TGIM: Thank God It's Monday!

Thank God its Monday! Yeah, I enjoy Mondays. Actually I enjoy, Monday to Friday, the weekend too. I also don't understand "hump day" aka Wednesday. And Finally, I don't really acknowledge those weird statutory holidays that periodically come up. Basically, a day in the the week is a day in the week, when it comes to my job. Let me back up a bit here, 3 days to be more specific. 

On a Friday, years ago I was dropping off my son to day care and on the elevator ride down after the kid drop off, another parent looked at me, breaking the uncomfortable silence of the ride by gasping "Thank God It's Friday". I soon realize that doesn't go through my head when I go to work. I am lucky that I like my job and don't work towards the weekend. I might not like the subject matter or certain tasks associated with my job but I love Editing. Making and creating a story with images and sound give me a satisfaction and joy that I can't really describe.

Most of my career has been as a freelancer and because of that I schedule the lines have gotten blurred on the work day. At the beginning of my post career, I would work all crazy hours, since I was a night person. Then I got into a routine and slowly realize, when I was building a family that I needed to structure the time more, basically into the 5 day work week. But even when I did that I never dreaded going to work. I found myself working towards getting back into my home office or edit suite to get back at it. I do love what I do even if I had to modify it to fit a more standard lifestyle. 

Even now that I have a stable gig that has me working a 5 day work week, in a more and I never have that feeling. I have been lucky enough to get jobs where I am self managing and that I am trusted to do the task at my own pace with the minimal supervision. Editing requires a certain level of self motivation or you will be gasping every hour on the hour, counting the minutes til the 5pm "school bell" and at that point your just a machine operator. Don't get me wrong, I do dislike parts of my job, sorting and organizing footage, debating with less than savvy producers, dealing with confusing feedback notes... I could go on but really the pros outweight the cons. 

So Thank God It's Monday!

New Years Resolution, Whatever...Thrive to be a Lazy Editor

In the past 2 years, I have realize that I am a lazy editor and I am not alone. Everybody is a lazy I have realized. Notice that your kid's teacher is lazy, your co-worker is lazy, even the garbage person is lazy. I see it on a daily basis at work, people striving to not do something. They actually put a lot of effort, ironically, in trying not to do something. I realized that I am even lazy when it come to doing something I love to do, editing. 

In my very unscientific observations, I have broken it down to 2 very broad versions of lazy. The unproductive version which is the more popular version of the word. The version that one would associate with Homer Simpson. We are all very familiar with that type.

 

However, the other version of lazy is productive lazy, which is often misinterpreted. I like to think that I am the productive lazy person when it comes to editing. People might confuse the notion of lazy with lack of work ethic but this type of lazy is all about work efficiency. If your this brand of lazy, people might give you compliments like "your pretty quick" at sometimes when they look at the way you working a keyboard. Or maybe these phrases come up frequently "your done?!", "That was fast". At other times they might comment "wow that guy has a lot of downtime" when they walk by your suite or they have that perplexed look of "He never looks busy". Well that is the result of the productive lazy.

I use to be one of those people that thought the hours logged on project directly correlates with the quality of the work. "Sweat equity" is common knowledge concept and I realize that it's wrong, dead wrong as a concept.

When I use to work on film, set you would see this all the time. The young folks would scramble around fast and furious; the older people wouldn't even break a sweat. The young can outrun the old but like a fairy tale the older hare usually gets there more efficiently and often quicker. In my younger days, I would alway wonder how the old guy got it done faster than me. I slowly notice why they didn't have to race around. Productive use of their energy. 

So back to my laziness, the efficient kind. In editing you should strive to be this type of lazy. What it entails is that you need to make everything as simple as possible and this does involve elbow grease but you reap what you sow. 
It does require you to master some tech/software skills to create workflows that make things the fewest click process. Organizing your media to retrieve a clip easily when you have an idea about a cut sequence. You want to strive to be a Lebowski lazy Urban achiever.

If your Lebowski lazy, you have time to make a white Russian, you have time to meditate about your bowling round and you have time to meticulously shop for cream because you did all the heavy lifting, your set up is built to go fast, you know your software and hardware inside out (e.i.  Keyboard shortcuts link to old post) Your basically have time to lean back relaxe and pounder your cuts, your back isn't against the wall because of the way you work (it might be because of all the other moving parts of film but its not your doing, that's the point. 

 

It is the beginning of the year and a time to make resolutions. I don't really believe in making 2 week promisses to myself that I am bound to break because they aren't habit forming (back to work podcast) But I will make a realistic goal that is easy to improve on because it will help me be more lazy. Tweak my workflow even more, so I can reach my true inner Leboski.
 

Anybody can Edit and make a movie

Anybody can edit. Yes, anybody can do it. It's not particularly hard to get your hands on the tools to stitch two images together these days (thanks Steve Jobs) and we have all grown up with TV, movies and now streaming media. So, we all know the rules, the basics of how to tell a story with images. We can't all verbalize it instantaneously but we all have that funny feeling that "this should go here and that should go there", as a famous scroundrel once screamed. Even better the rules of editing have become looser than ever. The 180 rule, jump cuts and music videos have accustomed us accept all forms of montage genres, even the ones that are clasically labelled as bad edits. The laundry list of what you need to do is pretty short, so that you can make some media ingestable these days (see YouTube). I realized this fact recently on 2 occassions.


