Showing posts with label Stream Media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stream Media. Show all posts

Nov 18, 2013

Busy Days & My Insane Year

It's been a while since my last update, but in short it's probably been the busiest year of my professional life. Between the handful of contract video and photograph projects that I took on this fall (and am now in the process of editing), the full-time work with Weddingstar, an end of year video project with Stream Media, and a few last minute art projects/contracts on the back of my Around the Hat series - I've essentially been in a blur since late August. 

My latest video with Medalta and their artists in residence is in its final stages, and I just finished a new web promo for another client last week, but after a meeting at city hall on Friday it seems I'll have even more on my plate leading up to Christmas. I often have to remind people that I'm also working full-time with Weddingstar through all of this, doing their in-house media and working with digital publishers for their new magazine. I really haven't had any downtime since I got back from my road trip around the Pacific Northwest this summer. It's actually worked out well because my photo series of that trip has carried much of my blog's content through this time and will wrap up in mid-December.

All things considered, this is a good kind of busy. It's a privilege to make my living doing work that matters to me. I think I've found a nice balance between corporate gigs and creative opportunities, and have found some unique ways of showcasing my work and getting my name out there. Perhaps most of all, I'm thankful for the variety. Between photography and video this year, I've had some amazing projects on both sides.

Everything kind of exploded for me in 2013. From my presence in social media to the photo sets I shared and the videos I worked on, there have been plenty of weeks where I haven't been able to keep up with the correspondence. Last month Editing Luke had its highest number of visitors in its 6.5 year lifespan - just shy of 12,000 people visited and viewed nearly 17,000 pages. That's crazy! Especially for a non-sponsored site like mine where I just share what I've been working on.

In addition to all of my big projects, it's been the unexpected ones that have been especially exciting. I'll save some of those announcements until I have a bit more info, but there are some really cool things in the works. I should have updates in the next few weeks.

Who knows what the new year holds, but I know I'll have to be more selective about what I take on. I can't continue to work 12 hour days, although I am incredibly proud of what I've accomplished and been able to be a part of this year - lots of promotional work, my images on covers, stationery, postcards, artwork, magazines, tourism materials, websites, a phone book, and even as a sponsored exhibition. It's all been great, but at this point I'm counting the days until Christmas. Frankly, I'm looking forward to some well deserved time off.

Jun 4, 2013

Thank You, Stream Media

In the chaos of numerous projects on the go at the moment, it was by accident that I rediscovered a half finished letter that I had written a few years ago. My intention after leaving film school in 2008 was to make a bit of money before pursuing film and video in a bigger market by 2010. However, by then I had carved out a pretty nice situation for myself here in Medicine Hat. With lots of creative projects keeping me energized, ultimately I decided to stay.

This letter I found was the beginning of a thank you that I intended to give to Barb and Julie, the owners of Stream Media. They gave me my first job out of film school as a junior editor and videographer, and most importantly, they gave me a crash course in the operations and demands of being involved in a small production company. Fresh out of school, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

A lot has changed since I scribbled out my rough thank you letter, but I thought I'd give it another go now. With the Stream office closing last year, and the business taking a more casual approach for the time being, it's hard to say what my involvement may be like moving forward. It's kind of what makes this feel like the right time to get these thoughts out. So here it goes.

Barb and Julie,

Thank you. For as often as we've joked around, shared stories, caught each other up on what everyone was watching, or what clever ideas we were inspired by, I'm not sure that I've said thank you enough times for the experiences you've given me while working at Stream Media.

I remember my interview with you both. I remember how much you pushed to get me hired, Julie. I remember how you were the one I had to win over, Barb. It was the start of a new chapter for all of us, and when things kicked off that summer in 2008, I can't tell you how proud I was to be a part of the team.

I loved that only a week after being hired you gave me the opportunity to shoot aerial photography from a helicopter. I loved that you handed me footage from the college and let me show you what I could do with it. I loved that there was no delay in letting me shoot for you, edit for you, and brainstorm about concepts. Really, I loved that you were both willing to take creative risks, and at the end of the day, that it was always about making something that we could all be proud of - even if the project was basic.

