Mar 26, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

I'm sure you remember children's book, now will you see the movie? I absolutely love the trailer for Spike Jonze's latest film, Where the Wild Things Are as the lyrical editing feels very much like my own style. I don't know much about the project, but I'm intrigued to say the least. See it for yourself.

Mar 24, 2009

Silent Shoppers (2005)

Like many of my other projects, Silent Shoppers developed out of the remnants of an earlier film school assignment. So let's rewind - It was March 2005, and I unknowingly scheduled the shoot for my project, then titled Yellow Tag Clearance, on one of the worst possible days with temperatures reaching below -30C.

It was a painful, but memorable day. Yellow Tag Clearance took place in a mall parking lot, the story inspired by eager shoppers reacting to post-Christmas sales. My crew and I shot in 30 minute intervals followed by 15 minute breaks out of the cold, which resulted in a long day. In my production notes I wrote:

"My actors were frozen, I was frozen, the camera kept freezing on me . . . it was a long day. The weather was a huge obstacle because all anyone could think about was how cold they were. It had snowed the night before, and and the sun didn't come out until noon, so if there was a way to make a parking lot look any blander, this was it".

Yellow Tag Clearance really became an exercise in editing because of all the challenges that resulted from the outdoor shoot. The original concept was to put the movie together like a comic book, with over saturated colours, speech bubbles, and wacky sound effects. After several tests and rough cuts, the colourful and comic Yellow Tag was the project I submitted in April 2005.

Summer came and went, and for the next six months the original video collected dust with the rest of my class notes.

I never intended to revisit the movie, but in November 2005 I was without any production classes and was looking for a film project to fill the time. I remembered Yellow Tag Clearance was unique, but to me it felt distinctly like a film school assignment because of how over-worked it was. After watching it several times again, I was able to see more of my mistakes and inexperience and thought that there was still a lot I could do to fix it.

For starters, YTC could be shortened, the filters could be improved, and the audio could be cleaned up (which had a lot of wind distortion from the blustery shooting day). Tough to say exactly how things went from there, but within a week Yellow Tag Clearance had been completely revamped - it was now silent, in black and white, and titled Silent Shoppers.

Silent Shoppers Trailer

I suppose like my other re-edits, by the time I got back into it, the process was as much about making the footage feel new again as it was about fixing technical issues. I'm remembering how difficult the audio was to work with, which was probably what sparked the shift to go silent (or abandon the original audio at least).

I have clear memories of those several nights in November, because they were the kind that you love to have as an editor. Things clicked into place, I was on a roll, and above all, I was having fun seeing the footage transform into something I hadn't planned originally. It started to feel more subtle and funny, while still maintaining the consumer slapstick. In the end, Silent Shoppers was a new short, and significantly different from the look and structure of Yellow Tag

Happy with the new version, I again let it sit for months before doing anything with it (no YouTube account or blog to share it yet). In February of 2006 I sent it to the Medicine Hat Film Festival Video Competition. I made the trek home to Medicine Hat later that March, and practically one year after the original footage had been shot, Silent Shoppers was voted the 2006 Audience Choice Winner! 

My appreciation for the short, the experience it gave me, and the way it evolved all amounts to my continued obsession with developing my skill as a moviemaker. It's about working to improve despite often numerous limitations or challenges. My projects continue to evolve and take on new meaning the more I learn. 

Shoppers conveys a simple and quirky message about consumerism, and our inability to escape it. It's also what gives the title its double meaning. Just another chapter in the old fandrix scrapbook. Enjoy! 

Silent Shoppers (2005) Directed by Luke Fandrich

Mar 19, 2009

The #1 Song on Your Birthday

It's nearly my birthday, which reminded me of a site I visited last year that listed what the #1 song was on the day your were born (or any other significant date for that matter). The #1 song on my birthday, according to the Billboard Hot 100, was Footloose by Kenny Loggins and that was on March 31, 1984.

What about you? Check what the #1 song on your birthday was here, then leave a comment sharing your birthday and that song. It's kind of pointless, but entertaining nonetheless.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta cut loose and dance out my rage in an abandoned warehouse.

Mar 18, 2009

Samson Sasky's Map

August 2006

Associated Video(s):

In the summer of 2006 I shot a movie with my friend Paul about life after university. The short, Educated Detours focused on a found treasure map - 'Samson Sasky's Map' - symbolizing a university degree and the lure of potential reward. The map itself was just an old Alberta/Saskatchewan road map that I drew checkpoints on, and to fit with my own story it had to provide a reason to go to Saskatchewan.

Regina, SK was where I went to university in the fall and winter, but at the time both Paul and I were in our hometown of Medicine Hat, Alberta where we'd both grown up together. In terms of the project, the locations were meant to say something about growing up and starting our own pursuits (more specifically my own). In a simplistic way, Educated Detours addressed a lot of my concerns at the time about where I was going and what I wanted to do. It's tough feeling like you have a lot of potential and no sense of direction. What's interesting looking back at it now, is that we never really stop searching.

