Jan 31, 2008

Special Effects on Bloody Omaha

To pull something like this off is proof of how valuable technology can be in creating larger scale productions on smaller budgets. I came across this video a few weeks ago and was instantly impressed at what these 3 graphic designers were able to accomplish in recreating D-day with visual effects. Clearly these guys had a fair amount of experience and good computers to work with, but you wouldn't expect the result to be so polished based on how they start out. It's interesting to think how the amateur side of filmmaking, with YouTube and digital technology, is going to change and really allow anyone to make better and better films (if they actually care to do the work that is). Mind you, this isn't an amateur production, but in the future the strategy for filming scenes like this will probably be more and more common, and the number of people able to do this on a personal computer will only increase.

This video is pretty entertaining whether or not you're into the production side of filmmaking. The work speaks for itself, enjoy!

Jan 26, 2008

A Day at the Sask Science Centre

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to go to the Saskatchewan Science Centre, a place I hadn't been since February of 2002. It seems crazy that so much time has passed, but I remember it specifically because it was when I first came to Regina to check out the university. What a crazy ride it's been since then. In any case, I took my video camera along this time to capture the afternoon I spent there with Tyler. Our friend Daya gave us a private tour and here's what I came up with. Updated post here.

Jan 25, 2008

Final Voting Day!

If you've visited my blog at all in the last 2 weeks then i think you've heard more than enough about the Sasktel Competition and my film The Gizmo Tree. In any case, today is the end of the competition and my one last shot to campaign for your votes. I don't have anything new to add, but there are more than enough pitches posted below as to why this is important to me and why i need your help. I'll keep it simple this time, the video explains the jist of things. As always, thanks for your help and last minute votes!

Jan 21, 2008

Making of the Gizmo Tree

I think I've spent quite a bit of time explaining why the Cell-ebrities contest is important to me, why your vote is important, why it's such a big opportunity for me, etc. etc. What I haven't done though is explain why I made the film that I did.  Here's how everything got up to this point with my short, The Gizmo Tree.

Back in late November I had just completed my first entry for the Cell-ebrities contest, Give it Time. I'd thought about that film and concept since I first heard about the contest back in the summer, but with over a month left to do something else it didn't seem like such a bad idea to make another movie.

Up until then it was really just a thought though. What I liked about Give it Time was that it was something I was able to do completely solo. It was a nice simple idea, with an original twist, and I knew it was unlike the other entries I'd seen on the site. I was more than happy to stand by my original film, and believed, given the
 other videos I'd seen, that I had the potential to be selected for the finals round. Still, there's something energizing about putting your work out there. Being in the heat of things, so to speak, had me checking the Cell-ebrities site on a regular basis and telling everyone to check out my entry.

I'm no stranger to (smaller scale) film festivals and competitions and have been applying and submitting since early in my film school career.  I don't tire of pushing my work though, which is probably beneficial seeing as that's a huge part of the process. So after feeling like I'd spread the word as much as I could over a couple of weeks, I knew I wanted to make another submission and take another approach with it. I knew all this, because of a little piece of music.

It was now mid-December, and late one evening I found myself searching through pages of music on a royalty free site. Out of nowhere really, I found myself listening to a track that just sparked an idea. Having the desire to make another project is one thing, but having a good concept is another. The instrumental track was called Eternal Hope, which couldn't have been a more corny motivator at the time, but it worked. I can see now, that had I not come across the piece of music that I did, the Gizmo Tree and a second submission probably wouldn't have happened.

That exact night of finding the song I began to write and record some narration. I wasn't completely committed to the idea yet, but I figured if I put a few pieces together I'd know. A few minutes turned into a few hours and I found myself with a rough script, and a decent mock-up of my audio and narration. I was excited again to say the least.

In the case of both my films, the production came together pretty quickly, helped by a lot of in-the-moment ambition. It was a Sunday that my friend Tyler helped me out in shooting what would become the initial scenes of my film. The weather was perfect for it, fresh snow on the ground, frost on the trees, a perfect winter scene. That night I remember being so upset because all of the dialogue scenes (with me in front, facing the tree) were off balance, and the shots just didn't look as good as the stuff shot earlier.

Time was pretty short by this point. I was heading home for Christmas in less than a week, and I still needed to re-shoot, edit and then be sure I could upload to the site. A few months earlier in the contest, the site was down for nearly 3 weeks so I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a bit superstitious or concerned that my luck would run out as I was rushing to finish.

I went out the next day alone to re-shoot my dialogue scenes. There is a huge park around the Legislative Building here in Regina, SK so that served as my enchanted forest, and to be honest, there were about 3 or 4 different trees that I used as the actual Gizmo Tree. The biggest issue at that point was that the lighting had completely changed. The day before it was grey and snowy, the next day the skies were clear and the sun was shining. Although I wasn't initially crazy about it, as soon as I started shooting I could see how good it looked. The lighting created great contrast, it brought a wealth of needed colour, it made the tree really stand out, and it gave me a great silhouette and sunset to cut away to.

That night the editing came together like clockwork. Even though I was incredibly anxious to get my new film out there, I sat on it for a couple of days just to make sure that it was the project I wanted. It was then uploaded early on December 19 and within minutes I had some positive comments and ratings underneath my film.

