Mar 31, 2010

I'm Awesome! There, I Said It.

It's not by coincidence that I've decided to write this post on the day of my 26th birthday; although birthdays alone don't really make anyone awesome. In fact, feeling special about your birthday is similar to feeling special about breathing - we all do it, although I suppose in both cases if you're not able to enjoy your birthday or breathing chances are it's because you're not around anymore for it to matter.

What's really inspired me to write this is a recognition that it's become trendy - now more than ever - to feel under-appreciated; to be the anti-alpha male. The songs we listen to, the movies and TV we watch, and even the way we express ourselves online; self pity, begrudging the state of daily life, and feeling like things just aren't set up for us to be who we want to be. Hell, Michael Cera has made a film career out of specifically playing this character hasn't he?

My feelings towards this are that, sure, there's a lot of problems that need fixing and even a lot to generally feel bad about. But then why not do something? At the heart of the matter, I feel like the people who would rather dwell on how shitty things are (especially from a middle class perspective) are the same people who would open a fridge full of food and tell you there's nothing to eat. The problem isn't a lack of choice or options, the problem is people feeling like they should be exempt from putting in the effort.

Like a scene I recently watched in Six Feet Under, Ruth tells her daughter something like, "you're under the misguided impression that life owes you something". That's exactly the problem, we should all know it doesn't.

What I find interesting is that people who often take this stance are actually quite priveleged (in more than just a monetary sense). I think the mentality of being under-appreciated comes as much from being bored as it does from actually having a problem.

My point is that even when we're put in a corner, there's almost always at least two choices we can make. I've debated this continually. Just in terms of Editing Luke, my blog could be more popular, I could have more video views, etc. but then I look around. This all took so much work, and there's still so much more to do.

I've spent years addressing the things that bug me (and continue to). I've expressed myself candidly, I've shared, I've used this as an excuse to connect with strangers, etc. Day by day things have transitioned and I'm finding myself in an incredible position these days, valued both professionally and individually. After all the learning and humility it's required just to get this far, I'm genuinely proud of myself - I'm awesome! There, I said it, haha.

I'll also continue to lose from time to time. But, you know, that's part of being human, it's part of the challenge that keeps things interesting. It's worth striving for something than sitting around thinking about how your one attempt didn't work out. I think it's fitting that I quote a guy like Charlie Chaplin, someone who literally made his fortune playing 'the Tramp', the underdog, saying, "Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself".

So buck up folks, and may you also find a new way to make a fool of yourself today. I think we'll all feel a bit better because of it.

Mar 30, 2010

Conclusion: Indio Outio

Day Six and Seven (08.28.09-08.29.09) The road home was a breeze. After all the traveling, suddenly taking the same path home felt familiar and comfortable. We were both tired and anxious, not that we wanted the trip to end, but I think we were both eager to take a break to really think about the things we'd seen and done. I hadn't even had the chance to review any of the footage I'd shot, and looking back at all the edits I've uploaded, you can probably understand why I was excited to see what I'd captured.



I decided for this conclusion, because I'd already mixed all of the 'road home' footage with each of the edits, that a summary was in order. Instead of my typical quick cut type deal, I created a split screen/window pane effect to really emphasize just how diverse this road trip was. I've been saying it all along, but you really get the picture of just how contrasting all the locales were when seeing all this footage playing side by side. It literally was a patchwork, a mosaic of landscapes and scenes.



What a journey. Even though this won't be my last road trip, maybe not even my last time to Indio, I can say with a great deal of satisfaction that this road trip exceeded my expectations when it came to creating something memorable and unique. It was something that I wouldn't be able to duplicate the same way even if I wanted to - isn't that the mark of an incredible trip?


I'm not sure what else to say exactly, but I'm excited to think about how this series of blog posts and videos will give me a great deal of insight, years from now, when this trip becomes a blip as part of a much bigger story. I've said it's an experience I'll never forget, I suppose all this is the proof.

Thanks for sharing the road to Indio with me, again and again.




Mar 29, 2010

Yobi Film Top 16! My Movie Needs Your Vote!

Click here to skip ahead and vote.

