When I decided to stop daydreaming about what I would do if I had a youtube channel, it was hard to bring clarity on the reason why. We hear of the possibility of money and fame, but that can’t be my motivation, just thinking of that sucks my creativity. I needed a deeper reason…
I 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.
For some reason, our culture treats the word, “Christmas” like its a bad word, covering it with a generic, “Happy Holidays” greeting. I find it strange since they advertise aggressively all of November and December for the day they aren’t even allowed to say. And maybe that’s okay, since they don’t know the meaning of Christmas anyway.
Regardless what one’s feeling is about Christmas, whether you believe in Christ or not, the gift of family and love is freely given to those who open their hearts to it. To forgive, to mend, to welcome and to share a beautiful holiday where we remember the greatest gift of all that was given to humanity. A baby born in Bethlehem. Emmanuel. God with us.
Christmas Day – My Grandpa’s house.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
Back in 2010 I traveled to New York. I never shared the pictures or the journey until now.
Anytime you travel somewhere new, you have this idea painted out in your head of what it will be like. You gather all the stereotypes you’ve heard and develop an opinion about a place you’ve never stepping foot in. The moment comes when you are finally there. Suddenly, the city becomes more than fancy buildings and entertainment venues. It becomes a place where real people call home. That is when travel starts to change you. Each day your opinion changes.
New York. What I didn’t expect was to enter in to a city that was very much a community. When I was on the subway, I was looking around at all the different cultures that were there. I then felt a woman looking at me, she was looking at what I was wearing, my hair, my eyes. I was the odd one! She was looking at how different I was. I suddenly became a part of the culture. I was a person in New York traveling on the subway awaiting my destination.
What I began to discover was a place where everyone seemed to be taking care of each other. It might sound strange, but New York was nice to me. When on lookers saw that my friend and I were lost they wouldn’t hesitate to help us. One girl even said, “This is my stop, I’ll take you to the place you are looking for.” We walked and talked with her and suddenly she felt like an old friend. She told us what brought her to New York and the dreams she holds.
The first place we went to was a record store. I am thankful for technology, but I still enjoy walking through a real music store. By the time I grew up and had money of my own, record stores no longer exists in my area. Buying old vinyls makes me feel like I have the only copy in the world!
Anabel and I arrived at Time Square. It was nearly 9pm and the night was just starting. There seemed to be a million things to do. Since I had my big camera with me, people smiled when I took pictures of them, which made me smile. Usually I get mean looks when I take pictures of people. I guess here in Time Square, it was okay to be a tourist.
When I got my portrait taken by a street artist, I asked if I could take a photo of him too. It was like exchanging images. I showed him his photo, he smiled and said, “very nice.” When I received his drawing of me, the girl had long lashes and a different chin. I said, “This girl doesn’t look like me.” He answered like a man would, “I made you pretty.” I laughed and said, “Thank you for making me pretty.”
The next morning we went to see the Statue of Liberty. I began to place myself back in the late 1800’s when immigrants from all over the world came to America. The joy they must have felt when they saw Miss. Liberty for the first time. Freedom was awaiting them, a new life, hope, dreams and the possibilities of living a great life. It was surreal to see it myself.
When I looked at the sky line I figured out why New York was different than I thought. There were two towers that changed it. Changed everything. No one would have ever thought buildings would go away. This is why the city was taking care of each other, even ten years later.
I couldn’t help but imagine the streets covered in ashes, people running. What I saw on TV back in 2001 became real to me.
Construction of the One World Trade Center was still taking place. I could see the ground where the buildings once stood. I took a moment to believe what I was seeing.
I could feel the sorrow in the air but most of all hope. Things would never be the same but what was being built would bring some peace to some. The memorial center was more than just remembering 9/11, it was a place where we could remember all the families that were directly effected by the tragedy.
That evening Anabel arranged for us to go see the Lion King on Broadway. I was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
The next day we slept in. One thing about New York is that it will take all your energy away if you let it. We decided to take it easy and walk around Central Park.
It was so relaxing to hang out with the butterflies and birds. We spent hours walking around the garden.
What makes Anabel great to travel with is that she is as spontaneous as me. We ran in to the zoo and decided to go see some New York animals.
I remember it being so hot that day. Everyone seemed to be looking for a way to cool off.
We walked around the city to grab lunch. There was still so much to see! Lucky we had a ticket for one of those tour buses who took us all over town.
We arrived at Soho. The place looked strangely familiar. I couldn’t help but think of Felicity, one of my favorite TV shows when I was in high school. There on the corner was Dean & Deluca, where Felicity worked while she was going to NYU. I loved watching her adventure in NY. Even though it was a fictional show, being here in her neighborhood made it feel real.
The last thing to do on our tourist list was visit the top of the Empire State building. I remember going through all the lines, elevators, stairs and said, “This isn’t very romantic.” haha.
