Jun 28, 2008

Opportunity Knocks!

Since creating this blog along with a YouTube channel to share my work, I've said countless times that I considered this all to be part of my online portfolio. The hope being that a wealth of new people would see and give feedback to my work, and in some way push my credibility a little higher a single view at a time. So far it's all been quite a motivation boost, with over 17,000 blog views and well over 60,000 video views in just a year, and keep in mind that it's largely from talking just about myself and my movies, but until last week I had never been on the other end of the promotional spectrum when I was presented with direct opportunities to accept or decline.

Up until now I've been playing the festival/competition game, and really I'm still playing it. To have 2 different people contact me in a week from my YouTube channel just seemed so out of the blue, that when I first opened the messages I was skeptical to say the least. Before I explain the details of each, I will preface this by saying that both opportunities have been finalized on my part and will be going ahead later this year. Getting curious yet?? haha.

The first message I received came from a segment producer in Minnesota who is responsible for a short film series on television titled Short Cuts. He inquired about having my films on the program after seeing Keys to Existence and A Chill in the Air on YouTube. My first impression was that someone was pulling my leg, but after talking with the producer further the opportunity only sounded better and better. The program is out of Rochester, MN and is 12 part series, an episode a month, in which several filmmakers have their work shown each episode (the episode repeats several times throughout the month). My work would be appearing later this year as the series is already in progress. Now this is no national broadcast or anything, and I'm not making money on this, but as far as I'm concerned it's exposure to a handful of new people, and in the producer's words that's over 35,000 households or about 85,000 people. Hello Minnesota!

The second message came only several days later from a completely different part of the world. Again, I received the message from someone who had just watched Keys to Existence and wanted to know if I'd like it to be part of their festival. In the midst of my high with the Minnesota show I did a bit of research on the festival and accepted soon after. The festival is Aeon 2008 and is a mixed media festival including art, music and film from around the world all showcased over a weekend in a giant field in Crediton in the United Kingdom. Keys to Existence will screen on rotation in the 'video-dome'. A theatre set up in a giant tent that will serve as a point of interest in between performances throughout the day.

Needless to say I'm excited about both opportunities. Even just the simple gesture of someone asking to share my work, as opposed to me going through the promotion process, has proven enough to re-energize my creative energy and has left me scribbling out several new ideas for a couple of short films to share and submit, both on YouTube and abroad.

When I thought of myself leaving university I pictured myself in a job that was just a job, doing work that took away from the creativity that I really wanted to pursue. To my surprise, I'm shooting and editing for my day job, and still have the energy and passion to pursue my personal film goals at my leisure. I've never felt more satisfied with the direction I'm in. I may be broke, but I sure am happy!

Jun 26, 2008

University of Regina Campus

I thought it was as good a time as any to have a look at the campus I left behind in Saskatchewan. I made this photo collage highlighting all the main points of the U of R in 2006 for some friends who were leaving. It has only been 2 months since I left, but it's amazing how much things have changed in such a short time. To be honest, it's great to feel like real life has begun.

Jun 23, 2008

Silent Shoppers

Silent Shoppers is a modern silent film that I made in 2005 that was inspired by watching shoppers scramble after Christmas. It's actually a re-edit from the original film I made in class, Yellow Tag Clearance, which was very similar but instead of being silent was more like a comic book. The original was made as part of my 3rd year core production, but this re-edit went on to win the Audience Choice award at the 2006 Medicine Hat Film Festival. All I really remember about shooting this day was that it was -30 C out so we could only work a few minutes at a time before needing to go into the mall to warm up. It was such a long day, but it remains one of the shooting highlights of my film school projects. 

Jun 19, 2008

Mirage Volcano Las Vegas

This footage and edit comes directly from my Vegas travelog video in 2005. There's not much to explain here really, but if you've been to Vegas you've likely witnessed the volcano erupting out front of the Mirage several times. What makes this noteworthy though is that the famous Mirage volcano is going to be getting an upgrade soon, so it won't look exactly like this anymore.

Jun 17, 2008

Amazing Editing in 'Scary Mary'

I'm obviously an advocate for unique editing styles and projects, and although I'd known about this video for some time I realized that I hadn't shared it here. You've seen Mary Poppins before haven't you? Well you at least know the basic story; Britsh nanny comes in and helps the children with some music, cheer and whimsy. Now look at how brilliant this video is.

It's the original film and audio from the Disney classic Mary Poppins edited into a horror movie trailer. I have to say, this isn't just a parody, this is a pretty damn convincing horror flick promo which just goes to show how the decisions you make as an editor can turn raw footage into almost anything you want. Mary Poppins is kind of freaky huh?

Jun 14, 2008

Alaska Cruise Home Video

This footage is some of the very first that I ever shot. It's from 1998 when I was on a cruise with my family from Vancouver to Alaska. It was a pretty amazing trip, and although I just had a cheap camera at the time, I feel really fortunate to have captured what I did. It'll be a decade old this August. Maybe someday I'll get a chance to go back again and retrace some of those steps, but until then here's some of that history.

Jun 12, 2008

Artistic Shunning?

So why is it that if you're a creative person you're not supposed to enjoy the mainstream? This debate has been ongoing since my early university days, and I still don't understand this artistic shunning by artistic types. I mean it's one thing if you have no cultural perspective of what's out there, that's just being ignorant or clueless, but if you are aware of popular culture and then decide to hate it simply because it's popular culture . . . what? why do that?