This is now the final round of the Yobi Film semi-finals, the Top 16! Thanks to your votes my short, The Geology Student, has continued to advance in this international film competition. I couldn't be happier, and now I'm just one week away from potentially making the FINALS.

Please follow this link to watch my campy film school short and cast a vote. It's as easy as using your email address and only takes a minute! You only need to vote once for the entire weekly round.

It's starting to get a bit tense after making it this far. Even if I wasn't to win (a trip to the Toronto International Film Fest) just making the finals would be a great consolation prize. You can bet I'm going to be trying to pull out all the stops to search for the support. In a contest that's relatively small (with only 16 films remaining) the winner can essentially be decided by just a couple votes.

When I took part in season 1 of Yobi Film last year, this was the week that I was eliminated. I'd really like to try and one up myself by making the finals this time around. If you've got a moment, please click over and enter your email address to support my short.

Thank you all for your votes and support in helping me make it this far!

Mar 28, 2010

Leonard Knight: Indio Outio

Day Five (08.27.09) I never had any intention to interview Leonard Knight when I first thought about heading out to Salvation Mountain. The conversation we did end up having just struck up after we went to thank him for letting us tour his site.

Leonard lives in a little trailer right next to Salvation Mountain, and not surprisingly, the trailer is decked out in paint just like everything else in the vicinity. His lifestyle and focus have clearly defied convention.



You'll notice my low angles, and it's because I wasn't that concerned about my footage as much as I was about having a real conversation. Leonard is nearly 80 years old, and who knows how much longer he'll be around to talk about his mountain or give personal tours. More than just a subject for a video, I really do respect Leonard Knight for what he's accomplished in such a unique way.

This edit over all the others was interesting to construct because Dave was using my mini-cam to capture footage also. It made it a lot more interesting to cut between dialogue. All around, this experience proved to be a great cap to an already amazing road trip.



Mar 26, 2010

Salvation Mountain: Indio Outio

Day Five (08.27.09) Of all the places we visited, Salvation Mountain was the one that made me realize I was never going to forget this road trip. Much like the Salton Sea in general, this man-made mountain of paint is so incredibly different and unique, it's almost dream-like when you find yourself practically alone in a setting like this.

Created by Leonard Knight, I first came to know of Salvation Mountain from the movie Into the Wild. There's a scene where Emile Hirsch's character is given a tour by Knight and I was captivated. I never really pictured myself getting there necessarily, but it's funny how those plans came together - how my interest in Indio lead to the Salton Sea which lead to Salvation Mountain.



Another interesting fact about this site is that it's built on government land and for years had been threatened with removal. Until 2002 when senator Barbara Boxer took interest and helped Salvation Mountain gain special designation as a national treasure - an honour held by only one other landmark, Mount Rushmore. The coincidence in this is that the last major road trip I went on before this one was to Mount Rushmore - you can see the edits here.

Dave and I took full advantage of the experience. When we arrived Leonard was giving a tour to a group of girls, and we all met up as he told us we could walk the yellow path up to the top of the mountain if we wanted to. Naturally we said yes, we had no idea he'd let us walk on his art, but when considering how hands-on the construction must've been there's really no better way to experience it.





We walked the winding path, marveling at the intricate details (like the litte coloured flowers) and were rewarded with a spectacular view at the top.

The setting sun gave the desert a rich golden hue, and the colours of Salvation Mountain only looked further saturated by the contrasting monochromatic landscape that surrounded it. There were miles of desert, hills, and small glimpses of civilization. None more present than Slab City - a community of nomads, off the grid. But ultimately, it was quiet and refreshingly secluded. A scene that almost forces you to be alone with your thoughts; comfortably at peace.




While the messaging (God is Love, etc.) is strong, and the display eccentric, there was nothing scary about Leonard himself. If there was one word I'd choose to describe him it's passionate. He really just wanted to make his mark, to express love, and devote his life to a higher purpose - whether religious or not you have to value his commitment and vision to make a positive impact. After we came down from the mountain and had our private look around, we approached Leonard to talk (see the next video).

I'm still pinching myself that several thousand kilometers from home we found ourselves talking casually, face to face, with the man who built this hidden treasure in the middle of nowhere. 





