Podcast Guest on The Way We Tell

920!x300!_8803817I met filmmaker, Jesse Koepke on twitter a few years ago. Since then we’ve kept in touch talking about our faith, storytelling,  videos, and encouraging each other about working in post as editors. He recently asked if I’d like to be a guest on his new podcast The Way We Tell, a podcast about storytelling.

Hear about how I started making videos and what it’s like being a media director at church.

You can listen here at: The Way We Tell and subscribe to this new podcast on iTunes.

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.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 7.23.04 PM

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.

——

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

Editing Someone’s Story

When I have to edit someone’s story I have to ask myself what point do I want to land on. Like any story, it can go anywhere. As I book the person to interview, I have to know my objective. In a strange way, what do I want this person to say, but still allowing room for twist and turns I may not be aware of.

The key is asking questions that will lead you to your point. At church we wanted to talk about one of the classes we have available for special needs as well as show the impact it had on the family. Everything in her story sounded equality important, but as the editor, I had to pick which parts where going to lead me to the objective. I had to eliminate points that were repeated, if she describe the hard times, I no longer needed anymore clips that describe that. If I focused too much on one area it may lead me away from the point of the video.

Telling someones story in less than 3 minutes, is an art. It takes practice, but most of all it about preparing before hand that will make the interview successful. Wording those hard questions just right will make your story 100x better. It will also help the subject feel comfortable enough to open up. When you know what you are doing, they will be able to relax and open up. The last thing you want is someone closed up when you’re trying to share their story.

Here is Maggie’s story.

Audio Interview with a Cinematographer

One of the cool things about twitter is when I get to meet someone I follow in person. I asked Cinematographer Julia Swain if she would like to meet up for an interview. I was excited when she was more than willing.
We had a cup of coffee and talked about what we are passionate about: creativity and movie making.

A big thank you to Julia for taking the time to chat with me. You can see more of her work at www.juliaswain.com and be sure to add her on twitter. 🙂

A Video Critique

The best part of having a blog is meeting people. I love getting email from dreamers, editors, visionaries and artist. Mandy emailed me with a few questions about editing. The cool thing is that she took my advice and reworked her video. Her second version looked like a whole different event.

After watching her first version, I emailed her back with a few tips:

The thing to learn is your equipment, the better you know what it does the better your footage will be. Remember focus is important on your shots and try to keep your motion smooth if you are going handheld and moving one place to another.
Know what you want to focus on in your framing.
Also don’t be shy about getting in to people’s faces and asking them to smile. What is happening on stage is just half of what is taking place, the crowd’s reaction will make great cut-aways when you are going to the next shot. You are making your viewer a part of the experiences.
Use the higher number of lens (70-200mm) on a tripod to get some close-ups.
As for sound, if you are filming for a church or venue, see if the sound guy can give you a copy of the mix they are recording, sometimes you can get the clean mix and then sync it up later.
The length of a video is everything. Keep the rhythm and story flowing. Captivate the viewer. You need what is called “a ramp”: For your recap video you can build up to the concert, people saying, “I can’t wait…” “I’m excited…”, then transition to the stage, the crowd going crazy, you can add a clip of someone saying something inspiring, pick up the pace at the end either with the soundtrack or editing to end with a bang. The over all point: People’s lives are being changed, they are connecting with God.
As the editor you are taking the viewer on the same journey that would have happened if they were there in the crowd. The excitement, the experience and the impact.
Your video is full of great footage but now make it in to a story that will change lives!

Here are a few questions she asked me:

1. Do you create a timeline/storyboard for every project you do..or is it more experimenting with clips and seeing what comes of it?

I create a timeline for videos that require me to hit certain points. It keeps the video on track. I create scripts when important information has to be given and a story board for animation. If you are the only one working on the video then its your job to be very strategic. Know the purpose of the project. Close your eyes and play the video in your mind.

2. Do you choose the song first and work around it, or do you work out some footage, then choose a song?

Sometimes a song inspires a video and you know exactly what you want. Most of the time finding the right soundtrack can take time. Music is powerful. It carries emotions and feelings, knowing what vibe you want to give will help bring out your vision.
Before I start editing I like to find the type of song I want, if I am getting a song created then I show the composer what I am looking for. When the track is finished I swap the soundtrack and re-edit the sequence to match better.

3. Is there such a thing as recording too much footage? or the more the better?

Yes and no. Too much footage can waste time looking through it, but not having enough can leave the editor in need of more. The key is quality. You can have hours of footage but if there isn’t one single shot that could be used then its useless. As an editor I prefer to shoot my footage only because I know what I want. But if someone else is shooting then I have a conversation with them and tell them what I want. I also remind them to hold their shots three seconds before and after. Having a shot list is handy. Sometimes the hype of shooting can cause a person to forget what they need to get. I like to mark things off as I go. Then once I have everything, I shot random stuff or give the footage to the editor or capture it.

4. If you don’t have footage you need, how do you work around it?

If I don’t have footage that I need then I look for stock footage, photos, film something abstract or plan to create some motion graphics.

5. I saw in an interview where you said that when you worked with Hillsong Australia…if there was one uninteresting shot, you had to start all over again. Is that a good rule of thumb?..to start over from scratch if the video’s not working?

When I was at Hillsong they taught me the value of a frame. Each frame matters, each frame is with full intent, nothing is random. If a video isn’t working then starting over helps but it probably just needs to be re-worked. There are some videos where I have different version. The great thing about editing digital is that you can try out many things but beware of wasting time or over working a project.

