Well, my family had a terrible stomach flu that ripped around our household and that's why activity has been sparse on PRBY. It lasted from about Dec. 8th to the 15th. Luckiest of all my family, I got it twice. Anyway, the last thing on my mind was birding or my upcoming big year. Now, with only ten days until it starts, I'm running around trying to figure out how January and the rest of next year will look. I'm not usually the guy to plan out a year of my life ahead of time. It feels like it's already over when I'm figuring out what I'll be doing in September 2011.
All that flu put a serious dent in getting the main tat done in time for the big year next year. Today, at lunch, I'll be finishing the outline. Then I have to wait until next year to finish filming the colouring of it.
I'm sure I'll be posting again before the new year but I wanted to wish everyone that reads PRBY a happy holiday, however you celebrate.
The other day, an original John James Audubon's "Birds of America" sold for $11.5 million. That's incredible. I have always loved his work. So much that I have some of his paintings tattooed on my right upper arm. Speaking of my tattoos, I really haven't shared any of them here before. Here's a video showing my bird related tats. My sleeve is only partially finished. I've put it on hold to do the PRBY stuff.
Well, it's 2 days after the first tattoo session and I have even more good news. Another Cameraman/Director is on board. His name is Jesse Senko. Jesse and I share a lot of interests. We are both Art Directors, we both love film and photography and we both have an affinity for being as far from a city as we can. Jesse and his family are doing something very interesting. They are trying to stop going to the supermarket by starting their own organic farm to feed themselves. You can learn more about this inspiring project at his blog, Crackers. I'm very happy to have Jesse on board.
Lots of people have been asking me how the first Tattoo session went. Well, it hurt mostly. But not the way you might think. I've got lots of tattoos and quite frankly the pain is addictive. Ask most people that are serious about tattoos and they'll all say there's a part of them that likes the pain. The tattoo is on my chest but it's my back that hurts the most. Sitting in metal chair for that long was very uncomfortable.
The tattoo process doesn't mix so well with the film-making process. If you've ever been involved in making a film or commercial, you'll know that it can take an hour of set up time to capture a few seconds of motion. Then you wait another half hour to capture 5 more seconds. You can see where this is going. I sat in the same position from roughly 5:30pm to midnight. This was amplified because we are shooting the entire tattoo in stop motion as well. That means after Pete puts in a few centimeters of ink, we stop, change all the lighting and shoot it. Then we change all the lighting again and shoot a few seconds of needle close-ups. It's an entire night of shoot, change lighting, shoot, change lighting and on and on and on. The outline of this particular tattoo would normally take Pete about an hour or so. But by filming it, it took about 7 hours.
It's all worth it in the end though. Chris and Johnathan said we got great footage. Below are a few behind the scene photos of the night. A huge Thank You goes out to Pete, Aric, George, Chris, Johnathan and Westside for making the first tattoo session a success.
As I prepare to start the first tattoo tonight, I have great news. We have a few more Cameramen/Directors on board. This is exciting, as now I don’t have to do all the camerawork on my own. And let’s face it, if I were, this documentary would never work. Below is a few people that have graciously agreed to donate their time. The reason I need so many is because sometimes there will be very short notice to go see a specific bird. I can’t just expect someone to drop everything to go with me. If I have several people to contact, the hope is that at least one of them will have the time. The link to their work/bios is below.
If any of you out there know your way around a camera or know a few good sound guys, I'd love to get contact information. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
This coming Tuesday evening I start the first Tattoo. I have decided that it will go on the right side of my chest. Pete says it will take two or three sessions that will be about three hours each. These sessions will be filmed by Johnathan Bensimon and Chris Gordaneer. These guys have great reputations within the film and photography industry and I consider myself extremely lucky to have them shoot this for me. The final short will be used as a promotional piece and as the opening titles of the finished documentary.
Jonathan Bensimon came to directing through his growth and experience as a cinematographer. He studied film and photography at Ryerson University in Toronto, and in 2003 was accepted for the Budapest Cinematography Master Class. He studied directly with legends Laszlo Kovacs (Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces) and Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of a Third Kind, The Deer Hunter), subsequently shadowing Zsigmond on a Woody Allen film.
Cinematographically Jonathan continued to mature by photographing Music Videos, TV shows, as well as shooting the critically acclaimed feature film You Might as Well Live that premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival.
As a Commercial Director/DOP his clients his client range from McDonald’s, BMW, Honda and AXE. His short film titled "Time to Deliver” opened the Worlds Aids Conference and was screened before an audience of 25,000 delegates and world leaders including Bill Gates and Bill Clinton. The film received numerous honors including a 2006 Best in Show Mobius Award.
Recently his branded content piece Tokyo/Glow exploded online, the film spread through the blogsphere as it was featured on vogue’s website (www.style.com) and Justin Timberlake’s site. Consequently the film was showcased on various advertising sites throughout the world (Creativity, Communication Arts).
