Showing posts with label Elliot Project. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elliot Project. Show all posts

Sep 6, 2012

A Summer in the Playground

One of the worst jobs I ever had was in the summer of 2005.  I was a student and back home in Medicine Hat trying to save some money for my next year of university. Looking for anything that paid better than service gigs, I found work as a picker in the yard of S.F. Scott Manufacturing, the company that makes Blue Imp playground equipment.  

This job became the kind of work that you end up telling your kids about.  Understaffed, overworked, and totally exhausting in every sense of the word, the summer only became bearable because of the amazing coworkers who helped turn misery into (what I can now see was) character building.  In the four months that I was there I worked two of them as the sole picker in the shipping department before any help came my way.  My job consisted of driving a forklift to pick components for playgrounds and organizing them into bays to load them when the trucks came in.  It wasn't rocket science, but we were all doing more than our share to keep the operation going.

As the summer rolled on and the orders increased it became commonplace for us to work 12-15 hour days.  I hadn't realized before this how little of a personal life it was possible to survive with.  There were a few weeks in there where I literally did nothing but go to work and sleep.  Endless manual labour did prove to be the best work out routine I ever had though.

When it came right down to it, the overtime was the only thing making the job seem decent.  Looking at it now, it wasn't lucrative by any stretch of the imagination.  I couldn't imagine doing a job like this now, that not only robbed me of my free time, but required so much rest when I had it.  The funny thing is how much we all seemed to bond over the frustration, because we were all in the same boat.  In the back of my mind I was always counting down to school, so the fact that it was temporary had everything to do with me sticking it out for the summer.  

I remember making jokes about doing an office style mockumentary of our summer working conditions.  We'd laugh at our own misfortune, recognizing that we couldn't possibly put in any more hours and yet we still couldn't meet the demands they were putting on us.  Misery loves company as they say, and the entire experience just made me so grateful for my life back on campus.  My friend Travess, who I worked with that summer, actually ended up helping me out a year later by acting in my 4th year film project, Elliot

What I've realized about this job now is that because it was so outside of my comfort zone, I discovered just how much crap I could really deal with.  Like I said about telling my kids some day, it was the kind of job that forced me to grow up a bit.  It made me want to work harder, take bigger risks, and focus on finding opportunities that I actually enjoyed so I didn't have to do something that totally consumed me for a living.

It's what makes summer jobs like this invaluable I suppose, because you end up getting a life lesson that you didn't even know you needed.  I'm just glad we snapped a few pictures of our crew before I left that summer, because now I'm grateful to have had that job as a plot point on the road to where I actually wanted to go.  It makes me appreciate my journey a bit more, and it makes me recognize that as tough as it was, having people to share the ride with made all the difference.   

Feb 15, 2011

Elliot: All of the Fake Stuff

For my final 4th year film project I created a mockumentary short titled, Elliot.  It was about a struggling author named Warren Elliot trying to make it into a prestigous writing guild after numerous rejections.

One of the really enjoyable parts of the process was getting to create a series of campy documentation to make Elliot's journey even more colorful.  From newspaper articles to book covers to notes and magazine excerpts, everything was made to be fairly tongue and cheek.  The blatently photoshopped childhood photographs emphasize this even further. To read more on my Elliot film school project and to view it CLICK HERE.

Oct 6, 2010

Elliot Photo Collage

As my final project of Film 400, creating Elliot proved to be a challenging, fun, and memorable experience. This mockumentary about a struggling author trying to get in to a prestigious writing guild gave me the chance to create a bunch of fake documents and images, and also gave me the chace to create my own fake reality on camera. The result was a generous grade in class and more fuel to pursue personal projects. I have yet to create another fake doc, but I can certainly see more mockumentaries in my future.

Jun 27, 2009

The Dirty Sailor Book

December 2006

Associated Post(s):

I created the cover and look of this book for my mockumentary, Elliot in late 2006. The project was the final movie I created for a production class in film school, and although it wasn't completed until spring 2007, it was in December that I shot all the footage with my friend Travess. It was he who played the title character, author Warren Elliot, who comically explains his quest to get into a prestigious national writing guild. The Dirty Sailor was his debut novel. In reality, it was nothing more than a cover, but I thought the book looked convincing enough. For more on the story, click the link above to read about the production and watch the full movie.

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

Dec 4, 2008

Elliot Preview

In my 4th and final core production course I chose to make a comedic mockumentary - a fake documentary - about a struggling writer trying to make it into a prestigious writing guild. The project was called, Elliot. 

It was completed in April 2007 and resulted in some positive reviews and a generous mark in the class. The complete film, however, has never been uploaded because I've always felt a tighter edit was in order. Just one more thing on the back burner I guess, but after all the work that went into Elliot to begin with, I'd really like to make sure the finished film reflects it. I've always felt good about the preview for the film though and even used it in class to help support my project. For now I think it's a nice teaser. Only time will tell when I get around to uploading the complete project.