Jan 31, 2011

Big Sur

With cool ocean winds accompanying the ascent along the California coastline, we drove the PCH north towards San Francisco and through Big Sur.  The Pacific Coast Highway is hardly the fastest way between Los Angeles and the city by the bay, but it is without question the most scenic.

I can't say that I've ever done a drive that was quite like that, but it wouldn't take much convincing to do it all again.

Jan 29, 2011

Angry Charlie Reviews

For well over a year my friend Tyler Cyrenne has been trying his hand at writing movie reviews.  Like myself, Tyler went to film school and has always had a certain knack for recommendations (eye roll here).  He once suggested Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and I have yet to let him forget it.  

In all seriousness though, Tyler's site Angry Charlie Reviews is quickly growing an impressive library of reviews covering a variety of genres and styles.  I've found it entertaining getting to see Tyler express himself in an online project that he clearly has a passion for, and it's exciting watching his writing style and focus evolve as he gains more traction with readers.

I generally have difficultly with movie review sites simply because there are so many of them.  What makes Angry Charlie Reviews different is the framework that it's built on.  With reviews of some of the latest releases, several shots at video reviews, and support from his personal blog Don't Make Charlie Angry, Tyler is branding himself and the determination is starting to pay off.

He's been featured on the popular site Ain't It Cool News and has also had a pull quote taken for a movie poster that one of our friends was a part of.  I'd say that's a pretty good start.

While Tyler continues to refine and find his voice there's no question that his site will only continue to get better.  I thought I'd throw my two cents into the ring to try and help you out Angry Charlie.  Check out his site and latest reviews here.

Jan 28, 2011

Inspired Singles: Hard Times

Issue 16: Hard Times by Eastmountainsouth

This is a relaxed selection with a country/folk vibe.  It's the kind of song that I'd be listening to on a Sunday afternoon while I cleaned my place up.  That's to say that the tracks somber tone is ideal for thinking, adding a bit of color to the otherwise mundane, and chilling out.

To be honest, I've never been a fan of country music but I do appreciate hints of it to remind me of where I am in the world (Western Canada).  It's just the right mix of earthy twang with an edge of alternative weight behind it.  If you're anything like me, you'll find Eastmountainsouth is an easy addition to most playlists.

Jan 27, 2011

Downtown Los Angeles

Navigating the L.A. freeway system is an exciting experience. That is to say, it's fun because I knew I wouldn't be doing it again for a while. 

Leaving from Indio that morning, Dave and I headed towards Long Beach. You essentially travel from the desert and across greater L.A. to get there. With numerous different routes to get there we actually had no intention of seeing downtown, but one turn lead to another and there we were pointing out where the aliens in Independence Day parked their spaceship.

The theme song of the trip, and might I add it will never be as relevant in our lives again, was Bran Van 3000's song, Drinking in L.A.  The lyric 'what the hell am I doing drinking in L.A. at 26' was why.  Downtown was just a blip on the radar, but I still managed to capture some nice pics as I weaved around a sea of cars.

Jan 25, 2011

Film Student Blog

The idea of having a film journal in my classes was something that I always disliked.  I didn't see the value in writing all of my thoughts down for someone else to read - but of course, opinions tend to change when you feel like you're discovering a method for yourself. Here we are.

I can't say this is really a film student blog anymore.  I'm no longer a film student and the content has grown from classroom complaints to general inspiration with a sampling of video and photography to match.  I'm not sure the film student version of myself was all that different from who I am now.  The worry about finding work has simply subsided for the time being.  

I often wonder what this space would look like had I started sooner in my film school career.  By the time Editing Luke came around in 2007 I was already on the down swing, looking for an escape strategy.  I'd like to think my musings have helped a few people over the years, but ultimately I think I was helping myself.  That's the key to a film student blog.

To be creative, visual, and organized is a tall order to fill on a regular basis.  What I've taught myself through blogging is how to express my thoughts and walk myself through a long term process.  The journal gives meaning and context to a journey that I'm not always aware I'm on, but even after the daily plot points have passed, here is a reference.  

A film student blog is not just about cameras, classes, your favorite movies or your peers, it's about learning how to tell your story.  The story doesn't simply end after university though.  The definition evolves as the space and content does.  That history is now a foundation for a whole new view of media, editing, and the world as I see it.  

There are so many new ways to share the things floating around in our heads.  Find the story in them, and film student or not, you've got some fuel to create.

2011 Best Picture Nominees

It's that time of year again, where the titans of the film industry rub shoulders to congratulate each other on another year of blockbusters, bio pics, and drama.  Cynicism aside, I actually really do enjoy running through the nominees each year to see some of the flicks I may have missed.

With ten best picture nominees now the standard, the reality is that I just get to cross more off my list.  The inclusion of more popular titles is fine, but generally these are movies I've already seen.  In any case, I look forward to this years challenge.

Nominees for Best Picture for the 83rd Academy Awards are:
127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone.

Jan 24, 2011

Year in Gear

With everything seemingly in place as 2010 faded out, it was disappointing, but not altogether surprising that things didn't quite go the way they should of this month.  

