Blazing Toy Guns

The elders quorum in my ward right now is having a film festival. All of us were invited to contribute a short film of some sort, clip from home movies, or whatever. So me, Shellena, and my bro-in-law's family put this together. Its somewhat of a "Toy Story" inspired type of story. It was a lot of fun to make, and I think it turned out quite nice. I'll let you know if I win any award from the Elders Quorum Film Festival!

Thanks to
Tim Hall
Bethany Hall
Ethan and Eli Hall

and Shellena Tietjen for producing the short film.

The Hobbit - Behind the Scenes

I am predicting that 2012 is going to be an amazing year of film.
Hunger Games, Dark Knight Rises, Arriety (Studio Ghibli) Brave (Pixar), The Avengers, John Carter of Mars, Star Trek II, The Amazing Spider-Man, (possibly the Ender's Game adaptation?) and--The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Watching this behind the scenes video has made me long for Middle Earth much like I did every December in high school, with each installment of the Lord of the Rings I think its going to be rather amazing!

Dark Knight Rises- Teaser Trailer

This trailer doesn't show much, but I'm so stoked in either case. Tom Hardy as Bane looks more and more awesome, and the chanting in the background at the end has me intrigued. There has been a lot of speculation about why Bane for the villain. Quote from random IMDB user "Bane was a lame character in the '97 Batman & Robin film. But I have to say that the best graphic novel series that I've ever read (and I read a lot of comics back in the day) is the story of Bane and how he breaks Batman's back; he almost defeats Batman for good. He is the only villain to figure out how to take the bat down "for reals!" He's not just a dumb strong-guy. In the comic Bane breaks all the villains out of Arkham and for several weeks Batman spends every night putting them away again, no time for sleep or much of anything else. At the end of those 2 weeks, Bane fights Batman, now that he is weak and exhausted beyond human capability. Then Bane breaks Batman over his knee--as shown below.

Jeremy Lindström - America's Got Talent

That's right! My best friend, on national television. Jeremy Lindstrom: dude in the orange shirt, with white jacket over the girl with the microhpone's left shoulder. He's famous now! Isn't this awesome! The Summerwind Skippers is Jeremy's jump rope team and they got a YES from the judges, so now we are waiting to see them in Las Vegas when they jump again?
Jeremy had told me they tried out but he was sort of skeptical about whether or not we would actually see them on the air. I'm sure hundreds of people try out, but low and behold! They made it. Hopefully we will see them again. Check out the footage! They are the first act that appears on this youtube clip below.

Wedding Video Intro

Andy and Jen Ramos' Wedding Video Intro

In 2010 I shot some wedding footage for Jen and Andy Ramos (sis-in-law). There were some huge snags with finding a machine that could work with the footage that I took, but it turned out really nice. The video ended up having more than an hours worth of footage, but I thought it would be good to just post the opening segment, which has some really beautiful shots and some simple but (I thought cool) motion graphics.

Super 8 - J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg

With a season of extra-terrestrials, (Battle LA, Skyline, Cowboys and Aliens, Green Lantern) surprisingly, what has made this film a tangible and emotional experience surpassing others is not the action, CGI, nor crazy alien gadgetry and weaponry. On the contrary, the appeal to this hometown experience is the relationship of a few 15 year old kids as they endeavor to make a movie amidst the crazy events caused by an extra-terrestrial presence. And who better to build this experience than Producer Steven Spielberg who brought us E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial as well as Close Encounters. And Director J.J. Abrams whose previous creations have displayed an ability to build stories around curious and unexplained events (Lost, Fringe, Star Trek, Cloverfield)

This film has done well. Critics have liked it in general (83% on rotten tomatoes/ 7.9/10 IMDB) and viewers (Its first few weeks boast 72 Million at the box office coming in close second to Green Lantern's, whose reviews have been dismal to say the least, though I have yet to see so I will refrain from judgement)
Abrams and Spielberg have spoken of a desire to reach back to traditional practical effects and events to ground this sci-fi story in reality. The most important element of the story, (which it seems film makers are forgetting more and more), is that we want to spend time with good characters. Each 15 year old character, from Joe Lamb (played by Joel Courntey) to Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) are subtle and responsive, like taking moments out of our own youth and embodying them in the characters. We spend a significant space of time just being with them and seeing their simple, but challenging lives. It seems to me that this film is actually about Friendship and Family and what really puts a rift in them, and how catastrophe often pulls us closer to the ones we love.

