Recently a friend of mine sent me a copy of my high school films DVD, and I watched it again.
While I loved making those projects, they’re clearly early work. I tend to feel like any project from over a year ago is weak, and I could do much better now. Films from high school, nearly a decade ago, are a bit like anything else from high school – some fond memories, but I wouldn’t go back there.
The biggest change in my work since then (besides better acting, better writing, better cameras, and better everything) has been a willingness to slow down my storytelling to take the audience with me. In high school, I would do whatever crazy idea I thought was cool and plow ahead, whether or not the audience could keep up.
People were impressed with my work (especially for a high school student) but they sometimes had trouble had trouble following it. Now, I’m much more deliberate about making sure the audience gets each story beat. There are a lot more discussions in the editing room about “is this clear?” and less “isn’t this the coolest?”
I kind of hope my high school work never makes it online, but one piece was uploaded shortly after I graduated. It’s sort of spy vs. spy opener we did for the school news show. This should give you a flavor for some of the work:
On the flipside, I truly didn’t care what people thought about me in my high school work. I put whatever I was going through or thinking about in to it. In fact, I had such little respect for the uptight authority and political correctness of my school, I’d deliberately try to push buttons sometimes.
As long as me and my friends were making something awesome and having a good time, it didn’t matter what other people thought. We had our gang, and we loved what we were doing. A couple of us even turned pro with film work after graduation.
Watching my old work again made me think I may have moderated myself too much. That I could include more of wild choices I used to make, but with the understanding I have of the audience now. Of course, if you know anything about the projects I’m currently working on, I’m definitely still interested in pushing the boundaries of people’s minds.