Showing posts with label My Film School Videos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My Film School Videos. Show all posts

Jul 7, 2016

The Framed Letter On My Wall

I have had this letter framed and hanging on my wall for ten years. Admittedly, there's been some moving around in that time so it hasn't always been the same wall, but the letter is dated July 7, 2006 - exactly ten years ago to the day that I'm writing this. I'll explain exactly what it is and who it's from, but allow me to provide a bit of context.

Ten years ago I was a film student at the University of Regina in Regina, Saskatchewan. At that point in my education I'd become a bit apathetic towards my production classes. With the added stress of feeling like I might not find meaningful work when all was said and done, I began looking for validation in the "real world". For me, I found this in film festivals.

film school letterIn the months preceding the arrival of this letter I had participated in a handful of high-profile film festivals and competitions. I had a short film screen at the Youngcuts International Film Festival in Toronto. I beat out 280 other global entries and was officially selected to screen at Budi2006 (an international digital media festival) in Busan, South Korea. I also participated in a National Film Board of Canada competition where I was selected into the English Top 10. Following weeks of public voting I finished 2nd in the popular vote. 

All of these experiences in the span of a few months completely changed my outlook. I still felt I had a lot to prove, but getting some attention on the back of doing what I loved was hugely motivating. I remember doing a little bit of press, sharing stories for different publications relating to the festivals, and making lots of new contacts in the process. That was the point everything shifted. I wasn't just a film student after that, I'd become a film maker.

A photo posted by Luke Fandrich (@editingluke) on

In retrospect this all seems crazier because of how limited the platforms for personal promotion were at the time. Facebook wasn't a big thing yet, Instagram didn't exist, and YouTube was just emerging as a place to post short videos. It wasn't until the following year that I even started Editing Luke. In a way it was a great learning experience, because having to apply and submit my work to festivals forced me to be even more critical just to get it seen in the first place. 

In the several months following these festivals things died down again, and in the summer of 2006 I was driving a forklift and counting the days before I went back to film school in the fall. Then out of the blue this letter came in the mail, forwarded by the university to my home in Medicine Hat, Alberta. It read:

Dear Luke,
On behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan, I am pleased to congratulate you on your recent success with your student film. 
Through your studies, you have demonstrated outstanding dedication and commitment to media production and studies. This is a significant and well-deserved honour, and you must feel a great sense of pride in seeing your work recognized in such a way. Saskatchewan has a vibrant, exceptionally active TV and film industry, and young achievers such as you will be among the leaders who help grow the industry to even greater heights. 
Once again, congratulations, and best wishes in all your future endeavours. 
Yours sincerely,
Lorne Calvert 

Hand-signed and typed on the official letterhead of the Premier of Saskatchewan, it was pretty humbling for someone like myself who was just starting out to get a letter like that. I had received a lot of congratulations and messages surrounding those projects, but none had seemed this formal or succinct. The student film he was referring to was the short I had created for the National Film Board of Canada, and I guess someone picked up on the small bit of national attention I received following the competition. This was also around the same time that Corner Gas was thriving, so the industry in Saskatchewan was booming.

In the end, I've kept this letter on my wall because it felt symbolic from the moment I received it. Proof that you never know who might be paying attention, and validation that the rewards for pursuing your passions can not only be great, but unexpected in the best ways. 

I'm now running my own media production company in Alberta and have come a long way in the last decade. I've also been so fortunate to work on a number of incredible projects with some amazing people. The growth never stops. Curious to know more about what I'm up to now? Explore more here.

May 3, 2012

Silent City (2003)

For nearly a decade this project sat in a box full of my old film school reels, and to be honest, no one was missing much.  It was perhaps the very first thing my friend Dave and I ever shot on film, outside of a few tests maybe.  At the very least it was the first assignment in the film program that required us to shoot and edit on 16mm.

What makes Silent City worth sharing is more than just the few seconds of grainy footage that we managed to capture.  It isn't that there was some profound message behind our shots or that we had any intent of creating something epic to document how brilliant we were (although I wouldn't doubt that such things were said in jest at the time).  The film was simply a start.  It was a beginning to our film school careers, and in an unexpected and far more symbolic sense, it played a role as one of the ways that I said goodbye to Dave when he passed away last year.  

The project was shot on an afternoon in Regina that consisted of us driving around downtown, Wascana park, and the university campus and randomly pointing the Bolex camera at things.  As technical as I'm sure that sounds, I don't remember either of us being too concerned with what we shot, just as long as something actually developed when we got our film back.