The media interest in Bensimon continues grows, having been featured articles in Shoot Magazine and recently has been on the cover of the November issue of SHOTS Magazine.
Presently, Jonathan is working on a number of 'traditional' and interactive projects under the aegis of Industry Films in Toronto.
Punk Rock Big Year is pleased to announce the involvement of Pete Commanda. Pete is my go-to tattoo artist. He’s been tattooing for 16 years and has designed the main Punk Rock Big Year tattoo. This tattoo will be the first in a long series of work being done in 2011. It’s a classic tattoo style and is not meant to represent any bird species specifically. Pete has done many other tattoos for both my wife and I. My right arm has a collage of Audubon’s paintings, specifically Brown Thrashers and Marsh Wrens. Below is his bio and a sketch for the main tattoo. The ribbon you see (unfinished under the bird) will meander all over my body and contain all the names of the birds I see in 2011.
Pete started his tattoo apprenticeship at Wylde Tattoo in North Bay in 1993. After a year, he started tattooing people full-time. In 1995, he decided to move south to Toronto. Pete honed his craft working at various tattoo shops in the city finally landing at Passage. During his time at Passage, Pete would travel as a guest artist to Cottage 13 in Hamilton. Pete was married and had twin boys. He and his wife decided that they wanted someone to be home with their boys and so he started working from home. Pete draws inspiration from both traditional and tattoo artists.
I was able to find one of the two Pacific loons that were at the Oshawa Harbour this weekend. Too bad I can't include it on my Punk Rock Big Year list. Maybe I'll see another one next year. The bird was mostly in winter plumage but it still counts for my life list.
Hey everyone, I have some really great news this morning. I found a producer. But not just any producer, I have the award winning Marie-Pierre Touré. MP started her career in Client Services at DDB Canada’s Toronto office. After a short time, she realized that her true calling was as a Producer. She made the switch at DDB and over a period of four years worked on several major clients including Canadian Cancer Society, Blockbuster Video, Subaru, Clorox, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer.
She left DDB to become an Executive Producer at Alchemy, a prominent motion design company. While at Alchemy, MP has produced great work for MTV, Nestlé, Westjet, Capital One and Burger King.
Below is a sample of some of the work MP has produced. The Canadian Cancer Society work won a Silver Lion at The 2010 Cannes Advertising Festival.
This documentary will be a lot of hard work. Some people have already given of their time and I wanted to thank them right off the bat. Anyone interested in pitching in, I'm open. I need just about everything right now (especially post production).
I have a very talented Writer helping out. I have a tentative Producer on board. There are at least three camera men on board so far. I have an extremely talented tattoo artist (he's done any of the good work already on my body). I'll announce these folks' names whenever they sign on 100%.
I'm still in need of so much more. Editor, colourist, more camera people, animation house, etc. If you are interested, contact me on Facebook.
If any money is made (which I seriously doubt), I'll be giving it to a bird related charity.
I’m about to embark on something big. As some of you know, and some of you don’t, I’m a Birdwatcher. Get the laughs out now if this is new news. But honestly, I’m pretty serious about it. So serious, in fact, that this coming year, 2011, I’m going to do something called a Big Year. What’s a Big Year? Well, it’s when a birder spends 365 days attempting to see as many different bird species as possible. A Big Year usually has geographical constraints as well. Mine will be Ontario, Canada. That means if I’m in Windsor and I see a special bird sitting on the Detroit side of the river, I can’t count it. But if it swims or flies over into Ontario, I can.
I plan on documenting the entire process. Why? There are a few reasons. Mostly to try and change the stereotypes of what a Birdwatcher is. You know, the people in Tilley hats thing. There’s nothing wrong with that birder, but not all birders are created equal. Secondly, I’d like to see what it’s like to make a documentary film. The third reason is to bring this very enjoyable past time to a younger generation. And last but not least, to make people aware of how fragile and important our winged friends are to the environment.
To make it a bit more interesting, I will be getting a Tattoo throughout my Big Year. But not just any tattoo, (I already have lots of those) I’m going to tattoo the latin name of each and every bird species I see next year on my body. If I’m lucky and things go my way, that could be around 300 bird species. If you know latin bird names, that's 600 words.
I’ll try and get to 300, but I’m not nearly as good as many birders I’ve met. The bigger challenge for me will be attempting a Big Year while balancing my busy family life (I have 3 year old twins and I'm married to a very talented and busy illustrator) and a very stressful career (I’m an award winning Art Director/Associate Creative Director in advertising). When I’m not with my family or writing ads, I spend what’s left of my free time either birding, buying music or working as a freelance Graphic Designer.
I’ll be updating you regularly in a few ways. This blog, Twitter & Facebook for sure.