Finding inspiring 

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was go to the video store with my dad. We would take our time discovering new movies, and talk about the ones we already saw. Today, with modern technology that experience has disappeared.

Don’t get me wrong , I’m grateful we live in the future where any movie, book or article can be found online. With one keyword you can be connected to everything on that one subject. But how do I find the random things?

Today I decided to go to the library. I haven’t been to the library since elementary school, being in this space again reminded me of having to do boring book reports. I was about to leave when I came across the art section and pick up a book on comic strips.  It was fastening to read about the history of comic strips. They were created for a generation in need of stories when they didn’t have a television or a digital library. Comic strips were in newpapers and today we see how it captured what that generation was feeling, thinking and their great desires. As a modern storyteller, I search to create the same connection with my videos. The art of storytelling is the same but the platform has changed. 

I never realized how we enjoy stories today, all started with a humble comic strip. It is easy to get caught up with the production of a story,  most of us don’t have expensive equipment but what we do have is a pen and paper.

Go get Inspired

There are seasons in life where work feels like that is all we do. When that takes place for me, I usually am in need of a day out. I know when I return home, I have some fresh inspiration. Getting out spending time with people in the real world can bring so much healing to the soul.

Last weekend, I took a day off from work. It was hard to turn off my work brain. I found myself thinking about what was taking place in the office but I had to tell myself my team is doing a great job without me, to enjoy my day out with friends.

When looking for something to eat, we found some food trucks. Next to it, there was this big wall of art. When we moved in closer we realized it was parts of the Berlin Wall. It was hard to believe this is the wall that kept so many people away from their loved ones in Germany.

We made our way to the LACMA to check out some art.  On our drive over we were listening to 90’s music, it was only fitting that we pose for our own 90’s album.

To my luck, the exhibit featured Germany artist and groundbreaking film makers.

It was funny to see everyone on their phones Immediately after. A coffee break was needed, we made our way to Beverly Hills to Urth Coffee.

For dinner we went to one of my favorite Thai restaurants in Los Angeles. Toi. The atmosphere is great and the food and service is amazing.

Before we made out way home I talked everyone in to one more stop…

Amoeba. Here I found some of my favorite albums. Albums I wanted when I was in 7th grade but couldn’t afford. Now they were 3 dollars. haha..

I know I had a good day when I come home full of creative ideas. Now I’m inspired. 🙂

What type of places inspire you?

Blog: Creative Night

Last night at our young adults service it was Creative Night. One of the young guys played his guitar and sang, “How He Loves Us.” His passion and love for God reminded me of something I said to myself years ago.

When I was a teenager I went to a summer camp in Texas with my old church youth group. It was my first time on an airplane, first time traveling, first time being away from my parents. There, a bunch of us got serious about our Faith. We returned home excited about God, I soon noticed each week that less and less teenagers were showing up to church.

There was this one Sunday I noticed I was the only one in the front row at church. I looked behind me and everyone who was once there excited, was no where to be found. I was standing there alone, and thought, “Now what?” I remember telling myself, “No matter who comes or goes, I’m going to stay. ”

I lost contact with my old youth group and now 13 years later I’m at a new church and met the most amazing people who are my age who are passionate about the Creator. I now see the life God has painted out before me and that I’m not alone. I had no idea how important the commitment I was making was. We change our minds everyday but once in a while something takes place in our lives and whether its for the good or bad, we make a vow. I was reminded of how important the every day thoughts are. It’s the simple moments that make us who we are.

Creative Night made me think of how different our artwork is from each other and though its different it is limitless on who it can inspire. When we are bold and share a part of us, it helps others look inside themselves.

Blog: You are the Investment

When starting out in your creative career you will find that you need equipment, lots of it. At first its hard to put your hard working money into something that you aren’t even sure about. You may look to professionals and feel so far away from their level.