The one scene that we actually put some thought into took place in Wascana park.  It consisted of me shooting Dave as he walked across to the left side of the frame and then overexposing the shot as he walked back again.  The idea, and how it ended up in the finished reel, is that we would cut the two shots together to contrast the exposures and motion between the takes.  The result was like a ghostly apparition of Dave crossing paths with himself.   

I really hadn't given the project much thought until Dave's passing in September 2011. Dave's girlfriend, Wendy asked me if I'd like to place anything in his casket and I suddenly felt there was a reason to dig out the reel again.  I still had the envelope of raw 16mm clips that we'd spliced from this project when we had edited it on the giant Steenbeck late one night.  After careful consideration I thought that nothing would be more fitting than to leave him with one of the first creative ventures we had shared in film school together.  He'd have a piece of it, and I'd have the finished reel to remember what we made.

Up until February 2012, when I purchased myself a vintage 16mm projector, I still hadn't seen this project since we shot it back in 2003.  I honestly didn't know what to expect, but the reality behind what had happened in just the last few months made each frame a bit more memorable, and even a bit haunting.  It wasn't like watching a home video, the cold shots of the city and of Dave walking just seemed to echo a lot of the sadness behind losing a friend whom I'd shared so many memories like this with.

The reel of Silent City is simplistic, direct, and little more than a 16mm film test.  And yet, it's become a project that I'll never forget or view the same way ever again.  

Mar 23, 2012

Cutout - Animation Test #3

One of the final animation tests we did in Film 203 was with jointed construction paper cutouts that we each made.  This form of animation has been most notably popularized by the South Park series, and although my test isn't much to go on, it was a lot of fun to make.  I animated a cowboy who shoots his gun and the bullet bounces around the frame until it hits him.

With each test we learned a little bit about the patience and subtly required to create movement in inanimate objects.  What resulted from all of these was one final project that we could create in any medium we wanted.  I opted for a claymation/stop motion project titled, Over at Grandpa's.  More on that soon.

Mar 16, 2012

Sand - Animation Test #2

The second animation test we did in Film 203 consisted of using sand on a light box. Once again the Bolex camera was used to capture the experiment one frame at a time. My clip was really just me playing around to get a feel for the medium, but most of our exercises were inspired by the classic NFB animations we previewed.  The Erlking by Ben Zelkowicz is the impressive sand animation short I remember.

Mar 9, 2012

Flipbook - Animation Test #1

In a continuation of the old film school projects I've been rediscovering since purchasing my Revere projector, this is the first of three animation tests I created in 2004 in Film 203.  What we did was create small hand drawn flipbooks, and then captured the books one page at a time with a Bolex camera to share them with the class.

This film strip was a bit rough and unfortunately the flicker on from the projector was particularly heavy on this test.  Still, it was an interesting experiment.  I drew a washing machine exploding in suds.  Each of these shorts were stand alone exercises, but the tricks we learned along the way did play a large role in the final projects each of us had to make for the class.

Mar 2, 2012

Line Art - Drawing on Film (2004)

Of all of the experiments we did in our film school animation class in 2004, drawing on film was by far the most tedious to me.  If you keep in mind that 24 frames equal one second of screen time, it meant having to replicate an image over and over again to create the project - or at least it should have.  

I chose instead to go the completely experimental (and in many ways easier) route, and opted to create a colourful film strip inspired by frequency lines.  I divided my film strip evenly between frames of green, red, and blue.  This was done with a clear strip of 16mm film and pack of sharpie markers. On top of that I drew various lines that would fluxuate in contrast to one another.  The result was as busy as you might expect, but it created a cool effect.  See what resulted below.

Feb 15, 2012

Original Animation Storyboards

It was completely by surprise that I stumbled onto all six pages of the original storyboards I drew up for my Film 203 animation class that I took in 2004.  I honestly thought I'd lost them when moving and hadn't actually seen them in over five years.

I've previously shared the drawn backgrounds and actual film strip from this final project titled, Over at Grandpa's.  What's also exciting is that I recently purchased a vintage 16mm projector (still on route) to try and capture some of my remaining film school shorts that I haven't been able to play.  It's yet to be determined whether the film from this animation will hold up in the projector, but hopefully I'll be able to share some excerpts at the very least.  For now, it's just cool to be able to look back at all the work that went into this claymation that I never even got a chance to screen. 

Feb 9, 2012

Experimental Film Course Syllabus

For a long time I've had it in my head that I'd share some of the notes that I've held onto since film school.  Given that all of these assignments have now been uploaded, I figured the syllabus from Film 486: Experimental Film Production, was as good a place to start as any.  Check out the list of projects we were assigned in the fall semester of 2006, and then check out my links below to see what I did for each one.  