Mar 24, 2010

Vancouver, BC (1998)

Had I been more on the ball I would've thought about getting this clip together before the Olympics. Instead, it took creating a new videography page to realize that there was probably more footage from my Alaska: Edits that I could showcase. I'm sure releasing my Indio Outio edits also influenced my focus on creating a few more travel clips this month too.

In my books, 1998 is a world away. I was just in my early teens, barely out of puberty, and still learning how to use my first video camera. The cruise I took to Alaska with my family was something that I probably appreciate more now than I did in the moment, which isn't saying I didn't have fun, I just didn't realize how unique the experience actually was.

The journey began in Vancouver. Still, the memory that sticks with me most was leaving the harbor and getting to see all of downtown and North Vancouver from the ship. There was just so much going on - boats, planes, people, etc. It's also a big deal to me that the photo of me shooting video standing on the deck (click over to the Alaska: Edits to see it) is still one of my fav pics, and the first picture of me ever in filmmaker mode with one of my cameras - as you can imagine countless others have now followed.

I would say there's a good chance of more of this old footage popping up as I get a chance to go through it again. At this point, so much has changed in the time that's passed, I feel lucky to even have this stuff to share. What a cool way to rediscover your own history.



Mar 23, 2010

Salton Sea: Indio Outio

Day Five (08.27.09) I first heard about the Salton Sea and the crazy history surrounding it on a Discovery Channel show in the months when the trip was still just a raw idea. The show mentioned Palm Springs and having familiarized myself with the geography, I quickly learned that Indio was a few short miles from the Salton Sea.

If you've never heard of it before you may be thinking that the Salton Sea is just a giant lake in the desert. In reality, it's a remarkable (if not haunting) story about an accidental man-made lake that in the 1950's seemed to be on the verge of becoming California's riviera. Resorts, marinas, and residential development sprung up all around the lake - things seemed to be booming.

What followed over the course of several decades was a continued increase in salt levels of the sea due to no fresh water access. This resulted in massive fish and bird deaths (in the millions) only worsened by the impact of the sea being contaminated by agricultural run-off. The shift started to impact the 'glamour' of the locale as the area gained a unique smell. Several floods also delivered crippling blows, and by the mid-80's much of the 'dream' of what the Salton Sea was intended to be was now in ruin.




It was the story and history that really attracted me. To get more of a sense of the impact check out these two great videos. The first is the Discovery Channel clip from No Reservations that initially educated me on the Salton Sea, and the second clip is an original promo for the North Shore Yacht Club - just in the early stages of restoration when we visited - but a site that had been sitting abandoned for well over a decade.




Standing on the edge of the sea, the heat was sweltering. Easily reaching 40 degrees celsius, the humidity in the air just stuck to your skin. It was still a beautiful setting, perhaps more so because of my understanding of what this place had once been. I tried to picture a marina full of boats, people water skiing, people coming and going from the yacht club - and here we were now all alone in the desert, that reality a distant past.

An abandoned motel had actually stood right next to the yacht club and was just demolished at the end of 2008. The scene was a photographers dream, and I was disappointed when I realized it wouldn't be there - Google Earth was still showing the motel standing.

Dave and I headed further south, down the shore to Bombay Beach. Talk about post-apocalyptic. The flood zone is now a scene of rotting buildings and scattered possessions. An old trailer, an Airstream now without it's metal casing, is said to be the most photographed Airstream in the world - I followed suit. If you look it up online you can actually see the trailer over the years, including when the flood zone actually still had water in it.




All around us was proof that so much had just been given up. Whether it was residents leaving after the floods, the death of the local tourism, or the environmental toll that was making the area a write-off, it all seemed so sad and wonderfully fascinating. It seems an unfortunate upside, but the decline has actually created a novelty and experience that many travel to see and photograph first hand - just like Dave and I did. It really is a place like no other; a series of stories and plans gone wrong all linked around this suffering body of water.

We continued our journey south, passing signs hinting at the approaching Mexican border, hoping to find enlightenment at Salvation Mountain.