When I first started out in photography, I didn’t believe in myself. It took me forever to finally buy a $800 dollar Rebel Canon. The price tag seemed like a million dollars. I remember going in to the store and realizing, if I didn’t buy this camera, I would never get better at my craft.

That winter I traveled to Australia. I was so excited to finally use my camera. The last night I was in Sydney, I left my belongings in a friends car, including my camera. The next morning, everything was gone. Stolen. My heart sank knowing all my photos of the trip were gone.

I returned home and didn’t take another photo for months. I figured my dream to be a photographer was dead.

I was allowing money to control my creative passion.

My dad found an old film SLR film camera at the local Goodwill. This time the camera was $100. The amount seemed a lot but I missed taking photos.

Even though film is limited, buying that camera was the best thing I ever did for my art. It helped me learn what I needed to be a photographer. I began sharing my photos with my friends on Facebook. To my surprise, friends and family wanted to hire me.

Every weekend I was booked with a shoot. It seemed too good to be true, doing what I love and getting paid for it. My film camera soon stopped working. It was time to buy a new camera. I wasn’t going to let money stand in the way of what I love. I wanted to get the new 7D, the question wasn’t, “Is it worth it?” but, “Was I worth it?” I placed a bid on eBay, leaving my destiny in to their hands.

I won. When I received the packed, I didn’t feel worthy. It was overwhelming. But I overcame those feelings, I knew I was worth the investment.

This battle never finishes as a creative professional. There is always new equipment to purchases. The key is being wise on what you spend money on, and if you really need it.

Every side job I get from photography I put that money in to a “creative fund”. I then use my creative money to buy the next item I need. Beware, if you are looking to buy something expensive, make sure you will use it. If looking for a lens, buy what you would use most. Test out lens and see what you like. I bought a few cheap ones that now I wish I would have saved up for what I needed.

If editing is your passion, save up for the software. Painting, save up for paint brushes. Don’t let the money stop you from growing and learning.
While you wait to save your money up, you can do the next best thing: read books about your craft. This is probably the best type of investment. Reading books about storytelling, photography, poems and so forth will enhance your creativity. I’ve read some amazing books over the past few years and posted blogs about them. Do a search on my blog for “books”.

How do you invest in your talent?

Blog: I am the Painting

This morning I had an idea to paint. I never really painted before but thought why not try. I had some supplies I bought years ago but never used. I also wanted to try time lapsing, so I set up my camera and pointed it towards my work station.

As I started painting, it began to speak to me. Each stroke was meaning something, what I was feeling was coming out on the canvas. If I was nervous, you could see it in my strokes. When I was confident, my lines were coming out smooth. Each line was significant.

After a half an hour of painting, I became eager to finish. I realized I’ve been like that with God. I am telling Him to hurry up, I want to see the ending! But a painting like the ones I saw in Paris were not rushed. God is the painter and I am the painting.

But I wait with hope for You, O Lord…My life span is nothing compared to Yours..Entrust your ways to the Lord. Trust Him and He will act on your behalf.  -King David.

Book: Pursuing Christ. Creating Art.

I couldn’t help but compare the book Pursuing Christ Creating Art with the Imagine How Creativity Works. By the first few pages,  I figured out it wasn’t about being more creative but instead about the heart of the artist.

Even though you may be a different religion, I truly believe an editor/artist has to have the right heart for the project, any project. You gotta care about what you are creating. An assistant editor once tweeted me, “Art from the heart.”

I read most of the book on my flight to Vancouver. This book  found me at the right time. The author’s occupation is an independent film maker, creating sermon illustrations and other type of videos for churches. Therefore he was speaking in my language.

“An artist is a heart condition, not a job.”

“…art finds it’s truest purpose when it’s creator attempts to make visible the invisible.”

“I honestly believe beautiful art can change the world.”

