Interview with Van Blumreich

Van Blumreich is one of my favorite indie directors. His “Imprint” short story was amazing and could easily expand in a full featured movie. His music videos are an example of inventive camera work and ideas too. This week Van will release another short movie, named “Fury“, so it’s a good timing to grab a Q&A with him.

1. Tell us about Fury. How did the idea came to be? How long is the film?

Fury is a coming-of-age story about morality and adolescence. It focuses on the relationship between two friends, Scott and Danny, who are faced with a difficult decision after hitting a homeless man while driving under the influence. The idea came from a CNN article I read about teen sport killing that really shocked me. I wondered, “What could cause these suburban kids to lash out so violently”? I thought it would be a provocative issue to explore. That article, along with the John Knowles novel “A Separate Peace” were the starting points of inspiration. I really wanted to tell a story that reflected the confused morality that is seemingly rampant among kids today.

The film runs about 25 minutes.

2. Why the RED instead of an EX1 or DVX with an adapter? Did you buy the RED camera or rent it?

Ever since the RED came out, I really wanted to get my hands on it. Just the latitude on the camera is astounding, and the ability to shoot in 4K attracted me in case of a film-out later on. It’s a little out of my price range at the moment, so I rented from Rick Darge, a RED camera operator I met on the DVXUser forums. He liked my previous short film (Imprint) and so I flew him down to work on Fury. We became good friends and worked well together on set.

3. What are your thoughts on the new RED announcements? What cameras do you own/play with?

I’m definitely interested in the new Scarlet camera. I’m curious to see how it performs. I think what the RED guys are doing is very cool, breaking down their cameras and offering components so that you aren’t left with an obsolete camera down the line.

I own a Pansonic HVX200 and a Redrock Micro 35mm Adapter. It’s been a very trustworthy camera. I’d really like to upgrade to the Panasonic HPX170 down the road. It handles noise better and includes a built-in Waveform Monitor and Vectorscope.

4. I am sure you heard about the success of the HV20 and HV30 in the amateur artistic videography scene. What do you think about these sub-$1000 cameras?

I think they are great. They really allow people to create great looking content at an affordable price. I think if the final product is just going to be showcased on the web, these cameras can do amazing things. It’s when you want to blow it up to film or project it on a screen that I think the illusion wears off. But still, I think they are great cameras to learn on but definitely have limitations.

5. You’ve done both, so how different is artistically a music video to a short movie?

They are similar in some regards, but I feel that the processes differ in that music videos are more focused on what’s happening externally and films are focused more on what’s happening internally. With music videos, you convey feelings and emotions more through the images, colors, and music. With film, I think the feelings and emotions are more causal, coming more from the relationships between people. I think it’s important to understand this difference, because a lot of music video directors go on to direct films and end up with movies that are great to look at but missing that internal focus.

6. Did you have to secure locations, get permits for Fury? Or was it easier than that?

We secured almost all locations for Fury. I learned from experience that unsecured locations can be a huge headache, especially when they try to shut you down in the middle of shooting. We had a security guard call the cops on us before and I had to plead with him to let us go. So this time around, I worked with the Houston Film Commission and contacted all the right people concerning permits and such. It is sort of a time-consuming process, but saves you from getting trouble. But I still find the philosophy of “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission” very true in some cases.

7. What do you think of using Creative Commons Attribution licensed music for your films?

I think it’s a nice affordable option, but I personally like collaborating with someone who can create original music for my work. But if a particular piece was perfect for my film, then I might consider using it.

8. I read that you helped out NBC during the Olympics, in China. What was your experience?

It was an unbelievable experience. I studied abroad in Beijing and was dying to go back for the Olympics. Luckily, the universe conspired in helping me get there. I assisted with the NBC Today Show. It’s kind of hard to describe in words, the whole experience, but it was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. I made some good contacts from it, and plan to go back soon and do some narrative work.

Thanks Van!

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