The things I learnt from both of you in my first year became tremendous building blocks that really allowed me to grow creatively. I continued to gain more confidence as you gave me the freedom to make mistakes, experiment, and bring ideas to the table. In general, the work I did with both of you made me a stronger filmmaker, editor, and photographer.

In addition to this, I feel like the support you showed me came at a time when I really needed someone to give me a chance. You were both influential in nurturing my style, while also offering constructive advice to help me improve. When I look back at 2008, I can't help but think about what a diverse amount of work we did and the unique experiences that I had behind the camera and in the edit suite in a matter of months. It was the education I wished I would've received more of in film school. In retrospect, the only upset is that it didn't last longer.

So, let this message be a reminder and formal declaration of just how much I appreciate you guys and what you did for me. You're both amazing in my books, and I hope the final chapter hasn't been written on our time working and collaborating together. You know where to reach me. Stay awesome.

All my best,

Jan 18, 2013

Medicine Hat Student Film Festival

Every year around this time I used to submit my film school projects to various film festivals that caught my attention.  Part of my student experience was about reaching out to different sources for validation and promotion.  It sounds needy, and that's because it was.  I wanted to know that I could find work in video after university, and film festivals proved to be the ideal testing grounds for developing my skills in self promotion.  As it turned out, that was the least of what I got.

The very first film festival I submitted my work to in 2005 was the Student Video Competition portion of the Medicine Hat Film Festival.  It was always a pretty small gathering with no more than 30 or so submissions, but it ended up becoming a testing ground for my work before submitting my projects to bigger student festivals.

I submitted my experimental short, Keys to Existence in the 2005 festival and ended up winning the popular vote for the Audience Choice Award and 2nd place in the video category from the jury vote (the other category was animation).  I still have the small plaques on my wall as a reminder of that competition and what it ultimately lead to. Keys went on to screen at Youngcuts International that year in Toronto, followed up by a digital media festival in South Korea in early 2006.  My success in my hometown festival is what I credit with opening the flood gates to the other venues that I avidly pursued in the few years that followed.

One of the other benefits of the Medicine Hat Film Festival came later in 2007, when Stream Media was one of the key sponsors for the fest.  After returning home to Medicine Hat after university in 2008, I contacted Stream about potential employment opportunities.  My involvement in the festival became my foot in the door, and after a brief interview I was offered a job working alongside a small team to help shoot and edit promotional videos for corporate clients.  It was an amazing opportunity, and the start of a business relationship that I still benefit from today.

I always tell people who ask about my start that I never had a very stable plan after film school, but I had hoped that the film festivals I participated in had helped me cast a big net.  I became really opportunistic, and I jumped at any opportunity that seemed even mildly related to the things I was interested in in the hopes that I could make them even more relevant.  I owe that mindset to the experiences I got from my participation in student film festivals.

The Student Video Competition in the MHFF hasn't run for years now, and it's simply due to lack of sponsorship and organization.  It's a big undertaking, and it does take a lot of work to drum up enough attention to get quality submissions.  It's a shame, because as a student who was just starting out it was a great experience.  Before YouTube, before I ever screened my work at venues outside of Canada, and before I found work as an editor, I shared my work at the MHFF.  

Nov 24, 2012

Late November State of Mind

This year is rolling out in a matter of weeks and it's once again become clear (like it does every year at this time) that I have a lot on my plate that I want to finish.  It's actually kind of amazing that the first few months of 2012 seemed to drag on for me and then suddenly things snowballed the further in I got.  With so much on the go, I thought it would be nice to share some updates. 

At the moment I'm shooting lots of photography for Weddingstar, working on a new edit for Stream, continuing to develop my Around the Hat photo series, and working on the overdue release of Searching Salvation.  After a handful of trips to Local in the last few weeks I feel like I've had a lot of discussions about all of these things, but then realized that I hadn't really written a what-I've-been-up-to post in a while.  Here's the rundown:

Weddingstar has been doing a lot of revamping this year as the company has continued to expand.  As the in house photographer for the website, this has meant a lot of last minute shoots for the magazine, photographing extra images for new products, updating old images, and a few how-to videos thrown in for good measure.  It's been busy, and admittedly more repetitive than in years past.  