I must admit at times working for church, I felt like I was doing God a service. I would often refer to myself as a Martha. Martha was a women in the bible who was busy preparing dinner for Jesus while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him talk. Martha is known for getting upset with Mary for not helping. I’ve always understood Martha’s heart but I’m finally coming to understand Mary.

“We don’t create art for God. He  doesn’t need it. But He dreams of creating art with you, for the world.”

Since I don’t have an official title to my name anymore, I related to the identity chapter. When people ask me what I do, it takes me a while. I say something different each time.

“identity is the person you are. Regardless of your actions. Take your actions away – both good and bad – and whatever is left is your identity. And there’s only one identity that has any value. A child of God.”

I know I learned this as a little girl in Sunday school but reading it on my flight to Canada it felt even more true. I thought my identity was what I did. I also misunderstood freedom.

we tend to believe freedom is- the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want.”

“Real freedom is the ability to tell Gods story with your unique voice.”

Reading this artist definition of freedom spoke to me. It was the kind of freedom I’ve been searching for.

“we can use our freedom as an opportunity to serve – to live large into the lives of others.”

I was being challenged by each line, challenged to be honest with myself, to admit my wrong turns in my thinking and to admit change within myself.

“it’s hard to pursue Christ in the mist of pursuing my own fame.”

“we must be careful that we don’t love our dreams more than other people.”

“the art we create cannot be our salvation. And when we ask our art to save us in any manner, we’ve created something more than art. We’ve creates an idol.”

“humans have no control over their dream outcomes.”

“I am going to plead with you not to give up on your gift. On your art you have been uniquely designed to create.”

“Never stop sharing the beautiful Story through your art.”

“platform only displays skill level, not heart condition.”

I wanna create stuff that matters. Its a desires that ever artist has. Reading another’s artist experience can help us navigate through our own travels.
That’s what I hope to do when sharing my journey with you. 🙂

Behind the Scene: I am a Kid

“I am a Kid” was a day-dream I had while listening to, I Believe in Your Victory by This Will Destroy You.

I imaged how a young couple would react when put in an adult situation. How immaturity would affect their decisions and reactions. I pictured the girl saying one thing but really meaning another. I imaged her pushing away a person she loved because it was the only thing she knew how to do. Or if she gave herself to someone she didn’t really care about. I thought about the impact a choice could have on both their lives and affect the future of a child.

An hour before filming, my male actor backed out. Savanna and I began to text around and found Danny. He came to our rescue. When it was time to tell Danny and Savanna the plot, I was a bit embarrassed, “So you’re going to tell him you’re pregnant.” I felt weird telling them this as both of them are from my church’s youth group. Thankfully, they both laughed and said okay.

If you noticed there isn’t an establishing shot. The sun was setting when I filmed the exterior scene which was my beginning and end. By the time we got inside the car to film the dialogue, you could see it was evening outside their window. If I left in the end, she would have walked in to daylight. Another slip I made was crossing the line on the exterior shot. A classic mistake that I couldn’t believe I made on my first scene! I decided to leave it out. I read an article from the editor of DRIVE, Mat Newman, which made me okay with my decision.

“What we wanted was to create something that’s very dreamy all the way through.  We tried not to use establishing shots so the viewer would be a bit disoriented.  The dissolves worked into that intention also. The editing is all about transitions and sustaining the mood and tension.”

To give you some background about myself: I am a commercial editor. I am so used to communicating all my thoughts in 30 seconds. I edit video fast and make them fast. W.Murch’s talks about this, “In The Blink of an Eye.” 

“Television is a “look-at” medium, while cinema is a “look-into” medium. You can think of the television scene as a surface that the eye hits and then bounces back…One of the functions of music videos and commercials is to attract your attention and keep it…feature editing has to be paced differently than music videos of commercial editing.”

I decided I’d finish reading the book before I edited my scene. The book was full of good practical tips. It would also give me time to disconnect with the filming and see the footage with some fresh eyes.

