Back in high school I had a BFF who was an amazing doodler. With unconscious ease, she created complex ballpoint lithographs. I envied her talent and am forever grateful for the small morsel of distraction she brought to yet another boring class. A few years ago, I decided, on a whim to begin what I imagined to be a small, yet long term project. Similar to a doodle, I wanted to create an everyday amusement, a thought or quote for the day in the form of moving images, a vidoodle of sorts.
I had recently begun collecting toy video cameras designed specifically for children. These plastic-lens toys produce beautiful pixelated images, similar in some ways to the ancient beauty of super 8 film. The cameras usually have no zoom lens capability and are difficult to use in low light situations, but there is something so harmless, so forgiving, so wonderfully surprising about the format.
From November 2006 to November 2007 I made 365 short movies, each lasting under a minute. These amuse bouche videos were posted on my website for 2008. (I had begun an earlier online version of these videos back in May 2006, but had to discontinue the project because 180 titles were purchased by Ouat Media for distribution.)
Looking back on the project now, I can see it’s solid proof of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. But there’s no doubt it sharpened my image-making skills and brought me to another level of processing the world around me. At first, I approached each movie as if it were a longer form project. For the first few titles I had a huge shooting ratio. But then I quickly discovered that the time constraints did not permit the luxury of thoughtful, lingering post production. Instead I had to edit in camera. In fact, I had to edit the world before I even took out my camera. By limiting what I chose to shoot I managed to create a movie a day.
In October 2005, Apple introduced their 5th generation ipod with video playback capability. Although at the time it seemed absurd to think that anyone would want to watch a video on such a tiny screen, it paved the way for video-on-the-go. At first and as is the case today, mainstream titles proved a minor hit: Disney pap, reformatted sitcoms and animated Pixar shorts dominated the new distribution network. There were very few independent works and those were largely YouTube-inspired comedy sketches and butchered versions of in-flight entertainment. Was there was a place for artist-driven work? Yes and no.
The following year, online short video festivals began to spring up. Anyone with a high-speed internet connection, a camcorder and a half-baked idea could become a filmmaker. Overnight, we all became content producers searching for a way to cash in and become the next big online sensation.
Other than that first distribution purchase – and mind you, it was a big one – I have not actively pursued any sales opportunities. I thought about a subscription/membership arrangement, but I quickly abandoned the idea because keeping up with all the titles, writing the synopsis, making the film stills and posting them was already too much work. This was supposed to be fun, not a business. But having said that, I do believe there are many untapped distribution opportunities out there: if what you love to do is make stuff, then do it, give it away and see what happens.
Watch more films online at www.midionodera.com