Jan 3, 2009

Film School Lesson: Creating Options

I think one of the best lessons any young filmmaker can learn is to search out as many outlets as possible to share, discuss, and promote your work. When I graduated high school in 2002 YouTube wasn't even an option yet, and that's just one outlet that's made it considerably easier to get yourself noticed - and cheaper than film school.

When considering film school you have to weigh your financial situation, etc. to see if going is even feasible. While I'm not entirely convinced that the financial obligation is worth it, what film school does provide is a tremendous opportunity to network, gauge the level of your skill, and the time to experiment and improve. All of this provides you with more options as a filmmaker. Allow me to expand on this:


Whether it's with your classmates, your profs, the girl you met in Art History, or the friends you made at the campus pub, university lends itself to meeting new people on a daily basis. This is valuable for numerous reasons. The more people you have in your court, the more people you have to support you. You never know when you'll need someone to act in one of your shorts, someone to hold the camera, someone to vote for your movie in a contest, someone to tell you about the contest in the first place, someone to refer you for a job or get you hired themselves. Just like a spider spinning a web, the larger your network the more likely you are to catch opportunity. You have to work at this! People aren't just going to approach you, and you need to teach yourself how to take advantage of Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, etc. not just as a way to waste time, but as a way to build a following. The internet is the cheapest and most global outlet for reaching a lot of people with your ideas quickly.

On the surface I know all this sounds like a no-brainer, but of all the people I've met through film school and various student festivals, so few people actually take the time to do this. Start as soon as possible. The time and work it's taken for my blog and other online accounts to grow to the point of actually being able to significantly help me took months. But, the work does pay off if you're dedicated. This blog itself helped me campaign for votes in early 2008 and helped me win $3500 in an online video contest, as well, when I mentioned it in my job interview with Stream Media in May 2008 it immediately helped me make a strong first impression. I think you get the point.

Gauge Your Skill Level

All first year film students think that they're 'the shit'. We all start off this way because we're young and we've grown up having all our friends and family tell us that we're the next Spielberg because of that one video we made in 8th grade. Don't get me wrong, it's great having people cheer you on, but at some point you have to step up to the plate and ask yourself if working in film is a career choice or just a hobby.

As much as I've been impressed and inspired by my peers time and time again, I've also been incredibly embarrassed by some of the lazy work that I've had to screen my projects with in production classes. While no one is without their occasional flops, having film classes that allow you to talk about and receive feedback on your work allows you to see where you fit in the spectrum of things. It's where I was able to pinpoint my love for editing, and build confidence by giving and receiving critical comments. Just knowing that I'd have to defend the choices I made with my videos in class motivated me to work harder and produce the highest quality of project that I could. The exposure to lots of student films allowed me to see that all the work I had been doing helped put me above the curve.

Time to Experiment

To each their own, but for me, film school allowed me the time to experiment with various types of equipment, software, genres and styles. Had I gone from high school straight into the workforce I wouldn't have had the time to produce the number of short films that I did so quickly. I was able to learn techniques and tricks by being challenged by other peoples standards, and because of that, was able to refine my own style and develop a portfolio of work that represented the variety I was capable of. Practise is the only sure fire way to improve, and often without someone pushing us we don't feel the need to be quite as productive - and certainly in such a short period of time. 

Remember that in film, as in any art, you're competing against the person who may not necessarily have the best work, but instead against the person who is able to best sell it. Keeping an open mind, pushing yourself to grow in as many creative directions as possible, and learning to promote yourself will give you plenty of options when opportunity comes knocking. 

Jan 2, 2009

Follow This Blog! Please?

I just added the 'follow this blog' widget and now I feel so alone. I'm sure a bunch of you already know the deal with this, but if you use Blogger it's an easy way to keep tabs of the updates on various blogs by just looking at your blogspot dashboard. Plus, it's a free link to you via my blog.

So, if you find yourself surfing over here from time to time on Blogexplosion, Entrecard, Facebook, etc. why not click the link 'follow this blog' under Followers and add your face to the mix. I've finally just started searching out and adding my favs to my dashboard. So many blogs folks, but if you add your face to mine you can be sure that I'll click over to check yours out. Thanks!

Jan 1, 2009

Editing Luke in 2008

I have a lot to be grateful for, and in looking back at the last year I can't help but feel happy for all of the things that I was able to experience and do. With each new year we're reminded to take inventory of what we have, who we have, how are lives have changed and what we plan to do about it, good or bad. 2008 proved to be a very significant and challenging year for me, both personally and professionally, and I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you a few of the moments that made this passing year one that I won't soon forget.

January 4, 2008 - In my first blog post of the new year I vowed that, "by this time next year i'll have either concluded my lengthy and overdrawn stay at university with a degree, or I'll have just moved on from this experience altogether to take my shot in film without that piece of paper".  Turns out the degree wasn't in the cards.

January 13, 2008 - I made a random video on a trip to the Saskatchewan Science Centre with my friend Tyler. Thanks to a private tour from a new friend, Daya, it proved to be more exciting than I thought it would be and a nice break from the dead of winter.

February 19, 2008 - After several months of votes, views and messages I went to Sasktel to pick up my cheque for winning a total of $3700 in their Cell-ebrities Video Competition. The Gizmo Tree won 2nd ($3500), and my short Give it Time was in the Top 10 ($200).

March 22, 2008 - After months of deliberating, it was with this blog post that I made my peace with film school.

March 31, 2008 - In addition to turning 24 on this day, it was also when I uploaded my final and favourite episode of the Buick to the Future series.

April 22, 2008 - On this day I drove away from the University of Regina and the dorms for the last time. Deciding to leave was a tough decision, but it was also one of the smartest things I did in 2008.

May 31, 2008 - My blog, Editing Luke became a year old, and with that came a new found excitement and energy about what my blog/promotion could really do.

June 1, 2008 - In my first post-university job I started work at Stream Media Inc. as a corporate videographer and editor.  One of the initial highlights was getting to shoot aerial photography of Medicine Hat from a helicopter.  

June 3, 2008 - I started my Chico Bandito series (despite revamping and re-promoting it all again in December). 

June 28, 2008 - I received a message via my YouTube account about broadcasting my shorts Keys to Existence and A Chill in the Air on a short cinema showcase called Short Cuts in the USA.

July 17, 2008 - A visit from my sister lead to a new short film, Siblings.

July 19, 2008 - After a few new edits, Give it Time was accepted into the 2008 Youngcuts International Festival in Montreal and was nominated for Best Short Short - Movie under 3 minutes.

August 22, 2008 - Keys to Existence played numerous times over the weekend at Aeon 2008, a giant outdoor multi-media concert in the UK.

August 25, 2008 - I released a brand new short film, Day Dream Day.

October 15, 2008 - After a year and 4 months I finally hit 100,000 total video views.

November 15, 2008 - My animated shorts Clumsy Claus and Sitting Bull were revamped and uploaded after over 5 years without being seen.

November 22, 2008 - After a lengthy build up, I left for Las Vegas for a second time, and what a time it was!

Decemeber 21, 2008 - My movie The Gizmo Tree wins the top vote for week 17 of the YOBI.tv Filmmaking Contest and becomes a semi-finalist. The final vote will begin in March 2009.

What a year it was. Thank you all for sharing it with me, and here's to all of our continued efforts and success in 2009! Happy New Year!