Articles by Annie Woods

Schmooru of the Month- Steve Ogden

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Hi Steve, thank you for taking the time to talk with Schmooru.

Are you aware that there is a Steve Ogden in Texas who is a member of the Texas Senate?

Yes, it’s unfortunate. Almost as much so as the MTV stuntman I share a nickname with.

If you answered yes, how many times a day do you google your self?

Hmmm. Not in a long time, let’s see… Yikes! Damn you Senator!

Your design reel is really impressive, how did you first get started working with After Effects?

We touched on it a bit in school, but I think it was when I saw the film titling of Kyle Cooper (Se7en) that I got excited about motion and really dug into After Effects myself.

Are you self taught?

Yeah I guess mostly self taught in terms of After Effects itself, but I’m super appreciative of my design education at CCA. It was more about concept and the creative and visual aspects than the tools.

You say on your website “I’m big on stylistic non-monogamy” Stylistic Non-Monogamy could be the title of an article in the New Yorker. . . what do you mean by this? Break it down for us.

Hmm, you’re right. I think I’ll reword that. How about ‘versatility of style’. Basically I’m just saying that… because I tend to approach design problems from a strategic, concept-driven angle, rather than a stylistic or trend-based angle, it has forced me to learn to work in more and more new styles, rather than ‘sticking to what I know’, or using some new effect I got, just because it’s cool.  I first think about the message, the audience, the delivery, and then propose visual directions that work well toward those goals.

3D technology in the past few years has grown from professional use to consumer, with 3D televisions, video cameras. . . .etc. Is this technology really here to stay or is it all hype?

It’s definitely not all hype, but it will be interesting to see how it goes. I started doing a lot more stereoscopic work, even for corporate videos and documentaries. I initially thought of stereoscopic as an adrenalin thing, and scoffed at the idea of talking heads, yakking on about this or that “IN 3D!”, but I realized it really does put you closer to the subject and can even make pretty boring information more interesting. It won’t go as quickly the SD to HD shift though – every aspect of stereoscopic work takes a bit of knowledge and skill, it’s not just a switch on the camera. So it’ll take some time, and the technology will continue to morph, and the silly glasses are a big downside.

It’s interesting because a lot of your work has a humanitarian edge to it, do you have a preference in the type of client you work with?

The majority of my clients are probably corporate and entertainment, but I try to show-off more of the do-gooder stuff, because that’s the work I feel best about and that I’d like to get more of. Also that strategy-based thing I mentioned, and my passion for the visual-communication, comes into play with that kind of work. I like working on projects with an actual message more than something that’s just applying the latest design trend to a cliché ad blurb.

Your house is on fire, you have five minutes to grab your belongings, what do you grab?

My fire extinguishers. I have several.
If that fails, my cat, my RAID drives with all my work, and a couple paintings.

You worked a lot with the Obama 08 campaign, can you talk a little about that?

It was kinda like summer camp, except working 16 hours and drinking at bars for most of the rest. Lots of really smart people with very different backgrounds than me. Lots of bonding and camaraderie and the hourly emotional roller-coaster that came along with the latest poll or headline. I designed and animated a lot of little special purpose web videos, like for specific constituencies. I got to co-direct a couple bigger projects that got a lot of play, and that felt good. The interesting thing is how it changed my perspective on politics, I gained a certain patience and tolerance for it. There are so many people with so many different views, even within your own party, it’s like why draw lines around parties in the first place?  As much as I disagree with the way things are, I started to feel like they’re exactly how they are supposed to be, at this moment in civilization.

What advice to you have to aspiring graphic design/after affect gurus?

Hmm, it might sound kinda harsh, but I guess I’d say, if they’re really into the animation/after effects aspect, become an animator, there’s plenty of work and you’ll be valued as a specialist who knows their tools. If they’re really into the design aspect, become a designer, It’s competitive, so be inspired, passionate, dedicated and patient. If you really want to do both, prepare to put in the extra hours for the first few years.

To see Steve Ogden’s work, check out steveo.tv

Schmooru Of the Month- Mimi Cave

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Meet our Schmooru of the Month — Mimi Cave: Director, Yoga master, Dancer and all-around awesome girl. We are happy to have in our community!