Video Collage

For this one I took it upon myself to bring new meaning to time travel.  Check out The Other Time Machine.

Formal Film Project

Shot on 16mm and presented at the Sask Film Pool, for this assignment I created X.

Media Diary

My goal with this assignment was to create a photographic quilt of my past using cropped images and textures from my childhood.  What I made was, from 84.

Feb 7, 2012

X (2006)

Presented with the challenge of shooting (and manipulating) an experimental short on film, X was the result of a few late nights spent scratching my reel and coloring individual frames with a red sharpie.  I can't say I had much of a plan during the process, but it was fun.  This experimental film class also resulted in some of my other random edits like, The Other Time Machine and from 84.

What made this project stand out was that we each presented our films at the Sask Film Pool in downtown Regina at the aptly titled, Terrible Film Festival - a regular event each semester for those taking the avant-garde class. It was a pretty casual affair where some films played on a loop, others were screened traditionally, some in make shift tents, and some overlapping each other.  The entire exercise was really about playing with film, not just from behind the camera, but actually working with it, splicing it, and in some cases, tearing it apart. I remember my friend Tyler actually tried burning a piece of his film and it sounded like cooking bacon when it played through the projector.

I kicked things off with my film on a loop, and a last minute decision to use a mirror to reflect the projection around the room.  My entire idea really centred around 'X marks the spot' because I figured so many of the films would be just as busy and nonsensical as mine, but at least mine would have a red X throughout to give you some place to look. It kind of worked.

At the very least the evening was something out of the ordinary, and it created a more lasting memory for a project that would have otherwise just stayed packed away.  Our professor, Gerald Saul captured highlights from the evening and gave each of us a DVD of our short films.  

Looking back at it now, this was one of those stereotypically ideal film school situations that I'm glad we were forced to take part in.  And I couldn't forget it if I wanted to, as that mirror I was using ended up broken in the back seat of Tyler's car and stayed there for my remaining few semesters in university.  See my experimental film below.

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.

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.

Jan 5, 2011

Film School Storyboard

Film school was meant to over-prepare you for the potential challenges that the real world would present.  While I still have yet to encounter the majority of these situations, the truth is there were some great exercises that I still borrow on to this day.

In the very first core film production class that I ever took, we were required to do an in-camera edit.  This meant no software and that things would have to happen chronologically for your project to make sense.  Like most projects, things were left fairly open-ended for each of us to make our own mistakes and find a personal style.  I was reminded of all this when I discovered my original storyboard for that in-camera project, titled Homeless, that I'd drawn up.

Homeless Storyboard - Click to Enlarge

I always argued that every filmmaker created a homeless guy movie at some point, so I suppose I was eager to get my own out of the way.  While the project is alright, it's always been the technique and experience that I gained from it that I like to talk about.  Finding the storyboard just further emphasizes what a great starting point this was for learning how to think through my shots, cuts, and how to compose a complete piece.

With the music altered in post and titles added when I uploaded it to YouTube years later, this project is otherwise exactly as the storyboard illustrates.  Despite blogging about my film school history on a regular basis, it's cool to actually discover a piece of it and have the story present itself.

Nov 11, 2010

A Chill in the Air

Shot in 2006, I made this short for a National Film Board of Canada contest by mixing footage of WWI soldiers with stark winter imagery. The focus was on creating a symbolic representation of the recovery, healing, and scares left by war. However, to approach the subject in a less traditional form,

I opted to create this video poem. To read more on this project, the results of the contest, and the story behind 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.

Aug 8, 2010

New Kinda World (2002)

In my first semester at the University of Regina everything was heavy. I was on my own for the first time, living in a city where I previously didn't know anyone, and just learning to balance my personal responsibility with my desire to let loose. It was memorable.

New Kinda World was just a short edit that I put together before Thanksgiving to take home and share with family and friends. It's basically just a brief look at the campus, but it gave a sense of my new surroundings. Little did I know at the time, but this footage would become dated fairly quickly. Just a year after this was shot, construction began on a brand new residence and phys. ed complex that would cut the campus green space in half and re-define the centre of the entire school. Check out the follow-up university edits that I made in 2006/2007 to see what I'm talking about.

While on the surface this footage is little more than a home-video of a few buildings, to me it's a reminder of those first few months when everything changed. I look at this and remember being on my own in my dorm, the walks around campus to try and figure out where my classes were, and all the new people I met in those first few weeks. I can't help but get a bit of that anxiety and energy from thinking about just how different all this was in the moment.

If nothing else, New Kinda World is a great piece of nostalgia.