Finally, our last day in New York came. We spent it once again in Central Park. After we had a nice picnic we ended up taking a long four hour nap. I guess this made us official New Yorkers or just homeless.
As we walked to a music venue I tried to take in the city and notice all its details. My world back home is so different from here.
We found Pianos, a cool music venue and enjoyed one of the local bands. There is so much to see in New York but I think the best part of traveling, are the discoveries.
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.
I did an interview with Cameron a few weeks ago and noticed he didn’t have many live performances on his youtube channel. I emailed him and told him that we need to put a video together.
Here in San Bernardino, there are creative people but we lack a collective creative community. I enjoy seeing others going after their dreams and every so often we need a little bit of help to encourage us that we aren’t alone in the journey.
Now he has a video of him performing a song he can share with others.
I also took a few photo.
I got an email from one of my blog readers asking a few questions about my interest in media and what I thought about the lack of women in film making.
I love having inspiring conversations. Cameron is the lead guitarist at The Rock and a middle school teacher. I asked Cameron if I could interview him about his love for music and how he uses it to connect with his students who have behavior issues. Here is our talk. Enjoy.
I heard a poem on a podcast a month ago that has since stayed with me. I found it fascinating and powerful.
I’m the reality of your every day life. I am many name, many faces, many shapes, and forms. I come in every size and color. I am blamed for more failures than anything or anyone else. I am no respecter of person. I do not play favorites and I never choose sides. Within me are invisible seeds of greatness and immeasurable fields of frustration. What you chose to do with me will make you better or bitter. The people that don’t want me the most inevitably have the most of me. The great paradox is, that I will never go away. Yet I can show anyone a better way. Without me there will be zero chance of success. In fact, I am the driving force behind all achievement and progress. The better you get a dealing with me the better you, you will be. Its not a matter of if you will face me but when you will face me. And with that, let me make you a guarantee. I will be in your face everyday. I am the one thing in your life that has the potential to help you think bigger, be better and do the impossible in every area of your life. Unfortunately, until you met me everything is fine and like most people say “It is what it is.” Those people by the way do not know the power I have to make their potential a reality. The most important thing about me you need to know is that I am waiting everyday to be used by you, or in worst case scenario to be used against you. Who am I? I am your Problem. And in case no one ever told you, my last name is Solution.
In 2012, I’m not sure what’s going to happen and where I will call home. I know that I am doing what most have only dreamt of doing. I will start my journey to become a film editor. This poem has encouraged me and hope it helps you as well.
You can hear the complete podcast and series from The Abundant Life Church in England here.
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.”
“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.
I am reading this amazing book called, “In the Blink of An Eye” by famous film editor Walter Murch. He gives amazing insight and speaks a language I understand.
As I begin to work on my small movie scene that I shot this weekend, I am following his instructions carefully. I am hanging on every word.
“Film -is not so much a putting together as it is a discovery of a path..”
“The more film there is to work with… the greater the number of pathways that can be considered..”
“The cut..should look almost self-evidently simple and effortless, if it is even noticed at all.”
“Attempt to produce the greatest effect in the viewer’s mind by the least number of things on screen.”
“It takes more work and discernment to decided where not to cut-”
“How do you want your audience to feel?”
“What they finally remember is not the editing, not the camera work, not the performances, not even the story-it’s how they felt.”
“Separate out what you wish from what is actually there…see what is actually on the screen.”
“Editor’s job is to propose alternative scenarios..”
He recommends printing out a few frames from each scene. Taping them on the wall and then looking at each frame. To notice the language of emotions.
“..frames that were never meant to go together and yet there they were, right next to each other.”
“..keep your awareness, to really be alive to the possibilities in each shot..”
Even though I already notice a few mistakes I’ve made, I want to take my time and think about the edit. I want to sit back and look at my wall of frames.
I notice my photography gets better every time I do a shoot. Its mainly because I keep on shooting, even when no one hires me out, I still pick up my camera and shot. Why? Because I love it.
What I really love is to edit. I want to edit films one day and even make them. How and when? Who knows. To be honest, I want to make movies now. I want to learn the art of storytelling, editing, directing and everything that goes in to capturing a scene. The best way to learn this is to do it. I am apart of a very lucky generation. I own a great camera, editing software and have a massive audiences called the internet. The only thing stopping me from making a movie is me.
I came up with the idea to film a scene that would be in a movie every month, more often if possible. I will gather a few actors, give them the storyline and have them act it out. By doing this I will learn how to communicate, how to shoot, and edit a scene. Here I will make mistakes and learn from them.
I filmed the first of Project Movie Scene this evening. I can’t tell you how much fun I had doing it. It seemed to re-fuel my passion for filming.
My older sister put the idea in my head, “Monica, you should do a photoshoot of yourself before you get old.”
In the house of every old woman is a photo of her when she was young. Her beauty displays the time she lived in and the person she once was. I wanted a photo of myself for this very reason. I want my children and grandchildren to know who I am. I want them to look at my picture and wonder about the young woman I once was.
