicked over from YouTube, if you've taken any interest in my shorts or musings at all, or been witness to my struggles and growth as an independent filmmaker - please take a moment to just check out my short and consider voting for me
HERE.

I can't emphasize enough how few and far between opportunities like this come up. It's taken 4 months since joining Yobi.tv for this vote to begin, and it's been well over a year since the short was made. Your vote could literally make the difference in a film contest that's all about word of mouth. The sole judges in this competition have been viewers; people just like you who have clicked a thumbs up or thumbs down based purely on what they like. I've made it to the semi-finals, so that's something, but I don't want to sit back and hope things pan out. I want you to know how much I care about this.

To vote,
click here.
Sign up with your email address, and give the Gizmo Tree a thumbs UP. That's it!

If you'd like to see more, I've created a promo video for my short and the contest. You can check it out below. Thanks for your interest, your time, and your support. It really does mean a lot to me.


Apr 12, 2009

I Need Your Vote For The Gizmo Tree


The Semi-Finals for the Yobi.tv Film Contest have begun, and in order to win I need your vote for my short film, The Gizmo Tree. To skip ahead and cast your vote on the site, click here.

WEEK ONE: Voting Begins (April 13-19)


In December 2008 I was voted into the semi-finals for week 17 of the 30 week Yobi.tv Filmmaking Contest. I'm now one of 30 independent filmmakers in competition for over $10,000 for 1st place, and it's been a long road to get here.

The way the contest works, is that each week (Monday-Sunday) you are allowed to cast ONE vote for a single semi-finalist's entry (thumbs up or thumbs down). That means if you choose to help me out, you only have to place a single vote for the entire week. Each following week, the 5 films with the lowest number of votes are eliminated from the contest and the cycle repeats. You'll be able to place another single vote each week until there are 5 remaining films - the Finalists. Also important to note, is that the votes never reset throughout the competition, so having as many votes as possible each week is key because they add up.

To cast a vote for the Gizmo Tree is easy and fast.

1. Visit
Yobi.tv and use your email address to join the site.
2. Once logged in, simply visit my
Gizmo Tree semi-finalist page.
3. Click the THUMBS UP under my movie. You've just voted for the week.

I can't express enough, how with each film contest or competition that I take part in, I'm always humbled by the support many of you show me. Because I'm working as hard as I can to get the word out about my short and campaign for votes, I want you to know that I wouldn't be able to have these positive experiences were it not for you taking the time to help me out.


I want to make this as easy for you to do as possible, so if there is anything I can do, or anyone else you can think of who might be willing to vote - don't hesitate to get in touch with me personally and I'll spread the word. My email is fandrix@hotmail.com

OR, if you'd like to forward my message to help me campaign and reach the YobiFILM finals, I've tried to make that easier too. I've created a promo clip and posted it on YouTube to introduce myself, showcase my short, and explain the contest. Spreading the word is as easy as forwarding the
promo clip to your family and friends. Here it is below:



Again, I want to say thank you for your help. If I make it through a few rounds, this is going to be a long contest as the weeks roll on. However, because each person can only cast a vote a week for my short, the challenge really becomes reaching as many people as possible. If you've got a few minutes, please check it out - Vote for the Gizmo Tree.

Thanks for your time folks!

-Luke Fandrich

Apr 11, 2009

Blog Traffic Sites I Use


Generally speaking, I'm not really the kind of guy who goes around touting web tools or resources, but seeing as my blog is as much about promotion as it is my work I thought it might be nice to share the handful of sites that I use to help get a bit more attention.

BlogExplosion - A site I've used for nearly 2 years now, it's been a great way of meeting and interacting with a variety of bloggers from around the world. It works on a 2:1 credit ratio, for every 2 sites you visit you earn 1 credit. You can use your credits in exchange for visits to your blog, for blog battles/competitions, or on the blog rocket. To say the least, it's the blogging site I've benefited most from since starting Editing Luke.

EasyHits4U - A site I'm fairly new to, but one that I saw immediate results from. Like BlogExplosion, EasyHits4U works on a credit system. The ratio is 1:1, for every blog you visit you earn a credit which means you can acquire more traffic faster than on BE. The big difference is that EasyHits4U isn't limited to blogs, so there's actually a lot of variety . . . but also a lot of ad sites. The real upside is that you can use this resource to promote multiple sites - your blog, a YouTube page, a flickr photo page, etc. all through the same account using the same credits. So in that respect, you can focus your traffic more directly by selecting a specific page on your blog or any of your other sites that you'd like people to visit - and more unique hits are more potential readers/viewers, right?

