Culture and Society

Celebrating Ten Consecutive Weekly Film Releases

It’s been a while since I have posted on this blog, and I have a valid reason. On Easter weekend last April, I was asked by some friends to film a mask giveaway in the square of a neighboring town from where I live. I spent an entire afternoon filming someone dressed as a hybrid of Uncle Sam and the Easter Bunny giving out free masks. Within 24 hours, I had the film completely edited with music and ready to launch on Youtube.

This got me thinking long term about what I wanted to start making from a creative standpoint. I graduated from film school back in December of last year (2019) only to end up, much like the rest of the world, in a quagmire of uncertainty in the wake of the Corona virus pandemic. I had freelance film projects either delayed or canceled as a result and an entire film and entertainment industry indefinitely put on hold.

I also understand fully that a college degree in my field does not automatically make me an expert. So, with the mask giveaway project as a template, I decided to start creating and releasing a film every week as a way to keep developing my skills and nurture my own creativity. This involves developing project ideas, gathering materials, film production and editing, audio recording and editing, music, and promotion.

Phew! Did you catch all of that? Well, for the last 10 weeks since Easter, this is what I’ve been doing. I have released 10 short films in ten weeks. By now, I’ve gotten to a place in which I have somewhat of a routine and process in place, but it has been far from smooth and easy.

Some days, it’s been difficult to get motivated, and in a lot of other ways, being quarantined at home has been largely prohibitive in terms of collaborating with other folks and filming at public locations.

So, I’ve been improvising as much as I can using my magical home in the woods, along with my musical and visual art skills.

Here is a quick recap of the 10 film releases I have carried out thus far:

  1. Got Mask? Easter Giveaway

    Filmed on the Friday of Easter weekend, Uncle Sam gave away hundreds of masks that he handmade at home. This is a colorful adventure on a warm and sunny afternoon. I was proud to document this act of kindness and generosity.

2. Ami and the Ivy

This film was a project that I filmed and directed in August of 2019. Because of my insanely hectic final semester of college, I did not finish editing it until February of this year. The pStyle company contacted me about filming some sort of promotional film for its product. We talked for a while about different possibilities, and after a truly enjoyable collaborative process, we ended up with a sweet little film.

3. Love Ever After

This 30-second short film was actually an assignment for a class back in college a year ago. It was buried deep in my portable hard drive I used for school and left totally ignored all this time. I had always loved this piece and decided it needed a proper place in the world. So, I gave it a thorough dusting and recorded new music for it on my vibraphone. Love springs eternal here . . .

4. A Little Red Bracelet

In August of last year (2019), I decided to fulfill a bucket list item by visiting the US National Holocaust Memorial Museum while I was in Washington, DC, on some business. What had intended to be a two or three hour visit stretched out for an entire day until the museum closed. I have read books and watched movies about the holocaust, but this museum gave me even more insight into the countless untold stories and horrors that Hollywood and popular culture have not shared fully. It was sobering and so immensely sad. Just before I left the place, I bought a little red bracelet that I wear to this day. It’s a small reminder of the sheer devastation and brutality that humans are capable of and the delicate nature of the privileges we all have, by varying degrees, throughout our lives. I composed the piano piece for this, and the recording I used was the first take. I love how this one turned out:

5. The Gardener: A Mother’s Day Tribute

Within my repertoire of original songs, I have one that I wrote specifically for my mom. She is a lifelong gardener, and I’ve always felt that it was the perfect metaphor for how she has cared for my family and I all of my life. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and there is no time like the present. I enjoyed secretly filming her garden. She thought I was just taking pictures and had no idea what I was up to. I guess this film is as much about my mom as it is about a momma’s boy.

6. She Cares for Her

This is another project I made for a production class a year ago. It originally had more to do with creating a sense of place through the use of sound. One of my best friends happened to have a wonderful horse on the new farm she and her husband just purchased, and they graciously let me film Isabella on an unseasonably warm winter day. Horses are, without a doubt, magnificent creatures. (Every time I see one in my rural neighborhood, I have to stop and stare.) I originally intended for this to be a meditation on the ways by which humans and animals interact and how they actually care for each other in subtle and tender ways. I wanted to stay true to that intention. This final version includes spoken word poetry and my a capella singing. Animals, by my estimation, are far more aware and generous than we will ever understand.

7. The Other Foot

When it comes to self-expression, I have always believed that I should be wary of censoring myself, particularly if shame is the deeper culprit. When I first mulled over the idea for The Other Foot, I felt a bit embarrassed by it all. I took that as a reason to proceed. I look at this project as my first major pivot in this weekly film series—going from thoughtful and poetic to comedic and crass in one fell swoop, with one or two sexual overtones for good measure. I thought of simply using sock puppets, but that didn’t interest me so much. Using my own feet solved some practical issues since I was doing all of this myself. I could operate the camera and film my feet simultaneously for most of it. I wasn’t sure how the toe socks would translate, but from the minute I filmed the first take (which was the multi-colored “Ranch” character), I loved it. It was much more adorable than I could have imagined, and I don’t even actually have a foot fetish! For better or worse, here is what I consider the pilot episode. There will be more to come.

8. The Other Foot: Behind the Scenes Featurette

The insanity of The Other Foot did not end with the pilot. I decided that I wanted to develop the idea even further and create a sort of imagined “behind the scenes” look at the truth behind the show. I wanted to explore the idea of what it means to be exploited, regardless of the intention or the result. A little bit of a back story is always a good thing.

9. Carriage

At my core, I am a musician—a singer and pianist to be specific. “Carriage” marks another pivot in my creative output. To be honest, I am not particularly fond of seeing myself onscreen. I generally cringe and look away. I took this as a sign that I should do it, and with all of the protests and pain surrounding the thoughtless death of George Floyd (among many others), I wanted to infuse the world with a meditation on healing. This song and video offers no grand solutions. It simply paints a picture of what it means to deal with and live with pain and trauma. This song grows from experiences and truths in my own life. I decided to forego my piano playing for this song and chose to use a delicate and lilting mandolin for accompaniment. It served up the dosage of gentleness that I wanted.

10. Art in Creation: Sunshine Flower

Here it is—my most recent release as of this posting! I am always curious about how artists create their work and what that looks like. I decided to make an art piece of my own and document the creation for this film. It starts from a blank page and evolves fromthere. The inclusion of the song “You Are My Sunshine” was always part of the plan. I was originally going to record a version of it myself, but my friend Billy Kemp, a touring musician who lives in my neighborhood, was coming by to hang out outside on our deck. I had the idea to ask if he would be willing to play and sing along with me if I recorded it on my porch. Thankfully, he loved the idea. MaxZine had his mandolin, and you can hear the result in this film. At the moment, I don’t know what to do with the “Sunshine Flower” art piece I created, but I’m open to ideas . . .

There it is folks. 10 films released consecutively in 10 weeks. I feel proud and a bit exhausted just thinking about it. What I haven’t shared with the world is that I have a long-term goal of making 100 of them.

Yes, as in ONE HUNDRED of them in total.

That means I have ninety more to go.

If you have a minute to throw me some encouragement during this daunting challenge, I will gladly take it.

Thank you for watching my films and for following along on my creative journey.

There is so much more that I have to give.

—Roqué

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