The first one, my wife was shooting a small instructional videos to be integrated in a PowerPoint presentation. She isn't in film production at all. She works for an agency that aids kids with autism and helps them through workshops to teach parents how to care for the challenges of their child. So, she told me that she was going to shoot the footage with a co-worker themselves. My alarm went off and looked at her, then asked her, "who is editng it?". Pause, lookded at me and answered "you want to do it?" I gently explained that I rather not. Then she shrugged it off, "I figured as much" then she explained that it was okay, her manager liked to edit stuff together and she would do it. I'm curious now, I ask "what has she edited?", "oh, just her own home movies" she replies. I pause in a film snob way and then say, "Hmmm, okay". I think to myself cool they "got" this one and I give my wife a few tips aobut shooting and coverage, "(good luck)" the elitist in me thinks! 

The second similar event that got me thinking about editing skill and ability was from an old film set friend of mine. He explained to me that his son was getting some internet jobs as an editor. His son bought himself a system and has been doing little jobs on those bidding freelancer websites. My first knee jerk reaction is the snobby filmmaking student in me from the 90's. I learned the rules! I went through some Full Metal Jacket style bootcamp to learn the ropes of crafting a story. I put hours of film study, practing my soon to be craft on short films, slugging away many years of learning processes, hardware and now software to eventually build a carreer as an editor. Inside my head I am screaming,"You want ME, on that wall!" 

Then I take a moment to look down from the pedostole that I am on, to all the newcommers, expecting to be so high that they all just look like ants. But wait, they are actually just one step down from a olympic style podium. I am not as high up as I use to be (or my mind likes to think I was, anyway). I let the brew for a while and you know what, this is a good thing. The entry level to edtiting is very low, the roadblocks that I exprienced 15-20 years ago are gone. When I started, you couldn't even get your hands on an edit system even if you were lucky enough to get a production assistant job at a posthost. Their were many layers to surmount but now you can't use money even as an excuse. If you want to edit you can do it on your laptop and if your really cleaver on your smartphone. Everybody can edit and make a movie now.

The debate is still out on home many people get to the level of a craftsmen, some repeat the 10,000 hour rule and say to 20 hrs to get up and running with basic knowledge. But basically time is a factor and how much time you put into montage is based on your level of lazyness. Which brings me to another topic that I been noticing and that people aroud me always hear. Everybody is lazy.

R is for REVIEW

Here is the last of my letter "R" Blogs, don't ask me why the letter "R".

Rarely in our business do have a chance to produce something that has a one-to-one effect on people. However, this project I could bring what we do best, entertain; and on top of that, this might actually help and educate new dads about being a 21st century father.

So, 2014 started with a bang, 3 and a little 1/2 projects, back to back, with lots of overlap,very busy at the Gorilla Productions. The one, I want to focus on and which I am very proud of is the Cribside Assistance website

The mix media project was a continuation of a passion project that started 4 years ago. I was a new dad with a newborn baby boy and I had just  went through all the prenatal classes, hospital birth and the crazy few months of new fatherdom. As most new parents do, I hunted around for information and advice on how to be a dad. There was a lack of information geared towards new dads. Coincidently, all my really talented creative friends had children around that same time and when I shared my experience with them, they understood some of my frustration. 

The frustration was that most of the material at the time was very mother centered. However, health professionals, doctors, wife, family and friends had an expectation that new dads need to actively participate in parenthood, basically not- Mad Men.


I approached my talented freelancer friends and we stated to research how to solve this problem.All our research lead us to Brian Russell's a Heath professional and fatherhood expert in Ontario. We got in touch with him and brainstormed a few projects. Finally,  Brian came up with an idea for a website with an automotive theme for new dads with articles and videos that were to become a resource geared to new dads. We had a tight deadline, since we were dealing with government funding but the team pulled it off with some cleaver filmmaker tricks to keep production value and quality. In 2010 we launched www.newdadmanual.ca with much praise and success.

 Custom designed retractable USB key that includes all the videos from the site 

Custom designed retractable USB key that includes all the videos from the site 


I was pleased when Brian came back with a proposal to do a phase 2 of the project. Working within his budget, I proposed that we revamp the website (overall new look, a restructure and some additional social media integration) and eventually we added some other media elements (USB keys and iBooks) to complete the package.     

Brian had assembled quite a group from a variety agencies that were involved in other branches of the same project. They were a great source of feedback and perspective on the content. The newer videos were focused on healthy relationships with you partner and the challenges of being a new parent. 

Also the in the new set of videos, we did 2 very powerful aboriginal pieces focussing on the challenges that this community is facing in North America. When we shot these videos the whole crew were very touched by the hard facts and realities that this community is facing. It was great to aid in giving the Aboriginal Dad a voice.

This project has gotten again some great feedback and I am very happy of me and my teams contribution to the project. Please share it with new families, I believe it is a great resource of quality information that is presented in an original way that I would of loved to have before I became a Dad.

* Oh and some under the hood stuff: Did this project start to finish FCPX. Since, I was producing it and I was going to be on set for the interviews. I was the DIT and Bcamera. So, I ingested with FCPX and at the end of each day too 20 mins to multi cam everything and rough organize the media. By the time, I got back to my suite, I was ready to screen and build rough cuts. Loving FCPX for this workflow. Finished, in Resolve my other new software mistress.