Mar 21, 2010

Made the Top 24! Please Vote!

To skip ahead and vote click here.

The Yobi.tv Film Contest is rolling along and thanks to your support and votes I've made it into round 3 of 4, advancing from the Top 40 to Top 32, and now into the Top 24! Things are getting more serious as this week's votes will determine whether or not I make the finals next week for the final round.

Please take a moment to click on over to my Yobi page to use your email address to cast a vote for my short film. You only need to cast a single vote for the week (the votes reset every week). In a small competition like this your individual vote could make all the difference.

What do I stand to win? A bit of cash, but much more exciting, a trip to this years Toronto International film fest - one of those things that every filmmaker dreams of seeing. This is something that my buddy Jeanette (the actual Geology student in the short) and I would take full advantage of.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that. Please consider taking a moment to check out my campy film school short and casting a vote HERE. Just by visiting and voting you're helping my work gain popularity (even if I don't win). Views for my video have jumped from 27,000 to over 50,000 in just the last couple weeks since voting began.

Thanks for all your help and support folks! It means the world!

Mar 18, 2010

My Videography

The initial purpose and strategy of this blog was to create a dynamic showcase for my video work and edits. However, as the amount of content has grown over several years, I've been finding it more and more difficult to navigate to older content that I want to find (which means no one else will bother either). So, it was a great relief when I heard that blogger now allows you to add up to 10 separate pages for your blog.

What's bothered me about having my videography in the sidebar for so long is that as it grows, not only is more valuable space cluttered up, but the purpose of making my projects more relevant and easier to find is diminished. You may notice that things have already started to change.

Now if you click on my videography link, you're taking to a new page right here on Editing Luke. Similar to a regular post, just without the specific date or comments section, the videography page remains flexible for future manipulation without seeming like you're back-tracking or revising old content. It also allows me to be far more comprehensive in listing my projects than just the sidebar does. Plus, the web address for the page is kept simple, making it ideal for sending direct links and getting people to visit premium content first.

See the brand new videography portion of Editing Luke by clicking here. I'll continue to take advantage of this new feature to further streamline this space, which for readers and viewers, means a more comfortable experience (I hope) while exploring. At the very least, it'll make my overall presentation look cleaner without losing the focus of why the info was there in the first place. Not to mention, that dividing my projects up into year by year lists was long overdue.

Mar 17, 2010

Nightswimming: Indio Outio

Day Four and Five (08.26.09-08.27.09) While in Indio, Dave and I had his parents' vacant vacation house to crash at. Really, it was the entire reason that Indio was even a destination - or the motivation for the road trip initially. It was so much better than a hotel, not just because it was free, but because it proved to be the perfect escape after a long day of driving, exploring, and generally wearing ourselves out.

The house gave us space and time to ourselves. We had a pool, which we each took advantage of to relax in at the end of the day. But probably why memories of the house (and pool specifically) stick with me, is because it was the only part of the trip where we actually did nothing - in the best sense of the word. I'd be swimming while Dave was on his laptop, Dave would be in the house while I sat out by the pool, I'd be going through my souvenirs inside while Dave swam, etc. 






It was the perfect way to decompress and try to register what we had just done that day. I remember saying to Dave several times that I'm not going to be able to process the entire trip until we actually get back because everything is so new and we just keep adding to the list. It was no surprise that the house proved the perfect location to play catch up and ponder about a little bit of everything. The evenings by the pool allowed me to at least wrap my head around what we'd seen that afternoon, and for a moment, slow things down.

I remember the drive back from the Aerial Tramway and because we had a bit of distance to cover to get back to Indio, we went in search of a Walmart so that I could buy a swimsuit and maybe something that said 'Indio' on it - we ended up in La Quinta but found a Walmart anyway. The next night we ended up eating at a restaurant in Indio shaped like a castle with mini-TVs at each station - the combination of the beer, castle theme, and ridiculous TV shows seemed to create a campy mix of awesome.

This edit, Nightswimming, is specifically about those relaxed evenings by the pool and the downplayed evenings that we spent driving back to the house or around Indio itself. While not an epic destination perhaps, the trip wouldn't have been what it was without this time to recollect, to swim, to enjoy the cooler evenings and desert air, and to simply remind ourselves exactly where we were.

