Jun 29, 2007

Buick to the Future: Part 2

Here's the next chapter in this summer series, but honestly, part 3 may take a while to see because I'm not quite sure what mundane activity to do next, haha. I think I've done a decent job at referencing bits and pieces of the original films, although the BUICK versions aren't too concerned with plot. 

This time it's all about talk. Doc & Marty chit chat to figure out what to do next, and of course the mis-matched personalities remain. I'm really enjoying the simplicity of this project, and it gets my brain spinning around other episodic shorts that could be fun to make next (not just parodies, but complete original ideas). Anyway, as always I appreciate your comments and feedback, enjoy the show!

Jun 26, 2007

Film 200: Character Study

Back in my first year of film school we were given an assignment to do a character study on a real or fictional person. I had lots of ideas, but I think every filmmaker decides to make a homeless person video at some point . . . mine is fake, but still. 

Looking back at this now (shot in spring 2003, I was 18) I'm most impressed with how it looks. I had minimal experience, but I storyboarded the whole thing and shot it exactly as planned. Important to note, the project also had to be an in-camera edit meaning that the filming process would be limited to the functions on the camera. We were, however, allowed to add music and credits. 

I have a great amount of nostalgia thinking about where I was then and how this came to be, but take away from the project what you will. Mr. Debussac, feel free to elaborate on the experience of what it was like to be homeless for an afternoon if you happen to come across this. Otherwise, here's a look at some of my early student work.

Homeless (2003)

Directed by Luke Fandrich
Starring Ward DeBussac

Jun 22, 2007

Desert Island Flicks #1

As part of an effort to bring back my Desert Island Flicks, this post has been updated. Check out the revised entry for Little Miss Sunshine by clicking on the banner below.

Jun 19, 2007

Lost Claymation

I found this picture today by accident on one of my picture CDs. It was from a claymation project that I had planned on making in the summer of 2005 that never happened. It was actually based on one of my first stop motion projects, One Banana (2001). 

In that movie a tribesman makes numerous attempts to get a banana from a tree.  This film was pretty much going to be a remake (Two Banana) but with better animation. For as many claymation projects as I've done, about half of them never got passed the making characters stage. No lie, some of the ones that did get done are pretty painful to watch; clearly experiments. At least the characters always looked cool. I probably still have the materials for Two Banana stored away back home, maybe I'll pick it up again one of these days.

Jun 18, 2007

Endless Upgrades

Okay, admittedly i don't remember betamax, but recalling the chain of film-related products that I've experimented with, I've been trying to hammer the idea into my head that there will never be a sufficient amount of add-ons or upgrades to satisfy my passion. Case-in-point: editing software.

I started out using the most basic of basic editing programs to pretty much just add titles and music. I went through a couple more programs after that, and even now, with the money and customizable features I've invested in Pinnacle, I've switched focus to HDV editing software (i can film in HDV, but can't edit HDV yet so i work in miniDV). Don't get me wrong, for the longest time I've believed that you don't need all the bells and whistles to make a great movie, and you don't. But with every year that passes, there are a million more people making movies with their home camcorders and a million more posts to sites like YouTube. It's arguably harder to get noticed now that anyone can do what I'm going to school for. The slogan on the Sony ad 'WATCH WHATEVER WHENEVER' is even more relevant today.

This has all worked in my benefit too though. Digital film and simple software have done wonders in giving me a head start in production, and more people doing it means more attention paid to filmmaking in general. The accessibility has left me eager and anxious about a future career. I was teaching myself the basics of composition and storytelling at 12 years old without even knowing it. I could put together a new movie in under an hour, and okay, the quality is better now, but the process is growing more complicated. It's damn hard to be prolific AND entertaining!

Maybe things are better off simple though. I mean, I certainly like the immediacy of some of my projects. Point, shoot, edit, burn to DVD and watch. In so many ways the equipment is amazing (my own movie studio in my dorm room), but it can be a crutch too. I can't help but want to learn new things, but I want to be good because of what I do with my equipment, not just because I have it.