The Gizmo Tree was above all, another personal exercise and experiment. I often work solo, not because I don't want to collaborate, but because at this point in my life I'm continually pushing myself to see how far I can go. There's just so much to learn, and if I can compete in a competition where groups of people worked on a film, compared to just me working on a film then I think that says a lot about my abilities.

On January 9 the news came in the form of a voicemail message. "Luke, I have some good news. Not only did we love your film Give it Time, but we also love the Gizmo Tree. It looks like both films have a great shot at being in the finals". Two days later, both films were indeed in the finals, and I was the only filmmaker in the competition to have 2 films in the Top 10. I never expected that they'd include both of my entries.  I figured I had 2 diverse films and that I had a great shot at getting one of them selected. It was awesome news!

Now here I am in the homestretch. On Friday everything ends. I've been sticking by my film the Gizmo Tree as to not divide my votes, but campaigning has been quite the ordeal. I can't put a price on each individual vote because there is no telling how many I've gotten, but all I can ask is that you take the time to see the film I've made and decide for yourself whether or not it deserves your vote.

It's a simple process that can have a huge effect on my student career. The top 3 prizes range from $2000-$5000, and as a student filmmaker I can't even begin to explain what an effect that would have on me just in regards to the cost of school, my debt, etc. If you've got a moment, please visit the site to watch my film The Gizmo Tree, sign up and vote. It'll take 5 minutes tops.  Thanks!


The contest has ended, but in the end I won 2nd place taking home $3500. All in all it was a pretty wild and drawn out ride, but a great and fun experience. You can now watch the Gizmo Tree below.

Jan 18, 2008

One Week Left to Vote!

The contest is now half over, but there's still plenty of time left to cast a vote. It's tough to know what my standing is right now, but i can't be more appreciative of the number of you who have helped me by spreading the word about my film The Gizmo Tree and who have placed a vote for it @ www.cell-ebrities.ca. The promo vid seems to work the best in getting the message across simply and quickly. If you have a minute please check it out. I promise in one week's time i'll have new stuff to blog about! Thanks for your help!

Jan 16, 2008

Gizmo Tree Promotional Video

I decided that maybe it was best to try and take another approach in getting some attention. I know a lot of you are just passing through, but maybe if you watch this short promotional video about what this whole contest/gizmo/promo thing is, then you'll be more inclined to stick around and/or go cast a vote @ www.cell-ebrities.ca. This is a pretty big opportunity for me and for my film The Gizmo Tree. Who knows what one more vote could mean in such a tight contest. Enjoy!

As always, thank you for your support and time!

Jan 14, 2008

2 Weeks of Promotion

With the Sasktel Video Competition (Cell-ebrities) in full swing, and with both of my films (Give it Time & The Gizmo Tree) as Top 10 finalists, i've decided to keep the focus on acquiring votes for my work until the contest wraps on January 25/08. *Please read on.

In case i haven't made this clear, your votes are incredibly important!

Quite simply, this contest will be won by the person who gets the most votes. It's not about ratings or judges anymore, it's about numbers. Although i have 2 films in the finals, i've decided to campaign mainly for my film The Gizmo Tree to keep from dividing my potential votes.

If you have 5 min to spare, please visit www.cell-ebrities.ca to watch my film The Gizmo Tree.

Voting is Easy:
- visit www.cell-ebrities.ca
- click SIGN UP to create an account
- click on the GO VOTE! link at the top
- make your selection from the finalist box (*Gizmo Tree*)

You can vote once every 24hrs until January 25!

Like i mentioned in my previous post, to me winning this contest isn't just about a credit or about getting some extra cash. More specifically, it's about the potential to pay for another semester of university. I take this opportunity very seriously, and i can't compete without the help and attention from readers like you. Your vote can literally make all the difference in a small competition such as this, even though in my situation, the payoff and effect is anything but minor.

Being a film student i kind of feel like this contest was custom tailored to my strengths, making it an even more exciting challenge. I'm very proud of what i've accomplished so far (being the only one to have 2 films in the finals) but my reach only goes so far. I need to catch a break somewhere along the line, and even just having you go to the site to decide whether or not you think The Gizmo Tree deserves your vote is all i can really ask.

Please check out the Gizmo Tree @ www.cell-ebrities.ca and sign up to cast your vote. Thank you readers, for your time and consideration!

As always, i welcome your comments, questions and/or feedback.

Jan 11, 2008

I'm a Top 10 Video Finalist - Please Vote!

You may recall that before Christmas i had entered a video competition through Sasktel (the provincal phone company) where the focus was to create a cell phone related video for a chance at winning a grand prize of $5000. I ended up making 2 films, Give it Time and The Gizmo Tree. After a week of waiting, I am very happy to report that not only were both my films well received in the preliminary round, but they have both been selected as finalists in the Top 10!Now comes the tricky part, the campaigning for your continuing votes. Let me first say that i entered this contest initially because it looked like a great opportunity to put my film skills to use, and because i thought it would be a great credit for my ever growing portfolio. Now that i've made it to the final voting round though, i actually have a chance at winning a sum of money that can potentially combat my debt for an entire semester. Let me state again, this isn't just a prize that i'd use for a vacation or something, it would directly effect my ability to pay for another semester of university without sinking further into debt.

