7 Questions with Filmmaker Glenn Stewart

I met Glenn back in 2005 when I lived in Australia. I remember hearing rumors about a kid who was amazing at editing and animating in After Effects. When I first met him, he would have nothing to do with a lowly college student like my self, 🙂 but he soon warmed up to me and we became great friends.

I’ve always considered him one of my mentors on creating beautiful videos and films. If you haven’t seen Glenn Stewart’s work, I’d encourage you to follow him on vimeo and check out Mindscape Films. He is always producing amazing stuff.

I asked if I could officially interview him about his latest project and short film, The Red Valentine. He was kind enough to take the time to answer 7 of my questions.

Here is The Red Valentine trailer before you read on –

1. How did the project The Red Valentine come about?
– I’d made a few short films in the past, but it had been a few years since the last one and I really just wanted to jump back into that whole filmmaking world again. I find filmmaking incredibly cathartic, stressful, but releasing. So with that impetus, it was just about finding the right story.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 7.21.44 PM

2. What made you passionate about the story?
– I’d been toying with a few stories and this one came about when I read a short article about an unsolved murder that had happened in Australia in the 1940s. This story isn’t based on that event, but the events, circumstances, theories and setting surrounding that really intrigued me. Period isn’t done too often or done well, and short films I find to be largely esoteric and vague and I just wanted to tell a very clear cut story.

3. What did this film teach you about storytelling?
– I guess one of the big things that sort of wove its way in over the course of writing it was setup and payoff. I really made a concerted effort in the later stage of writing to really make sure each little twist and turn was justified early in the story either through a character’s action or dialogue. Also, developing and defining tone was another important thing.

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4. What challenges did you face going into production and how did you over come them?
– Or biggest challenge going into production was just time. We had a ridiculously tight schedule to shoot what was a relatively sprawling production over multiple locations. One night we were shooting on a beach, and it was cold, raining at points and because of that, filming was going very slowly but we had a LOT of script to cover. The biggest thing in that moment was really working out you truly will need in the final film and what you can do without. Can you combine shots? Cut shots completely? Pick up shots at a later date (which we did end up doing in a kids sandbox later on).

5. What type characteristics did you look for when gathering your production crew?
– I just like people who are egoless, hard working and are good at what they do. I love collaborating with teams and this experience only strengthened that resolve.

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6. Did you edit the film, why or why not?
– I edited the film, mainly because given the complexity of the story and the various stories within it, it was just going to be easier for me to do that than relay what I wanted to someone else. As a result, the edit came together pretty quickly although there were definitely some interesting editing problems to solve along the way, mainly from that one hellish shooting night on the beach.

7. What important lessons did you learn during the process of making this film?
– Collaborate. Be detailed. Take advice but also be firm in your convictions. And always have fun.

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Thank you to Glenn, for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish him the best of luck on his film, it looks beautiful. The Red Valentine will be available online to share with the world sometime in the future -I can’t wait to see it. Be sure to keep up with Glenn on his twitter.

Screenshots curiosity of www.mindscapefilms.com

Season of Grace

Last night I was thinking about my time living in Australia. I remembered the feeling of missing my family and how far they felt from me. There were a few weeks I was living with a friend on her farm. I remember laying in her room looking at her walls wondering, “How did I get here?”

When I think back on those days, I can’t imagine living far from my life again. How did I do it then? I was younger, had less money, had no job or car.. then I heard, “It was grace.”

That was sure a season of Grace. Now looking back I see what a miracle every moment was. I look at life now, the responsibilities I have at work, the task of managing others, having people refer to me as, “boss”. If I could live in Australia all alone, I can do this task I’ve been given. God will once again give me that grace.

I often like to remember my time in Sydney. It reminds me of what GOD can do and will do! Let me break it down to you, I’m from a culture where everyone is just making their bills, no one really travels. I was just graduating college and had this CRAZY dream! “I want to go to bible college in Australia.” My mom didn’t realize where Australia was until I was already gone. Her co-worker had to show her on the map.

Oh it seemed so impossible but the more I read my bible the MORE possible it was. When I graduated, I was GIVEN $10,000. Can you believe that? Well I bought my ticket, paid for my housing, my tuition paid in full.. and I lived, breathed, and thank God everyday for the blue Sydney sky that was above me. I will never forget it. It was a miracle.

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the battles that we won though God in the past. And remember that we didn’t do it alone. Every season there is grace available, we just have to grab on to it.
Whatever it is, what ever it may be, it will always be possible to those who believe.

Blog: You Are More Than You Think

When I was in Australia for college, teachers from all over the world would come to do seminars. Most of the time I was day dreaming but once in a while they would share a story that would capture my attention.