Your last name is Cave, that’s rad. (not a question, just a statement- but feel free to respond).

I like my last name because it always reminds me of my dad, an amazing human being. I carry it with pride.

Your work is such an eclectic mix, from performance art to rockband to zen’d out Yogi … what’s your secret to keeping the balance in all this?

Um, I don’t think I’m too calculated about my approach to things so everything I do is very new. Projects are never the same and so each one brings new excitement, disappoint, and energy. What I’m really trying to say though is Humor and Yoga. Good tools for balance.

You studied at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Center in Colorado, it seems your focus was all about dance, when / how did you cross over into the film world?

Seemed like a natural shift in college, however I always wish I was performing more. I feel like myself the most when I’m on stage. Performing is more thrilling because you’re in the moment and no matter what happens, when it’s over, it’s over. For me, Film provides another vehicle of expression and an opportunity to mess with time. So, I love both and still feel very connected to both.

Let’s talk about the tUnE-yArDs music video you just Directed and Produced. Did you come up with the concept?

Yes but it evolved with each person that entered into the collaboration. There’s a little glimpse of everyone’s psyche in it.

Can you tell us a little bit more about directing the video?

It was very fun and continually inspiring. I was fortunate enough to work with a lot of good friends and people that have since become good friends. We had a few challenges throughout the process but nothing major. We were all determined to make it great… a testament to Merrill’s music.

What was it like working with all those kids?

Great. Exhausting, but great.

Will the world end in 2012?

Of course.

As a filmmaker what evokes more validation, landing a commercial gig or having a video blow up in the blogsphere and gain half a million hits. What feels better?

Neither, actually. The aftermath is less satisfying than when you’re actually in the chaos, making decisions that somehow find their way out of your mouth, working with talented people, and seeing your strange visualizations come to life before your eyes.

People always think if you want to be in the “industry” you have to be in LA, but you live in beautiful San Francisco, tell us about the film community there?

There are really talented folks here and in LA. I believe that where you live does influence what you do and how you do it, but you can make it work a lot of different places. You have to find a community that inspires you and lay down some roots. LA has a lot more opportunities in the industry but is also a lot more cut-throat from what I’ve been told. Personally, I live in San Francisco because I like walking to where I’m going and seeing familiar faces. Plus, it’s the City of Love.

And the hippie scene?

Did you say burrito scene? Yes, go to Papalote for the fish burrito or Faralito for a late-night super burrito. Wash either down with a house margarita from Velvet Cantina. All within a 3 block radius.

Last time you rode a cable car?

June 10th

How do you have 5 different “jobs” and stay sane?

Busyness tends to keep me sane. I often feel more calm the more I have going on and if there’s idle time I sort of lose it. However, I’m feel like I’m starting to appreciate simplicity more and more. Too much is too much and eventually you’re left with zero energy. Slowing down sometimes is key.

What advice do you have for folks who want to do it all, be the teacher, the producer and the student?

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what you’re doing, speak up and ask for help. The gray area between inexperience and overconfidence is large, so just make sure you clarify your intentions no matter what role your in and always show humility. As for fear of failure, it’s not a question of if you will fail but how you will handle it when you do. Everyone fails, but not everyone can brush it off. Ego is a bitch.

Mimi Cave’s website: littlecaveofwonders.com

School is a Scam

Friday, May 27th, 2011

School is a Scam

By Annie Woods

 

This article is biased. It’s biased because I never liked school. I sat in the back. I negotiated black market deals in the cafeteria so other kids would do my homework. In fact, I once posted signs around school marketing this business. They were in color, had a witty advertising line and eventually landed me a parent teacher conference with our 40 year old principal who still suffered from adult acne and had a little mustache that earned him the catchy nickname “Hitler”.

When I think back to what I actually learned in high school I am haunted by teachers so old they should have been in nursing homes, points deducted when words like “gosh” and “freaking” were used. I should probably mention here I went to an extremely religious private school that made learning anything remotely useful in the real world a joke.