My IMDB Vote: 9/10
IMDB's Cumulative Votes: 7.9/10 (16,091 votes)

Parent Guide: The most offensive part of the film is the language. The group of young boys talks just like a group of 15 year old boys would... fairly vulgar and profane.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Total Awesomeness! I recommend this film. If you loved the first one than the second falls right in line. I wouldn't put it above the first, but it is a strong sequel. For me the most powerful aspect of this cartoon is that they were able to make the characters deeper and more rounded without changing them from what they were in the first Kung Fu Panda. Example: Tigris is more tender, but she doesn't lose the edge and hard/emotionless that she was in the first. That's a difficult task. Props to DreamWorks

My IMDB Vote: 8/10
IMDB's Cumulative Votes: 8.0/10 (7,440 votes)

Parent Guide: Cartoon action and mild violence (they do Kung Fu in the Movie. Hope that doesn't come as a surprise to anyone...)

Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides

To use a cooking euphemism, the latest installment of the Pirates franchise was essential the same cake as the previous sequels, but a change in the color of the icing. If you thought Dead Man's Chest and At World's End were amazing, you'll probably feel the same about this one. (this goes for those who didn't enjoy the others as well) Most critics are calling it a "lackluster". But it was a fun movie, although the type of film you walk away from with nothing more in your head than "well, what should we do now? Want to go out for ice cream?"

A rebuttal: Johnny Depp is amazing in the film. Jack Sparrow is truly unique and I imagine that making these movies was probably one of the funnest experiences for any actor.

"You do the work and you want people to see it; but, um while I'm doing the work, the result doesn't matter at all to me. Ultimately, I don't, I don't care whether the film is - you know - some big giant box-office bonanza and I don't care if its a complete flop. To me, when a film gets made and it's actually finished it's a success. They're all a success in their own way."
-Johnny Depp

My IMDB Vote: 5/10
IMDB's Cumulative Votes: 7.0/10 (20,905 votes)

Parent Guide: Pirate action scenes. Little blood or graphic violence. Mermaids are topless, but they frame shots and stage actors to not reveal anything.

The Dark Knight Rises - Bane

So the website for the next Batman instalment being directed by Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight, Inception, Prestige) is up and running and apparently its sort of a puzzle. Luckily, someone with a lot of time on their hands, some ingenuity and devotion, has revealed the first secret to the website(which is this picture of Bane (played by Tom Hardy) below.)

Check out the sites below for more information:

Inception Swede

They say imitation is the highest form of praise. So here's my praise for Christopher Nolan's Inception. This is also a shout out to a Michel Gondry film which is totally awesome called Be Kind Rewind. It stars Jack Black, Mos Def, and Danny Glover. They own a VHS rental store and all the movies get erased. So Jack Black's character and Mos Def's remake the movies. Their remakes are called Sweded. They are super funny and often clever how they decide to make the movies work. Its a great film, and we decided to swede Inception.

Oh, and yes. I was lucky enough to land the role of Cobb.

I hesitate... but here it is....

Here is my puppetry assignment from my animation class. I hesitate, because I'm not super pleased with the quality. While there are some redeeming factors, they are only apparent if you know how the puppets were made and the process of capturing and clean up.
This little video was inspired by a film called To Live (Huozhe) by Zhang Yimou. In China there is a tradition of using thin paper dolls against a semi-translucent backdrop as shadow puppets to tell stories. I've included a clip that shows the puppets at 2:34min. into the clip: If you have the opportunity you should watch the whole thing. Its a great film.

