About Us: Why We Do What We Do
My Reasons For Wanting to Make a Film
 
 
Current Projects in Production:
  • Victrola
  • John Michaels Music Video
 
Video Releases:
  • Friends For Dinner
  • Mission Apparition
 
 
My Reasons For Wanting To Make A Film


Being a writer and musician, alongside a nonstop supply of energy and desire to want to do things, film was the obvious next step in my creative evolution. I was always hesitant to dive into it for two main reasons; equipment (which was real) and intimidation (which was silly).

 
The equipment part was handled by my partner in crime, Jennifer Floyd. Not only did she use her tax return to buy a decent hand held camcorder, she also managed to snag a copy of some nice editing software. Of course, she also had to actually learn how to use it, but that is one of Jeni’s trademark skills – the ability to pick up anything and figure it out, whether it be a computer program or crocheting. As long as I have an idea and a desire to make it happen, Jeni can usually find a reasonable way to bring it to fruition. 


The intimidation was another factor, and thinking back on it now, it seems laughable. I had two friends – beautiful girls whom I had known a long time – who had both gone to college and spent a lot of money to get degrees in their field of choice. One got a degree in film making; specifically, she wanted to be a director. The other got a degree (I think) in acting, or theater – something like that. Both of them had aspirations. I wanted to be like them, and I wanted to hang with them and collaborate on some artistic venture, but they were trained and skilled in what they do and I wasn’t. After all, they had those degrees.


So I never included myself. 


I tried to watch from a distance, and I noticed something from way back in the distance; there was nothing to see. Both of these girls had reached or surpassed thirty years old, and aside from their old college projects, they hadn’t really done anything. They constantly talked about it, but they never actually made anything. The film major had a nice camcorder and would show up places with it like her boyfriend’s concerts, to record the show. But that wasn’t good enough – I expected more. I had watched a few small videos they did together years previously, and as much as I love and respected my friends, I was sorely unimpressed. Can I do better? Do I need to pay $60K to learn how to make crappy videos like this? There were kids on YouTube making more impressive videos, both with skill, humor, detail and actual attractiveness to them. There must be something I am missing in this equation.


I decided to start with a music video. The film major had stated that music videos were her inspiration for going to school to study this. Being a musician, I had plenty of access to original material. I decided to use a song written by my musical partner Jason Kluss, called “Time Is Right.” It was a simple concept; Jay is sitting on the floor in an empty room with his guitar, next to an old rotary phone. He calls the phone and sings a song to an answering machine, while a girl on the other end listens to it, trying hard to ignore it until she eventually gives in and decides to answer it. By the time she makes up her mind, it was too late, the song is finished and he has hung up. Simple, right?


Well, we planned to film it all in a day. Never having done this before, I thought this would be fun and lots of hard work – and it was. First, I wanted the main room that Jay was to play in to be empty, so I cleaned everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) out of my living room. Moved ALL the furniture and wall decorations; even the curtains. We mopped the wooden floors so we could get that clean shine. The filmmaker had left her camera with me the previous day, so I decided to play with it to get ideas for shots I would want.
She was late.


Not only was she late, but she called to say she would be a few hours late as she was out shopping with her boyfriend, and that maybe I should just start filming some stuff without her. So much for the $60K she spent on fulfilling her lifelong dream of making music videos.


Alright, this can’t be too hard. So, I started filming Jay in the living room. He would play the song along with a CD (to keep everything synchronized) and I would shoot him over and over again from different angles. I even thought myself so clever as to pull out a ladder to climb and shoot Jay from above. I thought my filmmaker friend would laugh at me for my silly little ideas and plans. I just kept shooting and shooting, from every angle and with every idea that kept bubbling up. I thought this would be hard, but the ideas kept forming faster than I could keep up with them!


Eventually, she came by. Her boyfriend sat out in the car. Seriously. He sat out in his nice Saab waiting for her to film her video so they could leave. I was shocked. I was a little embarrassed. Was he really going to sit out there? I mean, we had been filming for the last two hours, and those were the simple shots of Jay playing guitar, with a few in between of him dialing and hanging up the phone. 


I figured I should get shots of him dialing the girl and then hanging the phone back up – that whole continuity thing seems like a big deal.
Anyway, I handed her the camera. She stood there as if not knowing what to do. I started to reiterate our original plan, mentioning that I had taken care of all the Jay sequences. It was now up to her to film all the scenes with the girl, played by my girlfriend Claire. This caused Ms. Spielberg to freeze, having no idea where she should start. Well hell, I didn’t know where to start either  and I managed. Eventually she sputtered her way through a few shots, directing as she went along. 
Twenty minutes into filming, her cell phone went off. Her boyfriend was getting bored and wanted to know if she was done yet. Way to be supportive! She seemed eager to finish this up, so we raced through a few more scenes and she was off. 
About a week later, she sent me a copy of the final, edited video. And you know what? It was pretty good. She did a great job, and I was impressed. I watched it over and over, thinking how I had written this and helped direct it (both of which to this day she gives me no credit on her YouTube page). 


I watched it over and over a few times, and something jumped out at me. All the scenes I filmed with Jay were very clean and stable. They were interesting. They were steady and unique. All the scenes involving Claire seemed to have been recorded by a drunken relative at a family barbeque playing with his new camera phone. Her filming was sloppy. Hell, it was downright terrible. I saw reflections of her everywhere, I saw bad lighting and shadowing, and I saw shaky camera all over. There were scenes that seemed slightly mismatched. I was impressed, but I was also let down. Was this the best I could hope for? Were my dreams of making films and music videos held captive to a friend with a boyfriend waiting in the car who seemed to care very little about her own supposed life ambition? 


We almost collaborated a year later with another film major that went to the same expensive college she had graduated from. Not only did this girl argue about every aspect of my ideas for the new music video I had written, but she blew our first and only day of shooting. Eight of us drove out in two cars over 2 hours away to a state park (the location was key to our video) only for her to discover that her battery was almost dead, and she had about ten minutes of filming power left in it. Was this the best that places like Columbia and the Art Institute had to offer? 


I was depressed. I didn’t touch a camcorder for several years after that. It wasn’t until just last year when I wanted to enter in a local contest that required a two minute video clip. I asked Jeni if it were possible, and she said she would look into it. She found a program that seemed easy to use, and with her recently acquired camcorder, she thought it was possible.
So we filmed a few stupid shots here and there for my video entry. Jeni shot all of it within a few days and I directed our way through them. She took the footage home and edited it down herself into a 2 minute video, as required by the contest rules. I watched it. I watched this simple, stupid little two minute video.


It was greater than anything my film majors could have ever made. 


I had a lot to learn and figure out, and Jeni had a lot of specifics in the program to break apart. Soon, we would have to figure out lighting, shadows and sound! Oh man, these things have proposed massive challenges to us since then!! But it was possible. Jeni and I could do it. With the help of friends, both for support and as our acting crew, we could make it happen. 


Film majors and acting majors - your passion has been usurped by high school kids with more drive and ambition in their cell phone cameras then you have with your $60K degrees and thousand dollar equipment. From this moment on, I can and will make films! They are films made with love, supported by loyal and caring friends, and financed on a budget of Ramen noodle soups and homemade iced tea. 


College degrees, be damned!

- Brian Lambrecht
 
 
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