Stream Media has really slowed down in this second half of the year as it was expected to, however another edit has popped up this month.  It's nothing gripping, but I still like having video projects on the side.

Speaking of on the side projects, Around the Hat has been a really exciting undertaking for me this year.  The response has been great so far and I am still searching out locations and interiors from around the city that I'd like to feature.  There have been a lot of seeds planted with the potential for big things in the new year, but one of the best things to come from the series so far is the relationship I've established with Medalta. They've been great at getting me access to closed sites throughout the local clay district and have helped promote my sets as I've shared them.  If this is a sign of things to come then I think I'm on the right track.  I'm seriously exploring opportunities with government grants as a way of exhibiting and sharing the complete series.

And then there's Searching Salvation, the short about the death of my friend Dave and our trip to Salvation Mountain in California.  I've been dragging my feet on this one for the last year because I've been struggling to sum it up and have it feel exactly the way I want it to.  I haven't abandoned the project though, it's just been a long editing and fine tuning process.  When it's ready I don't want to have any regrets about it, and because I see so much potential in what it can be I don't want to feel arbitrarily pressured.  All I can say is that it's coming along and I'm getting closer.   

Throw in Christmas prep, and it's going to be a busy next few weeks.  I think a few more pints are going to be in order to help get me through it.

Sep 22, 2012

Shooting Locations (and the Payoff)

One of my biggest projects this year has been documenting the landmarks and scenery of my hometown, Medicine Hat, Alberta.  This photography series, Around the Hat has not only transformed my appreciation of the place I live, but it's brought hundreds of additional readers to my blog every week who seem to find my approach interesting.  

From the history of these locations, to the style of my photography, to the comparisons I make between archival images and the locations today, I feel like I've stumbled into fresh territory with regards to the scope and detail of the image library I've built of Medicine Hat. 

What's happened is that I've started to capture every place I've visited this year with this same obsessive focus on the details.  Up until a few months ago, I was perfectly satisfied doing this to serve my own creative ambitions, and frankly, the fact that all of this stemmed from simply being passionate about what I was doing has made some of the recent success only seem sweeter.  As it turned out, one facebook post changed everything.

After a visit to Regina this year over the Canada Day long weekend I shot a series of images while exploring the new city square downtown.  Happy with the outcome of these shots, I posted them to my blog and shared the post on the City of Regina's facebook page, which is where it got noticed.  The post was then shared on Downtown Regina's facebook page and by the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission (essentially Tourism Regina).  It was from this that the RROC got in touch with me directly and things began to happen.

All of this went down in August, and I was just excited that Tourism Regina was so interested in my work all of sudden.  They used a few of my images on their facebook page (always giving me credit) and discussed potential opportunities for my photos to be used elsewhere.  The real kicker came when I was told that they'd put me in contact with someone at DirectWest, and that one of my images had been considered for the City of Regina phone book.  

This was great, but I'd been considered for lots of opportunities before, and my experience with how proposals usually unfolded when working at Stream Media told me not to get my hopes up.  Then the call came in yesterday.  After a few weeks of deliberating they picked my shot for the 2013/2014 cover of the Regina phone book!  I'll be getting a nice chunk of change, will potentially see my image in print ads to advertise the phone book, and will have my image used in the City of Regina business calendar that gets sent out to over 9000 businesses who advertise in the phone book.  In short, I had a really good day.

This is the shot they chose.

While the extra payday is certainly welcome, the exposure and story are really what make this for me.  And going back to what had happened earlier in the summer, the discussions I had after being contacted by Tourism Regina really got the wheels in my head spinning.  Realizing that I was amassing such a large collection of images around Medicine Hat it became obvious that I had to get in touch with Tourism Medicine Hat too.

After sending them an email a few weeks ago with a link to my portfolio and the preview video I posted below, Hideaway Studios (who does the Tourism materials for the city) was quick to respond saying that they'd like to set up a meeting.  We finally had the opportunity to talk earlier this week.  The irony of the meet up is that their office is in the Citadel Building, right next door to where Stream Media's office used to be.  It looks like there's a lot of potential to explore with them too.

