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.)