Mar 16, 2010

Tramway Raccoon: Indio Outio

Day Four (08.26.09) Walking around outside of the Mountain Station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Dave and I stumbled onto a raccoon digging through the trash. He'd dive in and come out with a cup or napkin and head back in again. It was a quick sighting, but it was entertaining to stumble upon.


This is just a mini-edit in comparison to the others that I've made for Indio Outio, but the brief encounter seemed worth including and sharing.




Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: Indio Outio


Day Four (08.26.09) We were losing sunlight as we made the exit for Palm Springs. As you enter the city, a short distance after leaving the interstate, the first thing you notice is a giant Palm Springs Aerial Tramway sign. It seemed like the easiest thing to find, although after noticing there were no tram cars we realized (obviously) that we needed to head further up into the mountains.

The incline of the drive didn't seem that bad at first, but you quickly realize just how far up you really are when you see the valley become more prominent behind you. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Valley Station of the Aerial Tramway it was clearly printed above the door of the building that we were already 2600ft. above sea level. Just walking up to the door of the building felt like a funhouse because of the steep and misleading incline.


We bought our tickets and were quickly ushered into the loading area. It was soon after that that we found ourselves slowly rotating in one of the famous cable cars, surrounded by jagged rocks and steep embankments, heading from the floor of the Coachella valley up to the Mountain Station of the San Jacinto Peak (8500ft. above sea level).

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway seemed enticing just from what I'd read online before the trip, but to see it and experience it in person felt ethereal.




It was so quiet, everyone seemed content to gaze and whisper to the person they were with. The light breeze from the open windows further reinforced a connection with the expansive and awe-inspiring views. It's difficult to explain, but easy to recognize, that the scale and beauty of something like this is challenging to process. I was very much in the moment.

While the footage I shot is a great memento, something like this is meant to be witnessed - the visual reality suddenly makes you feel so small. The atmosphere, ambiance, and even the shift in temperature as our altitude rose, seem essential in completing my memory. It was so much more than just a pretty picture.

By the time we reached the top and had something to eat it was dark. Patches of city light filled the valley, and from our perch we could see the lights trail all the way down to Indio. If our goal of taking an unforgettable road trip wasn't yet fulfilled, here we were quite literally on top of the world.


Mar 15, 2010

Please Vote - Yobi Film Top 32!

Click here to skip ahead and vote.

I want to thank all of you for your help so far, because of your votes I've advanced from the Top 40 to the Top 32 of the Yobi.tv Filmmaking Contest! The votes have now reset and I need your votes once again to help me make it into the next round.

All you need is an email address to register your vote, and it only takes a minute to do. For someone in my position, your support couldn't mean more in further helping me to establish myself as an editor and filmmaker. Every little bit helps.

Thank you guys for all your time and effort!

Go here to watch my short The Geology Student and vote.


Mar 12, 2010

Newport Beach: Indio Outio

Day Four (08.26.09) Energized by our arrival and a morning where we weren't rushing to make good time, Dave and I had made plans to drive from Indio to Newport Beach that day. This was to be our glimpse of greater Los Angeles and the traffic that comes with it, but more importantly, this was a chance to add an ocean and an afternoon of relaxation to our eclectic and rapidly growing list of destinations.

The drive from Indio isn't that bad at around 2/2.5 hours to Newport Beach, but in that time you notice significant changes. The interstate gains several lanes, the commuter traffic snowballs, and concentrations of overpasses start to resemble bowls of spaghetti. The arid desert also transitions into the humid coastal climate, which in turn affects the types, colors, and amounts of vegetation you see everywhere. Not to mention that when you reach Newport Beach, everything is relatively on the up and up and designed to appeal to a more selective income bracket - although to be fair, the beach itself is a mish-mash of everyone and everything in between.





The first thing Dave and I did upon arrival is make our way through the narrow streets between the miniature (but clearly expensive) beach front homes to get to the Newport Pier. My motivation for making the drive out to the beach after all was to grab a bite to eat in the restaurant at the end of the pier. In 2004 I had previously come to Newport Beach on vacation and regretted not getting the chance to do this.

