- June 21, 2014 -
A Trio of Projects!
Community Arts Tokyo has a fantastic vision which I have come to love over the last week. I first contacted Abi & Roger Lowther over a year ago to see if I could come check out their ministry in Tokyo, and see what I could potentially do with them! I honestly didn’t know to much about them before I met them, as it was really hard to get in contact since they are so incredibly busy! One of the things they lack currently is an office space, and an events space to really work at full capacity in their ministry. This will happen eventually I’m sure, there are just some interesting road blocks for christian organisations in Japan.
Community Arts Tokyo (or CAT as we all refer to it now hah!) has a real focus on using art to bring together a community of people, to reach out to those who don’t know christ, but also to encourage people to use their god given talents & gifts too.
Art honestly is such a broad term, so any form under that banner will fly. At the start of the week they had a artist gathering at their place, which is a time for people to just connect with each other over food, and to show each other what they have been working on artistically & creatively. A large number of the people that attended were indeed musicians! (Incredibly talented musicians I must add!).
Im not sure how often this event happens, but I think every month. Nevertheless, its a way to connect with all kinds of people. Everyone is not a christian at this event, but is does bring up a good opportunity to speak about life while you share a common interest. And considering art is also the lifeblood of the Japanese people it’s such a perfect way to really engage with the locals.
The projects i’m working on with CAT are quite simple actually. One is a fundraising film for one of the interns who has been living here for a couple of years. This simple involves cutting together some interview footage with my own overlay which I have filmed while here in Japan. It will mostly be footage of local life in Japan, to illustrate how beautiful the people and the country are, but also to highlight the spiritual thirstiness of the people.
The second project involved doing some street interviews! Now this was very interesting. We went in thinking that as foreigners (myself, Ellie who is one of the interns, and Drew who is a pastor at a church) we’d have a much easier time of getting people to stop for the camera and answer a question or 2. Unfortunately most people are so busy here that they don’t stop to give you their time.
We did end up with 8 interviews in the end, but we were asking a LARGE amount of people. The purpose of the interviews was asking Japanese people about the 10 Commandments. Grace City Tokyo, who is associated with CAT are creating a sermon series on this topic, and wanted to really try something new and use video & film to engage the congregation a bit more. The concept of a film opening up a sermon in Australia is not new, but here it’s revolutionary!
The third project is a music video for a song they composed. This is definitely something that other churches haven’t done much of, if at all. Usually you get someone who recorded a band playing on their phone, but nothing professionally made like a music video! That is a little more straight forward. It will involve filming 2 different locations, and they will be linked by a mobile phone selfie which will be sent between the 2 locations. The idea is that there isn’t a difference on where you worship, whether its at home or in church. And it also promotes the idea of a community getting together and doing something artistic! There will be a backing track with timing, and I will film each instrument once through. It’s the easiest and best use of time, because I can simply multiclip a sequence out of all of the footage! So this will be shot tomorrow, along side the OMF project which is starting tomorrow too! More on that in my next post!
Enjoy your weekend my friends!
- June 17, 2014 -
One Week To Shine & 7Media
Last week I arrived in Japan, astounded by what I came into, blown away by the culture and the people, and ended up having an incredible time meeting new people too. Last week was a one week long stint of creative evangelism in which 7Media were running.
7Media is an organsation run out of Tokyo which essentially focuses on creating multi-media to creatively reach with the gospel a generation through 7 areas of influence. Or the 7 mountains as some might know them. I actually contacted them to see if I could help out, as I definitely see a great need for media to be used as a tool to reach out to the Japanese people.
Film tends to be a very effective way of communicating to Japanese people. More so than any other artistic medium. From the people I’ve spoken to who live here, they have all said that it definitely seems to be that way. You don’t have to look far either, the way that the Japanese create film is almost like poetry, with great depth and beauty. Some examples such as Oto-na-ri (2009), Niji no megami (2006). So then, that would essentially mean a great way to engage a culture like Japan is to do it through film. Well then, I’ve come to the right country!
Street I stayed on in Yokohama
Mt Fuji in the far distance on the left
Anyway, back to last weeks project! We had about 5 people on the media team, and we consisted of social media gurus, photographers and filmmakers. Quite a young crew too, but we honestly had a ball shooting each day. The things that we mainly covered were filming the flash mobs that the core team did, the live street performances, prayer & healings, and testimonies of the things that happened during the day.