Well that was a video critique. Know that more than anything be yourself, edit, have fun, learn, ask questions, if you make mistakes, learn from them, and stay humble. One thing I do know is that I don’t know everything. 🙂

Audio: Thoughts Behind the Music

I asked my cousin Isaiah to do an interview with me. I wasn’t sure what we were going to talk about but I knew it was going to be something interesting. To my surprise we ended up talking about music. So many times we hear of success stories from the finish line, but what about the beginning days, the days where love is the fuel. I hope you are inspired as you listen to, “Thoughts Behind the Music.”

 

Check out more of Isaiah’s music on myspace.com and add him on twitter.

Audio: Interview with Seanloui (A Busy Creative)

Seanloui is always up to something creative. He loves helping others and is full of ideas.

I recently went to Long Beach for a visit and had the opportunity to interview him. Here is our conversation. He had some great advice about dreaming and doing. Hope you enjoy our talk.

Audio:

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

Seven Questions with a Fashion Photographer

How amazing is Twitter, that I can have direct contact with some very talented people. I recently started to communicate back and forth with a fashion photographer in New York about his work. I randomly asked him if he would be interested in answer a few questions about being a pro. To my surprise, he was more than happy to!


Arturo’s Portfolio

Arturo Cantu-Fotografo

1. How did you break into fashion photography?
I’ve photographed people for a long time.. I eventually decided to visit some modeling agencies to show them my work. They started sending me girls. I then went on to shoot for designers and other clients.

2. What did you do to prepare you for it?

Countless hours in front of computer advertising myself. (which I still do) Word of mouth helped a lot too.

3. What type of preparation do you do before a shoot?

I like to keep things very simple. If I’m shooting indoors, I set up one or sometimes two lights, but for the most part I shoot with one. Unless Im shooting something specific for a client. I make sure my camera batteries are fully powered and make sure my memory cards are formatted. I love listening to music and drinking iced coffee while doing all this.

4. What are some things you do to push your creativity?

That’s a tough question.. I believe that creativity comes from within, either your born with it or you’re not. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me. What do I do? I really don’t. For personal work, a lot of my ideas come to me while I’m alone thinking and over thinking.

5. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Life

6. Looking at your work you capture women’s beauty with such taste and class, what are some things you keep in mind when you are taking women’s portraits?

I try to make them feel 100% comfortable with me and our project. If they’re not, it’ll definitely show.

7. Which lens do you use the most?

Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 and Nikkor 85mm f/1.8

Thank You Arturo for taking the time to answer my seven questions.

Connect with Arturo:
Site
Blog
Twitter
Facebook

An Interview with Monica by Karina

Karina

My friend Karina asked if she could interview me for a school paper. The assignment was to write about someone or something creative. She said she thought of me right away. I was honored and yet nerves.

I’ve been friends with Karina since middle school. She has witnessed me as a sky awkward girl become a confident creative woman. She has seen me grow in my photography and as a person.The questions she asked were very unique so I was very curious on how she would put it all together.

I asked her to send me her paper so I can post it on here. Reading it warmed my heart that someone would notice such details about me. Karina is one of the most sweetest person I know. She was one of my first friends in middle school and always made me feel cool. Here is her paper.

Monica Briano

Monica Briaño is a professional video editor and an up and coming photographer, simply said she is a creative young woman. I have known Monica for almost 15 years, and I am sure when I say that Monica does not wear her heart on her sleeve. In all honesty, I believe that most visual artist hold a part of who they are within themselves, and Monica is no exception. However, I must commend her, that even through her fears and insecurities she continues to follow the path that will eventually lead her to her true dreams.

Monica considers herself a creative person, whom without an artistic outlet would be a quiet, moody, mean and an unhealthy individual. When I met her, she was quiet and petite. She is still petite, but thanks to her high school friend, Veronica, she is not quiet about her artistic gift. Monica has called Veronica her soul mate, due to the fact that they share many of the same artistic qualities, and through Veronica’s support Monica began to cultivate the creative ideas within herself early in her high school career.

In regards to becoming a video editor and a photographer, Monica believes that, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and in an over sexed and self-indulgent world, she likes to capture the purity and innocence that this world still has to offer. Creating something out of nothing by putting stories into physical form for others to understand, is Monica’s goal through her art. Although she uses her surroundings as creative inspiration, Monica feels the most creative when the sun hits her face because she can hear G-d whispering in her ear, and her creative ideas become clearer. In these moments, her heart and G-d connect and she is able to see His perspective. Well founded in her spiritual beliefs, this point of contact with her Creator is very important to Monica.
Monica’s success is not only due to her G-d given creativity, but also to the wisdom that He has instilled in her through His many avenues. Monica has big dreams, and she knows what she needs to do in order to accomplish them. Ideally, she would like to travel the world and become a film maker. However, she is wise enough to know that for her dreams to become reality she has to be financially ready and continue to perfect her talents. Instead of sitting around waiting for the money to inexplicably appear, and for her talents to perfect themselves; she is consciously saving for her travels and challenging herself to become a better visual artist in more than just video editing and photography.
Monica Briaño is a creative young woman, and she loves to share her talents with others. Her devotion and creative spirit will take her beyond the finish line. It has been an honor to candidly talk with a friend who is open about her creative talents. Many blessings to you, and I hope I’m there to greet you at the end.

 

The Vague Interview

How do you know something is dead?

When there is no longer any breath.

Do you remember the beginning?

The beginning was the best part.

What was the worst?

The ending. It meant the story was over, nothing more to be told.

Your favorite part?

The memories. Life has a funny way of making life out of dead things.

What do you remember most?

The silences. More was told when nothing was being said.

If you had to put it all in a song what would it be?

There wasn’t many songs, but November says it well.

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