Sitting upstairs in a cubby with the stairs behind us and a huge bank of windows stretching out in front of us, we marked the occasion with a couple of beers and wings (Dave got something else but I can't remember what). It was nothing fancy, but with a view like that it didn't need to be. From our perch on the pier we could see all the way down the beach, straight down the pier, out into the open ocean, and could even see Santa Catalina Island on the horizon.


Like I mentioned in the Indio Outio: Introduction, this was a moment of awe and euphoria - not simply because of the scale and ambiance that the ocean was providing, but because it had only been 4 days and we'd already seen so much. It also had a lot to do with recognizing the difference between just flying somewhere and experiencing the distance by driving. It was tough not to appreciate just what it took to get here. Memories of being in this same spot 5 years prior only emphasized the novelty of the entire road trip.

We spent the afternoon sitting around the beach, getting our feet wet in the ocean, checking out the surf shops (picking up some new sunglasses), and generally just filled the time as casually as we could.







It was around 4pm by the time we decided to head out to Palm Springs for the evening, which for the record is the perfect time (almost anywhere really) to experience the local rush hour traffic. L.A. certainly puts the competition to shame. Thank goodness for carpool lanes.

Mar 11, 2010

Cabazon Dinosaurs: Indio Outio

Day Three (08.25.09) As the sun started to set, bright oranges and yellows stretched across the Coachella valley. The strong shadows created depth and empahsized the sea of windmills that began to surround us in all directions.

Dave and I were cautiously scanning the road ahead to spot the giant dinosaurs, not quite sure where along the interstate they were exactly. I think we listened to the campy single 'Send Me An Angel' about 10 times in a row just so that it would be playing when we finally did spot them on the horizon.



Made popular by The Wizard and Pee Wee's Big Adventure, you get the feeling from those movies that the Cabazon dinosaurs are a roadside tourist trap standing in the middle of a blank desert. This isn't the case anymore. Cabazon has expanded around them, and not only is the area landscaped now, but there's a Burger King right out front.

When we finally did spot the dinos we didn't have an exit to take so we had to to make our way back again. It actually created a great reveal because of how the sun silhoutted the T-Rex. Call it childish, but I was pretty excited to see those giant tourist traps.



Our stop at the dinosaurs was brief, but somewhat surreal. This had been an image that I'd had in my head for quite a while leading up to the trip, so to finally see the landmarks in person I was able fill in the blanks left by my imagination. We took pictures, some of the best from the trip of ourselves, and generally just wandered around to let the moment sink in.



Since the gift shop inside the Apatosaurus was closed, we made plans to return the next morning on our way to Newport Beach, which would also give us a view of the dinosaurs in a new light. The revisit also lead to Dave buying a rubber T-Rex head puppet. It came in handy, allowing me to make more of a scene when I wanted to poke fun at Dave for hitting the rumble strips on the edge of the highway.

Regardless of how much time had been spent in the car, there were a lot of reasons to celebrate at this point. Indio was just around the corner. We'd made it.




Mar 10, 2010

California Roads: Indio Outio

Day Three (08.25.09) Blazing sun and miles of interstate in front of us, we left the neon of Vegas behind for the scorching heat and stark beauty of the Mojave desert. It was blistering in the middle of the afternoon, but in my mind this is exactly how I had pictured the road to Indio.

We played Send Me An Angel by Real Life and You Don't Get Much by BoDeans, both songs becoming the undisputed theme songs for the trip thanks to a not-so-classic-movie called The Wizard. You may remember it starred Fred Savage, a Nintendo Power Glove, and featured a scene with the infamous Cabazon Dinosaurs (coming up next).

Dave and I couldn't help but use The Wizard, a piece of childhood nostalgia for each of us, as inspiration during our own trip. This often lead to us quipping about Jimmy running off or one of us slowly pronouncing every syllable of California like he did in the movie. As Joshua trees started to appear we also had to play, no surprises here, U2's Joshua Tree album to further remind ourselves of our location.