Related Post(s):

Mar 15, 2009

Elliot (2007)

It's the most overdue and delayed upload of any movie, edit, experiment or short I made in film school. Elliot, the mockumentary I produced in my final core production class has been withheld for nearly 2 years, all for one reason. When you spend 8 months planning, writing, shooting, re-writing, re-shooting, editing, and polishing a project constructed entirely in the bubble of university-motivated independent film-making, by the time the project is done and the class is over you're not sure if you'll ever be able to watch your movie again.

It has nothing to do with the movie itself, the experience or the people who shared it, but instead with the process of deconstructing and over analyzing your work to the point of endless frustration, and the realization that your movie will never quite be perfect enough. From September 2006 to April 2007 my mockumentary was simply 'in production', a loose term used to cover all the behind the scenes bargaining that goes into creating a movie with little-to-no money and few resources. To be clear, much of the struggle was by choice.

My final film could have been a 3 minute short, but instead I opted for a 38 minute narrative, a fake documentary no less, that required me to create a series of fake articles, covers, notes, and posters to tell my story - not to mention the fake debut novel, The Dirty Sailor. The challenges I created for myself didn't stop there.

I recruited my friends Travess Durk and Taylor Croissant for the two lead roles, but they both lived in different cities which required extra planning to coordinate shooting. Even after production, with a half-hour screenplay I ended up shooting over 6 hours of raw footage that I had to edit, which in the context of a single class assignment meant I was dedicating more time to the project than was required. It may sound foolish, but I can honestly say that my motivation for the movie was based around creating the film school experience I hadn't had yet.

I wanted to be invested in a project that couldn't be made in a few hours. I wanted to rely on other people to help expand the concept. I wanted to be able to share in the class screening process and have my project evolve into something more significant and memorable than the average assignment. But above all, I wanted a bookend for my film school experience. No rushed assignment would've felt fitting.

So what did I settle on? A comedic doc-within-a-narrative about author Warren Elliot and his quest to get into a prestigious national writing guild. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my love of Christopher Guest movies didn't have some influence on my choice.

Elliot Trailer

So several days ago I finally re-watched, Elliot. My critiquing and concerns had subsided, and looking past the imperfections I felt really proud of what had been accomplished. After revising the movie so many times over the final weeks of that class, it felt good to finally just enjoy it as a viewer.

In previous posts I've made reference to re-editing, Elliot or shortening it, but I abandoned that idea after seeing it again. True, this movie isn't perfect, but it is what it is for a reason. It marks the end of months of hard work and planning, and the culmination of lessons and tests from a final film class. Part of the reason for sharing my work on this blog, my online portfolio, is to show the evolution of my movie-making. Any changes I made now would be more for my sake, and renewing my view of the project, than it would be for serving the movie itself.

What I love about Elliot is the banter. It's an interview movie, meant to feel literary and dialogue heavy without being dry; Warm and witty without being flashy or intense. People in class compared the interviews to Stewart or Colbert, noting the contrast in the delivery of actual information and the personal posturing in character development. In short, I guess it's largely about characters who do whatever they want, because they all just want to be right - and told so, obviously.

At the end of April 2007 I felt happy to put the project behind me and was satisfied with the positive response I got from those in class and my friends and family who saw it. I handed out DVD copies with a selection of features as a memento. I'm pleased once again to be sharing, Elliot with a new crowd.

I want to say thank you once again to all of you who helped me over the course of those two semesters in completing this movie. I hope you feel as proud as I do, because your help made it the positive experience that it was for me.

Elliot can now be viewed for the first time in the playlist below. I've broken the 38 minute movie into 5 parts to make it easier to watch over several sittings if you choose. Take your time, enjoy, like that book on your shelf you've been meaning to read for months, the movie is here to stay.

Elliot (2007)
Directed by Luke Fandrich

Mar 13, 2009

Blogging Day 651: Overdue Updates

I could start off this entry by celebrating some arbitrary milestones, although I don't really have any today. It is my 651st day of blogging on Editing Luke though. For those of you who accidentally clicked onto my blog looking for Will Ferrell or the Office Bloopers, I apologize. It was a post I made over a year ago and it still gets me clicks.

I do have some news though, and I thought a quick summary would be the best way of addressing some of the recent questions I've received - or a way of answering the questions I'm sure you're all just too busy to ask.

1. My spin-off blog, 2 Edit, is now retired. Yeah, that was quick. You may have noticed that I started posting some of the entries from that blog here to phase it out. All said posts are now labelled in the 'Memorabilia' category and feature old notes, props, mementos, and souvenirs from my various productions from years past. In short, getting traffic is hard enough and I didn't want to invest more time in something that actually shifted focus away from my work here. Promoting one blog is enough, so I've just decided to merge the concept of 2 Edit into Editing Luke.

2. The Chico Bandito series still has a couple of episodes left and I'm planning the finale for the end of April 2009. It's been a background project for months now and I'm anxious to finish it up and promote the entire thing; Perhaps even merge the episodes into one short for a festival, who knows. To date the series has been quite popular and has received over 10,000 views. To check out Chico Bandito thus far, click here.