It's both a blessing and a curse that both of my submissions were accepted, because viewers can only place one vote every 24hrs. Because of this i've decided to campaign for my video The Gizmo Tree first, and perhaps later focus attention to my other submission. Your help is crucial to my success in this contest, and i can't be more thankful to any of you who take the time to watch and vote for my work.

Voting is simple!

- click on the link http://www.cell-ebrities.ca/
- click Sign Up to create an account
- place your vote by selecting a film from the finalist box on the HOME page (http://www.cell-ebrities.ca/). It will say your vote has been cast, and when you can vote again.

Once again, please cast your vote for: The Gizmo Tree

It can also be viewed on the site again or for the first time if you haven't seen it yet. Keep in mind that you are not giving a star rating, you are just casting a direct vote for the winner. Please check it out! I can't thank you enough for your participation, and please feel free to leave comments on my blog to let me know what you think of my films or if you have any further questions regarding my work or the contest in general.

The contest runs from January 11-25, 2008.



and please pass this message on to others who may be interested.

Jan 9, 2008

Free Hugs Campaign

Sometimes you come across things on YouTube that make you laugh or smile, but never have I come across a series of videos that just plain make me feel good the way that the 'free hugs campaign' videos do. You may have heard about this, the original video has over 22 million views - enough to inspire spin-offs and copies from all over the world.

A person, or a group of people, go out in public with a sign promoting free hugs. You then get to watch the reactions of people, and see the humble project snowball into a much larger event. Hugging is a pretty simple gesture and low key idea for a video, but after watching these it's even more clear how much good can be done with so little. If there's one thing the world could use a bit more of, it's probably hugs.

Free Hugs Campaign (original)

Free Hugs Amsterdam

Free Hugs Korea

Free Hugs Scotland

Jan 8, 2008

Sunset Time Lapse - Saskatchewan

I shot the following video from my window here in College West Residence. Sometimes I get to witness really amazing sunsets and occasionally I try and capture them. These two sunsets are cut together from different days, but the process became a worth while experiment in time lapses. It's just another day going by at uni.

Jan 6, 2008

Revamping My Channel

I initially didn't put much thought in to YouTube, but since last summer I've started to realize that it actually has quite a few benefits. I suppose the greatest benefit would be getting noticed by someone who could actually give you your break, but I don't think I've built a large enough portfolio or following for that yet. The feedback and exposure are the real appeal to me at the moment. If just a few people enjoy my videos on YouTube, well then that's a few more people who wouldn't have seen my work otherwise.

I've said it quite a few times in regards to this blog that just having the channel motivates me to want to make more to put on it. So in preparation for new edits and ideas that I hope to share soon, I started to revamp and polish up my YouTube channel today. So far I've received over 21,000 compiled views for my 33 videos and I'm happy to report that the number of views is growing faster and faster each week. It sure started out slow, but I'm glad that the effort is beginning to pay off.

Expect some new edits soon! In the meantime you can check out my previous work and my channel by clicking the link below.


Jan 4, 2008

2008: Push Play

I have no whims to pursue this new year. 2008 is going to signify the end of a chapter in one way or another, and in that, it's too important to be left up to chance or wishing. If I expect to make something of myself, by this time next year I'll have either concluded my lengthy and overdrawn stay at university with a degree, or I'll have just moved on from this experience altogether to take my shot in film without that piece of paper. There's really no sugar coating it anymore; in every way I need to move on.

Last semester was a waste. I stalled with my mini-meltdown and for the first time in my 6 year university career I questioned what I was doing and who I was doing it for. Nothing has been solved with any certainty, but at least the last few months have given me piece of mind and the resolve to tell myself that I'm in control, and that I can point myself in any direction I choose. Although it may sound a bit strange, I actually needed that time to remind myself that regardless of what I do I'm going to be taking big chances at this stage in my life. It's terrifying, but I can hide or I can do something, and every part of my consciousness is telling me to push play already.

If I'm not happy though I'm going to have to take charge and make it right for myself. This notion that I was acting in the interest of what others expected of me didn't work for anyone. No one cared what I was doing, but I can see now that I was assuming that it was safe to pussyfoot through my education and somehow things would work out. It's like I've been standing in line for a roller coaster all this time, thinking that by reading about how it was built and whatnot I'd get closer to the front of the line or get a better seat or something. You probably enjoy the ride more when you know more about it, but with that roller coaster directly in front of you it seems so much better to just push your way to the front and jump on.  Sometimes the ride is the experience.  I guess what I'm saying is that I can see my choices, and they may both lead to the exact same destination. In either case I have to want to get there. I understand now that my motivation, passion, ambition, and so on, aren't just going to be found one morning when I wake up, but with a bit of work I can really nurture those skills and enjoy the ride I want to take (despite the time it took to get there).

So many friggin' lessons my head hurts. Happy New Year folks! I'm really looking forward to what 2008 brings. It's going to be one big great stressful rewarding terrifying year!