Indie Grits Indie Grits!

My first animated short, Crumbling, is premiering in the Indie Grits Film Festival this spring!  I'm extremely proud and excited for this project to be a part of the festival. It truly means a lot to me that I've made a piece people connect to, I can't wait to show a larger audience and see how it goes. 

I'm going to do my very best to be at the screening, and I'd love to see you there! The Indie Grits Fest has been a big part of my life for a while now (I was even in one of their tv commercials a few years ago), so it warms my heart to finally have a film of my own playing on the screen.  

More details at:  http://www.indiegrits.com/2017-short-films/crumbling/

Back Again

Took a bit of a break, got a cool job at a post house and I've been adjusting to 10 hour work days. I got a new apartment and I've created a great new workspace for animating, which is what I want to focus on for a while. Anyways, here's a digi-drawing of a fat rabbit I made to get back in the swing of things. I've got a couple ideas for the coming months and I'm excited to share them. Yahoooooooo!

Animation Reel, Cause Why Not?

I went ahead and put together a 45-ish second reel of my animation adventures so far. It's pretty interesting to me, because I had full creative control over every aspect of each frame, I feel like it captures some part of who I am. But I may be reading into it too much, sometimes I just draw things that look cool. 

Los Angeles and Lyra

After graduation, I decided to start planning for the move I've wanted to make for years, picking up and trying my luck out on the West coast in LA.  I love living in the South, but the fact of the matter is that if I want to have a successful career in film I need to go where the jobs are. 

It's difficult to figure out where to start with a big move. I didn't know the area, what a good price was, or who I would be living with. I was completely up in the air, scrambling for a foothold in a situation where I felt completely in overwhelmed. But, sometimes the best way to test the water is by jumping in, and that's exactly what I did. 

I got a message from the one person I know living in LA, and turns out her roommate was looking to sublet her room. So now I have a place to stay, a roommate that won't try to hex me, and super-importantly, reasonable rent (amen). The only problem is that the roommate was leaving at the end of the month, so I would be moving in in three weeks or the space would go to someone else. I had three weeks to uproot my life, say goodbye to my friends, and get on the road. But, I decided to be excited rather than daunted. 

So now, I'm writing this post from my room in LA. On one hand, it's a dream come true, and on the other it's a huge adjustment.  It's difficult to move somewhere and not know a single soul but your roommate. I decided to channel whatever weird feelings come with that into making this lil animation. 

I had the idea for a girl underwater, confused and surrounded by fish since that's how I've felt these last few weeks, alone in an unfamiliar environment. As I came close to finishing, I began doing research on constellations since the unused space on the front of her shirt just looked too empty and hey, stars are cool. What I came across was pretty neat and gave some more life to the doodle than originally intended. 

The constellation on her shirt is called Lyra. It's a name for the lyre carried by Orpheus, which was said to produce a sound so beautiful that even animals would stop to hear it's sweet melodies. Orpheus often used it to play love songs for his wife, but when she died he could not being himself to play and chose instead to wander the land destitute.  One day, Orpheus is murdered by highwaymen, and the lyre is thrown into a river where it sinks to the bottom, forgotten. However, the god Zeus thought it was a great tragedy for the legendary instrument, and sent a giant swan to pluck it from the depths and immortalize it in the night sky, where it turned into stars. 

After reading this, it seemed suitable for the girl to become a personification of the lyre, beautiful and confused at the bottom of a river, longing to sing as life moves on around her.

I'm feeling better and better as the days go by. And getting a small creative project under my belt since coming to the West coast is helping to restore my confidence. It's going to be interesting making a new life here, but I'm up for the challenge!

Whoops, My Bad

In the midst of the chaos that my life has been lately, I forgot to post my new demo reel (you'd be surprised how distracting moving from one coast to the other can be). I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, I was able to include footage from a large amount of my work and really show some variety. I've always really enjoyed pushing myself and working with new subjects and styles, and I feel like that really comes through. 

So, here's a video-storm of crying ballerinas, sarcastic cats, laughing musicians, and much more. 

Animation and Graduation!

My final semester is here at last. It's been really strange, but I feel more ready than scared for moving on from the welcoming wood-floored hallways of the art building. I got my ideal line-up of classes this time, I managed to get into Animation and Narrative, two courses I had been saving for last. 

I had always wanted to learn to animate. I've loved watching animations for many years and always been jealous of those artists who get to have complete control of the worlds they create! I made a separate page to showcase my work for this semester, though it's just beginner stuff. I'm very proud of my final piece, a short film called Crumbling. It's still a work in progress, but I'm very happy seeing my ideas come to life in a way that is so uniquely me. 

The other big news is that over this entire semester I wrote and directed a funny and heartfelt short film called Small Warm Things. It's getting the finishing touches right now before getting sent off to festivals, so it will be unavailable online for a while. But it was received extremely well at our school screening. I was blown away with the amount of praise and encouragement I received when the credits ended and the lights went back on. I had a really great time on each day of shooting, I couldn't have asked for a more enthusiastic and dedicated cast and crew, and I felt like I grew a lot as a director over the course of filming. I became a lot more confident in myself and my decision making. The response after the screening and everyone's kind words makes me really grateful for everything I've learned at USC and really excited moving forward. 