Photography by Jonathan Wan (our social media guru)
In total, just for my camera, it was about 16gb of footage a day. It wasn’t an incredible amount of footage but built up over a whole week and there is a lot to sort through. Also, the compression on the FS100 is quite high so file sizes are smaller than that of a Nikon or Canon DSLR. We had a variety of cameras shooting, like Canon 600D’s, Nikon D700′s, Sony NEX cameras, iPhones etc. It was a mixture, but all to make sure we didn’t miss a thing! The whole week was leading up to the major event which was on Saturday. A giant moving flashmob in the streets of Shibuya and Shinjuku, but also a free concert at Hibiya Park named Joy Festival.
JP, who is a local dance hip hop artists missionary in Japan, instructed and taught our crew the flashmob moves during the course of the week. (He’s the one with the orange glasses and white shirt). The song that was used was Happy by Pharell Williams. This song was HUGE in Japan, partly why it was chosen! In total there was around 150 people involved in the flashmob.
To cover the flashmob walk which stretched about 2km, there was about 7 of us running around with cameras. We had a few extra people to help out with filming on that day. We had a few people ahead of the flashmob covering reaction shots, long shots of the flashmob, and passing shots as the flashmob walked by. There was also people covering right in the midst of the flashmob, and from behind also. It involved a lot of sprinting, so thank goodness we had checkpoints where we stopped for a few minutes!
We scouted the route twice during the week, so we knew where the best shots were and what kind of crowds we could expect to see throughout the day. It was a good day to do it because on Sunday, it was the world cup and Shibuya was crawling with police & camera crews.
The festival after the flashmob was real good fun. Roughly between 500-600 people, all coming together to listen and worship to some amazingly talented christian artists who reside in Japan. The strange thing was they didn’t allow any hip hop acts, but hula dancing & gospel was perfectly okay. I think things that have been typically associated with rebellion in the past aren’t necessarily welcomed here in Japan. At least not officially anyway.
Hula dancing took off after the smash hit Japanese film Hula Girls (2006). This was based on real events that took place in a small mining town in Japan, which built a hawaiian tourist centre to increase profitability to their town. Fun fact!
So that essentially was the week. This week I’m serving with Community Arts Tokyo which is a very interesting one! There are about 3 separate projects I’m working on with them! More on that soon. Thanks for reading!
Some of these photos were taken off the 7Media Facebook page. If you want to see more photos hit them up there!
- June 10, 2014 -
I’m currently in Japan. Yes, the one place I’ve always wanted to traverse to. As soon as I got off the plane I couldn’t help but feel like it was like home, without even being there for long. And honestly everything I’ve seen or experienced today has just been either astounding, incredible, hilarious or unexpected. It’s truly different, and weird is very much acceptable in this country (good thing for me hah!)
This trip is essentially split up into 3 different shoots. This first week I’m filming the events that take place here in Tokyo, run by the 7Media team. 7Media is essentially a media company which uses film & music to impact several spheres of influence which we find ourselves involved in during our lifelong journeys. They focus on making an impact at the core of a person, and really speak to them about the good news of Jesus.
During the course of this week, 7Media and a whole bunch of volunteers who flew in from around the world are going on an outreach initiative that hasn’t been done in Japan before. Essentially creative forms of street evangelism, and want to film the entire thing to be able to provide good promotional materials for the next years event! I’ve gone the traditional route of using my handy FS100, but I’ll be filming mostly in 50p because there is a lot of vibrant movement happening during this week, and I want the flexibility of being able to slow things down if need be for added effect!
This first day really involved just getting to know the rest of the team that I’ll be working with, and building up friendships and connections between each other. It’s fantastic to be able to do that whilst travelling, and I think its something everyone should strive for when abroad. It also involved a scout for the main flashmob which will be happening at the Shibuya crossing on Saturday 14th. We went down a closed road which runs just off the crossing area.
It continues off past a skatepark owned by Nike, down to a closed road. This road has such an eclectic mix of shops and architecture, many people and not cars. The route ends on a high platform overlooking the city. Quite a view indeed. The types of shots we are looking for during this moving flash mob are long shots from balconies, and nice reaction shots from locals. Thats why this last street here is great, as there are just a plethora of people walking down, and no cars at all. Currently it looks like we will have maybe around 6 camera operators, so strategic placements of each person will be vital for this shoot!
