Jun 5, 2007

Film Student?

You can't get this far into a university degree, let alone a film degree, and not wonder what you're going to do after or to an extent, if it has even been worth it. I feel like I've been questioned so many times, "so what are you going to do when you graduate" and unsure all I can ever say is, "find a job?".
The decision to be here was an easy one. To be honest I don't remember thinking about it all that hard, and as things had been up to then it's easy to say that I was just moving with the current. I looked up a few schools, decided Regina was a decent choice and after a few months and papers signed I was sitting in class. The reality of what I'm doing has only really sunk in within the last year. It's tough to be carefree and lost in the experience as you start planning for completion; worrying about taking the first real unknown step on your own. 

All of this has left me questioning things more than ever, and as I try to put everything into perspective and context I'm wondering if the dream career in film is really possible (or more respectively, a job that I'm not going to hate).

Yes, these are largely natural growing pains. Everyone must go through this, right? But, as
I've understood that I can be overly nostalgic about things, I hate to think about losing this part of my life. I don't want to be trapped for anything; it's half the appeal of the filmmaker life style, the variety and project to project jobs (see the similarity to being in university?). 

Being a film student, especially here, has been full of contradictions and confusion.  Like a university experience should be though, it's also been full of self discovery. I've learned a lot, but it's cultural in nature and doesn't feel like hard proof of what I'm capable of. I've developed a nice portfolio of work, although much of what I pride myself on was created outside of school. If I could package my whole experience, I'm not sure it would point to anything specific and at best just asserts, "Yes, I like making movies". Is that really enough?

These are a large collection of thoughts that sit in the back of my mind, and generally I just let them wash over. In so many ways things just find their place . . . at least it seems to be the thing we all tell ourselves. Overall, I guess I break it down to one thing: to be a film student is to have a legitimate and acceptable badge to accompany the work I do and support the reason why I am where I am.

My fear is not so much about taking a step into the unknown, but it's about being the guy who is struggling to make it (the university struggle is more socially acceptable). I decided at 12 this is what I wanted, and I can't think of anything that could make me turn that desire off. Sometimes I think
I'm setting myself up for disappointment, and at the same time, when a project goes well or a festival accepts it's the greatest high. It seems like more of a risk than other degrees perhaps, and maybe the reward or potential could be greater because of it, but really, no answer will satisfy my own curiosity or convince me that doing all this wasn't the right choice to begin with. So am i scared? I guess enough to just keep at it. It's the best conclusion I can come to, and with that, maybe it's just enough to bring out my optimism and believe things can only get better.

I doubt this will be the last post like this as my university days fade, but hopefully you can relate in some way, and maybe support or deny my thoughts on this slow transition.

I made the photo collage below last year as a simple gift to give to friends who were finishing/or very near finishing their degrees. It shows the various locations of the university, and as I mentioned to those I gave it to, it will probably gain a lot more meaning years down the road as things change and you want to remember what it looked like then. For those of you who haven't been it's probably just a bunch of buildings, but I can attest from my time here, that this place has started to symbolize a whole lot more.

Photo Collage: University of Regina (Spring 2006)

Jun 2, 2007

Dusting Off Video Postcards

So there isn't a good way to post a full length travelog on here, and even if there was I doubt many would stick around to watch it. I was thinking I'd like to share videos on this new blog though, and so the video postcards I've made over the years seemed like a relevant edition regarding my last post. I began to organize these postcards in 2006 by looking at all the vacation footage I had (although some had already been completed by then). I thought that it would be nice to show people the places I've been by just featuring a few of the highlights.

Putting the postcards together essentially became a self-motivated editing assignment. The goal here, unlike the travelogs, was to just show the destinations as opposed to a diary of the trip. Each video is only a few minutes long put to music and is framed like a postcard to emphasize the visuals, but I think the spirit of the longer films that inspired them is still there.   

Video Postcard: Ottawa
(Filmed 2000 / re-Edited 2003)
MUSIC: Return to Innocence - Enigma

Video Postcard: Toronto 
(Filmed 2000 / Edited 2000) 
MUSIC: Run On - Moby  
Video Postcard: Niagara Falls 
(Filmed 2000 / Edited 2000) 
MUSIC: Beyond the Invisible - Enigma  
Video Postcard: Disneyland 
(Filmed 2004 / Edited 2007)  
Video Postcard: Hollywood 
(Filmed 2004 / Edited 2008) 
MUSIC: California - Rogue Wave  
Video Postcard: California Adventure
(Filmed 2004 / Edited 2008)
MUSIC: Love Today - Mika  
Video Postcard: Las Vegas 
(Filmed 2005 / Edited 2007)  
Video Postcard: South Dakota 
(Filmed 2007 / Edited 2007) 
MUSIC: Going Up the Country - Canned Heat

Jun 1, 2007


The travelog is nothing new, but of the various projects i find myself doing, the travelogs are quite possibly the most fun. As a product of the film school environment you often find yourself swamped by 'higher than thou' guidelines from the artistic masses that insist good movies are like 'this'. Travelogs, for me, are a complete escape from that . . . copyrighted music? of course i'll use it.

It's not that i don't count my vacation vids (or VVs) as 'real' projects though, because based on the effort that goes into them, they're not really homevideos anymore. At best they're polished recollections of various destinations, events and experiences, and at worst they're just snappy music videos. However, for those who have travelled with me and have found themselves watching one of these VVs years later, you'd be hardpressed to find someone who wouldn't agree that the video became an essential piece of memorabilia in giving face to the experience. Better yet, with the varied soundtracks, it hasn't been uncommon for people to tell me that they'd hear a song on the radio and remember the place it was used in the video. Of course, this is a little bit of shameless promotion, but it's positive feedback like this, that proves the VVs are more than just masturbational endevours (even though they may start out as such).

Most recently i completed Rushmore, shot at the beginning of May on a road trip to Mount Rushmore and the surrounding area. Now we've likely all taken in the view of the open countryside from the passenger seat, but armed with my camera and a few hours of tape i captured a lot of scenery. It wasn't until i was back home that i realized how much i could do with the footage. Snappy editing between locales reveals a landscape of changing colour, texture and size. You can't really 'document' the trip the way you experience it, but the fun of it for me is trying to create that sensation of discovery by building up to what the audience expects to see. On the rushmore trip it was timelapsing the landscape to physically contrast the change on the drive down. In Vegas it was a buildup to a night landing showing the glowing strip from the seat of the plane. In California it was a series of long steady zoom outs from the beach, hollywood blvd, and amusement parks to reveal the energy and life of the locales. Like all my projects, seeing people react to them is the best part. And when someone can get excited about the way you organize images, and in turn, relate the project to their own experience or vacation without being there, it becomes more than just pictures of the place you've been. It becomes a conversation starter, something to share and reminisce over, and perhaps more than just a still photo, encourages a more immediate emotional response.

So here's hoping the trend can continue. Rushmore: The 2007 Road Trip is complete and i can't wait to share it. Of course, i'd love to see any videos or pictures that any of you have taken on your trips. Since i've used up all my money and won't be travelling for a while, it's the next best thing to being there, haha. I can't deny it though, after a month of editing this last project it's great to move on to something new.

Here's a preview from Rushmore.