Archive for April, 2017

Coming Back From Criticism

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

How bad can criticism affect you? It really depends on a lot of factors.

I’m still affected by something someone said to me seven years ago. I really feel that I haven’t gotten over it and in fact, I’m currently trying to work through it.

One of my first ever paid video gigs was a behind the scenes (BTS) shoot for a friend of mine who was shooting a little short for a contest for the Ford Motor Company, dealing with Mustangs. He was a finalist and actually got a budget to shoot this.

It was a great short that he wrote and shot with a great cast and crew.

My job was to shoot BTS for him because he had to add a little “Who’s the director?” thing with his submission. I also stayed on for an additional day to record some BTS for another short he was directing. So, two days, two full days, driving out to OC for each and then again to deliver the footage.

At the time of the shoot, you couldn’t even rent the camera alone for twice what I charged. I’m going to say all of this was for $200. (I’ll verify later)

Things went great, pretty much. I had fun. I was fed pizza. Got to see some shooting. Got to meet some great people.

My friend said that when he got the money from the people, he’d mail me a check. That check took a long time to arrive but after a long, long time, it did arrive.

Sometime after that, I got an email from my friend’s girlfriend / soon to be fiance / eventually to be wife. It went on to say that the reason the check was so late was that SHE didn’t want to pay me. And I was lucky because “Tom” was such a nice guy that he wanted to pay me despite my footage being shitty and too dark to use and that probably cost him the contest. And also I was to NEVER try to speak to them again.

I have to admit that I can be an asshole sometimes and I jump to conclusions and have had my share of pissing people off. But I have to think that there was obviously more to her anger toward me than what she wrote. And I already admitted that I’m not that good at anything, after all. But, I mean, where does that kind of vitriol come from?

Anyway, we all know that when a person has undisclosed crimes, they flame-out on other innocents to make people look the other way. Her email to me was actually in response to an email I had written my friend’s mother, who was asking for advice on running an art group among our mutual friends and community. I had told her the reality of how hard it was to run such a group and in that email I mentioned that not getting paid for so long from her son, actually made me think twice about being involved.

So there! That was it, a reason to hate me. Now my friend’s girl had a reason, from the future to excuse her past crime toward me. See, obviously she knew I was going to be a meany and I didn’t deserve to be paid, because that thing was going to happen in the future and see and yeah that footage was shitty too!

It’s kind of funny to think about now but even so, the criticism still stings. And while it might have some truth in it, it is unwarranted as such. And even if true, should have been given in a much nicer spirit.

As a comparison, I recently decided to try out a new camera by visiting another friend, whose band was playing at a bar. In my somewhat drunken and surely uneducated stupor, I accidentally changed the shutter speed to something that made all the footage go all ghostly blurry. He didn’t ask me to shoot the band and although the footage was screwed up in my opinion, he said the following when I sent it to him, “Thanks man! The footage looks pretty cool! I know shooting that way was unintentional, but whoever is editing has footage from a bunch of different shows and I think he could totally splice some of that in and it might work really well. I really appreciate you coming out and doing that for us.”

How cool is that?

Sometimes getting things out in the open helps one feel better. I actually feel a little better writing this all down, here. I never really mentioned the above attack on my art to anyone publicly, except a few close friends. I’ve held it in for all this time and it’s been like a little devil sneering at my work, in the shadows of my mind. I still have my footage from that job and honestly, I think it’s quite usable. A little color correction to brighten it up surely but I’ve always thought it’s better to underexpose a little than to blow it out. I’m going through the footage now, as an exercise, to “prove to myself” that it surely could have been actually used. But the voice-over narrative will most certainly be changed!

My Latest Favorite Podcasts

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

In an effort to define (more like, “find”) myself artistically, I’ve turned to photography. Like most of the arts I’ve been interested in, I’ve been interested in photography for a long time. I keenly recall taking pictures, fairly intently, since the age of ten.

Recently, I saw a post on Facebook by an old-time “opinion leader” of mine (I say opinion leader but more in the vein of “I pay attention to what they say and am willing to think about those thoughts and see how I feel about them”, as there aren’t too many people whom I’ll attest to blindly listen to.) that went something like, “a dabbler’s life is just dabbling.” I’m pretty sure I’m misquoting that but it was something like that. I’ve also recently confessed in one of my notebook notes that I’ve never really been good at anything.

Since I’ve found editing and filmmaking, which has been about ten years now, I learn a lot of things online, whether via videos, classes, blogs, vlogs or podcasts. My favorite podcasts currently are: Artful Camera, Our Week in Video, Here be Monsters. I’ll do a Go Creative Show, if none of the above have anything new but it’s starting to get a little too glitzy for me. I just discovered The wondering DP, so I can’t favorite it yet but I found his approach to learning, as interviewed on the Go Creative Show podcast, to be genius so I hope it will become one.

I like the Artful Camera podcast because Carl Olsen seems to be like me in that he likes a lot of different kinds of art, although assuredly he’s much more advanced than I am. He recently re-invented and re-branded his podcast from the Digital Convergence podcast and I like the direction he’s taking. He covers a wide array of photography and videography, including many analog forms. This is quite refreshing.

I like Our Week in Video because it’s a couple of blokes from the UK who talk about wedding videography and the challenge of it and the tech and craft of it and it challenges me because I’m a “I don’t do weddings” kind of guy. Although listening to them, I think, “ooh that’s challenging. Maybe I will try.” They are guys who push themselves and I appreciate that and want to foster that in myself.

Here be Monsters is a KCRW podcast, one of many I might listen to that has very interesting stories and for storytelling’s sake, they expand my mind and give me ideas. It’s on the dark side and I tend to like the dark side of things, when it comes to movies, news, etc. I wish life wasn’t so dark but I can’t shake my interest in these types of stories.

For this current dabble of mine, I think it’ll improve me cinematography, although I don’t necessarily want to be a DP or a Camera man. I also see it improving my editing, which has kind of been on hold as of late. All together, I think it’ll improve my writing, as well.

None of the above holds a candle to being a father and the joy I get being around my kids but I hope it’ll help me be better at that too. I think it’s important to be an example of “follow your dreams” to them.