So I endeavored to create something similar. The part that turned out really well, is the first shot, and the final ones. The first shot is actually a composition of 3 separate images composited as one. I thought it turned out almost seemless. The final shots are just fun because of the Jet Fire effect and the explosion.
So, having said, the quality is pretty poor everywhere else, but it was super fun to make, and sort of funny I guess.

Amoebas- Stop Motion Animation with Water Droplets

Here is a stop motion animation that I did for my animation class. Kenny Mcaffee helped me out on a lot of it. It was sort of experimental and I had no plans for it to turn out the way it did, but I'm glad that I was able to create "characters" (sort of) from drops of water. It was super well received in my class. The students were generally impressed that so much could be done with just water droplets.

My next project is Puppetry. If anyone has an idea for a cool 30 second film using puppets of some sort, I'm all ears.

Rikki Tikki Tavi - Concept Animation

I've been wanting to adapt Rudyard Kiplings amazing short story from the Jungle Book, Rikki Tikki Tavi. I quickly realized it would be really difficult to do it live action. So as I started looking into options for animation I kept having this vision of a completely monochromatic visual component that makes the foreground and the background blend.

At about this same time, I signed up for an animation practicum course here at BYU, taught by Ryan Woodward and Kelly Loosli. The class focuses on experimenting with animation (the medium and the content). So this is the result of my first dabblings in Flash animation.

2 experimental components that I was after: First, in making the process simpler and more unique, I was interested in seeing how many lines I "didn't" have to include. Thus my characters body parts are not connected but individual shapes moving together and our mind almost automatically fills in the blanks.

The second experimental component, is that I animated the whole thing with a mouse. For those not too familiar with Flash, animators use a tablet and a stylus that lets them "draw" by hand, on the computer. Its pretty cool stuff. But I chose to not go that route and instead designed my shapes like a graphic designer would, using Adobe Illustrator and bringing the shapes into Flash to animate them. I think the result was a sharp edged, sort of "toy-like" result with the movements and shapes.

Villains - Halloween Movie

Here it is. Villains -The Rexburg Idaho Halloween Movie from 2010.
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

For the past few years, since all of us guys got home from our missions, we've had a lot of fun spending an exorbitant amount of time sewing, gluing, and mounting a costume. Comic book heroes and villains have been our main focus. We;re a bunch of comic-book nerds, what can I say.
This years specialties were Nightcrawler and Hobgoblin, both made by Troy Parson. (Jordan Parson wore the Hobgoblin). Troy is the master at making these costumes. He spends more time and cash than most of us, because he sees it as more than a hobby. And seeing how we spend so much time making our costumes, we wanted a way to make an enduring memory of it. So, we make movies in our costumes--Thus it is called a "Halloween Movie"

This was definitely our most ambitious movie, as compared to previous years. It was all shot in 2 days. 1 scene here in Utah, and the other 13 in Rexburg. It was intense and a run-and-gun sort of production. Everyone who is in the film also doubled as crew, which is awesome. A lot went wrong the day of as well, cast members dropped out, costumes lost at the dry-cleaner... but somehow it came together. Hope you enjoy it.

If you have yet to watch a video on my blog -- MAKE THIS YOUR FIRST!!!

This is an amazing animation, by Ryan Woodward. He is one of the professors here at BYU in the animation program. He has worked as a storyboard artist on many big movies in Hollywood. Check out Ryan's website.

This animation is beautiful and emotional and somewhat tragic. For anyone who has woken up the morning after breaking up with the girl (or boy) of your dreams, you know how this feels and the animation captures it amazingly. There's a particular moment, when the boy wakes up a second time and his limbs turn into heavy clay that he can't get off the ground--its just astounding what animation is capable of conveying visually.

The words from a Pearl Jam song (Nothing Man) come to mind while watching this video. "He caught a bolt of lightning, curse the day he let go..."

For further information on the making of this video here is the documentary that accompanies it.

Thought of You - Making Of from Ryan J Woodward on Vimeo.

