My Cinematics

September 17, 2010

I think it’d be a good idea to start off this post with a few lines from my Day #1 freshman orientation.

Mike: “Hi, my name is Mike, and my favorite hobby is making films.”

Girl: “What kind of films?”

Mike: “Haha why don’t you come up to my room and find out. I mean… oh shit.”


I’ve been around amateur filmmakers all my life, and when I say amateur I mean very amateur. Since I was eight years old I participated in the Video program at FCDC, in which the Video counselors would write short scripts, film campers acting the scenes out, edit the footage, then show the finished video to the entire camp. I was rarely in the videos for multiple reasons, one of them being that every group of campers had fifteen kids in it and it’s difficult to make fifteen roles for every single script, another being that I was an obnoxious child and the counselors at the time probably thought I was an annoying little shit. Which I totally understand now.

The videos weren’t Spielberg’s work, just funny little skits about monsters attacking the camp, or about how the counselors ate too much Taco Bell (a recurring theme throughout the years.) The important part wasn’t the story, it was the thrill of seeing yourself on a big screen in front of the whole camp, and knowing for just a brief moment that you’re a star.

My dad was the program director of my camp, so at the end of the summer he’d get a master copy of each year’s complete camp video. Since I had them all in my house, I’d watch them endlessly throughout my childhood. They were my fascination, these simple little skits. They were a nostalgic reminder of the innocence I felt at that camp. I won’t go into detail, because I know it would do no good trying to explain it, but for a lot of young kids FCDC is like a heaven on Earth; free of judgement, stress, and expectation. I always craved more.

When I was old enough to be a CIT (counselor in training, basically an intern) I was stationed in Video for a week, and witnessed for the first time what it was like to be on the other side of the camera. The job wasn’t as glamorous as I’d built it up to be in my head, but I loved every second of it. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to buy a video camera and try to make my own movies, just like my childhood heroes. Aw.

The first product of my film-making career was a video of myself solving a Rubik’s cube, a task that seems to get less and less incredible as time goes on. It didn’t require much editing since all I did was add a song in the background, so it was a good first video. But I wasn’t happy with just that, I wanted something with a script, something funny and crazy.

And so in my sophomore year of high school, The Sam Conner Movie was born. A crazy three-minute movie-trailer spoof of classic bad-ass cop movies. Again, it wasn’t Spielberg, but it was fun. The movie gained a lot of attention throughout my school, and people wanted more. So when I found the time and resources, I gave them more, with Imaginary (More Than) Friend, the story of a young man who encounters delusional people and finds himself engaged in wacky confrontations. More videos would follow over the next few years, including a highly anticipated sequel to The Sam Conner Movie, which can also be found on my YouTube channel.

No one in Bellingham that I’d ever met had been interested in film before, and despite my amateur status I started to become known for it. Everyone kept telling me how someday I’d be a famous director. There were times when I believed them, but usually I’d just shrug it off as a hobby. That’s all it really was anyways. I reveled in the thrill of bringing my friends together, turning them into people they weren’t, and then editing the footage into a work of art (because no matter the quality, art is art.) It made me feel alive; it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.

That’s why it seemed so perfect when in the summer before I went off to college, a special opportunity opened up. There was a spot open for a Video counselor at FCDC, and I was finally at the age where I could take a head counselor position. I took the job in an instant, and me and my co-head Kyle spent that whole summer making the skits I’d adored all my life that had inspired me to pick up film in the first place.

If that isn’t the perfect example of a story coming full circle, I don’t know what is.


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