By the time I took high school English I imagine it was my English teacher’s 200th time reading Hamlet. His lack of passion – as obvious to us as a mustard stain on a white t-shirt – is why I never opened that book. These people were grumpy dinosaurs. They inspired me only to rebel in one of two ways: 1. Be a smart-ass 2. Skip class entirely.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy learning. Rather, it was the pre-destined subjects we were forced to learn that I detested. I loved to read, but Shakespeare just couldn’t compete with David Sedaris or Tom Robbins, and if my school had found out that I was reading the hilarious autobiographical book of a gay man in New York City, they probably would have burned me at the stake – Crucible-style.

In my senior year of high school, a 42 question multiple choice aptitude test with questions like ‘On social occasions do you prefer listening to what is going on around you or do you prefer watching the goings-on?’ decided I would be either a paralegal or a flight attendant. I remember the other kids in my school high fiving each other as if they had won something great: “Dude, I’m going to be a pilot!”

I crumpled mine up and made a shot in the waste basket that would make Shaq blush.

I went to college for one year after high school. It was slightly more interesting than high school, mostly because I came across a fake id, and was really good at rolling joints. It was still an environment that killed creativity and bred conformity. I had to leave.

Which brings me to my THESIS STATEMENT (ß–college word): School is a scam. It is unfair, it divides people economically and separates the masses. With college now costing 400% more in the United States than it did just 30 years ago, access is definitely not equal.Yet our society continues to push and preach that having a degree will in someway set you free and make the “American Dream” more attainable. In reality, student loan debt is now greater than credit card debt for the first time ever. With a generation enslaved in debt, how can we expect people to attain new frontiers? What innovation and creativity can take place when the stress of debt and living suffocates the creative motivation you once had? And do we also sacrifice our wanderlust? Our ability to explore and learn from the world?

I guess what I am asking is: What is our trip to the moon?

School takes you in, sifts your pockets faster than you can say Bachelor’s Degree, and leaves you naked in the world with a sign tapped to your back that reads “good luck, kid”.

When people ask me now if I have a degree I smile and say: I have a library card, it was free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Tyler Manson — Our Schmooru of the Month

Monday, May 16th, 2011

I met up with the most radical dude, Tyler Manson, a director whose range of work from surf films to commercials is sure to impress. I asked, and he answered.

When you first started working in this industry what was your biggest concern about “making it”? What the hell does “making it” mean anyways?
To be honest, I don’t think I realized I was a member of “the industry” until fairly recently. I’ve always felt like an outsider, and I think that might be my strength, so don’t blow my cover. I just enjoyed making short films and that led into commercial directing in a very random and organic way. I don’t think I’ve “made it” by any means, but “making it” probably means being able to do whatever you want and enjoy the process.

What is your spirit animal?
I have no damn idea.

You did a pretty rad show for VICE, can you talk a little about that and what it was like to be able to create content for VICE?
I really enjoyed making Hi Shredability. It was a time in my life that was free and full of discovery. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but was surrounded by interesting people willing to open up to me and share a sliver of their world each week. VICE is always leagues ahead of the rest, and I’ll always be a big fan of their work. Especially their international reporting.

Did you choose this career path or did it choose you?
I was just a kid making skate and surf films and it led to the commercial world, so I guess it chose me. I’m pretty oblivious to be honest and I don’t really think of myself as a commercial director. I’m still the guy just making movies, but now a few more people watch them. I guess I just do what I do and the rest comes. I’m open to happy accidents.

As a director and collaborating with different folks all the time, what do think is the most important thing when working with other creative people?
Filmmaking is 100% a collaborative art, so the most important thing is having a strong POV and not compromising. I’ve slowly been growing my gang, and I now have a go-to group of creative people that I admire and trust.

You collaborate a lot with all kinds of characters, who are some of your favorite people you have worked with?
Thomas Campbell took me under his wing at an early age and for that I’ll be forever grateful. Lately my DoP Joseph Aguirre has been a huge collaborator and creative partner as well.

Kim Jong-il invades America and takes all photo and video equipment away, you have one contraband camera…what is it?
Alexa.

New York Pizza or California Burrito?
New York Pizza.

It seems like you’ve always done it your way. What advice do you have for aspiring directors who don’t want to compromise?
I’ve made more compromises than I’d like to admit, but I guess just do what makes you happy. The creative is and will always be more powerful than the paycheck. It’s all about the idea.


Tyler’s work can be seen here: http://www.tylermanson.com/ (and you most definitely should check it out!)