M Night Shyamalan--Gateway Drug to Formalistic Film

Recently I've been itching to write something in hopes that it would somehow come to Shyamalan's own ears. And although that is 100% unlikely, I would like to say it anyway! Where are you M NIGHT?!!!
In one of my intro classes here at BYU, we were talking about auteur theory and Shyamalan's name was put into the list (begrudgingly by my professor--but nevertheless) Surprisingly a large group of students, including myself, joined the Shyamalan group to discuss his creative approach to film, and its uniqueness in comparison to his contemporaries. I was surprised that so many students, who were eager to study film, were also eager to talk about Shyamalan. I believe it is because Shyamalan is a gateway to formalistic style in film.
Even the layman knows there is a vast gap between a commercial blockbuster that blows the boxofficer into pieces and what the Academy picks as "Best" whatever... (Avatar vs. Hurt Locker for example) the truth is, something happens when a person decides to devote more than a few hours a week to film. When a person wants to figure out how and why film works, and how they can be so moving and powerful, and how a film can be an art form as well as a product. What happens is that certain films start dropping off the radar. Certain, run-of-the-mill genre films don't seem to hold their own water, much less give deep enough soil for study.

M Night bridges this gap. Not that his films are super-blockbuster hits but they are commercial at the same time as fatalistically styled.
Modernism is defined as art that seeks to reveal the apparatus. A movie that encourages the viewer to be aware that its a movie, rather than be sucked in as though it were real life. Your average Hollywood director (not big shot) steers clear of this. They want viewers to be sucked in and manipulated. (this is known as escapism. It isn't always bad but the average American audience only responds to this type of film.)
There is a modernism in his editing style and cinematography that is immediately appealing to the novice-film critic. There is immediately more substance because Shyamalan will hold the shot when another director would cut. The novice-film critic will start to ask why he does this and this question is the gateway. Why does a filmmaker ever cut? Why does dollying in create a foreboding or cathartic experience... thus we are introduced to film theory.

I wish to raise my voice, with many others, and say thank you M Night, for making religious films, for being bold in a cookie cutter industry, and for introducing me to how deep film can truly be. I love your films and will always look at them as a huge boost into becoming a film student and hopefully someday a practitioner.

ps. Many accues Shyamalan of only having one trick: a twist at the end of the film. And although, 6th sense, Unbreakable, and The Village do fall into this category. That is only 3 of his films with a twist. Shyamalan has directed 7 commercial features.
Some would claim that Signs and Lady in the Water have "twists" but its not true. In several screenwriting books they say an ending (or climax of a story) should be both surprising and yet inevitable. This is a difficult thing and almost a contradiction. Just because a movie has a surprise ending, it does not make it a twist. A twist is when the ending reveals information which changes EVERYTHING we've seen up to this point. It is usually built on a secret that isn't revealed until the end.
Signs and Lady in the Water do NOT have a twist. Just a surprise ending.

pss. The Last Airbender. There are 2 things I feel necessary to say. 1st- Everyone was urging Shyamalan to try something new. This is the type of film you get when a director goes outside his element. So all you "urgers" that's what you get.
2- Why is everyone treating this kids movie, as though it was supposed to be as good as Lord of the Rings or something? It's a kids movie. Its on the same plain as Monsters Versus Aliens or Madagascar 2, but no ones mad at Dreamworks for such lame movies... nuff said.

Bend and Not Break

It was awesome working with Tim Hall, Timm McCreary and Christopher Hall. There are 3 elements of the short that I found the most successful. Casting is the first. It made the film. I would like to put in a special plug to Tim Hall. The day we sat down to do a practice reading of the script he already jumped into character and was yelling at Chris at the precise moments. I was impressed with his willingness to jump into the role he was playing so quickly. Of course, I can't claim the genius of casting, for it was acutally Shellena, my wife's idea to cast her older brothers (and brother in law Timm.) (oh and Larry, "Mr. Dorison" was all Tim's idea. I believe he may have been eager for the opportunity to yell at his father-in-law without consequences.

With the casting came a location. Chris & Tim work at Resource MFG, a staffing company out of Salt Lake. Because of their positions there we were able to use the office as the main location for the film. So, the 2nd success of this project was once again, Shellena and Tim's idea.

