Apr 9, 2009

The Geology Student (2006)

Of the long list of film school projects that I stockpiled over my 6 year stay in university, there's only a handful that I haven't revised in the editing suite. Sometimes there are small technical aspects that need fixing, sometimes my view of the concept has changed, and sometimes it's just a matter of making the project seem relevant. I suppose The Geology Student was never altered after all this time, because it's actually the kind of short I still want to make more of.

In late 2006 I was in Film 400, where our class was assigned a project to each make character study shorts. I had done this years earlier in Film 200 where I created, Mean Mr. Mustard is Homeless. I wanted to take an entirely different approach this time, specifically because I felt I had enough 'serious' projects under my belt, and my portfolio was lacking comedies - it was also the reason that through Film 400-401 I was busy making Elliot.

Probably because I always poked fun at my friend Jeanette for being a geology student and studying 'rocks, rocks, rocks', I guess I landed on the idea of shadowing her and ran with it. Jeanette was a good sport, and we agreed on a time that she could give me a tour of the geology department. The department, coincidentally, was just below the College West Residence where both Jeanette and I had lived throughout our time in uni.

My plan was to be as casual and campy as possible. I asked as many loaded questions as I could think of, and instructed Jeanette to give me as many details as she could in her answers. There was no script or outline, which was the point, as I had every intention of constructing the video in the edit suite - allowing me to put things out of context, in whatever order, and have her answering pointless things.

It was always the idea to shoot the assignment like a mini-mockumentary. Like I said, I was also working on Elliot at the time and was keen on keeping my focus on things that I felt would help that project. The natural dialogue, spontaneous shooting, and unseen locations (for me anyway) all proved beneficial in keeping the short relaxed and funny. As expected, the editing was a joy because of all the options the banter provided.

When the project was completed in November 2006, this blog didn't exist and I hadn't uploaded anything to YouTube yet. It's why this simple short seems more significant to me - it was already an ideal YouTube short, already the kind of quirky flick that was straightforward enough to appeal to most people, and at last, it was a comedy!

The Buick to the Future Series, The Gizmo Tree, Siblings and Space Drama, to name a few of my shorts, all followed in the Geology Student's footsteps. And while my shift to focus on creating more shorts has remained, I think I've worked out a nice balance of experimenting, creating art and creating entertainment.

Obviously my telling is always going to be more subjective than I might think it is, although with a short like The Geology Student, there's not really much more to it than what you're seeing on the surface. The point in me promoting all my old projects, however, isn't about me saying how great they are - it's about developing a larger story, and explaining where the pieces in my film making puzzle fit. It's nice to have some lighter anecdotes to include for once, and finally get to the bottom of which rocks are naturally shaped like tigers . . .

*UPDATE 2010*

In June 2009 I submitted The Geology Student to the Yobi.tv Film Competition and was voted in as a weekly winner for week 3. Starting in late March 2010 voting for the semi-finals began with 40 filmmakers - the Top 40. Eliminations occured on a weekly basis moving from 40 to 32 to 24 to 16 and then the Top 8. This marked the beginning of the finals, in which I was one of the 8 remaining filmmakers.

From here only a single filmmaker was eliminated each week, but after 2 months I found myself in the final round of the entire film contest as one of the Top 2. In the end I finished in 2nd place as the runner-up for filmmaker of the year with the Geology Student gaining over 170,000 views during the contest.

*Original Film School Version

*2010 Yobi.tv Finalist Version

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