Entrecard - Since Christmas I've used this resource, based on 'dropping' your card on other blogs to earn credits to buy ads or services. With the new market on Entrecard you can now use your credits to purchase blog reviews, comments, etc. on top of buying ads on other blogs. It's been an effective way to get feedback on certain things when it's not happening as often as you'd like. While the dropping is time consuming, the Entrecard market has made this site relevant to me again.

So those are my big three. The goal has always been to spend more time on my own site than any of these other ones, but at the same time, a little effort on different traffic-based sites has allowed me to see steady growth in viewership and interest. It's not a perfect system, but there have been a lot of noticeable results. Happy blogging!

Apr 9, 2009

The Geology Student (2006)


Of the long list of film school projects that I stockpiled over my 6 year stay in university, there's only a handful that I haven't revised in the editing suite. Sometimes there are small technical aspects that need fixing, sometimes my view of the concept has changed, and sometimes it's just a matter of making the project seem relevant. I suppose The Geology Student was never altered after all this time, because it's actually the kind of short I still want to make more of.

In late 2006 I was in Film 400, where our class was assigned a project to each make character study shorts. I had done this years earlier in Film 200 where I created, Mean Mr. Mustard is Homeless. I wanted to take an entirely different approach this time, specifically because I felt I had enough 'serious' projects under my belt, and my portfolio was lacking comedies - it was also the reason that through Film 400-401 I was busy making Elliot.

Probably because I always poked fun at my friend Jeanette for being a geology student and studying 'rocks, rocks, rocks', I guess I landed on the idea of shadowing her and ran with it. Jeanette was a good sport, and we agreed on a time that she could give me a tour of the geology department. The department, coincidentally, was just below the College West Residence where both Jeanette and I had lived throughout our time in uni.

My plan was to be as casual and campy as possible. I asked as many loaded questions as I could think of, and instructed Jeanette to give me as many details as she could in her answers. There was no script or outline, which was the point, as I had every intention of constructing the video in the edit suite - allowing me to put things out of context, in whatever order, and have her answering pointless things.

It was always the idea to shoot the assignment like a mini-mockumentary. Like I said, I was also working on Elliot at the time and was keen on keeping my focus on things that I felt would help that project. The natural dialogue, spontaneous shooting, and unseen locations (for me anyway) all proved beneficial in keeping the short relaxed and funny. As expected, the editing was a joy because of all the options the banter provided.

When the project was completed in November 2006, this blog didn't exist and I hadn't uploaded anything to YouTube yet. It's why this simple short seems more significant to me - it was already an ideal YouTube short, already the kind of quirky flick that was straightforward enough to appeal to most people, and at last, it was a comedy!

The Buick to the Future Series, The Gizmo Tree, Siblings and Space Drama, to name a few of my shorts, all followed in the Geology Student's footsteps. And while my shift to focus on creating more shorts has remained, I think I've worked out a nice balance of experimenting, creating art and creating entertainment.

Obviously my telling is always going to be more subjective than I might think it is, although with a short like The Geology Student, there's not really much more to it than what you're seeing on the surface. The point in me promoting all my old projects, however, isn't about me saying how great they are - it's about developing a larger story, and explaining where the pieces in my film making puzzle fit. It's nice to have some lighter anecdotes to include for once, and finally get to the bottom of which rocks are naturally shaped like tigers . . .


*UPDATE 2010*

In June 2009 I submitted The Geology Student to the Yobi.tv Film Competition and was voted in as a weekly winner for week 3. Starting in late March 2010 voting for the semi-finals began with 40 filmmakers - the Top 40. Eliminations occured on a weekly basis moving from 40 to 32 to 24 to 16 and then the Top 8. This marked the beginning of the finals, in which I was one of the 8 remaining filmmakers.

From here only a single filmmaker was eliminated each week, but after 2 months I found myself in the final round of the entire film contest as one of the Top 2. In the end I finished in 2nd place as the runner-up for filmmaker of the year with the Geology Student gaining over 170,000 views during the contest.


*Original Film School Version


*2010 Yobi.tv Finalist Version

Apr 8, 2009

On Location: The Geology Student


Project: The Geology Student
Shot: November 2006
Location: University of Regina - Geology Department
Revisited: March 2009



Another film school project, another good time. The Geology Student was a character study assignment that I used as an editing exercise to manipulate my friend Jeanette's words as she gave me a tour. The location in College West looked exactly the same to me, including everything from the giant rock on the pedestal to the 'tiger' rock in the display case. Not that I expected anything to be dramatically different, it was just interesting standing in the same place again. See the 2006 short below.


