Jul 29, 2009

Personal Movie Making: A Response

My friend Dave and I had a brief conversation over MSN last night. As was typical, we shared a few witty remarks, mentioned the road trip we’re going on, and I brought up my idea for constructing a project out the footage I’d like to shoot on the holiday. In response, he remarked to the tune of “you’ve avoided doing any personally themed or revealing projects over the years” seemingly emphasizing that making a video journal out of our antics was a stretch from my usual work. This got me thinking, because to the contrary, it seems exactly like what I have been doing.

Dave seemed quite supportive of the project in any case. I’m sure it wasn’t too big of a surprise that I said I’d be filming something. In the meantime though, I thought that addressing his statement in a blog post was a good way to inject some of that ‘personal’ (and public) response he enjoys - and a good way to elaborate on how I see my approach.

In some respects, Dave’s right, which is why I wanted to write this post. In terms of my relationships (or often lack-there-of), specific details about my jobs, or the specifics surrounding my family and friends I’m often very selective about what I share. There are many things that everyone doesn’t need to know, wouldn’t care to know, and that don’t advance what my goals - especially with this blog - are. Gossiping publicly about my own life doesn't do me much good - and facebook and msn already consume enough time. However, and regardless of this, I strongly disagree that my ‘creative’ contributions haven’t been personal, honest, and true to my character.

Some of my projects like A Chill in the Air or Keys to Existence have an obvious social commentary - both of which have been recognized by critical eyes. Other shorts like from 84, Day Dream Day, and Educated Detours blend personal elements in an experimental or narrative form. Even my split screen experiments can be read as self-portraits in the context of my editing. It's not like I don't have anything to say, there are over 35 entries and over 100 edits that I've posted as part of my videography, I'm just not writing a word for word autobiography is all.

In a response not simply in relation to Dave‘s comment, I thought this was a worthy topic for highlighting my entire online persona and my public filmmaking. I see my story and history being told in the combination of ALL my work, not simply in a single edit or single sentence. My film work isn't about a quest to get people to know my life story anyway, I want people watching my work to get something out of it for themselves.

Speaking of personal, welcome to Editing Luke - if you’re here, you can scroll through over 2 years of my life - including everything from my declarations of new found ambition, to posts about and leading up to dropping out of film school, followed by my nostalgic and contextual take on my own work. To be clear, this is personal - not everyone puts in the time to do and say these things as an 'artist' or editor. The projects and edits I’ve produced say a lot about my story, if not directly, than about the filmmaker/editor I’d like to be and the things that inspire me.

While it’s clear that Dave and I have significantly different approaches to our creative work, I’ve always enjoyed his perspective on things. In a friendship that has wavered since first year of university, he’s often been my biggest critic - if not the most eager to question my achievements. It’s been refreshing in many ways, if not a mixed bag, as he’s also admired and sought advice surrounding my dedication. It's what also makes our friendship so interesting.

Herein lies the difference between our view of being personal, and how I distinguish myself. From his perspective, he likes to (for lack of a better word) gush about his struggles or hang-ups. I don’t. I vent in the same way by reflecting on my own larger outlook. I put things in perspective as a way to create context, as a way to find my way out of my problems. My distaste for something is combated with 'the glass is still half full' approach and look at what I learned. I like to be relatable, and my personal strengths don't come from feeling powerless (not that I think Dave's do either).

This goal to be relatable is true of my work. The fact that I’m subtle about my own life doesn’t change the fact that I’m still sharing my viewpoint and a history. There are clues and directions and moments of inspiration in everything I do, but I’m also aware that everything I do isn’t intended to change the world. I think about this when I make shorts. I can learn so much just by participating and creating individual variations as opposed to endlessly struggling to be completely 100% unique. For the sake of comparison, it's like I can experience more by riding the bus than by trying to re-invent the wheels it rides on - I'm probably going to see something someone else might not right away.

I’m aware that there are a lot of people just like me, and while no one can be completely original, as any good editor would say, it’s the way in which I can take all these borrowed pieces, experiences, projects, and personal histories and combine them that makes a unique whole - that’s me. My personality is broad, diverse, scattered, highlighted by defining moments, influenced by many, and shared through what I consider to be a level headed filter (which is this blog and my work).

I feel like I've created a bridge between my honest emotions, my artistic ambitions, and the reality I face. Presenting my personal weaknesses or my daily life problems in this forum would just be misdirection - like I said, as much as my film experiences are meant to be public, my projects aren't entirely about documenting my personal life for consumption. In many instances my projects don't borrow on my experiences at all, instead the project itself is the experience. I'm just trying to be forward thinking.

I’m giving anyone who cares to watch or read the chance to get to know a piece of who I am. The idea that a single thought or vision would completely define me is ridiculous though, and my work is about triggering your reaction just as much as it’s about sharing mine. If you can't see the personal thread of Luke Fandrich, of me, in all I've done, you're forgetting that all of what you're seeing was written, told, designed, edited, photographed, experienced, filmed, posted, promoted, submitted, won and lost - BY THIS GUY *pointing at myself*

So this personal response is for you Dave. Cheers to our different takes, and the conversations that inevitably come out of them. I get that you may think you’re being more open by being more blunt - it doesn’t mean there’s any more information there. We're all crafting an image, but for my sake, I appreciate the fact that you challenge me.

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