Trying to shake my winter apathy I had everything wrapping up around Christmas to welcome January with open arms and a fresh start.  But, a day into 2011 and it already looked like the edits I was working on weren't ready to leave my desktop yet.  Christmas bills pending I was feeling good knowing that these edits would cover my holiday expenditures in full - that was until the heat on my car started to go.  

Snow piling up, complications with translations for the corporate edits, and delays with my full-time media work began taking their toll early.  It's not just the number of things on the go, but the stagnation that the combination encourages.  It seems to go this way every year for me.  January shows a glimpse of promise, but then throws a wrench in my otherwise good luck for several straight weeks of continuous frustration.

The only reason I'm writing this now is to further convince myself that I might finally be in the clear.  A Chinook has rolled in and is finally starting to ease the winter conditions, my corporate edits are all away and just awaiting a final thumbs up, and after taking the opportunity to get some preventive maintenance done, I should have my beloved Jaguar back in a couple of days.

It just goes to show that no matter how organized you are - and for an editor I believe I am - there really are never a shortage of variables waiting to test and challenge just how prepared you really are.  As the stress begins to melt now I'm finally remembering what I was thinking several weeks ago.  

What should I do with my 2011?  I think perhaps it's finally time that I start working on a new video project for myself. 

Jan 23, 2011

North Shore Motel, Salton Sea

Abandoned North Shore Motel before demolition in 2008.

When the idea first came up in mid-2009 to drive to California and check out the Salton Sea, we were already too late to see the North Shore Motel standing. 

Site of the North Shore Motel - September 2010.

What remains of the motel now is a barren slab of concrete just across the road from the Yacht Club. The area is still hauntingly quiet and full of clues regarding a more promising time. The swimming pool has been filled in with concrete now and the desert brush is reclaiming the parking lot. Still, you can't help but let your mind wander and think about what it all must have been like when the destination was on the up and up.

1963. North Shore Motel in the top left.
My fascination with the Salton Sea and locations like the Yacht Club and the former North Shore Motel continues to grow the more I learn. The history seems hidden, a novelty of sorts, waiting for some future improvement to give it the proper context.  

What will become of the Salton Sea isn't exactly clear as there are still major environmental and economic hurtles to overcome if the area is to ever thrive again. However, one thing is for certain.  The area remains an incredible place to discover and explore. Even with the motel gone, the Salton Sea still lends itself to those looking for an escape.

View from the motel to the Salton Sea.
Tiles from one of the bathrooms baking in the sun.
An old grocery sign discarded in the parking lot.
The tennis court having seen better days.

Jan 20, 2011

Chimney Rock, Nebraska

Featured prominently on the state sign and state quarter of Nebraska, Chimney Rock was one of those places I learnt about as a kid because of the Oregon Trail video game. If your school also had the floppy disk version of the game then I'm not alone in this discovery. Chimney Rock was a geological marker for the rougher trails ahead.

chimney rock nebraska oregon trail

On our Mount Rushmore road trip in 2007, my friend Andrea and I headed further south to try and reach the Colorado border. The day was all about exploring. We set out to drive across Nebraska and see what we could find. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of wide open spaces, small towns, and the occasional cornfield. 

Chimney Rock was a scenic spot to stop and wander. There we found markers for the Oregon Trail and Pony Express. All and all it was actually a really nice drive, and the kind of outing that was less about the destination and more about the journey.

chimney rock nebraska oregon trail

chimney rock nebraska oregon trail

chimney rock nebraska oregon trail

chimney rock nebraska oregon trail
chimney rock nebraska oregon trail

oregon trail chimney rock video game
Chimney Rock in the classic Oregon Trail game.
chimney rock nebraska oregon trail

chimney rock nebraska oregon trail

pony express chimney rock nebraska

chimney rock nebraska oregon trail

Jan 18, 2011

Winter Semester

Although I'm no longer in film school, the routine and doldrums of January echo with the same bleakness that I came to despise every year with the university winter semester.  Take note that I was going to school in Saskatchewan, Canada and that as far as Canadian winters are concerned, this province is one of the top contenders for long, drawn-out deep freezes.  

I've since moved back to Alberta, where throughout the season warm winds come down off the Rocky Mountains (known as Chinooks) and melt the snow.  Well it seems these have been incredibly short lived this year as we've had snow on the ground since the first major snowfall in November.  Again, bleak.

The winter semester, like the New Year, always kicked off with excitement.  You have plans for the year, you reminisce, you get to check out all these new classes, but a week later the novelty has worn off and you realize that spring is what you're really excited about.

Call it cabin fever, seasonal affective disorder, or whatever, it's all tough to deal with in long stretches.

What I recall about my winter semesters in the dorms was that these feelings were amplified.  Small space, no where to go, and trying to be inspired within a film program during one of the most uninspiring times of year.  Seems like the irritation hasn't worn off even now that I'm making money and doing what I like.  

I think I just needed to rant. Spring can't come soon enough!  

Campus snow art seen from my dorm - the one bright spot in a sea of cold.

Jan 14, 2011

Sunset Beach, California

From Long Beach we continued south and stopped to explore Sunset Beach. Dave had mentioned earlier in the road trip that he had wanted to collect some rocks or shells from a California beach. It was the middle of the week so the beach was almost empty, but this proved to be just a primer to all of the incredible beaches we'd see and explore as we headed north up the Pacific Coast Highway in just a couple of days.