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.

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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

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.

Film: Behind the Beauty

This morning I woke up with the need to be creative in a fresh way. As I wrote some thoughts down, I suddenly imagined a short film in my head using film stills.

I would only have 24 exposure to capture the story.

It was interesting limiting myself. I knew what I wanted and I had to wait for it. Each frame was valuable.

Out of my 24 frames 6 were all I needed to tell the story. Today I had to create something honest and real.

“Create what you are most passionate about.”

Tomorrow I’ll post up the video.

Short Film: The Prodigal Father

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. 🙂

The Search for Her

The honesty that a film carries reflects on the filmmaker. I believe the filmmaker must stay true to the characters they create, even if it means disagreeing with the characters reactions. People value honesty, its something that isn’t seen much. Everything in front of our eyes is edited to appear a curtain way. I often say its my job as an editor to lie. But creating “The Search for Her” short film was my chances to finally be honest.

This was my first film that I wrote, directed and edited. It was fun to gather friends and recreate what I wrote alone in a room. Behind the scenes photos: