Oct 29, 2007

"I Got A Rock"

Halloween is fast approaching, and although my celebrations have been pretty lame this year it doesn't mean I haven't been watching some of my Halloween favorites. Going by the title of this post, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown has been one of them. I just wanted to remind folks to go easy on the rocks this year. They're hilarious to give, but not so much fun to receive. Charlie Brown even had to be censored.

Oct 23, 2007

My First Lip Sync Vid

I thought since I was going for variety on my YouTube channel and blog it was about time that I did a lip sync video - just jumping on the bandwagon, y'know? I chose the song Army by Ben Folds Five because I think I relate to it somewhat, but mostly it's just a fun song that I already knew all the words to. Not much else to say I guess, so enjoy me making a fool of myself, haha.

Oct 21, 2007

Keys to Existence (2004)

In my 2nd year of film school one of the core assignments was to make an experimental film. As I remember it was all open concept, so you could pretty much do whatever you wanted to. I'm no experimental film buff, but the one thing that drives me crazy about avant-garde is that so many films just seem like random imagery that the filmmaker throws in, hoping that the audience or critics will give it meaning. I didn't want to do this. So in establishing my idea I got thinking about how I could create obvious symbols that would make my experiment a bit more accessible.

I woke up in the middle of the night a few days after the project was assigned, and I'm not sure why exactly but I started writing. I was thinking about the piano that my parents had, and I started working out different patterns that I could make between the piano keys and my hands playing them. A list of comparisons and contrasts evolved into a symbolic depiction of how humans interact with the planet. With countless hours of revision, it was these random bits and pieces of concepts became the basis of my project, Keys to Existence.

Everything seemed to go pretty fast after that. Suddenly I felt I had a fresh and exciting idea, although it's always tough to make others see what you're thinking right off the bat. I remember going around the table in production class to share what we all planned on doing, and I recall some blank expressions. "You're making an experimental film about playing the piano"? In retrospect, had I been on the other end of the table I probably would have questioned the exact same things.

As I refined my idea, and worked out my finished storyboards and shot lists it became more clear that I'd come up with something pretty original. It also met my criteria for being meaningful and poignant without seeming too cryptic or unnecessarily arty for the purpose of faking a message.

At the end of the semester my completed film received a 95% which is probably the highest mark I've ever got on such a major assignment in university. I'm pretty sure that was the highest mark of any assignment in our class, because as an added bonus I won the 'Jury Prize' that year (Best Personal Project in 2nd Year Production) as selected by my film profs. The award was a certificate and a secondhand trophy.

This is the original 2004 version of Keys that I submitted in class.

In the spring of 2005 I submitted Keys to Existence to the Medicine Hat Student Film Festival (back in my hometown) where I ended up winning 2nd place overall in the festival. However, the real highlight was winning the Audience Choice Award. That festival, although it was the first that I had ever taken part in, became the primer for several larger events. Over the summer of 2005, I decided to improve my short further by cleaning up some of the filters and adding several brand new scenes to broaden to the scope of the project.

Due to my success at the MHFF I next submitted my film to the Youngcuts International Film Festival, a competition for filmmakers 25 and under held in Toronto that year. Out of hundreds of entrants, I received an 'Official Selection' as part of the Top 100 movies, which meant that my film was screened in a movie theatre for the event. All this was quite a rush, because for the first time I experienced what it was like to have the support of complete strangers. Even more exciting, and remember that this was before my blog, it was great to feel like I was actually doing something with my work besides storing it on a shelf.

Several months later, I submitted Keys to BUDi2006 - an international digital media festival in Busan, South Korea. Out of 280 global submissions, I was thrilled when I heard that Keys to Existence was selected. Furthermore, out of 31 films in my category, I was shortlisted into the Top 7 and had my film played in an open exhibit with an estimated 10,000 people in attendance.

*Update 2008: Thanks in large part to this blog and my YouTube channel, I was contacted directly to have Keys screened at a giant outdoor multi-media festival/concert in the UK this summer. Only days later I was contacted again to have my movie featured in a short film series broadcast in the USA. See Mom and Dad? Those piano lessons in elementary school paid off after all.

This project continues to mean a lot to me because it symbolizes the start of my film festival pursuits and it got me thinking about my career seriously. Perhaps most significant though, Keys has influenced everything I've made since. It was this project that gave me the confidence to acknowledge my own potential and push through the criticisms and doubt that hit head on in early film school. Although filmmaking is as simple as merely filming something, being a filmmaker is something else; Keys helped me realize that.

Without further delay, please enjoy Keys to Existence.

