Apr 29, 2011

Steven Spielberg's Autograph

I've never met him or even seen him in person, but the impact that Steven Spielberg's movies had on me as a kid only further encouraged me to pursue a career in media production. What can I really say about Spielberg? His name has come to define the movie business, symbolize the pinnacle of what it means to be a Hollywood director, and instantly conjures up images of pop culture iconography.

I bought this hand-signed autograph in 2006 for $100, which at the time challenged my modest student budget. I think there's also always skepticism about whether stuff like this is actually real, although it was purchased from a specialty memorabilia shop in Los Angeles with a high-rating for authenticity. It's kind of a moot point though.

This wasn't an investment or a piece of memorabilia that I bought to store in a UV protected case hidden away from sunlight to sell at a later date. I've kept it in plain view for as long as I've had it, and even hung it on my dorm room walls in film school.

For me, the value of owning Spielberg's autograph is that it reminds me of that dream I had as a kid to make movies. I look at it and think that in some small way I have a link to one of the greatest film directors of all time. Spielberg was famously quoted as saying 'I dream for a living'. As it turns out, so do I.

Apr 28, 2011

1989 Buick Park Avenue Snapshots

From learning to drive, trips between home and university, and appearances in random film projects, I think I've made my appreciation for what was the Buick (and my very first car) completely clear.  I found this series of pictures that I shot in 2007 when I created my Buick 360 edit and had a bit of a nostalgia trip.  

My affinity for shooting detailed shots of some of my random experiences and prized possessions often seems a bit frivolous in the moment, but when those moments start seeming more like distant memories the pictures take on a life of their own.  It's been almost a year now since I retired the Buick for my Jaguar, but seeing these pictures again reminds me just how much I loved that old car and how many great memories are associated with it.    

Apr 27, 2011

Editing Stress

With the sun shining, the temperature rising, and a social atmosphere calling people outdoors, you'd think I'd be in better spirits these days.  The truth is I'm already exhausted.

The spring brings college edits and promo videos in a wave.  Photo shoots for the magazine translate in a buzz of activity around the office, and before you know it there are new products and promos on my desk and new videos to shoot.  And then there's my personal life - or the increasing lack of one.  This is the balance I have between my web photography/editing day job and my on the side contract editing. 

I honestly love the work I do, but I'm often left questioning if I'm really happy about my routine or if I'm just too busy or distracted by the perks to explore something that I haven't found yet.  It's like I'm swept up by the fact that in film school I would've killed for my current life and now I'm realizing that I didn't put much thought into what I'd do after I got it.

It's been exactly three years since university now and in that time my life has transformed in almost unbelievable ways.  Similarly I'm witnessing my friends changing their careers, getting married, having kids, and settling down.  The concept of 'Editing Luke' was always grounded in my issues as a film student in addition to the literal editing I was doing.  Now it seems that concept has broadened. I honestly feel challenged about how to be an adult - at least the kinds of adults I see many of my friends becoming. And then I think that was probably part of the plan somehow. 

Editing is emotional, intensive, and meticulous.  I'm realizing that a lot of the choices we make aren't though, and maybe I'm trying to contextualize something that's just meant to happen naturally.  Why stress about what I can't control? But, in my projects I'm always focused on featuring the best shot, the most profound sound-up, or the crux of the action. In my life I'm trying to create it.

Apr 26, 2011

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (2010)

Visiting the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a second time was something Dave and I really wanted to do. Our first time around we'd taken the trip as the sun was setting, which was beautiful, but we didn't get to enjoy the view for very long before it was dark. It made for a cool video though.

Apr 21, 2011

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 07

Written by M

Usually these writings have come inspired by a trip to the library concerning something topical in my life. Straying from that a little bit, I'm gonna talk about some movies I have watched in past trips but actually relate to something relevant today. This entry that may need some parental guidance due to some X-rated controversy. Now I have your attention. So let's begin this story with something you should write down. In the words of my hero, Van, “Sex Sells”.

Last Monday, I was going through the LeaderPost during my lunch break and came across the story of a 14 year old boy and his school administrator. Frankly, I didn't know how to take it because the whole thing seemed made up, just like a classic episode of Jerry Springer. But I kept reminding myself that the story came to the LeaderPost, a reputable newspaper, from another reputable source the Montreal Gazette. Sources so good I couldn't get it out of my head. Anyways the gist of the story is that the 14 year old exposed the administrator for starring in porn. Not sure what is more wrong with this situation, the fact she made such a decision, or the fact that a 14 year old was watching it. I recommend reading and watching the stuff from CBC. It's pretty bizarre.