It's all been a chain, 8mm to hi8 to D8 to miniDV to HDV. I'm just working my way along. Without the money to do anything about upgrades, I know there are still ways to push myself and the limits that exist. And maybe that's the best lesson I can get out of these thoughts, because like I said before, it shouldn't be about the equipment.

Sure, I'll upgrade again and again, but I'll do it because it'll help me pull off ideas that I can't right now. With no alternative I might as well make the most of my situation. And by doing so I know that when I finally get the HDV software I'll be that much more excited and prepared to push myself again.

Jun 15, 2007

Buick to the Future: Part 1

Here's the result of less than a weeks worth of work! !t's a nice buildup I know. Really it turned out pretty well considering how quickly everything came together, which is the casual way of saying I really like it and I wish that this was how it always went. 

This is the first post of an all new short that I've made specifically for this new blog. I'm expecting that a couple more episodes will be in the works soon due to the fun we had making this one. Tyler you did a good job and I'm very happy with your cheesy performance! So here now for your viewing pleasure is Buick to the Future, and please leave a comment to let me know what you think!

Jun 13, 2007

Review: On the Lot

Have you watched this show? I remember when i first heard about it back in february and was genuinely interested in trying out, or at the very least, finding out more about it. There was a casual buzz within the film department about what a new reality show about filmmakers and filmmaking could potentially mean. Was this a new lottery ticket to buy into? Could i make it? Does it seem legitimate? What am i going to do when i win!? haha, and so on and so forth.

I never did try out, but it was more from lack of time from end of the semester projects than anything else. But, in any case, i bring up the show because since it started a few weeks ago, it's managed to impress and dissapoint me in so many ways.

First, there's the setup of the show. When it started, On the Lot was a reality show that followed a large group of filmmakers from various backgrounds as they completed several challenges. There was a pitch project, and a collaborative film project where we got to see a select group of standouts as they went through the process of writing, directing and editing. There were some quick eliminations of those who weren't up to snuff, and then the remaining folks were right back into a challenge. All in all, it was actually really good tv, and was exactly what i'd been hoping to see. They got the ball rolling on letting the audience see what the filmmakers were actually like, so it was fun to watch and see who had the ego, who was too aggressive or passive, who was the best and worst at what, etc.

Then a week passed. The whole show had changed. The drama element was gone, and now there was a host, a stage, and a distinctly american idol-like setup. No longer did they show the filmmakers interacting, but they just sat on the stage until it was their turn to show their one minute film. Ok, new format, but at least watching their films was entertaining, right? Yeah, watching the films was fun, but having them spread over a 2hr episode was incredibly boring. On top of all this, the time and date of the show has been inconsistent, so finding out when it's on has been a hassle. Due to lackluster ratings, FOX cut the 2 episodes a week for 1 a week (something i just found out), which may explain some of the confusion. The current format now involves showing 5 films at random per week, in an hour episode, with someone getting eliminated each week after people vote online.

My only question after all this is why can't the show get its act together? After all, they have Mark Burnett and Steven Speilberg's names attached, they have a new reality show that has no similar counterpart, and they have the potential for an endless amount of film related challenges and drama. So why has the show about great filmmaking not embraced what they're trying to find? The finished films from the past weeks have been great; funny, stylish, unique and memorable. But cutting right to showing the movies seems somewhat like cutting right to tribal council in Survivor. It's just that the movies on the show would seem so much better if we got to see that drama from the first week, where you can appreciate the fact that the director had to sit through 50 takes of one line, or couldn't find an actor, or had no idea how to end the script, or just wanted to beat one of the other filmmakers.

The show about filmmaking is really about watching movies, and being On the Lot is really about being on a stage. I just wish they weren't making it so difficult for people to enjoy it because it's such a good idea (which is why i'll keep watching). Maybe there will be another season, and maybe by then they'll have it figured out. I just can't help but think that a better prize than a million dollar production deal with Dreamworks, would be handing creative control of On the Lot over to whoever wins the competition.

Jun 8, 2007

THE Buick

When I adopted my 1989 Buick a couple of years ago I was thrilled to have a car, but seriously doubted that the Buick was really my style. Funny what time does, because in a completely predictable fashion I've bonded with my automobile and have whole-heartedly embraced our Harold and Maude pairing. A short film surrounding my car is once again in the works.  The last time was in the summer of 2006 for the short road movie I made, Educated Detours. I won't give away anymore at the moment, but in the meantime, here's a brief photo collage to showcase the current state of the aging, but much loved, Buick. 

Jun 5, 2007

Film Student?

You can't get this far into a university degree, let alone a film degree, and not wonder what you're going to do after or to an extent, if it has even been worth it. I feel like I've been questioned so many times, "so what are you going to do when you graduate" and unsure all I can ever say is, "find a job?".
The decision to be here was an easy one. To be honest I don't remember thinking about it all that hard, and as things had been up to then it's easy to say that I was just moving with the current. I looked up a few schools, decided Regina was a decent choice and after a few months and papers signed I was sitting in class. The reality of what I'm doing has only really sunk in within the last year. It's tough to be carefree and lost in the experience as you start planning for completion; worrying about taking the first real unknown step on your own. 

All of this has left me questioning things more than ever, and as I try to put everything into perspective and context I'm wondering if the dream career in film is really possible (or more respectively, a job that I'm not going to hate).

Yes, these are largely natural growing pains. Everyone must go through this, right? But, as
I've understood that I can be overly nostalgic about things, I hate to think about losing this part of my life. I don't want to be trapped for anything; it's half the appeal of the filmmaker life style, the variety and project to project jobs (see the similarity to being in university?). 

Being a film student, especially here, has been full of contradictions and confusion.  Like a university experience should be though, it's also been full of self discovery. I've learned a lot, but it's cultural in nature and doesn't feel like hard proof of what I'm capable of. I've developed a nice portfolio of work, although much of what I pride myself on was created outside of school. If I could package my whole experience, I'm not sure it would point to anything specific and at best just asserts, "Yes, I like making movies". Is that really enough?

These are a large collection of thoughts that sit in the back of my mind, and generally I just let them wash over. In so many ways things just find their place . . . at least it seems to be the thing we all tell ourselves. Overall, I guess I break it down to one thing: to be a film student is to have a legitimate and acceptable badge to accompany the work I do and support the reason why I am where I am.

My fear is not so much about taking a step into the unknown, but it's about being the guy who is struggling to make it (the university struggle is more socially acceptable). I decided at 12 this is what I wanted, and I can't think of anything that could make me turn that desire off. Sometimes I think
I'm setting myself up for disappointment, and at the same time, when a project goes well or a festival accepts it's the greatest high. It seems like more of a risk than other degrees perhaps, and maybe the reward or potential could be greater because of it, but really, no answer will satisfy my own curiosity or convince me that doing all this wasn't the right choice to begin with. So am i scared? I guess enough to just keep at it. It's the best conclusion I can come to, and with that, maybe it's just enough to bring out my optimism and believe things can only get better.

I doubt this will be the last post like this as my university days fade, but hopefully you can relate in some way, and maybe support or deny my thoughts on this slow transition.

I made the photo collage below last year as a simple gift to give to friends who were finishing/or very near finishing their degrees. It shows the various locations of the university, and as I mentioned to those I gave it to, it will probably gain a lot more meaning years down the road as things change and you want to remember what it looked like then. For those of you who haven't been it's probably just a bunch of buildings, but I can attest from my time here, that this place has started to symbolize a whole lot more.

Photo Collage: University of Regina (Spring 2006)

Jun 2, 2007

Dusting Off Video Postcards

So there isn't a good way to post a full length travelog on here, and even if there was I doubt many would stick around to watch it. I was thinking I'd like to share videos on this new blog though, and so the video postcards I've made over the years seemed like a relevant edition regarding my last post. I began to organize these postcards in 2006 by looking at all the vacation footage I had (although some had already been completed by then). I thought that it would be nice to show people the places I've been by just featuring a few of the highlights.

