Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs is worth driving to the single, secluded theater in your state to see it. People will move in front of the screen and switch seats 400 times, but you will still be engaged by the film.

Wes Anderson put lots of tiny details into the film that make it awesome to watch. I really enjoyed the “fight clouds” that appeared throughout the film. I have seen many stop-motion films, but I have never seen that classic cartoon gag used before. Anderson pays homage to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai both visually and with the score) a few times throughout the film which is fun for Kurosawa fans.

Although it sags a bit in the middle, I found the story to be a clever and creative twist on the standard dog storyline. The characters are fun and have enough depth to be invested in (except a select few).

The visuals are awesome. The scenery perfectly melds real-world grit with the cartoon-y whimsy. This is definitely a film that you want to see in the theater because there are many tiny details and jokes you might miss.

Isle of Dogs is definitely going to be one of the best films of the year. Don’t miss it in theaters because of its terribly handled opening!

The Making of ‘Weeb’

The idea behind Weeb was to make “Kung Fu with a weeaboo,” but having the brain that I have, it became this video.

Production went pretty well, considering what we were making. It is often difficult to direct people in a project like this because of its over-the-top style. The hardest scene to explain was the opening. Luckily, Sean and I had gone to school together and even if he didn’t understand the purpose of the opening, he did trust me enough to know it would make sense in the edit.

Something I have discovered while doing these type of little projects is that you can’t always articulate your vision completely to everyone involved. What I mean by that is that you explain it differently to each person involved. To the DP it is how the image makes you feel, and to the actor it is how the character feels in the scene.

I played with the color in this video more than with previous projects because I wanted to to make the viewer feel like they were in a different world. Also, when I think of Anime, I think of vibrant colors both within the character’s dress and the background.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) 

I wanted to add a sense of child-like wonder to the way that Sean’s character perceived the world, so I thought a super saturated achieved that.

Outtakes from the video:

A Bird in Hand is finally up.

or watch on Vimeo if you prefer.

After over a year, A Bird in Hand is online for all to see. I started this project during my film apprenticeship at Film Connection in late 2015 and now it is fully realized. I have known the Pitmans for over a decade at this point, and it was an honor to capture their story.

The first major lesson I took away from this experience is to be open to whatever happens. In October, 2016, when it was shot, I was as flexible as a rock. My friend Tal who was an enormous help in all areas, flipped his car a day before shooting on the way to Jekyll Island, so that freaked me out for all of production. I was on edge the entire time we shot, to the point where my arms were sore from being locked in the position I was holding the camera. This film meant (and still does) a lot to me and I was terrified of messing it up. I would argue that in a lot of ways I did mess it up, but it still turned out well. When I do my next film, I know I will be much calmer because I have grown as a person from this experience.

Overall, I am very pleased with this film. I hope that it brings the exposure that the Jekyll Island Banding Station deserves. I think helping nature (and by extension animals) is one of the most altruistic things you can do.

Learn more about JIBS.

Adobe Premiere Tips for Beginners

I decided to put together a little video for beginners with some tips to ease the learning curve with Premiere. These are some things that I would have like to been told when I first started using the program.

This is for an ABSOLUTE beginner, but you may find somethings interesting in there as well. Also, it did not capture the video file I was editing, but I feel that did damage the video overall so I uploaded it anyway.

Enjoy!

Fair Use Resources

Since I have been making video essays, I have been dealing with YouTube’s lovely Content ID system. I have wanted to make these essays for a long time, but I have been discouraged.

When I uploaded the Christine (2016) essay, it was banned in over 250 countries (basically everywhere, but North America and U.S. territories). Someone on the channel filed a dispute and we won.

I did find that it was kind of difficult to find the actual text of the law to quote in my “plea”, so I am making a list of resources.

The Copyright Act of 1967 (full text).

Written interpretation of law. 

Video interpretation of law:

If you have any suggestions for additions, feel free to comment. Happy disputing.

Lessons From Editing a Documentary Short

In September of 2016, I shot a documentary short about bird banding. A whopping NINE months later, I now have a cut that I like.

When I completed the production of the film, I had a Dell laptop with an Intel i7 processor, 8gb of RAM, and a subpar graphics card. The screen couldn’t even do 1080p. Fast forward to the present and I’m writing this on an iMac with 12gb of RAM, a Radeon HD graphics card, and a screen that can display a little over 2K resolution.  I also didn’t have the full Creative Cloud either.

Equipment doesn’t make films, people do. However, equipment does dictate when your film is going to come out.

I shot the b-roll for the film on the Canon C100 Mark I and the interview portion on my trusty Nikon D3100. My little laptop can handle my Nikon and most DSLRs more than adequately, but the C100 shoots in AVCHD which is larger than the MP4 files of standard DSLRs.

Editing a documentary is difficult. Everyone says that, but until you’re in the trenches, you don’t quite believe it. I didn’t believe it. I had a vision for what I wanted, but the film itself, had different ideas.

You are trying to represent these people’s lives as accurately as possible. It is an immense responsibility. For me, since I was so close to the subject, I tried to view it as an outsider and just show it objectively. As humans, we are innately biased, so being truly objective is pretty much impossible. What I did to combat this, was assemble a focus group of sorts. I got someone who was there to view it to see if it was a fair representation of the events, someone who helped me develop the idea to see if I was conveying what I was trying to convey, and someone who knows nothing about it to see what I was actually conveying. The most important question to ask each individual you show your film is, simply, “What is wrong with it?”, or, “What didn’t you like?”.  We all appreciate praise, but it is rarely constructive.

I think I’ve grown a lot as a filmmaker and a person since the production of this short. The most important lesson I’ve learned through all of this, is to never give up. Thoughts of all of this footage on my hard drive would keep me up at night. Not only for my own sake, but for the subjects too. When I locked the cut into something decent after all this time, it was like a gigantic weight had been lifted off my shoulders. All the the doubt, anxiety, frustration, and work paid off into something. It was tangible.

I will keep you all updated on the film as it progresses. I wanted to share my excitement with you and let you know what I have been doing. Also, there should be a new video next week about a certain political event happening in my state. I will be filming it tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Gray Catbird (Still from A Bird Hand)
A still of a Gray Catbird from, “A Bird in Hand.”