A long time ago, I took out a movie called Inside Deep Throat. Up until this point I was pretty indifferent on the subject of pornography. If you don't know, this documentary covers all the issues of the 70's porn movie Deep Throat. Which is most noted for being the most profitable movie of all time. As we follow several story points, you slowly come to terms with how pornography shaped our society. I left this movie thinking everything is the way it is today because of porn. If you think about it the legacy of Deep Throat is huge. Money and Mafia aside, it spawned the name of the Watergate scandal mole or if you watch Slap Shot, Deep Throat is the movie playing at the theatre as the parade passes by. All of this commercial recognition through the fights, the censorship and lawsuits. Deep Throat stirred up a nation and spurred a new generation of filmmakers, piracy and endless debate.

I came away from this movie thinking that it is actually hypocritical that we have a film school that studies all genres except for pornography. I even had this conversation with a feminist film prof who to my surprise, agreed with me. Although she hadn't seen either film she knew enough about the social impact back then and still today. Done intelligently enough, the class could have been one of the most educational classes in film school. With all that said, I find Inside Deep Throat is a movie that most people don't know about despite rave reviews. This movie has everything a great documentary should have, in parts it's funny, in others it's serious, it makes you think, its topic is more interesting than just dissecting a movie and it's entertaining. So when the appropriate time comes, if you can stomach some graphic content and get over any ridicule you might face, I highly recommend Inside Deep Throat.

In 1969 there was a movie called Midnight Cowboy, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman that won three Academy awards including Best Picture. It is the only X rated film to ever win the Best Picture. Which brings me to movie number two on my list This Film Is Not Yet Rated. The MPAA is the organization that rates movies. It gave the X rating to Midnight Cowboy and for some reason changed its rating system. That is the basis of the movie. Who runs the MPAA and how do they make decisions? With testimonials from filmmakers and the rating issues that had them scratching their heads will leave you doing the same. The only fallback of the film for me is the fact that they did some undercover investigating and really didn't answer anything. However, at times it made the show a little more entertaining. Not quite as intriguing but a little lighter, This Film Is Not Yet Rated may be a good film to work up to Inside Deep Throat. Also, I would recommend after watching, you  create a wobbly pop game in which you watch old movies you like and guess how they got their rating. Good times ahead.

Now I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but I am not trying to condone porn or other inappropriate material. I just want you to educate yourself and come up with your own opinions of exploitation, the difference between media's influence and which way that influence flows. How these inappropriate influences shape our world we live in whether its good or bad. Think of what this means to the story of the 14 year old and the school administrator. The access the 14 year old had to pornography and how it's regulated. The guidance or lack there of in the decision process of the administrator. And where we go from here as a society. We regulate and regulate but human freedoms tear the walls down and social disorder prevails. There is no right direction in life but I can guarantee you we all create the direction we are going. History is what it is and the topics of these two films play a pivotal roll in this direction whether you like it or not. Its a small piece of the pie that forms our society but to understand where we are it may be helpful to know why and how we got there.

Apr 19, 2011

Urban Photography

In my first year of film school we learned about city symphonies.  These were often silent films that showcased the working class, mechanization, and social energy of the urban landscape.  I loved the textures, patterns, and sense of history that those films inspired, and so in the summer of 2003 I created my own short, Urban Jazz.

It was because of this project that I began playing around with an old film camera and started shooting stills of old buildings.  Between Medicine Hat and Calgary, Alberta I shot about a hundred images of cityscapes in the summer of 2004.  The majority of the images are of old brick buildings, but almost all of my black and white shots were of downtown Calgary. 

What I love about these images is how the film still has such a distinctive look.  The compositions all feel very cinematic to me, and similar to what I did with my old film school slides, I like to brainstorm by thinking about a scene or a story that could fit each image.  After all of the moving around since these were taken, I'm just glad I still have these to share. Follow up with PART 2 here.

Apr 16, 2011

April 16, 2010

It had clouded over, but both Stephanie and I agreed that we had to make the most of our final day in Singapore.  From our hotel we could see the water, and with our afternoon free we decided to find our way to the shore.  We'd spent a week on this island in Southeast Asia, and now we just wanted to put our feet in the South China Sea.

Miles of lush greenery hugged the coastline and we soon found ourselves walking amongst fresh flowers and tall, wiry trees.  You could feel the cool breeze rolling in as the sky foreshadowed the coming rain, but the shifting weather seemed to only enhance the walk we were on.  In some ways it was just another park, and yet that day I was keen to believe that I'd never seen anything quite like it.        

