I started to be interested in the art of movie-making when I was 12 years old and my parents bought me a webcam. I spent hours making pointless shorts of me beating myself up with no sound recorded whatsoever, and then tried (but failed with flying colors) to edit these clips together into a lengthy segment and eventual movie. This hobby continued once my family invested in a camcorder that recorded utilizing tapes, and now my recordings had sound to them which added a new dimension to my playtime. I made several unedited recordings with my brother and cousins, as well as dozens upon dozens of videos of me trying to breath life into my action figures and soldiers by recording them move frame by frame in the same way that animators made "The Nightmare Before Christmas" or "The Corpse Bride". These raw footage round-ups were very messy as they had all the errors of bad takes present and some of the most uninteresting entertainment values people could witness, but to me I was content with my creative attempts at trying to make some form of story that was outlandish and interesting compared to daily life. This was my escape into the realm of my imagination.
In the 9th grade (15 years old) I had to take a class that forced me to use my family's camcorder in order to make a consistent story with a small group of some fellow classmates. It was the funnest project I was "forced" to do the whole year and even though we did not ace the project, we felt awesome about it and had a great time putting it together. After completing it and showcasing it on screen and witnessing all the people in class laugh and smile at what we had accomplished, that simple payback of joy and seeing others entertained was truly what made me want to take it even further. After the year ended I bought a cheap camcorder that was even better than the previous family camcorder and this new one allowed for much easier computer editing than before, even if it still was nothing fancy in the slightest. I began making video skits and short creations with my very good friend Aaron Hines, from simple stories about being locked in his garage to skits that involved me having withdrawals from not having the milk I needed for cereal. We even made a skit where the world was ending because waffles were falling from the sky. Obviously these were mind-blowing movies (to us). Watch "The Quest for Milk" HERE
As 10th grade (16 years old) began and Aaron and I began a video production class we met our video teacher and mentor Gary Osborne. Osborne taught us all the elemental pieces of video production that helped transform our simple and bland style of shooting into something more organized and much more narrative. He gave us many tasks to do and different video concepts to go and shoot on campus as well as off the campus. Videos ranging from twisted endings to videos that required us to walk from a specific point to another specific point on the campus. Halfway through the year, and after several short personal projects (some filmed with Aaron and some without) I realized I wanted to make something major compared to what I was used to. Inspired by the 007 film "Casino Royale" I wrote a parody that was much more condensed and could fit into a 20 minute timeframe. I talked it over with Aaron and we had many days to go over the script and plan costumes and locations and I even story-boarded some of the scenes. When we finally got to shooting it we were able to shoot two full scenes before we got too busy with schoolwork and personal events to continue it. But when playing back the two scenes to a very small handful of fellow video production students, they had nothing but good things to say about it. Their words of encouragement for us to finish the project jolted my brain back into gear and we ended up filming the rest. The editing took some time but on the day of reckoning when I brought it to school on several DVD discs for the cast members things could not have gone better. Since it was so close to the end of the school year classrooms had much more free time to offer, and with DVD discs in the hands of each of the cast members of the film and TV's in almost every classroom we had accidentally set off something beautiful. The movie was watched throughout the school over and over throughout the day in different classrooms in front of different people, and with a bigger audience came a much larger array of feedback and kind words from fellow peers. It truly was the best part of the 10th grade year to have the movie "premiere" at school and garner so much attention. The film did not make any money or receive any financial compensation, but that was not an issue at all. Aaron and I had created entertainment that got people talking. It was absolutely awesome.
Watch "Casino Royalty" HERE
During the summer between 10th grade and 11th grade I was mentally set on going into the next year of high school with health classes aplenty since I wanted to be a doctor for children (creeper-sounding job, but hey). Things changed though when my family, as well as Aaron, took a trip down to Hollywood. A trip that sent a much stronger surge of movie-making thunder buzzing through our veins and really inspired us to want to devote our careers in this direction of lights, cameras and magic. When we got back home our minds were racing. I immediately started planning out how I could change my health classes to video classes and by the time school started I was able to get into two video classes simultaneously which was something that had apparently never been done by a student before. Things were going down an even faster route on the film express now, and I could not have been more excited or determined to do some serious video business.