The final component which I feel credible enought brag about, is the shot composition. I was rather pleased with how it turned out. In the editing process I had all the variety of shots I needed. There was never that painful moment of saying to onself "why did I not get a cutaway of..." or "We should have done this take one more time...". The editing process was smooth and I have received compliments for the variety of shots (Mediums, closeups, wides) as well as camera movement and static shots. Specifically, on a number of occasions, the shot of Chris demanding Tim's badge, with his hand close to the lense; for some reason people really thought that shot was cool/professional/whatever.

My intention is not to brag, and I cannot say this film was wildly successful by any means. The story doesn't exactly function and because of time restraints it leaves a lot of questions in the viewers mind.I only had 3 minutes and I chose an ambitious story. So sew me. But the purpose of a project was as an exercise in using the tools and medium of film. I feel that it fulfilled its purpose of creation.

ps. A special plug to Sammi. She did the sound recording on set and was willing to wake up early and spend a saturday helping out on the film. The sound quality was superb; better than any other project done I've before. That means I spent less time stressing about it in post, than on other projects. So, thanks Sammi!

So in the end I guess I have to say I'm a believer in the collaborative nature of film. Any great director is dependent on a great crew. When we surround ourselves with hard workers we usually develope the same attributes.

The Boy, the Boots, and the Devil

This was film Written/Directed by Brenton Williamson, and Produced by Skyler Brunner. It's a comedy inspired from Brenton's youth in Bear Lake Idaho where cowboy boots mean social status and everyone carries a shotgun...
Although that may be a little exaggerated, the film definitely reflects a hickish, country-like style.

I was the script supervisor on the shoot and I had a great experience. The crew was small and most of us doubled for other positions, and a lot of us were new to being on set.

The film is set to premier on April 20, 2011

Check out the BBD website:

The Monk and the Fish by Michael Dudok de Wit

Michael Dudok de Wit came to BYU a little while back (before I was here) but my professor told us about it. He was very pleased with the eagerness of BYU student in learning and talking about spiritual cinema. This is one of his short films.

We watched this short animation in one of my classes. It was rather inspirational for me and it made me realize that in general, a person's response to a film will be greatly influenced by what they bring to the table. For instance, I was touched by this short film because I am so much like the Monk. Hunting after something that I don't full understand, but for some reason I know I must search after it. But no matter how hard I search I never seem to get any closer. It is only towards the end, when the Monk and the Fish are floating away together, do we see that if we stop and let the fish be, we will be closer than ever before, it will be on our side. I'm not saying we shouldn't search, but we should search for that perfection knowing it may not come until after. This was a huge message to me saying "take it easy! the "fish" will come.

On the other hand however, Brandon, a fellow student said he saw the fish as a temptation. That the Monk should be doing his duty and not be so addicted to this fish. I don't think there is anything wrong with his interpretation. Dudok de Wit, I believe, would encourage the dual nature of the reaction to the film. We cannot (and shouldn't try to) force a response from a film (or piece of literature, or piece of art) Art is so very often more about ourselves in relation with the thing, as opposed to the thing standing alone.

Midway To Heaven

Another PA experience I had was on the set of Midway to Heaven. An LDS film that I think premiered just recently at the LDS film festival. We spent the morning setting up the scene. They had huge flags: (you can see some in the picture below. This is just a pic I found online to show what flags look like. They are used to deflect or diffuse light)

The black ones you can see in the photo were used here to diffuse the directly over head sunlight, and then another reflecting flag (not scene in photo) was used to bounce light horizontally making it appear as at sunset even though it was midday when the actors got on set and we started shooting. The cool thing about that shoot was Kirby Heyborne was there. I snuck a photo. I'm sure they'd be annoyed if they knew... oh well.

My task during the shoot was using a garden hose. There was a stretch of concrete in the shot that was overexposed, meaning it was too bright. So they had me use the hose to wet the concrete, bringing down its brightness without having to alter the lighting on the actors. So every few minutes they would tell me over the radio to wet the concrete.