Keys to Existence (2005)
Keys to Existence Promo (2008)

Oct 19, 2007

What Movies Teach Us

Not only are movies entertaining folks, they're also based on reality . . . or maybe not quite. I got a kick out of this list of film cliches that you only need to see about 10 movies to know are hilariously true. So, to repeat, movies teach us:
  • During all police investigations it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.

  • If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St. Patrick's Day parade - at any time of the year.

  • All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets which reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.

  • All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French Bread.

  • It's easy for anyone to land a plane providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.

  • Once applied, lipstick will never rub off - even while scuba diving.

  • The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No-one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty. There is never any dust or lint in them either.

  • If you need to reload your gun, you will always have more ammunition - even if you haven't been carrying any before now.

  • You're very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.

  • Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.

  • If your town is threatened by an imminent natural disaster or killer beast, the mayor's first concern will be the tourist trade or his forthcoming art exhibition.

  • The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.

  • A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

  • If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.

  • When paying for a taxi, don't look at your wallet as you take out a bill - just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

  • Kitchens don't have light switches. When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the refrigerator door and use that light instead.

  • If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.

  • Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning even though their husband and children never have time to eat it.

  • Cars that crash will almost always burst into flames.

  • The Chief of Police will always suspend his star detective - or give him 48 hours to finish the job.

  • A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a baseball stadium.

  • Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

  • Although in the 20th century it is possible to fire weapons at an object out of our visual range, people of the 23rd century will have lost this technology.

  • Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

  • It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.

  • All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they're going to go off.

  • It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

  • It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts - your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

  • Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.

  • When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

  • You can always find a chainsaw when you need one.

  • Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.

Oct 16, 2007

Calgary Zoo: African Savannah

This is a follow up to the previous post. I took footage from the new African Savannah building at the Calgary Zoo where the hippos, giraffes and zebras are, and edited it into a short video. Like I mentioned before it's a really beautiful zoo.

Oct 15, 2007

Calgary Zoo: Elephants

A couple summers ago I took a trip to the Calgary Zoo and shot a ton of footage of the various animals. The zoo itself is pretty amazing for a city of just over a million people, with several brand new complexs. Anyway, I thought that since I had shot so much footage I'd start going through it to see if there was more I could do with it. Turns out that there's quite a bit that I never used in my finished video (At the Zoo), but at least now I can share the extras.

Since my visit in 2005, they've built a brand new building for the elephants, and when I shot more footage the next summer construction was well underway. The elephants have always been one of my favorites, especially when they interact with each other. It's just watching for those little moments when they show their personality that makes it such a great experience.

Oct 13, 2007

Across the Universe

So it instantly gets attention because of the Beatles tunes, but what do you think of the movie? Have you seen it yet?

I hope to catch it within the week. I've got to come clean that I'm a pretty big Beatles junkie so I feel obligated to check it out even if the critics rip it apart. The covers are pretty good from what I've downloaded, and how can the music suck considering the source? I'm certainly intrigued!

Any perspective on Across the Universe?

Oct 8, 2007

More Music Video Concepts

I've always enjoyed watching music videos as a way to study editing and unique concepts in general. More than other mainstream entertainment, music videos have such a wide range of creative freedom that it's not uncommon to see experimental and stylistic techniques executed in wonderfully original ways. Like i've mentioned before, it's not always about complicating things, sometimes simplicity seems much more clever. Here's a few examples of music videos that have inspired me in one way or another.

Okgo - A Million Ways
I love the dancing in this video, but it's the single take and static image that makes this video unique because it's still fun to watch despite any editing!

Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
The song has a great energy to begin with, but the 'grand design' concept is superbly executed in the precise movements of machinery and computers.

Living On Video - Pakito
The music may sound like typical trance, but the video is a visual overload of kaliedoscopic patterns and ridiculousness.

Oct 4, 2007

In-Camera Ontario Edits

These are the three original in-camera edits I made back in the summer of 2000 while on a family vacation.  We visited Ottawa, Toronto, and Niagara Falls, and I shot these videos entirely on the go, timing my shots them while listening to the songs I picked out on my discman.  Only the graphics and music were added in post.

Oct 1, 2007

The Office Season 2 Bloopers

I love bloopers, but even more than that, I love the Office. It's one of the funniest shows on TV today, and now in its 4th season it's still just as hilarious as ever (the British version that inspired it is great too). The mockumentary (documentary spoof) style of the show allows for some great unscripted moments, and nothing shows the chemistry and process better than these season 2 bloopers. I could sit here and write out why I think you should like the show, but the reasons are all too obvious for anyone who has caught an episode. Check it out.

The Office Season 2 Bloopers