Watch the "Trip to Hollywood" HERE
When 11th grade (17 years old) started up I began anchoring the school news with other fellow video students, and I also began making story segments to show during the news as well. Aaron and myself had had some disagreements right before the year started which made us kind of split our video-making efforts, but through this unfortunate event we both learned how to rely more on ourselves and branch out on our own as individual creators and artists. The year had some monumental videos made that were Aaron's directorial efforts, while most of my directorial efforts were more often seen in my own work outside of school. Not the smartest to try and spend my effort on projects that didn't have grades at stake, but they were projects I truly wanted to make and ones that did get some great feedback from classmates and friends. At the end of the year Aaron, some friends and myself went and stayed at a beach on the coast to film a somewhat lengthy (only 12 minute) video that was a parody of the "Pirates of the Carribbean" movies. It had me (horribly) acting as a Johnny Depp-esque pirate named John Crow who was seeking treasure. I also wrote the film and helped direct it, and Aaron helped direct as well and work the camera the entire duration of filming. The film got us a great grade in class and the poster of the movie that Aaron had made was put up on Osborne's class wall. Watch "Pirate's Gold" HERE
As 12th grade (18 years old) began I was in a mental funk. I had some ideas and goals in mind but some of my anxieties that dealt with my confidence seemed to be getting worse, even though my determination was still quite strong. This malfunctioning mindset oftentimes incapacitated my movements as a creator and held me back from some decisions that probably would've helped benefit me. The year was not better than 10th or 11th grade that's for certain, but there were still some interesting and big-effort-attempts that I put forth even though my mind was having issues. I made a parody of "The Dark Knight" which received mainly positive feedback. I spent roughly $800 of my own cash on the parody even though I knew I probably would not make that money back anytime soon (or ever). This year was even more intense as far as personal projects were concerned, and my final video project that was almost ready to turn in had major crash issues in the editing process and was not able to be handed in before graduation. The video has yet to even hit the internet because it's such a personal project about addiction and loss, as well as about some of the terrible nightmares I experienced during 12th grade's awkward lifespan. The year continued and my nightmares worsened, my anxieties worsened, and I strangely felt like my life was not having that "punch of purpose" it used to have. Many people thought I was doing drugs and called me names, but I wasn't doing drugs and never had either, and for all of their name-calling I just tried to stay positive and keep my chin up even when it felt like I should just slip into a comfortable coma. I even had some run-ins with the police this year that went oddly, but even in those darker instances I was still the same old happy me, it was just harder to find this happier and more enthusiastic version of myself. My grades slipped and I almost was not even able to graduate but I still managed to get through the rough patches and I still somehow managed to graduate (with an honors in video production as well). My next step was to head to the Art Institute of Seattle to get my Bachelor's Degree in filmmaking.
Watch "The Dark Knight Parody" HERE
When the 1st year of college (19 years old) got underway I was not sure what to expect. My mental issues had not improved even after seeking professional help, and I just assumed that maybe they would go away with time. College was not a dreary experience by any means, as most of my classes pertained to video and all the students I met were excited about movies and getting into the film industry. The teachers were great, some of which had already been on television shows and helped make big movies as well. I rode the train to school everyday since the school was located in Seattle and I wanted to remain at home on the farm (I live on a farm, nope we don't have farm animals) for the duration of the school-going process. I was introduced to several new friends and collaborative filmmakers. But once year number one was officially over my folks said I should take some time off or get some student loans to help pay for the rest of school. I took the time off, since student loans I wanted to avoid at all costs to not make me a grumpy man once college was over. Plus the Art Institutes are mega-expensive schools. The price for the first year alone made me drop my jaw to the floor and cry a single tear. With the ending of the school year came good news though, in the form of a reality TV show filming & editing job in Las Vegas that would last for one full month.
Watch "Las Vegas Adventure" HERESince ending my time at the Art Institute I have been busy with freelance projects that have pushed me and helped me hone my craft, even though I still am not perfect yet and never will be. Advertisements, music videos, weddings, reality TV shows, funeral memorials, comedy troupe videos, and much more have all required different ranges of thought and perspective and have all been fun challenges to tackle. There has been quite a few deaths of friends, family and even pets that have not helped with my mental stability, but I still try and be positive about things when I find that little moment of clarity every now and then. I almost always go to sleep after 4 a.m. the following mornings thanks to my insomnia that has gradually gotten more drastic since high school, but in those late nights of manic energy and free time I have been able to write and formulate new ideas and concepts for projects. My current plan is to film & edit all (or as many as I can) of the projects I have planned (43 personal projects), complete the feature-length horror film that I'm currently working on (as the director / writer / editor / producer / cameraman), and then head back to school to get that degree and move on with my life. <3