The hard part was figuring out what style I wanted to do. I enjoy things that are vintage but felt it wouldn’t display who I am now.
I then saw the perfect dress with a pattern that reminded me of my culture. I then remembered Joshua Tree. How beauty and peace it was. It was all coming together. The theme would be, “nature, spirit, and earth.”
The interesting thing was that this photoshoot comforted me with the questions, “How much do you value yourself Monica?” From the choice of lens, to getting my make up done by Dez, to the awesome location of Joshua Tree. I even felt embarrassed to ask my photographer friends for help. I finally asked Michael who I have known for years. I told him how I felt vain, he then answered, “Its not vain, its art.”
Though I kept directing Michael and even called him my human tripod, he ended up taking some of my favorite photos when I let him do his thing.
Thank you to the two Ayala brothers that helped me. The conversation during the long drive was delightful.
Some extras we took cause we’re having so much fun:
Everyone should have a photo shoot of them selves.
Not sure which photo of these I will display in my house when I’m 60 years old until then I will enjoy my youth.
When I started taking photos it was mainly of cities, strangers and things. I wasn’t sure what kind of photographer I wanted to be but I knew I enjoyed fashion and capturing real emotions.
When I bought my HD HSLR I began to ask friends if I could use them as models for practice. I was soon asked to do portraits. When putting all of my work together I found there were some common factors. You can see what I think is beautiful: innocents, real emotions, youth, and being unique.
I’ve learnt that being a good photography is about growing and honesty. Strive to understand your camera equipment, your subject and your own heart.
Here is my 2011 Photography Portfolio
Today I marked off a dream.
“Drink a coffee in Seattle on a cloudy day.”
I’m not just here in Seattle on holiday but I was selected by Creativelive to attend a workshop with D.O.P Gale Tattersall. He’s one of the guys in Hollywood who started this whole HD DSLR revelation. The workshop starts tomorrow. You can watch live online if you like http://www.creativelive.com/courses/hddslr-filmmaking-gale-tattersall.
As for today I walked around the city and enjoyed a cool cloudy day in the middle of Summer. More Seattle adventures to come. 🙂
Finally I completed my demo reel. Creating a demo reel has been a goal of mine for years. It’s interesting to see all of my best work in a video that isn’t even a minute long. So many years, hours and days put in to creating the visual effects and stories.
I am very fortunate to get paid to do what I love and what I believe in. Most of these projects were created for The Rock Church and some of them my personal work.
You see 5 frame clips but I remember the battle of each video along with their victories.
Reality is, the past few generations have grown up with out a father. My mother’s father was a drunk and his father disowned him. My dad on the other hand, has been there from the moment I came into earth. Most of my childhood photos he is holding me in this arms. My dad has been there for me through every season of my life. His wisdom has put me on the path I am on today. He leads me. Yes, I am talking about my earthy father.
This is how I can comprehend God’s love for me. I know the Father’s love because my earthy father loves me. I know my value cause my dad values me greatly. My dad would die for me, and that is how I know my Heavenly Father did. Having a dad love and honor God, is the reason I have lived doing the same. My dad forever changed generations by dedicating his life to God back in 1982.
Even though most people don’t have their dad around, they can still learn the characteristic of what a father should be by embracing the one and only Abba Father. All of this to bring me to the short film I created for Father’s Day.
I was inspired by my cousins father who was in prison most of their life. When their dad finally got out, he gave his life to God and began to spend time with his now adult children. Since then they’ve grown this beautiful bond with each other. I’ve witnessed how God has restored their relationship. We can forgive the unthinkable cause He has forgiven us.
“Happy Father’s Day”, rather you have an earthly father or not.
One thing I did realize when creating this, I want to make films that bring healing and hope to people. I know, I’m crazy. 🙂
Some friends and I got together to do a fashion shoot. I totally enjoy working with others and having them do what they do best. My friend Desiree Carrillo did the make up, Veronica A. Hernandez was the hairstylist, wardrobe Bianca Jimenez and I did the photography. Together we made our model, Annie look stunning.
Here are some of my favorite. You can see more on flickr by clicking one of the photos. I totally love the verity of looks Annie had. It gave me room to try out different styles.
And the end Annie came out stunning.
Last May some friends and I went up north for a short holiday trip in San Francisco. It was the most random trip but we had so much fun. I even got to hang out with some friends I had met on twitter and youtube. Lucky Cory & Justin were harmless. By the end of the trip Justin and Cory because our BFFs.
I remember I had just gotten my canon 7D, I really didnt know how to use the video part, so watching the footage made me smile at how much I’ve improved. It took me forever to get around and put this video together. I couldn’t seem to find the right song. For someone reason, “In my Life” by the Beatles worked our perfectly. Here is our adventure. You can also check out some photography shots I took there. San Francisco.