Small Repetitions

A Resolution of Sorts

In January 2011, I was an audio engineer who loved photography and movies and happened to get paid to take some photos from time to time. A few months prior, I’d shot my first short film as a part of a Canon/Vimeo contest aimed at photographers interested in trying video. My short won a chapter of the contest, and quickly after, I found myself in LA to film a relatively large scale collaborative final installment. Multiple semi-trucks full of gear. 100 people on the crew. I’d never seen anything like it. That collaborative film was then turned around and premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

I went from sitting in the control booth of a recording studio to sitting in a theater at Sundance for the premiere of a film I’d made. It was surreal to say the least. I remember looking around at the people in that room, these people who are largely responsible for the things that you and I watch on screens of all sizes, and realizing I wanted to be a part of that group of people. I wanted to be a filmmaker.

That moment changed the trajectory of my life.

It’s been five years since that January in Utah. I’ve been hustling. Making up for lost time. Learning the ropes, learning my craft, making connections, developing my voice. Figuring out if I even have anything to say. And if so, who to say it with. Some successes. Some failures. There have been fits and starts. But, when I look back on “one-man-band” me back in 2011, I know I’ve come a long way. And for that, I am completely thankful.

One consequence of forward momentum in filmmaking is that even “small” productions, be it commercial, narrative, or even documentary, often require you to overcome an enormous amount of inertia. Seriously, it can feel like a hurdle to just get 5 people to go out to dinner, let alone make a film of any capacity. And thus, it can seem like the gaps between making work can stretch longer and longer as the scale increases.

But if there is anything I’ve learned thus far, it’s that daily, incremental improvements are the way forward in this industry. It’s an everyday commitment to getting a little bit better. Seeing a little bit faster, becoming a little bit more nuanced, making a couple fewer mistakes. Every day. This incremental progress is hardly noticeable in the moment, but aggregated? It’s progress.

So, how do we encourage this small work when the jobs continue to spread out?

That is the question we’ll each have to answer for ourselves.

For me, it’s been something somewhat spontaneous. I recently purchased the Fuji X100t. It’s a little rangefinder point and shoot with a fixed 23mm lens. Images look great. It’s small and built well. But the main reason I bought it? You can transfer the images from the camera directly to your iPhone via an app. Like, anywhere. The camera creates its own wifi network to do so. They say that “the best camera is the one that you have with you,” but I’ll add to that: “the best camera is the one that you have with you…and most easily gets those images off the camera and onto your phone.”

I can’t tell you how many memory cards I have that are sitting in drawers, full of images I’ve never transferred. The likelihood that they stay there? 100% chance. So, until now, I’ve mostly defaulted to making the images on my phone. Which is fine for cruising around, but, as my friend Jordy says, our kids are going to hate us for only having cell phone images of their childhood.

So. Here we are. I have a wifi-transferable digital rangefinder. So, what’s next?

Small repetitions.

So, I’ve made a rule for myself in 2016. I have to take/post 1 image with my proper camera every day. But I can’t go out of my way to find something cinematic looking, nor will I spend much time on it. It has to be something that is naturally occurring in my day. That’s part of the repetition. Continuing to find ways to elevate the mundane, to dip into the stream of a passing life and pull out moments. That’s how I want to get better.

Now, it’s only been a week, but I’ve been surprised at the how the discipline has been affecting how I’m seeing. I’m looking forward to how these small repetitions may bleed into my work this year.

Some #fujiframez:

Cheers to 2016. Looking forward to seeing what we all make, little by little.