Letters To Pearl Harbor - Student Film

Mid semester (I think during September) I had another opportunity to help on a film. This time it was a student film called Letters to Pearl Harbor. It was shot in Provo, and the scenes I helped on were shot in the Maeser Building on BYU Campus. I had volunteered as a P.A. (Production Assistant: which is a glorified term for someone who does whatever menial task is needed. Essentially a "gofer") but an interesting thing happened and 2 of us PA's were asked to be dressed as MP Officers and be extras in the film. I don't know the director of the film's name, but Kristen Hilliard produced it and it should be premeiring soon. This one I will most definitely be in the film. My job was to walk into a dark smoky interrogation room, where the main character was being grilled by some FBI dudes, and throw a box of her personal belongings on the table. I put on my most serious face and dumped with more character than ever before.
Another funny experience that happened while on set: The script called for some actors to smoke;(Since everyone was LDS and it was a student film, they used herbal cigarettes) that accompanied with the fog machine produced enough smoke to set off the fire alarm. We all exited the building, not for fear of any fire, but because it was so loud and it didn't stop for at least a half an hour.

17 Miracles

At the beginning of Fall Semester (2010), just before classes started, I had the opportunity to be an extra in a TC Christensen film called 17 Miracles. It was shot at the LDS Motion Picture Studio here in Provo. The MPS is awesome. They have a huge back lot that is mostly a forest. On one side they have a Pioneer town where several church films have been shot. Most would recognize the Newel K Whitney Store replica.

I spent a good 12 hours standing in the background as a pioneer, dressed as shown above. My uncle Doug went with me and we both spent the day hoping to be part of a shot that would make it into the final cut of the film. You never really know, as an extra you're supposed to be just part of the background, but there were a few times I was directed to walk past in a scene fairly close to the camera.
Doug on the other hand, he will most definitely be in the film. During an important death scene, he stood next to the dying man. His face may not be seen but his boot will be.

I learned a lot and being an extra was good, because most of the time you just sit there. So I would venture as close to the camera and crew as possible. (when I was not in a particular scene that is) I just wanted to see how they worked together. Surprisingly the Director (TC Christensen) was not the one calling the orders. He would say "action" rather quietly and then his 1st Assistant Director would yell it really loud.

I learned more in a day just watching, than I could have reading 10 books about it. The MPS is totally rad, and I would love to work there someday.

Absence More Than Presence

In our TMA 114 class on Narrative types, I was introduced to a narrative structure called Typicality and Process. Its purpose is to create the everyday. Remove unnatural conflict and often take time to show real life type events; Exalting the Everyday!

The story was inspired by a special moment I've experience only a few times, while living in Idaho. In the winter, when a thick layer of snow has just come down, it has the effect of muffling the entire world. It is one of the few times I've experience total and complete silence. I mean REAL SILENCE. And there, standing out in a field, all alone, I realized what I had been missing all my life. We fill our lives with noise and color. This is a story about stopping and smelling the roses, to coin a cliche. And the Absence More than Presence is referring to the aural track of the short film.

Thanks to:
Aaron Ogilvie (Actor)
Colten Ashley (Director)
Samantha Cope (Director of Photography)
Coco Mack (Producer)
Carson Tietjen (Screenplay)


I just noticed that I hadn't posted anything in all of 2010. I guess I should give a quick heads up of everything.
I was accepted into the Film Program (media arts) here at BYU. I'm currently taking classes and studying film all day everyday. I love it here. the faculty are great. My emphasis is critical studies and screenwriting.

Two's a Crowd was the short film I made to be included in my application to the Film Program here at BYU. Thanks to Roy and Elliot, as well as Kenny.

2010 A long Year of Film School

2010 has been a difficult and rewarding year. I'm just now getting around to posting all of the things that I've put together over the course of the year.
The first things I have been able to post, are the first few chapters in the 2010 Halloween Movie. Its all on my page. check it out at

The movie is broken up into chapters (sort of like a webisode format) due to its length. I encourage ya'll (I'm from Idaho, I can say it) to check it out.

(further note. I won't be posting my videos directly to the blog anymore. I can get a a more dynamic viewing size on vimeo than the dinky little box that blogger provides.)