One speaker told us about two bricklayers. One was asked what he did for a living, he answered, “I lay bricks down.” When the other was asked the same question he answered, “I build cathedrals.”

All through out college in Australia I was told, “Go after your dreams! Change the world.” When I returned home it seemed like all my college mates were doing just that except for me. For years I felt like I was, “just laying down bricks.”

I follow so many amazing people on twitter, sometimes it makes what I am doing seem small.

I started off in the graphics department at The Rock Church updating their bulletin. A year later, I was asked to help out in the video department for some of their conference videos and was soon promoted to be a video editor. Everyday I was learning and growing but I didn’t feel like I was, “changing the world.”

And that’s when I went on a journey.

During this time I discovered my dream is whatever God dreams of. His plan is better than what I can think of. Second is, I’m not just a video editor but I am a voice. I realized all the work I do behind the scenes, has great purpose.

My vision for myself 10 years ago was to create junk mail. God’s vision for me was to lead a media team of an amazing church. I am now the Tina Fey at my job.

We look at our self and only see our ability but when we look to God, we see His, which has no limits.

This song has a great line that spoke to me.

“I wanted fame cause I thought fame would prove to me that I was great. It never came, I was a failure to myself, its the weight of the world that swallow you alive…Spirit First.”

Now, I know I am building cathedrals.

Seven questions with an Independent Film Maker

Nick Khoo was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. I met him when I was an editor in Sydney. Even though he was my mentor, Nick became one of my best friends.

Nick is a very talent motion graphic artist and video editor. His first film, The Shot Down recently premiered in a theater in Australia. He wrote, directed, edited, created animation bits and color graded the film.

Nick didn’t wait for permission to create a film. He took a life goal upon himself and worked hard.

He gathered his friends together, picked up a camera and told a story.

The Shoot Down – Trailer

Here are seven questions with Nick Khoo:

1. Why was creating this film important to you?
It was becoming apparently that no one was going to just give you an opportunity to make a feature film, so I decided to make one for myself. I had read Robert Rodriguez’s “Rebel without a crew” and it just energised me so much that I thought that the only thing holding me back from making a film was me. And being from a church background you are constantly being challenged about making your limited resources work to your advantage. So looking at everything at my disposal I thought, well now I really don’t have an excuse.

2. What did you learn about being a Director?
Being a director is hard work. You are constantly planning. I read a little blog about how George Lucas on making the first Star Wars would get up at 6am, drive to the site,shoot all day, come back by 8pm, plan for the next day and be in bed by 1am. Then the whole process started again. Even with such a small team like ours, I found this timetable to be extremely true. The other thing I learned is you need to be a good people person otherwise I don’t think you can get the best performances out of your actors. And being from a post production background I definitely found it advantageous to know what things I could fix in post and what things we had to shoot again.

3. What did you learn being the film’s Editor?
Editing a film of this size requires you to see more of the bigger picture and not get bogged down in the smaller details. But I had worked on 30 minute documentaries before so I was very used to working on pacing for something at least that long. One of the things I learned while editing at church is make sure the you keep the pace. And with anything that is long form, you are constantly making sure that parts of the movie don’t lag or bring the whole story to a complete halt.

4. What type of difficulties did you come across and how did you over come them?
It was insane the amount of things that went wrong during the shoot. Even on the day before the premiere we had so many things go wrong that were out of my control! We had shot the movie during the middle of winter so everyone on the team, minus Sam, got the flu at some stage. We were all very medicated 🙂 We also had a harddrive crash which cost us a mint to get fixed, dealing with short days in Winter, dealing with long days in Summer, organising locations to shoot, feeding our crew, picking up gear, dropping off gear, shooting at a beach at night in the middle of winter.
All in all though, the best thing we had at our disposal was a good crew, and a good plan of action. Without those things, I reckon you’d be stuffed.

5. How did you finances the film?
Finances were generously donated by my folks, Sarah Vickery, Kurt Jaeger and self funded by myself (trust me, it was very cheap film)

6. What type of gear did you use?
We shot everything on a Panasonic HVX202 with a P+S Adapter and Carl Zeiss Lenses. We also had an audio mixer with a Sennheiser boom mic, a set of red heads, dimmer box, a wally dolly and tripod and a few reflectors.

7. What was it like watching your film in a theater?
Watching the film with people in a theatre was quite a rush I must say. It is always nice to watch your work up on a big screen in a dark theatre and hearing people respond to various parts of the film. All in all I am very happy with how people are responding to this film.

The Shoot Down is fun, honest and entertaining. Not sure if Nick is going to release it to the public, but when he does I’ll make sure to let you know.