What inpsired this discussion today was a visit to my facebook site where I found myself comparing my movie ratings on flickster to other people I knew. For the most part there were subtle variations in ratings (obviously we can't all like the same things) but then there were a select few people, other film types, who liked almost no popular films!

Okay, so to each his own, but are these people being honest or just trying to make a statement? 'You can't possibly hate all those movies' I thought, the only common factor when you rate all the movies listed badly is that they're considered popular. Why should that be such a turn off? Personally, my own critical view of film has always been from the glass half full camp. I generally love most movies, indies to blockbusters, foriegn to student, romance to action, I watch and own the spectrum. It seems wise to me, especially if you're in a creative field to try and educate yourself by seeing what people are putting out there. Especially when it comes to things that lots of other people are paying to experience.

It is true that some films are over produced products to be consumed, but generally, there's still something to be appreciated in these films. Let's look at this from a musical perspective. The Beatles were huge, the mainstream, the pulse of the 1960's, and at the same time were injecting brilliant writing, composition and style into the culture. If you were to disregard their impact, you wouldn't just be disregarding what the Beatles were, you'd be disregarding a culture of influence that has spanned decades and inspired countless other musicians. In the same light, to disregard big budget films (in some respects) is to disregard the advancement of the industry and the climax of what artists are feeding off of today.

This isn't about being brainwashed and not thinking for yourself, it's about enjoying the things that are so easily available to be enjoyed. The one argument that drives me crazy is other filmmakers saying they haven't seen and won't see Titanic. Now put aside any ill-will you may hold yourself and consider this. If you were working to become a better filmmaker and someone said they had the highest grossing film in all of cinematic history for you to watch, wouldn't you be the least bit curious to see why it did so well? It's not a matter of being forced to like it, it's a matter of being open enough to say that it's in my best interest to absorb as much of what others create to make me more aware of my own contributions. And, with something as big, as successful and as rare as a film like Titanic, who are you really proving things to by not seeing it. You're only putting yourself more out of the loop. Some movies are just a right of passage, I mean who wouldn't want to see Star Wars just for the sake of seeing the inspiration for all the parodies?

I really don't get some people, but I guess we all do what suites are own personalities. I think I'm taking more of the American Beauty (1999) approach, "there's just so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life".

There's just so much creativity to appreciate, I don't see the justice in denying anything simply because other people like it . . . be it one person or a million. Wise up artsy folk! For the rest of us, let's get back to enjoying :)

Jun 9, 2008

Mean Mr. Mustard is Homeless

A character study I made in 2003 with my friend Ward. This was one of my very first projects in film school, originally justed titled Homeless. I guess I was going through my mustard phase.

Jun 7, 2008

Youngcuts Submission 2008

For the last few years I've been entering my work in the Youngcuts International Film Festival. It's for filmmakers 25 and under, and in the 3 times I've entered I've only been accepted once. That's actually about average as far as festivals have gone for me. To be honest, this festival in particular has always been a last minute, end of the semester push to get something sent away before their deadline. That, once again, was the way it happened when I entered my film Give it Time.

You may remember seeing the original film when i was taking part in the Sasktel competition Cell-ebrities earlier this year, but because I had 2 films in that contest and put all my energy into my entry the Gizmo Tree I felt like I had a film that I hadn't really used to its potential. So, I took the original version of Give it Time and added a few sound effects, spruced up the text and titles, and added a background score to freshen up the project before sending it off.

It'll probably be awhile before I hear whether or not my entry made it into the 'shorts' category that I entered it in, but in the meantime I thought I could share the revamped version with you. Enjoy!

Jun 5, 2008

Universal Studios Backlot Tour in 2004

After hearing about the fire at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 1, 2008 I decided to go through some of the footage I shot during the backlot tour in 2004. 

A lot of what I captured during the backlot tour has now been destroyed by that fire. Most notable in this video, the New York streets, King Kong and the buildings surrounding the Back to the Future courthouse (with the exception of the courthouse itself) have been lost.

Jun 2, 2008

Universal Studios Hollywood Fire

You've likely heard about it by now, but if you haven't, there was a significant fire at Universal Studios Hollywood on Sunday June 1, 2008. It reportedly destroyed 3 city blocks of the backlot, including portions of the famous courthouse location from Back to the Future and the famous animatronic King Kong exhibit. There are several conflicting reports about the courthouse, but it now seems that it was the square in front of it that was destroyed, and the courthouse building itself was only partially damaged but is still standing. The Universal park website shows the extent of the backlot effected (see the map). On top of this, somewhere between forty to fifty thousand film reels were burnt in one of the studios' vaults.

No doubt all this damage has taken it's toll on the theme park, but Universal Studios is still remaining open with some obvious revisions to the tram tour.

I guess what strikes me most about all this is that these portions that were destroyed were some of the quintessential Universal landmarks. They've been the scenes used to advertise the park for years and now they're in shambles. The news footage looks just like the blockbusters you'd expect to be shot there. It's quite sad.

Here is my video of Universal Studios that I shot in 2004. It includes the New York portions of the backlot, the Back to the Future scene and the animatronic King Kong which are now either seriously damaged or completely gone.

For more news on the Universal fire click here.