Putting the postcards together essentially became a self-motivated editing assignment. The goal here, unlike the travelogs, was to just show the destinations as opposed to a diary of the trip. Each video is only a few minutes long put to music and is framed like a postcard to emphasize the visuals, but I think the spirit of the longer films that inspired them is still there.   

Video Postcard: Ottawa
(Filmed 2000 / re-Edited 2003)
MUSIC: Return to Innocence - Enigma

Video Postcard: Toronto 
(Filmed 2000 / Edited 2000) 
MUSIC: Run On - Moby  
Video Postcard: Niagara Falls 
(Filmed 2000 / Edited 2000) 
MUSIC: Beyond the Invisible - Enigma  
Video Postcard: Disneyland 
(Filmed 2004 / Edited 2007)  
Video Postcard: Hollywood 
(Filmed 2004 / Edited 2008) 
MUSIC: California - Rogue Wave  
Video Postcard: California Adventure
(Filmed 2004 / Edited 2008)
MUSIC: Love Today - Mika  
Video Postcard: Las Vegas 
(Filmed 2005 / Edited 2007)  
Video Postcard: South Dakota 
(Filmed 2007 / Edited 2007) 
MUSIC: Going Up the Country - Canned Heat

Jun 1, 2007


The travelog is nothing new, but of the various projects i find myself doing, the travelogs are quite possibly the most fun. As a product of the film school environment you often find yourself swamped by 'higher than thou' guidelines from the artistic masses that insist good movies are like 'this'. Travelogs, for me, are a complete escape from that . . . copyrighted music? of course i'll use it.

It's not that i don't count my vacation vids (or VVs) as 'real' projects though, because based on the effort that goes into them, they're not really homevideos anymore. At best they're polished recollections of various destinations, events and experiences, and at worst they're just snappy music videos. However, for those who have travelled with me and have found themselves watching one of these VVs years later, you'd be hardpressed to find someone who wouldn't agree that the video became an essential piece of memorabilia in giving face to the experience. Better yet, with the varied soundtracks, it hasn't been uncommon for people to tell me that they'd hear a song on the radio and remember the place it was used in the video. Of course, this is a little bit of shameless promotion, but it's positive feedback like this, that proves the VVs are more than just masturbational endevours (even though they may start out as such).

Most recently i completed Rushmore, shot at the beginning of May on a road trip to Mount Rushmore and the surrounding area. Now we've likely all taken in the view of the open countryside from the passenger seat, but armed with my camera and a few hours of tape i captured a lot of scenery. It wasn't until i was back home that i realized how much i could do with the footage. Snappy editing between locales reveals a landscape of changing colour, texture and size. You can't really 'document' the trip the way you experience it, but the fun of it for me is trying to create that sensation of discovery by building up to what the audience expects to see. On the rushmore trip it was timelapsing the landscape to physically contrast the change on the drive down. In Vegas it was a buildup to a night landing showing the glowing strip from the seat of the plane. In California it was a series of long steady zoom outs from the beach, hollywood blvd, and amusement parks to reveal the energy and life of the locales. Like all my projects, seeing people react to them is the best part. And when someone can get excited about the way you organize images, and in turn, relate the project to their own experience or vacation without being there, it becomes more than just pictures of the place you've been. It becomes a conversation starter, something to share and reminisce over, and perhaps more than just a still photo, encourages a more immediate emotional response.

So here's hoping the trend can continue. Rushmore: The 2007 Road Trip is complete and i can't wait to share it. Of course, i'd love to see any videos or pictures that any of you have taken on your trips. Since i've used up all my money and won't be travelling for a while, it's the next best thing to being there, haha. I can't deny it though, after a month of editing this last project it's great to move on to something new.

Here's a preview from Rushmore.