Apr 6, 2009

On Location: Keys to Existence


Project: Keys to Existence
Shot: February 2004
Location: Parent's House - Medicine Hat, AB
Revisited: April 2009



Of all the locations I've shot, this one is probably one of the most unique. Were it not for the success of
Keys to Existence, I would have omitted this location because of how insignificant it seems. But, therein lies the lure of the project. The fact that so much could be said and patterned using the literal 'keys' of the piano, resulted in the most critically acclaimed short of my film school career. See the 2005 version of the movie below.

On Location: A Chill in the Air


Project: A Chill in the Air
Shot: January 2006
Location: Saskatchewan Legislative Building - Wascana Park
Revisited: March 2009



Wascana Park was host to a number of my projects while I was in Regina, but one of the first was A Chill in the Air. While it may look like just a bunch of trees, it was actually the cluster in the middle of the picture that served as my opening shot and 'ascent to the heavens'. I recall it was a cold January day that I was out shooting by my lonesome, and among the trees I recorded myself questioning whether anything would come of the project. Sure enough the National Film Board competition turned into quite the experience. The trees may have grown a little, but mostly the location feels very recognizable and sparks some great memories. See the original 2006 short below.


On Location: Give it Time


Project: Give it Time
Shot: November 2007
Location: University of Regina - College West
Revisited: March 2009

Upon returning to the University of Regina, I took it upon myself to revisit a number of locations that I shot various projects and short films. Give it Time was one of the shorts I made at the end of 2007 for the Sasktel Cell-ebrities contest. Not much has changed since I was last there. The same desk and chairs remain, and it's not hard to imagine 'Keep the idiot to a minimum' scribbled on the chalkboard. Admittedly, it was still fun returning to College West and seeing the student lounge where I shot some of my own film history. The original 2007 short can be seen below.

Apr 3, 2009

The Lucky Penny



Date:
April 2005 / November 2008

Associated Video(s):

Story:
It had been just a couple weeks since turning 21 in April 2005, that on a whim I ended up going to Las Vegas for the first time. We stayed at Circus Circus, one of the cheapest big hotels on the strip, and it was there that I found a penny squishing machine with a variety of 'lucky' pennies. The one above is obviously what I chose, and I used it continually throughout that trip. Holding it at the roulette tables, at the slots, wherever we went I had it on me - and low and behold, it actually seemed to work!

It proved its value again in 2008 when I went back, this time with a bit more money. I put the penny safely in my wallet, and although I didn't show it off as much as I did the first time, it seemed to be working quietly in the background. I didn't have to withdraw any more money than what I came with, and I had a few streaks over the vacation. Was it the penny? Who knows. It feels good to win regardless, and a good luck charm certainly didn't hurt anything.


Apr 1, 2009

Return of the Dropout


Regina, Saskatchewan hasn't changed. The city where I went to university and left last year after deciding I didn't want to finish school is very much the same place I moved away from. What would really change that much anyway, right? I went to the university - yup, this is still the same. I went downtown - the same. Even the Denny's we used to go after drinking - same.

I obviously feel very different than the tired and stuck student I saw myself as at this time last year. After working to pay down my debt, getting paid to actually edit and shoot, and finding new passion in my personal productions, there was a part of me that believed returning to Regina was going to feel epic. The spring air, the lighting, all practically the same as when I packed up the Buick and headed home. What I saw instead was the reason I left. Aside from my good friends, Regina had no more relevance to what I wanted to do now, than it did in March of 2008.

Me next to the Regina sign on one of my final nights there.





Without effort things fell right back into place. Strolling through the uni hallways with Tyler felt like any other day I was there, and if I wasn't so focused on finding meaning I probably would've accidentally tried to get into my old dorm. Another year older, a bit more confident, and still as uncertain about the reality of my choices. Leaving school isn't a regret, but a reminder of a different path that I clearly saw and at the last minute decided not to take.

Somehow, thinking about my own potential has only become more exciting.

The weekend was significant for another reason. It was around this time last year, that chatting with my friends Dave and Tyler, we recorded ourselves talking about our favourite film school experiences and memories. I had already clearly stated my plans not to return, but the recording proved just how meaningful the whole journey had been. It was the kind of conversation we'd had hundreds of times, but on the cusp of breaking away from years of formal education, it felt more significant.

I used a few moments from the footage in a preview I edited for this blog:


 
 
I don't suppose Regina will ever really be as different or as personally revealing as my imagination says it should be. Instead, it'll always remind me of change and the choices that ultimately resulted in the path I'm on. A living scrapbook that I was a part of for a few years. As long as friends are there, I'll go back. They were always the best part of the experience anyway, and as I'm sure most would agree, they're the best connection we have to where we've been, what we've done, and where we want to go.

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