At the moment I'm in the process of sharing my library with Hideaway Studios and from there they'll be able to tell me if they'd like to license some of my images for use in various publications, etc.  While nothing has been agreed upon at this point, I find it flattering that they're even as interested as they are.  These recent experiences have been a tremendous eye-opener in understanding the potential value of what I've been creating these last few months.          

The online success of Around the Hat also has me exploring the potential for a photo book, or even applying for a government grant to put together an exhibit.  I've already had some people say to me that my shots of the Hat would make for a great display at the Esplanade.  Now there's something to aim for. 


Aug 9, 2012

Medicine Hat College Campus

The college has been an instrumental part of the community for decades, and it's changed dramatically since officially opening in 1965. At that time it was actually operating in space provided by Medicine Hat High School, and it wasn't until 1971 that the Medicine Hat College moved onto their own brand new campus.  

In 1983 the neighbouring Cultural Centre opened, and in the last decade alone several new wings of the campus have been constructed along with a new library. Centennial Hall also opened in 2005 and made the main entrance the dramatic focal point that the college had been missing. Yes, this place has changed a lot. 

Despite not staying in the Hat for my post-secondary education, upon returning I've ended up doing a lot of work for them with Stream Media in helping to create a few of their recruiting videos and College Day productions. Last year MHC provided education to 8844 students, and with so much recent growth you can bet that the college is going to continue to be a hub for a lot of locals.  

Vintage entrance to Medicine Hat College ca. 1980s

Jun 19, 2012

Life After Film School

Last week I received this message:

Hello, I am a 2nd year film student at the University of Regina. I actually came across your blog by accident, and I'm sure glad that I did! Not only do you propose lots of good insight and ideas into filmmaking and it's various ups and downs, but you do it from a place that I can relate to. I've been having a lot of the same doubts about film school that you've described here, and it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who's felt this way. And it's also great to see someone get out of this program (degree or not) and actually GET a job, which is something that has me quite worried these days. If you have any spare time on your hands, would you mind telling me a little bit about why you decided to drop out of the program, and how you made your way into the industry on your own? I'm very interested to hear the journey of someone who's been in the same boat. You have a great blog, and I'm very eager to hear from you.

As I've done in the past, I received permission from this student to respond publicly to their message. As always, I want to thank everyone who sends me questions and feedback. It not only makes this website feel worthwhile, but it also gives me an excuse to explore what I've learnt as well.

I've written at length about film school in the past, and even recently. This blog was a result of me trying to understand the direction I was heading, to facilitate a transition out of university, and to give me a bit of clout when it came to actually pointing to things that I'd done creatively. As a film student, nothing stressed me out more than the fear of not finding meaningful work when I was done.

For the record, I did enjoy a lot of my time in university and I do think there's a lot of value in a film school education. The practicality of it requires you to fill in some of the blanks however.

To answer your question about why I dropped out, I had overstayed my welcome to the point that it wasn't a choice anymore. I completed all of my core production classes through to 4th year, but had spent six years at the U of R doing so. By the time I left I only had a semester of electives, one language class, and one film theory class keeping me from my degree. I was broke though, and after completing the courses I'd come to university for, I became apathetic about school and spent months simply spinning my wheels. I was forced to realize at that point that the only thing I valued about film school anymore was being able to say that I went.

Thankfully, there was a bright side that came from all of this. My frustration with classes actually motivated me to make more personal projects and finally explore my passion for editing on my own terms. I submitted my work to film festivals, I took part in video contests, and started this website. In the beginning it was just self indulgence (and frankly a lot of it still is), but I can see now how these projects laid the groundwork for the opportunities that followed.

I moved home to Medicine Hat in 2008 with my tail between my legs. I had acquired some nice festival credits and had a little bit of money left from a Sasktel video competition that I'd taken part in, but the best thing I had going for me was that I was hungry for anything that seemed even mildly related to video or photography.

It was on a fluke after hearing about Stream Media that things changed. I soon realized that they'd sponsored the local student film festival that I had been a part of, and actually won a few awards from, a couple years before. I then discovered that I had a loose contact through Julie, one of the owners, who I'd spoken with briefly one of the years that I'd had something in the film festival. With nothing to lose, I wrote her an email explaining exactly what I'd been up to.