3. By the end of this month the Season 1 finals begin! You may remember that my film The Gizmo Tree was voted in as the top film for week 17 back in December 2008 and became a semi-finalist. Thousands of dollars are on the line for the top films, so I'm getting prepared to promote and campaign for your vote in the coming weeks. For the record, this competition has some of the largest prizes of any festival or contest I've ever been a part of - I'm prepared to work for it.

4. I'm trying to make plans for a brand new short - hopefully a new festival entry for the 2009 circuit. This is an update, because aside from the everyday edits I do, this is a more elaborate undertaking. I'm already soliciting possible actors, working out original music sources, and coming up with concepts. It's really a mixture of these things that determine what kind of short I'll make. If I can find sufficient acting talent, there's nothing stopping me from making several projects. Every year since 2004 I've produced at least one or two shorts that really defined what that year meant for me - both because of the experience of making the movie itself, and because of the subsequent recognition or promotion that the short allowed. I'll certainly be trying to draw on as many people as possible to really up the ante this year.

That's all I've got for now, but I feel a creative kick coming on as my 25th B-day approaches on March 31. Stay productive folks, we're closing in on spring!

Mar 12, 2009

Black Hills Postcard

May 2007

Associated Video(s):
This is one of a hundred postcards I picked up while on a road trip from Regina, SK to Rapid City, SD and surrounding area. The amount of driving that my friend Andrea and I did allowed for a wealth of shooting while on the move, and I took advantage of it. Nothing quite like the open road, good music, and a camera to capture the experience.

Related Post(s):

Mar 9, 2009

Alphabet (2006)

I think one of the most challenging things about growing up is the way our relation to time changes. We become nostalgic and equally obsessed with the future. When we're young we don't think about remembering, and as we get older we wish we'd remembered a lot more - of the good times anyway. This notion was the basis for my video poem assignment of Film 400 in September 2006. The short titled, Alphabet.

In starting off another year of university, and in one of my final core production courses no less, I had education on the brain. For my video poem I started to reminisce about my journey through elementary school through high school and onto university, thinking about the significance of being in a classroom for a good chunk of my life. I had several ideas revolving in my head, but I kept coming back to the idea of trying to remember my first day of school; how I couldn't remember the beginning of something that became so profound and defining in my life. If you ask me, it was the perfect fodder for a film assignment.

For my theme I decided to focus on leaves with a school yard playground as a large portion of the backdrop. To me, leaves were the perfect symbol of memories. They grow, die, decay, come in a variety of sizes and colours, portions breakaway or breakdown, and as nature has played a major role in some of my other shorts (A Chill in the Air), the way it renews itself is similar to our own re-defining of our past from time to time.

The title, Alphabet, is an obvious reference to education, but it's also meant to express the concept of something simple becoming more complex: letters to language, etc. as in comparison to the first day of school and ones entire educational career.

In the grading of my assignment my prof wrote:
"Great visual structure that has a sophisticated flow with the music. The mix itself is deftly created; the images have an internal movement that allows you to move from scene to scene with a special fluidity. The use of the camera in relation to the structure and meaning of the work is quite sophisticated. Great treatment of the assignment, Luke!" 93% - I was happy :)

More than the theme of the project, which is honest but somewhat aloof, it was the technical aspect of this short that actually made it stand out. This was the first school assignment that I ever shot on my Sony HDR-FX1 camera, which proved essential after my slow evolution from 8mm to Hi8 to D8 to MiniDV. I still feel that had I not pushed myself to use my other cameras to their full potentials, I wouldn't appreciate the wealth of options my newest camera still affords me. For surprising myself with the result, that alone, made the assignment a great experience.

My friend Tyler, a source of friendly competition throughout the semester, also made a video poem in Film 400 titled, Thoughts in Motion. It's tough to reminisce about the class without including him in the mix.

Alphabet (2006)

Directed by Luke Fandrich

Mar 7, 2009

Original 'Buick to the Future' Script: Page 1

June 2007

Associated Video(s):
You can say what you will about making a comedy based around an '89 Buick Park Avenue and a few Back to the Future jokes, but it was this short that kicked off my summer and brand new blog in '07. Buick to the Future was the first new narrative to debut on Editing Luke and Episode 1 has since been viewed well over 5,000 times.

Despite this first page of the script being cut almost entirely, and the switch of my character to actually being named Marty instead of Luke, the short proved to be so much fun to make that 3 more episodes followed (two more that summer and one in the spring).

I love how serious my work looks on this page, or rather how serious I took making it, despite the ridiculous subject matter. I've held onto the original working script as a reminder of how much fun that summer was, how dedicated I was to pursue more creative outlets and because it marked the beginning of more significant detours in my movie making pursuits.

Mar 4, 2009

Stop Motion by The Last Laugh

I don't really need to say much, this video speaks for itself. This is just another edition of 'pay the compliment forward' for an outstanding production by another videomaker. I can only imagine how long it took to shoot.