Of all the road time we had, this was probably the most defining. We knew we'd be in Indio by the end of the day to relax, drink, swim, and shoot the breeze. At the same time we had already seen some pretty memorable things in both Salt Lake and Vegas, which only helped to fuel our conversations and keep us guessing about the remaining days ahead. The foreign landscape around us created a rare ambience, and with good (or campy eighties) music playing and a willingness to explore, there didn't seem to be anything to distract us from being in the moment.

I had made it clear early on that I was interested in picking up some kind of Route 66 souvenir, so as we reached Barstow we stopped at a roadside convenience store and I picked up a shirt. Not quite satisfied, I actually found a large wooden Route 66 sign the next day in Newport Beach that was more in tune with what I had in mind. There's nothing quite like a stereotypcial memento to mark the occassion.

As we headed further west it wasn't long before the terrain started to change. We hit the Cajon Pass and the expansive desert was replaced with richer hues of lush vegetation and a steady increase in traffic; the pass itself acting as a funnel between the populous of southern California and the desert to the north. We were just barely skirting the greater Los Angeles area, but as tall palms, overpasses, and billboards appeared, the interstate became expectantly urban.

Through the pass and San Bernadino, the traffic cooled somewhat as we changed direction, heading southeast towards the entrance of the Coachella valley. It was all happening pretty fast. The signs and sprawling urban landscape became a quick reminder that over the last couple days we had traveled across the USA, north to south, roughly 1500 miles (2400km) and 22 driving hours. And then there it was, the first hint of our destination clearly marked - Indio 64 miles. 


Las Vegas: Indio Outio

Day Two (08.24.09) As we hit the Vegas city limits I was both excited and stressed out. Half of the interstate seemed to be under construction and the traffic was fairly chaotic. I was still driving, and I have to say that even after being to Las Vegas twice before this, the experience of driving myself around was still nerve-racking. However, it also broadened my view of the place as I hoped it would.






Dave was actually shooting footage as we drove down the strip while I was busy trying to navigate our way to the entrance of Harrah's. I had both my HDV and mini cam with me on this trip, which is why throughout many of the videos you'll notice a transition between widescreen and a smaller fullscreen image - I emphasized the difference for effect and because the quality isn't nearly as high. You'll also notice that the footage for each location is often a mixture of what I captured both coming and going, the Indio sign on the dash is often a giveaway. 
Anyway . . .


There was nothing about Las Vegas that was really surprising after having fully explored it before, but that's not to say it wasn't awesome to be there again. That night we had some drinks, went to Beatles Love (purchasing the tickets was the first thing I did to confirm with Dave that we were actually going to Indio) and then had some more drinks as we tried our luck.

Our stop was brief, but memorable, and my night ended with me laying drunk in the bathtub of our room just to use the little TV in the bathroom.

To complete the stay we picked up a few souvenirs, and this was the moment that created a new running joke for the trip. Telling me about someone who he forgot to get a birthday gift for, Dave picked up a Chihuahua-sitting-in-a-birthday-cake ornament sculpture thing - it was pretty ridiculous, but a funny gag gift anyway. Well the gag gift had no price tag and actually ended up costing $20, which was fairly ridiculous when it looked like something from the dollar store. Dave still got it. For the rest of the trip if we happened to be looking at the things we had picked up we'd have to comment on that stupid dog.

"Do we have our map?", "Yup". "Do we have our money?", "Yup". "Do we have a Chihuahua dog with a party hat coming out a birthday cake sculpture that cost $20?" (groan) "Yup".

Before leaving the next day we explored the Forum Shops, toured our hotel once more, and walked around Caesar's and the Bellagio to get in a bit of last minute gambling. It was fun, it was quick, and then it was on to California.

Mar 9, 2010

Please Vote For My Movie

To skip ahead and VOTE click here.

With the number of times I've submitted, uploaded, and
promoted my projects you'd think I'd be comfortable with the film contest/festival process - at least on the independent/DIY level. In truth, I think I've just learned how to reason with myself to appreciate that the challenge has the potential to be a great reward in and of itself.

So here we go again with me asking you to vote for one of my short films.