This shot in the dark changed everything for me. I was called in to talk, I gave them a reel of some of my shorts, and Julie's insistence got me a job. I was hardly financially independent at that point, but the opportunity I'd been given was amazing. The experience I got with Stream Media became building blocks. Suddenly I was shooting for various corporate projects, editing promos, and most importantly, working with a small team that could show me the ropes.

The film festival had become my foot in the door, and because I'd taken chances with my work as a student, it made an impression when I came knocking several years later. That experience still impacts me now when I think about the value of sharing your work. You never know who could be watching or where the next opportunity might come from.

As the economy cooled towards the end of 2008, I began working contract with Stream and found work in early 2009 with a retail website that had an interest in using video. I started as a copywriter with the potential of moving into video with them. My excitement and their willingness to grow lead to them taking a chance with me. I ended up building their in house media department, and began shooting enough photography and video to the point that I had created a new job for myself as their Web Media Editor.

To date I'm still balancing both jobs, and feel like I've been given an incredible opportunity to build my reputation on what I genuinely enjoy doing. The truth is that there is little to be gained in a creative profession without taking risks. Some of the smartest things I've done (looking back) is latched myself to people who appreciated what I was doing. I've also made a point of not just talking about how I love photography and video, but showing people that I do. Words are cheap, but it's difficult to ignore proof.

Once out of film school you're going to have to make sacrifices to move forward. This means making less money for a job that pays in experience, or putting in extra hours just to prove that you can do something new, or taking someones whim and being the person to interpret a logical first step for making it happen. Neither of my jobs existed when I went looking for them, which just goes to show that sometimes your fear can be an amazing motivator. 

Use your uncertainty to explore just what it is you want to do or where you want to be, and start taking as many steps in that direction as you possibly can. Redefine your film school expectations and realize that degree or not, you're still at square one when you get out there. You can take comfort in the fact that what I initially viewed as a failure in terms of leaving university when I did, actually timed me perfectly with the companies who were ready to take chances at that time too. There are a ton of hidden opportunities, and sometimes it really is as simple as getting in touch with the places you'd like to work with whether they're hiring or not.

I'm 28 now, but I've hardly got it all figured out for myself. I know it's important to stay hungry. Make things that inspire you and use them to inspire others. You'll start to pick up crumbs that will lead to bigger opportunities just based on the number of new people you're reaching. And one other thing, people like people who can tell a good story. You'd be amazed how far that can get you. 

So, to sum up a few of my own thoughts here are a few things to consider.  Share your work in as many ways as you can think of.  Like I said, you never know who could be watching.  Work hard to make meaningful connections with other people who are interested in some of the same career ambitions as you, they can become meaningful allies later on.  Take creative risks on a regular basis to challenge yourself, to grow, and to discover new things.  And don't forget, enjoy yourself.  The stress and fear are healthy, but don't forget how much fun the work can be and how defining the journey becomes.  If you really want to make the most of life after film school, stay hungry.  

Jun 2, 2012

A Farewell to the Stream Media Office

After all that has happened over the last four years during my time with Stream Media, the decision to close the Stream office downtown was one that hit me harder than I expected it to.  Stream itself isn't closing, and I still have a few edits on the books with them this summer, but it's pretty clear now that things won't ever be quite the same as they were.  On May 31, after showcasing the Citadel Building in a photo set just a few weeks ago, I said a final goodbye to a place that had been the hub of a variety of corporate productions I'd been a part of, and mused about what's next for the company and how I'll continue to be a part of it.

As a contract editor, I can't blame Barb for making what was a very practical decision. With both of us working full time hours outside of the building, it no longer made sense for her to pay rent on an office that was almost never used anymore.  In fact, the most regular hours I ever spent in the office were back in 2008 when I worked for Stream full time, and even then, the office wasn't really my workspace.

What makes losing the office so difficult then is the feeling that I've lost something symbolic.  As long as the office was there it was clear that Stream still held some priority and that there'd be more work as a result of it.  I guess there was always a part of me that believed my role would continue to grow there, and that somehow that would fuel more of the kinds of projects we all really wanted to work on.  It's not even clear that there won't still be editing projects coming my way, but Stream may simply be working in a different capacity to facilitate them now.  As we'd discussed just a few weeks ago, things are changing, we're changing, and sometimes growth means trying new avenues. I'm just a bit anxious about the unknown.