Can't wait until I have my next set of news to post, I have a feeling good things are coming my way!

^ Screenshot from Small Warm Things!

P.S. - I also wrote a short manga, illustrated by Katy Accampo.

Experiments

This is my first recap post, since I got out of the habit of updating this blog, so bear with me! It's been almost a year and there's a lot to catch up on. 

First, A Helping Paw got into a bunch more festivals! I wasn't able to travel to any others, but it was exciting to know that my film is reaching wider audiences.  I felt like entering this short into a few festivals was a good practice run for more serious pieces I create, a way to figure out what's what and how everything works so it will be easier in the future. 

I started the next school semester with this knowledge fresh in hand when I was encouraged to apply for a newly available grant that would enable me to enter into more festivals, including ones I thought were out of my reach when paying out of pocket. A few weeks later I was notified that I won! And would be receiving the new Hanclosky Social Issue Production Award (which was a co-op with the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation, which is pretty neat in my opinion). There was an article written about it and everything!

But amidst this, I still had to go to class and do normal college things. I was able to take a new Game Studies course and learned a lot about the history of gaming in all forms, the psychology of interfacing with a game, and loads of other interesting things (I got to write a 10 page academic paper about competitive League of Legends as my final, so it's safe to say I really enjoyed this class). I also took an experimental film course and learned a lot about using different mediums so express ideas. I really liked this course since I got to work with my hands to create each project, whether it was animating by hand scratching film or processing 16mm in tanks. Each was a new opportunity to connect with my work, rather than just clicking on a screen. 

I decided to turn each project into a cumulative piece, so they all fit together in the end. Below is that project, a weird, vulnerable, feelings-soaked video.  I’m Not Sorry - A Triptych on Failed Relationships

It's more complicated than that, I don't know. I have trouble finding words for these things. I don't know what's wrong with me, I have these patterns. I just repeat myself over and over. I guess you were right, in the end. When you said I'd break his heart. I felt nothing. - An experimental film made of a 16mm scratch animation, some badly processed 16mm film, and an LED light. I guess I was sad at the time.

All Things Bright

Good News! I'm really happy to announce that A Helping Paw was accepted into Middle Coast Film Festival!  We haven't received word back on any other festival submissions yet, but I'm feeling optimistic.

Spring 2015 Was Good to Me

It's been a month or so since I've last written, and it's been a complete whirlwind of work, learning, and awesome experiences! 

Those last two projects I mentioned in my last post turned out better than I could have hoped, and I have a theory as to why. My goal for this semester (besides becoming a better filmmaker) was to always start my work long before deadlines so that I could have the time to put my whole heart into creating and to get as close to my initial vision as possible. Since I have to take more than just film classes and also plan around the schedules of other students I work with, juggling time is often extremely difficult and we end up turning things in with just moments to spare. I despise doing this, and it leaves me feeling unhappy with the final product. So, at the start of this semester, I decided to crack down. 

I whipped out my planner whenever assignments were given, and decided right then and there when the earliest date for filming could be for each one. I was extremely lucky to have ended up with such fantastic groups for my last two projects this time around. Everyone was 200% committed and put in more time and effort than was required of them.  I am extremely pleased with the results of our hard work on these two films, and I can't thank everyone I worked with enough. 

Without further adieu, Acid. 

Acid is my final project for Cinematography.  It emulates the style of Kristoffer Borgli (one of my favorite filmmakers), while maintaining my own style and personal touch.  There are many aspects of this film that are style-hybrids, including the story itself.  For weeks prior, I struggled to write the script, getting caught up on ideas where I was trying to do nothing but make a carbon-copy of one of Borgli's previous films. Finally, I had a breakthrough during a Theatre History lecture (I still got an A on the final, not to worry) and scribbled everything where I should have been taking notes about Brecht. 

The new script meant I was going to have a line or two of dialogue, something that I don't have too much experience with since I tend to be a very visual storyteller. Andrew Zah volunteered to record and master the dialogue, and brought those crisp lines to life in a way that was absolutely perfect. 

The other challenge of this film was some intense color correction and tinting. I needed to achieve a very specific look without the benefit of the soft, Norwegian light where Borgli shoots. I learned a lot messing with color software, and can't wait to try it out again on something new. 

Lastly, I would like to mention that the music I used was from a band from my hometown of Myrtle Beach. Using local music is something I've wanted to do for some time and I'm so happy it worked so well. 

Now here's the big one. 

A Helping Paw began as a "community engagement" documentary, but as we kept meeting people and learning more and more about their lives, it became something more. This film means a lot to me, not only because it's the biggest film I've made so far, but because of the experiences that came with it.  

