Friday, October 24, 2008

On Becoming a Great Director

There is an argument that if you say you're a filmmaker, you are one. Robert Rodriguez (Dir. el Mariachi, Sin City) argues this in his seminal book Rebel Without a Crew. Saying something to the effect, "you're a filmmaker, go make business cards." However, if you say you're a CEO, are you actually a CEO? I guess if you start your own company, even if the company isn't actually profitable, you are. So we've come to the conclusion that you don't have to be making any money doing what you do to be considered as whatever position that is that you say you hold. Right? Right.

I've believed I was a filmmaker since I was about 14 years old, when I was running around filling barrels of CO2 pistols with ketchup and firing them in my friend's faces, I was directing movies. So, why then, when I went to college and began paying twenty-five thousand dollars a year, did I suddenly go from "director" to "intern?" Why then, after I graduated, having paid over one hundred thousand dollars to receive a degree in film, did I become a "vault manager" at a post house?

A few months after I graduated from TCU, while working at said post-house, a few friends of mine and I decided to produce a short film. I was director of said short film. While we were making the film, I felt like the director, I was respected as the director, and we all had a blast on set. It was hard work and it felt right. Then, after the film was in the can, I went back to work at the post house and began the long, slow process of editing the film. When it was finished and while it played for people, I was still the director, but inside, I was feeling more and more like a "vault manager." After a while this began to weigh on me. I didn't pay one hundred thousand dollars to earn a film degree to become a guy who sat in a place called "the vault" and make DVDs for ten hours a day. So after two years of slowly moving up the post production ladder, I made a break for it and quit my job. At this point, I probably should have taken the money I had and made another short film, but I'd been paid such a measly salary, that I really didn't have any money to spare. Instead I went to Brazil and shot a documentary. This was the beginning of my two-year stint as a traveling documentarian. I traveled all over the world, got paid a better rate and it was closer to my goal of being a director. But when I got home from each trip, I was once again in the same place I began, because although I was indeed directing segments on the road, I wasn't getting credit as a director and I wasn't building a director's reel. And after each gig was over, I was technically unemployed. So I started a company and for a year and a half, all I did was direct video after video, promotional, commercial web-series, and TV concepts, with short breaks to travel abroad and shoot documentaries and reality TV.

A director, at least in the world of advertising, stands on his reel. You can tell a good one because his or her spots are for good brands, you can tell a hot one because his or her spots are current and trendy, and you can tell a great one, because even though his or her spots are for familiar brand name products, it's hard to tell what year they were shot. My reel on the other hand is a mixed bag of low (or no) budget commercials for non-profits, strings of docu-reality TV cinematography and web-campaigns that cannot be understood without an explanation. I am at a cross-road in my career. Do I take the measly savings that I have and produce spec-work in hopes of getting representation as a commercial director? Or do I keep plugging away, just making the videos I'm hired to make, in hopes that I'll continue on a steady path of bigger and better work?

I'm very grateful to the clients I have, Oink Art LTD, Culinary Cartel, Green River Ordinance, Building With History and Mission Reality. And I'm very happy to have worked on Get Out!, for LonelyPlanet.tv, Project MyWorld, for Mad River Post and Red Car. I'm also very proud of the radical new spot we produced for Oink Ink. Hopefully, I'll have something exciting to report here soon about my new path as a director in Los Angeles. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

By the way, see if you can spot me busting a flex:

Billy Graham on Technology

The talk is about 26 minutes long, so bookmark this one and save it until you have some time.
(hmm, I guess you have to click on my site to see the embedded video if you are viewing this through an RSS aggregator.)
It's from the 1998 TED conference. It really says something about Billy Graham that he had the courage, as an old man, somewhat out of his element, and certainly not at the top of his game, to stand before some of the most brilliant minds in technology and deliver this talk.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This Image Could Sway My Vote

This is Obama cleaning up after himself in a restaurant on the campaign trail. I know so many good people who don't bother to do this. It makes me identify with Barak Obama for the first time. The rest of the pictures can be found here.

P.S. It should be noted that at this time, I do not support Obama for president.

New Macbook Pro

I went a little crazy last night and bought one of these. I got it as customized as I could and as a result, it doesn't ship until next week. I of course jumped the gun and wiped my current harddrive clean before I realized this, so now I'm working off a little bus-driven firewire drive. I sure hope it doesn't die, that would be a shame.

I went with the 2.8 Ghz, 4 gigs of ram and the 320 gig 7,200 rpm harddrive. I am excited about the new video card. I am not excited about the loss of firewire 400, the glossy screen or the extra half a pound weight. However, that sleak one-piece aluminum body and new Mac smell just win me over. I can't wait to meet my new baby.

Monday, October 20, 2008

In My Element

A few months ago I shot a video for my client Oink Art LTD, on the Red One Digital Cinema camera. I haven't been able to edit that video until now and I am having tons of fun playing with it. I'll post it here when it's done.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Update, Sort Of...

I'm not just not blogging because I'm lazy, or because interesting things aren't happening -- very much the contrary actually. But I'm so busy with all the good things that have been going on, that I've been too busy to give blogging the time it deserves. I promise that when I start writing here regularly again, it's going to be worth it. I mean, I have editing projects coming up, so I'm going to need to procrastinate, and what better way than on this platform where I can share my life with you! I miss you, I just hope that you know it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Please Pray for Constance

I spoke with her this morning. This is real, this is real life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Real Journalism: Firefight in Afghanistan

VBS.tv is a website specializing in raw, honest, avant-garde journalism. One of their latest series, called Inside Afghanistan with Ben Anderson, is a terrifying portrait of life on the ground, for British soldiers in "The Queen's Company", as they train the new Afghan Army. Ben Anderson is a brave reporter who risks his life to show you what ground combat is really like.

Trailer:

Episode 1:

Rather than posting the rest of the episodes here, I'll just post the link to the fourth episode on the VBS.tv website and you can watch the rest of the series (8 episodes in all) there.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Eating Video Featured on LonelyPlanet.tv!

I spent 3 days in August shooting this video for Lonely Planet.tv

In the video I take ride on the back of moto-taxis all over the streets of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in search of breakfast, lunch, dinner, desert and coffee. Please, let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mysterious Fruit Tablets

After reading this story in the New York Times, I became very interested in hosting a "fruit tripping" party of my own. Deliberate Industries documentation here. So I did a little research and found this website, which seemed reputable, and so I ordered 30 tablets, which even though they were coming from Slovenia, they arrived in about a week. I can't wait to try these out.

Ah yes, to explain; there is a berry that comes from Ghana, that basically rewires your taste buds for about 30 minutes after chewing it, so that anything you eat that normally would taste sour, tastes intensely sweet. I hear that eating raw lemons tastes like eating pixie sticks. The berry was outlawed in the 70's (conspiracy theory) because of the threat it posed to the sugar industry. The tablets contain a concentrated form of the berries, are all natural and side effect free. Other than the side-effect where they make everything you eat delicious of course.