Connect with Nick:

Website

Twitter

Vimeo

Youtube

My friend Nick Khoo

I must admit, I have never been the person to have lots of friends. I have this horrible habit of not putting effort in to friendships. Once in a while, I make a new friend that doesn’t feel like work. My friendship with Nick Khoo was the most unexpected gift Australia gave me.

Well, Nick is one of my soul mate friends. The ones I wish I could keep for life. We are indeed different but my goodness so a like. He would hate it when I would brag to other people how similar we were, after all he is an Asian guy and I am a Mexican girl. He was born in New Zealand and I was born in the hood. We have different cultural up bringing but some how we have some similar wiring. I remember once we ordered the same ice cream and had no idea until we both turned around, he then looked at me and said, “Don’t say it.” 🙂

We probably aren’t that much alike anymore since we’ve had some new life experiences since 2005. But it seems as though we met each other at the perfect time back then.

Actually.. its a funny story. I was a college student at Hillsong and my class was leaving the church office buildings and Nick happen to walk by. My teacher said, “Oh this is Nick Khoo, he makes all those amazing videos.” I said with my innocent brown eyes looking up to him in excitement, “Wow, maybe you can teach me some of your tricks!” and to my shock but amazement he said, “I don’t think so” and walked away. haha…

Yes.. this was the beginning of our beautiful and honest friendship.

From then on I tried hard to win his hearts affection. (In a very non-romantic way). At the Women Conference, my teacher knowing I was an editor, set me up with Nick to be his assistant. It was the best gig ever. I mainly hung out with him talking about life, God, California, and editing. He even let me work on the conference highlights! I’m not sure when I won him over, maybe it was when I brought him his lunch, or maybe it was my pretty house mate who talked to him that night when she saw him and I walking. Whatever it was, I’m glad he opened up his world to me. This is the first photo we ever took together.

In celebration to a conference well done!

From that event on, we become great friends. After long nights of editing, he would always offer to take me home. Here is a glamorous photo of me Nick took while editing in the basement where the computers were:

Those car ride talks alone have changed my life. I was a young 22-year-old girl who had a wounded heart and Nick became my honest and trustworthy friend, just what I needed. He became family. Even though Nick and I were close friends only for a short season in both of our lives, I know I will never forget him and hope he will never forget me.

I found his faith in God encouraging, his passion for editing inspiring and his easy going personality addicting. My house mates hated watching movies with us, as they could care less about what frame rate something was filmed in. He let me be a geek and a wanna be hippie artist at the same time. He never made me feel guilty for being myself.

He was one of the hardest people to leave behind when I left Sydney. Since then we have seen each other about once a year. This time last year I went back for a visit and just a few months ago he was on tour with the Hillsong team. Though I don’t talk to him everyday, I still remember those life changing conversations we had.

I write this special post for him today..

to say Happy Birthday Editing Soul Mate. I miss you and know the next time I see you, it will be like we were never apart. I will for sure, come to your wedding.

 

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Australian & New Zealand travels

A dream of mine for years was to go to Bible College in Texas.  After things didn’t work out because of finances I went to design school and studied video editing and graphic design.  Even in the midst of my new-found passion as an artist, I still never forgot my desire to go to Bible College.

After much exposure to some of Hillsong United DVD’s that documented a youth movement in Sydney, Australia, I began to do research. Turns out it was not only an amazing church but a Bible College that offered a course in TV and Media.  It was the perfect place for me.

There I met some amazing people and had some great opportunities. I volunteered for their large conferences as a camera person and assistant. The moment they found out I had some background in video editing and design I was asked to be apart of the youth video team.  There I became a faithful volunteer and later was asked to do some paid jobs for albums and weekly church services. This is my demo reel of the work I did. Things were making sense as to why God had me wait things out and go to school first.  My passion + my faith and love for Him was going to come together for my = destiny.

Almost 3 years later since I called New South Whales home, my life has changed and I have grown dramatically as a person.  I recently went back for a visit. Here is a video I edited together of some of the fun moments I had with my Australian and New Zealand Friends.

In New Zealand, it felt like time stopped. I no longer could hear the clock ticking. We came across the most amazing greenhouse at one of the museum.

When we were out getting lunch I found a little book store which had the most unique books I ever came across. If I was alone I would have spent a few hours in this used book store. Looking through all the rows of books I found a book of poems that caught my attention, I knew this would be perfect for my collection.

The best part of going back and visiting friends was seeing how much they changed and grew. I was also able to see how far I came along, and how much this place was no longer home for me.

On the last day I went to the Harbor and said good bye to the beautiful city, I knew I wouldn’t see it again for a very long time.