Jan 15, 2010

Film School Lesson: Questions to Ask

For years I have asked the question, was film school worth it? I've weighed the financial burden, considered the value in teaching art, and broken down the technical advantages that such a pursuit provides. However, this is a loaded question to begin with and it's only made more difficult by the fact that I really don't know the answer. There are resounding pros and cons, both of which I feel I've experienced the extremes of.

What I have come away with in any case, are a handful of film school lessons.  From tips, general advice, actual projects and assignment descriptions, film theory, critical thinking exercises, and ideas on what to expect both personally and in a real world (job) context, not to mention just the general experience of going from a clueless aspiring filmmaker to a less clueless independent filmmaker.

In moving forward, I'd like to inform, inspire, and fill in a few of the blanks for others trying to make the most of their film experience. I hardly have all the answers, but with film school in my past and an ambitious record of personal/creative growth over the last few years, there are a lot of things that I've picked up on and a lot of things that I think would help any other filmmaker interested in creative challenges. I've found myself inspired just by going through old notes and lessons again.

You have to ask yourself, what is it that you want to achieve with your filmmaking? Do you want to direct, edit, write? Narrow these options down, because even though you'll likely have a hand in a lot of these things, refining a specific skill can be more valuable than just general knowledge in numerous fields. Fight the urge to simply say director, when someone asks you what you want to do. In film school, director is practically a given (and it's really a dodge to the question because it's just another way of saying you want to do everything). Even if that's true, challenge yourself to be specific.

Ultimately you want to have a grasp on what a cinematographer, skilled camera person, or editor can bring to your project and how those skill sets can be relied upon to improve your vision (if you're directing). In the same way, learn how to take direction. Understand that your involvement and support in the role you play can be incredibly instrumental in the success of a project. Often when you're in a position that requires you to focus on specific details you're actually the one who can influence creative direction. Plus, it's just good advice knowing when to step back and step in - nothing worse than a set where everyone wants to play director.

It's never too late to revisit questions of purpose and motivation. Working in a creative field requires you to be open minded, willing to adapt, and confident in the choices you make. There are literally so many options to choose from, that your ability to create your own (initial) boundaries and terms will help to define the type of filmmaker you are and want to become.

Naturally, your style and approach will evolve, but if you're indecisive about the choices you make you'll never really see more than the surface. It's like reading a good book. You can read the cliff notes to understand the basic plot, but without investing time in really getting to know the construction of the story (and the natural emotional response it gives you) you'll miss the subtleties and reasoning behind why things were done the way they were. 

When creating a movie, no matter the size, you're constructing an experience, a series of frames that are meant to engage, question, entertain, and (hopefully) make sense. Unless you want someone else to decide what your work means, you need to appreciate the theory of why things are put together the way they are.

Jul 15, 2009

The Other Time Machine (2006)

What can I say about a project that came together largely by chance? Early in the fall semester of 2006 I was taking an experimental production class. One of the first assignments we received was to create a found footage project using the old video edit suite at the university. Right away I was convinced that I was going to do this project using my own equipment, because scheduling and planning around the university was continually a hassle - however, and mostly because my friend Tyler and I had discussed editing our projects at the same time, I ended up working at the school.

Not every project can be a masterpiece. This was the idea I had in my mind prior to pulling my project together. I had no VHS tapes to work with, I was completely willing to pull something together using the old tapes in the suite - a true experiment/found footage project if you will.

That night Tyler and I were hanging out in the suite and Tyler was the first to edit his project - which you can see here. He seemed to have a rough idea of what he wanted, but I'm sure he was winging it too. When he finished it was probably around 9 or 10pm, which strangely enough is what I consider to be the best time to work at school. I have a number of memories surrounding late night projects and wandering the hallways in the middle of the night - I also lived at the dorms so part of the wandering was about finding my way home sometimes, haha. Anyway, the point is that the editing became a mix of running for slurpees, watching old Weird Al clips, and catching up with Tyler - who at this point wasn't much more than a familiar face from first year.

Tyler had a copy of The Time Machine, Death to Smoochie and Back to the Future which became the basic elements of my edit. The dread of doing the assignment turned into the excitement of things falling into place. I genuinely had a lot of fun pulling random clips, working on the old VHS equipment, and dubbing audio from old tapes. The whole time machine element seems kind of funny now because this was all before my Buick to the Future series was even a consideration.

While The Other Time Machine is a flawed video, it's always made me laugh. Despite being crude both in content and construction, it was the inspiration behind a lot of other experiments that followed. The most notable being Space Drama in 2008, which was a much more intensive, personally motivated editing exercise. The Other Time Machine is significant mostly for the history and time it marks in my film school career, but I won't make too many promises. Some people love this, some people hate this - it's a lesson directly from Film 100 (or technically Film 400 something). Enjoy!