Until then, I prepared my footage. I asked my film editor friend about syncing up the visual and audio. He then introduced me to merging clips in FCP. I had no idea about this future! You can watch how to merge clips on youtube.

I took some of Walter Murch’s advice. I did the Photo System, posted the frames on my wall, I edited with no audio, I even tried standing up when editing, all of his wisdom was helping me grow.

When I was ready to edit, I ran in to a problem right away. Since I told my actors to improv, each take was different. Making sense of it all was challenging.

Here is a list of things I learned from this filming:

– Get coverage. Get some close ups even when you think you don’t need them.

– Make sure the time of day you film won’t change during your filming.

– Communicate with your audio person how you want things recorded. Record atmosphere.

– When logging your footage, numbering the clips help. It allows you see that all clips transferred over. Digital transfer sometimes skips clips.

Now I want to hear from you, the viewer. Your honesty will help me grow. Since I created this project in a week, my heart can take your honesty. 🙂 If you like watching movies I wanna hear what you thought about the scene.

How did you react when watching the scene?

What did you think about the characters?

What would you have liked to see more of?

Thanks for reading this post, I know it was a lot of information. Hope you learned something. I know I did.

The Great Wall of LA

I recently heard about this wall of art in LA called “The Great Wall of LA.” Artist from the 70’s started painting images of events in history. I found it fascinating that most of the images are some of society’s “secretes” that no one really likes to talk about. As I looked at the paintings, I began to have questions about my background and those who were before me…and I guess that is its purpose. To pass on the history to the next generation.

Photos: The Getty Villa

As I walked in to the courtyard of the Getty Villa, the first thing I noticed was everyone taking pictures. This made me wanna put my camera down and Google images later.

I decided to try to capture this place as I see it. As I walked around I thought about these people who lived before me. I then wondered what we would leave behind…if anything at all.

***’s Drawings

So last night when I wrote about how I found my long lost my friend, I was reminded of the drawings he made for me. I found a few but most of them I misplaced (yes, I lost them). I hope one day I find them. I wanted to share these with you so you can understand how creative he is. I think his drawings would be great for children books or a cool cartoon.

Anyway, he was always a good friend to me and never failed to encourage me. Friends like that are hard to find.

Peace Painter

Peace Painter, originally uploaded by Monica Briano.

Photo of the Day May 21 2010.
I was able to visit my Grandpa today and discover my uncle was a painter that brought peace to the community in the 70s. Young men were dieing from gang violence, so he decided to use art to speak to his friends and enemies. I always thought I was the only creative person in my family, it’s nice to find out that my uncle is an artist.

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Use What You Have//Film Slide Show.

Here are some of my favorite film photos:

When photography became a hobby I had no idea that one day I could actually make some money doing it.  I never studied it or had enough money to buy a great camera.

My parents love the thrift stores and one day my dad came home telling me about this camera he saw.  I could see the excitement in his eyes.  I went down to the store with my friend and found this vintage film camera with a set of three lenses.  I right away said “No, it’s not digital!  I don’t know anything about film.”  It was a $100 risk.  My friend who studied film in college looked at me in the eyes and said, “It’s a good camera.”  So that day I bought an out of date camera no one wanted and since then it has changed my life.  It’s given me inspiration and has encouraged me in so many ways.  It has been a learning process dealing with the art of film, but it has taught me what it means to take a photo.  Because each photo costs money, each one must be thought out.  I have to breath and take time.  I have to sit and wait for the moment to take place.  I have to allow life to speak to me and I have to notice the beauty in life and then…*SNAP*

I have already taken this camera all over the world:  Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I love/hate it.  I love it when the film develops and HATE it when the worker at Walgreens says, “Sorry, it must have been expired film.  There is nothing on it.” _AHHHHH_ yes this has happen to me many times. *Tear. Well on that note I think it’s time for me to upgrade and finally buy a digital SLR.  I think I am mature enough to appreciate it and handle it well.

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