After this, it was practice time for the flashmob and that took place at Yoyogi park. Safe to say there was quite a lot of eventful spiritual things that happened there, but I’ll leave that for another post perhaps. Anyway, I figured it was a good place to start filming on my proper camera so that we can have some b roll footage and nice practice footage for the highlights clip which all of this will be filmed for. Seems that Tokyo is very skate centric also!
I had sashimi and ramen for the first time, and there really was no better place to do it than in Tokyo.
Japan has been fantastic so far, and cannot wait to see where things will go from here! The other two projects Ill make some posts on a bit later, but for now this week will have a couple more updates about the 7Media flash mobs and creative things that we get up to here in the land of the rising sun!
- June 1, 2014 -
The Rockstar & The Goddess
These two people, are incredibly attractive. Seriously. And I had so much fun shooting this thing! Once again, in conjunction with Tigs Macallan, we went to lovely St Kilda to shoot this gorgeous event. The formula one was actually on this weekend, so it was a loud with all the cars racing around, the jets flying by and the tents being set up for Iron Man. However, it all added to this wonderful little story. There was a beautiful afternoon light that broke through during our afternoon segement of shooting, which was a godsend. Gave us some brilliant light to work with, and trully made it that much more magical!
Olga & Anthony really do have a very special bond going, and you can honestly see how in love they both are with each other. I will say it again, like i Have in previous posts, chemistry between a couple really is a game changer for a film! You feel the authenticity and love, and that is indeed my preffered way to shooting things. Of allowing the couple to be themselves, rather than overtly control the situation, setting up poses etc. Good times my friends, good times.
Enjoy this clip! Music was by The Icarus Account – Favorite Girl.
- May 27, 2014 -
A Wonderfully Rainy Wedding
The notion of your most recent work being an indicator of your best work, I think is very true. Working in film, you really are on a mission, a path, to constantly refine your skills, to try new things and explore new possibilities. A filmmaker doesn’t just make a film, they try and also say something with it. This I suppose might not hold completely true to wedding films, but I do think that there is to an extent a way to do so. To have a message in what you film, even if its a documentary styled shoot that is fairly constructive, and the same as other projects.
I think this comes out in what you personally bring to a project, not just the idea or concept of the project itself. I think things like life experiences, perspectives on values and life really to affect every single aspect of what you produce as a filmmaker. It’s at your core. This film i believe is one of my best yet, and I really enjoyed crafting this piece. Kat & Hamish were a fantastic couple to work with also, and their raw natural chemistry adds a lot to it too. The day actually started out a little foreboding, with the dark grey clouds and constant downpours of rain. It did clear up thank fully!
Good times were had, and I trust you enjoy this one! The song was also chosen by the couple as they really really wanted to see it used in their film. (Oh, it was 500 Miles by Sleeping At Last)
Well enough with my verbal blabbering, here you are! Enjoy
- May 18, 2014 -
I spent the last 4 days in Sydney! It was a shoot which I was sent on behalf of Orsino Media (who I have been working with a bit recently), and the event was all about procurement. Procurement is essentially the purchasing of goods from other business, to drive your own business forward. So as a very basic example, if I make wallets, then I would potentially need to buy little zips from a supplier, this is called procurement.
The event was like a forum, or a seminar if you will, of many CPO (chief procurement officers) coming together to discuss things within this particular industry. It was filled with very knowledge speakers and was quite a prestigious event. It was glamourous, with everyone wearing business attire, the location was right next to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and there was a ferry cruise around the harbour to have dinner. The Faculty organised the vent.
The hotel we were put up in was the Pier One Hotel. It was quite nice as you can see from the shots!
The brief was to essentially film on my own, but run 2 cameras which could then be cut together in a multi clip edit potentially. I was also to shoot some nice, beautiful shots that could potentially be used for a highlights clip of the day, and also to showcase some of the prettier corporate work that Orsino are known to do. So in order to do this, I had to do a lot of running. And planning.
It does put the pressure on you, because for example if you miss something important, you can’t exactly get that moment back. It’s just like a wedding really, and so you have to try and be as efficient as you can be, to the best of your ability. The normal set up I had was one camera on the main action/speaker, and then a second camera shoot crowd and reaction shots. This was the base set up, but I did move around cameras depending on what I needed to get.