Initially, we picked service dogs because there was a group in our area and dogs are cute. We set up three interviews without much direction or expectation, and headed out.  We met Becky first, and l learned things I never would have known about her and her life.  It's truly amazing how close you can get to someone just by listening to them, by being interested in who they are. We didn't ask any of our subjects to open up to as as much as they did, but it just kept happening.  And I think that's the power of documentary, to share these little intimate moments and make connections that teach the audience something.  At the end of filming, our whole group was very invested in bringing the knowledge we gained and the feelings we felt to the screen and to viewers. 

Editing this film may be the biggest challenge I have taken on since I began making films.  I had to plan, shoot, and edit both this film and Acid simultaneously during a short two weeks. Acid's editing took me two days, then the next two days were filled with A Helping Paw. I had to pull two all-nighters in a row, but it was worth it. Again, Andrew Zah recorded audio, but this time he also edited audio for the entire film (which gave me the opportunity to take a short nap, thank goodness).  There are still some little improvements to be made, but overall I'm extremely pleased with this film. 

The screening went very well, and the film has since been shared around the internet quite a bit with an overwhelmingly positive reception.  At the encouragement of my professor, Andrew and I have been entering A Helping Paw into a few film festivals. So now we eagerly wait for good news! 

 

Two More Projects, Much More Planning

Hello! It's been a couple weeks since I've posted and since then I've been grinding away. This year has felt really good, I was burned out on anything creative last semester, but now my love for it is being rekindled. I've been extremely fortunate this year to have found a group of people that want just as badly as me to make neat little goofy films. 

The first thing I can show you is SPOOKY NIGHTS. It's another learning project for cinematography class, but I'm proud of this one as a whole. I had a stupid idea while driving home and a couple hours later I was looking at the completed files on my computer.  It was honestly one of the most fun shoots I've ever been a part of, and I'm excited it turned out so well.  This class has really upped my level of confidence in myself and my ability to properly light a scene (especially since I usually work on my own, and never get to use light kits since I don't have a crew). So, enjoy this silly tale about ghosts. 

Next, is a more serious project. It's something I wanted to really flesh out more fully, but unfortunately when I was writing I didn't know there such a short was a time limit on the project (it's for documentary filmmaking class) and so I had all of these ideas and feelings that couldn't possibly make it into the final product.  But, I pressed on and went for something a little different than my usual style to make a personal documentary about a family tradition. The soundtrack needs more work, and the colors aren't perfect, but this is where the project stands as of now.

It's both difficult and satisfying to make personal projects. I briefly delved into the topic last year when I made a somewhat cryptic film about my relationship with my dad, and it was extremely scary to show it to anyone really because it cut me so close to the core even though it wasn't so obvious to other people what the film was truly about.  And with this film, I'm being clear what it's about, and I even use my own voice for the narration. But because of the time limit I didn't really get to put my feelings into it, just my reactions. This topic is something that I wrote a lot about, I've had a few rough years lately, and I want to make a film covering it all, everything I'm feeling to work through it and just get it out. Maybe I'll be able to do more work on it in the summer, to set the topic to rest. 

I'm in the middle of my last projects for the semester right now, while trying to find a summer job close to home, which is difficult considering I don't live in New York or LA.  But, even with that stress, I'm being optimistic and pressing on! The last two videos I'm making are a longer documentary working with PAALS (an organization for training service dogs) and a cinematography project emulating the style of one of my favorite filmmakers, Kritsoffer Borgli.  It's going to be a major rush to get them done as exams are only a week away, but I'm excited! I have been working hard to make thorough plans, so now the pieces just have to be placed. 

Until next time <3

Two Projects Now, More Later

A few weeks have passed and I've been super busy on a cornucopia of projects. But, I have a few things so show for all this work!

First, I've been doing a cinematography course, and learning all the ins and outs of lighting setups. So here's the film noir short I made for that, complete with a femme fatal and cheesy sax music for your viewing pleasure.  

In the past, I've worked mainly with natural light (cause sunlight is pretty) so big lighting setups have always been super intimidating. But, it was really fun to be able to experiment with the Arri Kit to achieve the right look. 

The next thing I've been working on is a sort of experimental MOS documentary about a fencing blade. It's still a work in progress, but I wanted to share how it's going so far.  This video has been evolving and changing so much with each cut and each bit of feedback that it will probably be a completely different creature by the time I finally feel finished with it. Side note, I've been gravitating towards making experimental things lately, I should probably stop before I go too deep...

Anyway, that's what's come of the last few weeks. These next ones are possibly even more busy, I'm editing a whale of a documentary, storyboarding and planning a big narrative, as well as some other technical projects for cinematography class and a bunch of writing for both personal projects and screenwriting assignments. 

I'm caught up in work but excited about every project. Can't wait to share!

Working on a New Editing Reel

I'm in the middle of a lot of big projects at the moment, but I need a new reel and there's no time like right now! 

Besides that, the other projects I'm working on are going to turn out to be really neat.  I've got two in production/post and two more working their way through some delicate planning. I'm stressed but incredibly excited!  

It feels really good to be back in the swing of things after such a long hiatus.