We reached the edge of the beach and walked to the waters edge.  You could see that there was a small shelf to stand on as the waves rolled in, but this was no place to swim.  Through the water you could see how the beach sloped dramatically into the ocean and disappeared into blackness.  Hundreds of cargo ships lined the horizon, and in some ways it was a bit foreboding. In retrospect it's probably what makes the moment standout in my head.

Like a couple of kids testing the temperature of a swimming pool, we cautiously took a few steps.  Then a few more.  My sandals sunk down in the soft sand and in an instant the waves were crashing and swirling around my feet.   

Taking deliberate steps and curling my toes in the cold water, it was one of the few times on the entire trip that I felt completely in the moment. So this is what it feels like to stand in the South China Sea.

A bit further down the beach we spotted a yellow lighthouse tower with a spiral staircase leading up to a round platform.  It was one of the few places in Singapore that we'd actually come across graffiti of any kind (the country is notoriously well groomed).  We browsed the English and Asian characters scrawled and carved haphazardly on the bright yellow facade, and it rang true that no matter where you are in the world, some insults are clearly favorites for everyone.  

That was when it began to rain.
We left the tower and headed for a nearby concrete pier to get a better vantage of the beach we had just walked.  The sprinkling rain soon became heavy drops, and as we approached the empty pier a roar of thunder announced the arrival of showers.

There was no avoiding the onslaught, and yet it didn't seem to matter.  Another epic crack of thunder boomed overhead and then echoed off of the open water around us.  As we noticed others scrambling from the beach, Stephanie and I quickly became soaked from head to toe, lost in our own make-shift adventure.  

Here we were in Singapore, on a business trip no less, and yet we'd been able to take time to just appreciate where we were - to let loose, to experience a wealth of new things, and to cap it off with something as simple and gratifying as this. The doorman at our hotel cracked a big smile upon our return, with no explanation about the weather required.  We still apologized for dripping.  

It was a rainy afternoon on the coast of Singapore.  April 16, 2010.

Apr 15, 2011

Bertone B99 Jaguar Concept Car

As far as my vision of a dream car is concerned, I'm not ashamed to say that I became slightly aroused when I saw the pictures for the Bertone B99 Jaguar concept car. With Jaguar completely revamping the look and styling of its cars just a few years ago, the brand abandoned the trademark styling that really made the XJ (their flagship model) a standout.

I own a '99 XJ8 and what I like so much about this concept design is that it's taken the classic shape of the XJ, but given it a more aggressive and modern edge.  Instead of adopting an entirely different look, the car pays homage to the roots of the brand while not being so heavy handed with the old-world charm.  Although the design was not officially commissioned by Jaguar (Bertone presented this as a proposal) it's not entirely clear on whether Jaguar will be pushing ahead to put a car similar to this into production in the near future.  A guy can dream though.  I'm going to need some time to save up anyway. 

Apr 14, 2011

My First Dorm Room

My first taste of university life came in September 2002, when at the age of 18 I moved away from home and into the dorms at the University of Regina to study film production.  Dorm life isn't neccessarily the easiest or most attractive way to live, but the initial experience was invaluable.  I made new friends right off the bat, was within walking distance of all my new classes, and was forced to adapt quickly.

I didn't know it at the time, but for my entire university education I'd end up living in the College West dorms (with the exception of 4 summers).  From the disgusting shared bathrooms to kitchens dominated by fruit flies, I suppose one the greatest lessons I learned was how to avoid others germs (there's no shame showering in sandles).  By contrast, and because I probably wouldn't have been able to stand it otherwise, my dorm room quickly became a very personalized home away from home.

Compared with how ambitiously decked-out my dorm rooms became towards the end of my schooling, my first year dorm was tame.  It was also a shoebox, that was only marginally bigger than the bathroom in my current apartment.  After going through some of my old film school images, I thought it would be cool to post some of them.  I guess I was already anticipating my own nostalgia back then becuase I shot all of these on black and white film.

My first dorm room. I still have that Abbey Road poster (now framed) and you can still see the imprints of the bricks on it from me leaning against it.

The common area.  It was as hip and trendy as The Brady Bunch was . . . in 2002.

My desk. To be honest, the dated furniture didn't bother me. I was on a big fifties and sixties kick back then. Could you tell? 

The kitchen. I'm pretty sure we had just had a cleaning inspection before I took this picture. There was almost never counterspace (or clean dishes for that matter).

The roof court. One of the best things about College West was the open roof court that all of the dorms lead out to.  Of course, this was Regina so it was pretty much unusable 6 months out of the year.

For more, check out this video I made of the campus in 2002.