I think theres a lot left to be desired on a lot of corporate films and videos I’ve seen for seminars. Usually there isn’t much thought put into where the speaker would stand, the layout of the room, lighting, background etc. This shoot was different in that respect. I use backlighting set ups, tried to make sure there was something in the background to give some depth, adequate lighting in each position the speaker was standing in, and of course an interesting composition. It’s quite a step up from your typical corporate shoot, thus why it was a challenge, but also quite fun at the same time.
The equipment I used were x2 Sony FS100′s, which for the majority of the time had Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 lenses attached to them (the rooms were quite large so I needed the extra length). The Sony’s also have a 1.6x crop on them (as they aren’t full frame) so the lenses were essentially 300mm lenses. I had something like x6 32gb SanDisk Extreme 80mb/s cards. I had Dedo’s to shoot in some light from the sides and behind, and light panels for some extra fill. The main room actually had some night stage lights so it wasnt necessary for me to really add any light front on. I had audio running into one Zoom H4n from the desk, as well as a backup zoom sitting with some mic’s attached on the lectern.
All up the gear was about 30kg, with a further 15kg in my backpack. Not sure how I got it all on the plane, but it happened! (All these photos were taken on my HTC One, and then edited. Forgot to bring my little X100!)
Good times were had! I’ve got a few weddings to finish editing, and then a couple more to shoot. After that, I’m off to Japan! More on that soon!
UPDATE: Here’s the highlights video that was put together by Jane at Orsino
- May 7, 2014 -
Mental Health Awareness
Gravity Tour was started by one of my friends (Joel Taylor) who I went to high school with. It started small, and has grown now to a larger size where it’s starting to require a lot more funding if they are going to reach more people.
What Gravity Tour does is engage students in high schools with media (which takes many forms) and creates a space to open up conversation between young people to talk about their problems. Mental health illnesses is a big thing, but not a lot of people really grasp that fact.
Joel came to me a couple months ago to see if we could put together a simple clip which would show the essence of what they do, and also try and garner some support for this years events too. I edited this while on a plane to Thailand, and I didn’t really have to make many changes. That doesn’t happen to often! Hah.
He launched a Pozible campaign for this years tour, and was successfully funded not long ago. Thank you to everyone who gave to this wonderful cause!
Here’s the clip.
- April 25, 2014 -
First time for everything!
A proposal video. This was one of my good friend’s big day! The logistics were this: Wire up a whole load of lights in a rain forest in Canberra, then somehow get Beth to come there in a pretty dress and get tricked straight into a marriage proposal. It was brilliant fun though. I captured moments, real moments of the set up and the proposal (plus a few staged shots) to make sure it was as authentic as could be! And knowing Sean there was no hiding anything, and it was all glamorous and romantic.
Filming wise, it was all shot on an FS100, a 7D some GoPros and a few phones. The phones didn’t make it into this final cut though. Speaking of cameras, the FS100 has now really shown its worth to me, after editing this clip. The clarity that it offers, especially in low light, is really quite a whole other level above my old trusty 7D. Given I have quite a nice new lens on it (Sony G F4 18-105) it still impresses!
I’ve used a track which both these guys love!
Here we are!
- April 15, 2014 -
Songkran Infused with Table Tennis
I arrived yesterday morning in Melbourne, welcomed by the chilly morning temperature that it’s so well known for. I made sure I wore long pants and a long sleeve shirt just in case. It was quite a stark difference to the temperature I was in for the last 2 weeks, where I was sweating and not wearing a whole lot of clothing. I admit though that I welcome this change.
The last week was quite busy, planning an event for the last day of filming in Chiang Mai. The idea was to promote the ping pong marathon a bit, so Adrian had a genius idea of placing a table tennis table right in the middle of Songkran celebrations. (All Songkran photos were taken by Joey Marasek, and the ones on this post were edited by me. See his blog here LINK)
Now if you do plan a shoot, I think it’s absolutely key (with any project) to make sure everything is planned. However, we could only plan so much as Thailand is a whole other beast when it comes to handling official matters. We had a verbal agreement with one of the event officials that we could place our table at the main event between 2-3pm on Saturday. In all honesty we could’ve just stayed there for a lot longer. We didn’t have any officials greet us, or approach us during the entire time we were filming. I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t even approach an official earlier, and simply just hauled a table tennis table into the event!
We tried to go all viral, and have a social aspect to it. Unfortunately most people were preoccupied with blasting away each other with water guns so not many people had their phones out to use our #pongcnx hashtag.