Last year I uploaded my film school short, The Geology Student to Season 2 of Yobi.tv and in Week 3 of the contest I was voted into the semi-finals. With 40 weeks having gone by there's now 40 weekly winners, including myself, and voting has just begun for the week.

There are 4 rounds of the contest and each week 8 people are eliminated. All you need to do is click this link (or the giant banner above) and use your email address to vote for my short. You only need to cast one for each week.

They've actually simplified the process from last year, improving the page layout to keep you in the right place while trying to vote, so it's easier than ever.


The winner this year, besides getting a portion of the prize money collected, will get a trip and 2 tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival, which would be sweet. It's a pretty amazing prize!

That's about it, I'll keep things simple myself. If you have a couple minutes to spare it's easy to click over to watch my short and vote for me. There's no thumbs up or rating system, a vote cast is simply a vote to win.

Thanks for all of your help and support folks! As always, it means a lot.

Visit my profile page to vote here.

Mar 8, 2010

Arizona Corridor: Indio Outio

Day Two (08.24.09) On route to Las Vegas from Salt Lake, I-15 briefly cuts through the northwest corner of Arizona before leading into Nevada. While I didn't think much about this when reviewing the map before going, I was amazed at just how significant this stretch of road really was.

This brief section of interstate through Arizona was only about 30 miles long, an unexpected surprise between Utah and Nevada, but pretty much as soon as we hit it, the canyons and cliffs appeared. On the way down, this was actually a brief section of the road trip that I drove. It was incredible.






Dave and I rolled the windows down, the heat radiated through the car immediately, and I cranked up Vega4 on my iPod as we weaved through the towering rocks. It was exactly what you'd expect Arizona to look like, hinting at how spellbinding the Grand Canyon must be, and ultimately lasting no time at all.


I shot this video on our way back through (with Dave driving obviously) and it proved to be one of the most scenic stretches of interstate that we saw on the entire trip. Leaving Arizona and entering Nevada the terrain shifted immediately once again. The canyons stopped and a vast desert appeared before us.




Utah & Salt Lake: Indio Outio

Day One (08.23.09) Through Montana and Idaho, by the time we reached the Utah border it was late into the evening. By that point Dave and I were fairly quiet, enjoying music and making predictions about what the landscape looked like that we couldn't see. I remember Dave selecting a lot of R.E.M. tracks.

All of the population in Utah is practically located in the corridor surrounding Great Salt Lake, which gives the illusion early on that you must be close to Salt Lake City (if you're not used to the drive). In reality, by the time we reached Ogden, we were still a ways off from our destination, and with midnight rolling around we were feeling beat.

Bursts of rain continued to hit us randomly and then stop, on and off several times throughout the day. I remember this becoming more treacherous as we neared Salt Lake. The dirt on our windshield combined with the lights of oncoming traffic and buildings made for one blurry mess. In any case, we made it to Salt Lake City, spotting the giant temple from the interstate and looping around the international airport several times in our effort to find our hotel. By the time my head hit my pillow I was out.



Day Two (08.24.09) We awoke the next day intent on exploring downtown Salt Lake before heading south to Las Vegas. We parked kitty-corner to Temple Square and took a casual walk around the complex, spending extra time to take pictures of ourselves mimicking the statues. If there is one thing I could say about my impression of Salt Lake, it's that the place was immaculately clean and well landscaped.

We followed the Salt Lake Temple with a trip up to the State Capital Building, taking more random photos with statues and pictures of ourselves sitting on the steps. 'I'm Just a Bill' from Schoolhouse Rock was sung (by me anyway, haha).

The entire time I was trying to contain my enthusiasm, not because of any single thing we saw, but because I knew that this was just the beginning of our road trip. We could have easily spent several days exploring Utah, but instead the brief stop actually helped to justify the distance we were covering for the sake of the things we were going to be able to see and experience.




It was upon leaving Salt Lake City that the clouds from the day before finally started to break up. Heading south to Vegas the sun suddenly appeared, giving everything a golden colour and revealing the incredible transformation from the green and grey of Montana. It was as we passed Provo that afternoon I remember quipping, "this is where the road trip really begins".

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