The Other Time Machine (2006)
Found Footage Edit by Luke Fandrich

Jun 16, 2009

The Geology Student on


I'm going to try my luck again with YobiFilm. Some of you may remember my weekly promoting with The Gizmo Tree through April, but that's old news. I've done some slight updating with my film school short, The Geology Student and uploaded it to their site.

Some may ask, why not make an entirely new short? And the answer is, I am. However, the new projects take time and when I have a bunch of content that most people haven't seen anyway, I feel like I might as well promote it. So here's my plug:

As many of you know, I'm just trying to expand my network and make connections. These video sharing sites are ideal for that. You can help me increase the popularity of my short by casting a single vote for The Geology Student on You just need to use your email address, and vote here. Simple as that.

I know it might sound kind of pointless, but if you've enjoyed any elements of my blog you probably have a slight understanding of why I'd even bother with this. You never know who could be watching. Voting only takes a minute and it helps me get a bit of recognition . . . so, please? :)

Thanks for checking it out guys.
See the site and VOTE HERE.

Here's the revised, bad educational film version.

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 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 Finalist Version

Mar 24, 2009

Silent Shoppers (2005)

Like many of my other projects, Silent Shoppers developed out of the remnants of an earlier film school assignment. So let's rewind - It was March 2005, and I unknowingly scheduled the shoot for my project, then titled Yellow Tag Clearance, on one of the worst possible days with temperatures reaching below -30C.

It was a painful, but memorable day. Yellow Tag Clearance took place in a mall parking lot, the story inspired by eager shoppers reacting to post-Christmas sales. My crew and I shot in 30 minute intervals followed by 15 minute breaks out of the cold, which resulted in a long day. In my production notes I wrote:

"My actors were frozen, I was frozen, the camera kept freezing on me . . . it was a long day. The weather was a huge obstacle because all anyone could think about was how cold they were. It had snowed the night before, and and the sun didn't come out until noon, so if there was a way to make a parking lot look any blander, this was it".

Yellow Tag Clearance really became an exercise in editing because of all the challenges that resulted from the outdoor shoot. The original concept was to put the movie together like a comic book, with over saturated colours, speech bubbles, and wacky sound effects. After several tests and rough cuts, the colourful and comic Yellow Tag was the project I submitted in April 2005.

Summer came and went, and for the next six months the original video collected dust with the rest of my class notes.

I never intended to revisit the movie, but in November 2005 I was without any production classes and was looking for a film project to fill the time. I remembered Yellow Tag Clearance was unique, but to me it felt distinctly like a film school assignment because of how over-worked it was. After watching it several times again, I was able to see more of my mistakes and inexperience and thought that there was still a lot I could do to fix it.

For starters, YTC could be shortened, the filters could be improved, and the audio could be cleaned up (which had a lot of wind distortion from the blustery shooting day). Tough to say exactly how things went from there, but within a week Yellow Tag Clearance had been completely revamped - it was now silent, in black and white, and titled Silent Shoppers.

Silent Shoppers Trailer

I suppose like my other re-edits, by the time I got back into it, the process was as much about making the footage feel new again as it was about fixing technical issues. I'm remembering how difficult the audio was to work with, which was probably what sparked the shift to go silent (or abandon the original audio at least).

I have clear memories of those several nights in November, because they were the kind that you love to have as an editor. Things clicked into place, I was on a roll, and above all, I was having fun seeing the footage transform into something I hadn't planned originally. It started to feel more subtle and funny, while still maintaining the consumer slapstick. In the end, Silent Shoppers was a new short, and significantly different from the look and structure of Yellow Tag

Happy with the new version, I again let it sit for months before doing anything with it (no YouTube account or blog to share it yet). In February of 2006 I sent it to the Medicine Hat Film Festival Video Competition. I made the trek home to Medicine Hat later that March, and practically one year after the original footage had been shot, Silent Shoppers was voted the 2006 Audience Choice Winner! 

My appreciation for the short, the experience it gave me, and the way it evolved all amounts to my continued obsession with developing my skill as a moviemaker. It's about working to improve despite often numerous limitations or challenges. My projects continue to evolve and take on new meaning the more I learn. 

Shoppers conveys a simple and quirky message about consumerism, and our inability to escape it. It's also what gives the title its double meaning. Just another chapter in the old fandrix scrapbook. Enjoy! 

Silent Shoppers (2005) Directed by Luke Fandrich