The purpose was to bring some more awareness to the issues of sexual trafficking in Thailand. I think it’s something that should be done every year though (ping pong in songkran), most definitely. That way it can start to get some more traction and gain some more international supporters.
I had to definitely cover up my equipment to shoot this event. No one is going to stop and simply not shoot just because you have a camera in your hand. Its actually even MORE of an invitation to shoot you. I use a plastic wrapper which a tshirt was in, and then use some yellow tape to tie it around my camera. I cut some holes for the viewfinder, and for the lens. I brought a UV filter to protect the original glass of the lens. Then I simply held it close to me and shot! It worked pretty well. I did have to wipe the filter every now and then as there was water flying everywhere, and had some splotches to clean up.
The best thing about this little stunt we pulled was that there were random people joint in and playing against each other. I think that is so important for such a cause, to bring people together and to I suppose play against each other, for a common cause. Not that they really knew what we were doing this for, but a few did ask about what pingpongmarathon.com was, and that’s exactly what Adrian (director of ping pong-a-thon) wanted to achieve I think.
The table as you can see, was half broken, thus why we used this one in particular. It was Urban Light’s old table, so Adrian got a fresh new one to replace it. This table was most likely trashed afterwards! A bit of fun for the boys at the Urban Light centre.
The last night for me was simply going out, and enjoying some of the nightlife of Thailand. Went to a bar called Guest View, which I recommend for anyone who comes through Chiang Mai. Its quite funky with its decorations, live band was excellent and it was quite cheap for a drink!
Well, back in Melbs. Time to get back to some money making to fund my next trip in June. Japan is next up!
- April 9, 2014 -
Interviews & Tid bits from Northern Thailand
A little bit since my last blog post. But it’s been quite busy indeed! I’m currently staying in a dorm at an NGO in Chiang Mai, called Urban Light. They’re quite known around here for a lot of the work that they do with boys! Nevertheless, lets rewind a few days!
I was in Bangkok up until Monday this week, where we finished off that leg of the trip with filming a few personal stories of the girls & boys which have successfully gone through, or are going through, the programs at a couple different NGO’s. We went to either the places where these NGO’s resided or to our character’s homes to interview them.
This involved our characters talking to either Celeste or Benita about their lives, largely to do with where they had been before & where they are now. It generally revealed massive transformations in these peoples lives, and it was really amazing to see the relationships that were built up with Celeste & Benita.
I’m specifically using character’s as I cannot reveal the names of these girls & boys, nor can I show much of a front on shot of their faces. It’s all a matter of privacy and security as these issues are incredibly sensitive and its out of respect to the organisations.
Adrian (director of Ping Pong-A-Thon & Celeste)
All the interviews i’ve filmed currently has been with slight movement. I’m giving it a bit of life, emphasising different points that our interviewees make, such as zooms on impactful statements for example. They arent hugely noticeable, and quite fast movements. Considering I don’t have a two camera set up either, we’ve been heavily reliant on doing a separate take with just hand movements, and then general shots of them doing various things. Could be buying food, walking down the street, sewing etc. It varies, but gives me something to cut to so things aren’t so mundane for the viewer (although with the stuff these people are saying I highly doubt it’s going to be mundane!)
Anyway, we were off from Bangkok to Chiang Rai on a plane. Was about an hours flight. Chiang Rai is way north, close to the Miyanmar border. It’s quite a small city, but we met with another NGO there which works in prevention – so essentially running schools programs & education to stop the initial process of parents sending their kids off to work in the bars & brothels in Bangkok and surrounding areas. This organisation works up here because it’s a poor area, and a high percentage of girls and boys who are working in Bangkok come from this region. We interviewed Gla, who is a local working with this organisation.
Afterwards we made wonderful local lunch with her and Nathan who was driving us around and showing us the landscapes of country-thailand. It’s actually incredibly green, and very mountainous in the north. Anywhere around Bangkok seemed to not be as luscious and mountainous.
We also filmed, (and largely for the promo material) the kids at this organisation playing table tennis. I shot it all in 60p so I could slow it down in post and get some nice slow action shots. We took a bus afterwards from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, which is quite a lot larger. It was great though, and our next plan with ping pong is to actually stick a table tennis table into the middle of sonkran (their insanely huge, on an epic scale, country wide water fight). We intend on getting locals to play table tennis in the midst of the chaos. It wold look fantastic on camera I think.
So, yes! I’m currently sitting here in Urban Light, about to go tackle a coffee and then get some footage going for the day!