When it comes down to it, this is the end of a chapter.  I've always loved the variety of work that I've been able to do as a result of Stream's position in the community, and whether it was flying over the city to collect b-roll or directing a promo video, a lot of the challenges were noteworthy experiences.  I'd hate to think that we've moved on from that completely, because individually, I haven't.

On one hand it's just saying goodbye to an office right now.  On the other, it's a pretty clear step into uncharted territory.  I can't help but be a bit sad about it.  I can't help but feel unresolved about the whole thing.  And then again, I realize that a big part of me is clinging to a reality that has existed since 2008.  It's easy to be nostalgic for that feeling I had when I was fresh out a film school and started working here in June of that year. We've all grown a lot since then though, and I probably play it up for more than it was sometimes because I was so ready for the change back then and I'm feeling more uncertain about what I want next these days.

I'll miss this place and the creative discussions we had here.  I'll miss coming here late at night to drop something off and finding a random note.  I'll miss popping in to chat with Barb on my way home or between projects.  And really, as a nod to how much I've enjoyed the work, I'll just miss this place being at the centre of it.    

May 11, 2012

The Lettuce is Always Greener

My favorite burger in town is the Classic with Cheddar at Local.  This could be because of the frequency in which I have it, but it takes a pretty nice picture doesn't it?  Barb and I met up for a beer on Wednesday night and enjoyed hanging out on the patio for the first time this year.

We always seem to come here when we're in the middle of the latest project at Stream Media, or because we're overdue for a hangout.  This time it was a bit of both really. And being in a place that's become so familiar it was interesting that the topic of the evening was centered around change. 

It seems my contract work could really start to change as Stream becomes even more of a mediator for sourcing out projects - and sending editing gigs my way.  I'm not sure what it means quite yet, but I'm always nervous about upsetting the relatively fragile work situation I've built for myself here.

I've been wrestling more lately with my potential in a place like Medicine Hat and I do feel like between Stream and the video and photography work I do for the Weddingstar website, there's no new benchmark to expand to - at least not that I can see yet.  Barb even noted that my Around the Hat photo series almost seemed like a way of saying goodbye to the city, especially with my recent set of the Citadel building.  There might be something to that.

All of this was kind of a precursor to the discussion I knew I'd be having that evening with my friend Tyler over skype.  I knew he was going to tell me that he had decided to move to Ontario from Saskatchewan.  It had me thinking about Regina, the place we all went to film school, and what it meant for future hangouts if we were all living further away from one another.  All of my friends, it seems, are further spread out than they've ever been and if it weren't for the weddings or planned trips, I know we'd almost never see each other.

It's scary, if I'm honest, to be on the cusp of big changes that aren't your own.  I can feel things are moving again, and I tell myself it's just the growing pains of entering a new phase of adulthood. On one hand the life I've built here is pretty darn good, but as if it's a downside, it's become comfortable and all of the recent shifting has seemed to emphasize it.

I'm addicted to change in a lot of ways.  This blog began as a way of documenting and holding myself accountable to it.  Yet, it's tough to feel like a spectator when it's simply happening around you.  As I sat on the patio that night, about to take another bite of my favorite burger, I couldn't help but think that as good as it was, there were no surprises in having the same thing again.  

May 5, 2012

Citadel Building in Medicine Hat

Of the photo sets that I've been shooting for my Around the Hat series, including the Citadel building was an easy choice as it's where Stream Media, one of the companies that I edit for, is located.  The building was constructed in 1913 for the Salvation Army and replaced a wooden structure originally on the site.  Years later the building was remodeled, and eventually sold in 1983 when the Salvation Army relocated to a new building.  The Citadel has since housed offices.

For me this location is special because of the time I spent here after moving home to Medicine Hat from university.  Stream was my first job out of school in 2008, and I continue to work contract for them now.  I think the understated charm of the building suits the production company well.  You can also see that I parked my Jaguar next to the Stream graffiti that we used to open the promo reel I edited for them last year.  

Citadel Building ca. 1986

Salvation Army Citadel ca. 1970s

Citadel Building with St. Barnabas church next door.