The Ups and Downs of Video Production

The above piece was conceived by my colleague, Addie, during a meeting where we were discussing new ideas for employer branded content.  We chose Felicia to be our host because she’s adaptable and can make people feel comfortable in awkward situations…like when your elevator ride turns into an interview.

I love projects like this.

When I studied video production in college, the number one thing I learned is that projects never go exactly the way you plan them.  That’s probably why I tend to gravitate towards concepts that are unpredictable.  I love the challenge of adapting on the fly.  I love it when things go wrong and chaos ensues.

So naturally I was drawn to the idea of putting a potted plant, 3 cameras, two chairs and a host in an elevator and seeing how things played out.  And after two hours of chasing our set up and down four floors, I was very pleased with the outcome.

Story #5: Mindi is a Progressive Woman

This week I tried something that I find very difficult  I told a story that didn’t have me as its central figure.

My colleague, Felicia nominated Mindi for this award and we were all very excited when it was announced that she was going to be honored at this event in the Cleveland area.  I decided to document the occasion.

There wasn’t much planning involved (for better or worse, that’s my style).  In retrospect I should have thought about a more focused story.  Ultimately, I did one sit-down interview and captured footage at the event.

I even went to Mindi’s daughter’s softball game at a local elementary school to get shots of her with her kids.  As I passed the playground next to the field , sporting business attire, a full beard and a camera in my hands, I immediately regretted the decision.  I didn’t end up using the footage and I might not be able to step within 500 yards of a public school from this point on.

The price we pay to make art.  Congratulations, Mindi!

Story-a-Week Challenge

Having gone through a bit of a dry spell with this blog and creative personal projects in general, I’ve decided to challenge myself to tell a story every week using video as the medium.  Some might be vlogs, some might be short films, some might be mini-documentaries…I’m not really holding myself to a format.  The only goal is to have one posted every Wednesday on my YouTube Channel.

And, oh yeah…I’ve already been doing this for four weeks.

I find that if I make a big deal about launching a project before I launch a project, it will never get done.  I’m all talk.

But if I dive right into a project, get the momentum going and focus on the content first, then I’m more likely to keep at it.

After four weeks of developing projects and getting into a flow, I now feel confident that this is going to be “a thing.”  Not like the time I was going to develop my own board game… or the time I was going to code a video game…. or the time I was going to make a gaming blog about coding a video game….or the time I was going to start washing my pants between every use.

Here’s what I’ve made so far…

  1. How I Learned to Cross-Pollinate – A vlog I shot on a trip back to Ithaca College talking about how I use the skills I learned there in an unrelated field.
  2. I Saved 100 Women – A vlog about my shortcomings as an ally for women in the workplace.
  3. The Big 15,000 – That week I challenged myself to get 15,000 steps a day and then ran around a big-ass lake.
  4. La Pomme – A short film I challenged myself to make using basic French.  It’s weird.

As for this blog, I’m hoping to use it to tell stories as well, while also providing insight into these projects.

How long will this go for?  Hopefully the rest of the year, but now that I’ve announced it I may have jinxed myself…



Photographing Antiques

My mom’s new hobby is going to local antique stores to find creative inspiration for her photographs.  Her latest purchase was an old typewriter.  She replaced the ribbon and it still works great.  It also photographs nicely in the dim light of our dining room.

Once I figured out how to use it, I spent several minutes being thankful that I went to college in the 21st century and several hours typing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” repeatedly until I filled a page.  I made a few typos.  I still don’t know where the delete key is.

Yesterday, my mom invited me along for the ride to see if a local store had any old medicine bottles, which apparently make interesting subjects.   Given that I try not to pass up creative opportunities, I joined her. 

She was armed with her fancy Nikon.  I followed behind with my iPhone.  I was like a toddler following his parents’ Honda Accord down the driveway in Spiderman Battery-Powered Ride On.

It turns out that old antique stores can be a photographer’s dream.  Even I found some inspiration.  Here are a few of my shots…

This is a Pokemon trainer from the Renaissance.

This is a Pokemon trainer from the Renaissance.

This kind of creeps me out.

This kind of creeps me out.

This makes me feel old.

This makes me feel old.

Party in the Freezer

Party in the Freezer

Well it’s official.  In preparation for the album I’m working on in my spare time, I subscribed to a service that puts my music on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, Beats, and more.  Just search Eric Licht.  You can also listen to the full song using the link below without having to pay my attention craving ass.

While I’m planning on releasing my new album as a whole (once it finally gets completed) I figured I would start by posting a few singles from my high school/college days.

The first single is called Party in the Freezer.

It’s…different.  I wrote and recorded it in January of 2010 when I was living in my parents’ basement and working at a supermarket deli before my last semester of college.

The only part I don’t like is the bridge where I talk about meat thickness.  It was funny to me then and creepy to me now.

Have a listen and let me know what you think!

Back in the Basement

Basement Studio

Ah yes…the Ping Pong Table Recording Studio in my parents’ basement.  When I was home from school on summer and winter breaks, I used to blow up an air mattress and sleep right below it.  I’d work in the supermarket deli by day and lay down tracks upon tracks of carefully recorded riffs, beats, and harmonies by night.  It was one of the most creative periods of my life and, at the time, I thought I’d still be living down there at the age of 27.

Recording Studio

The album that I’ve been working on off and on for a couple years now is in full production mode.  Up until a few months ago, I only had a few songs half-written.  And even though I’m still not close to finished, it’s starting to take shape.  Feeling the Cleve, an album influenced by my last five years living in Ohio, is sounding more and more like a Say Anything, Weird Al, and Taylor Swift hybrid.  It’s lyric-heavy, funny, and completely autobiographical.  It’s also tonally all over the place and sounds like listening to my iTunes library on shuffle.

Lyric BookIt needs work, but I’m not even halfway done yet.  I love creative, personal projects like this.  I’m not even entirely sure I’m going to distribute the album once it’s done.  But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.  For now it’s all about the process…

Shower Bath Time

A traditional tanka is apparently like a haiku, but contains two additional lines of seven syllables.

So the syllable count is 5-7-5-7-7.

The word tanka was foreign to me until reading about it on The Daily Post.

The true color of my shower was foreign to me until I started cleaning last night.  What was that like?  I’ll tell you.

Jess called me up on
A beautiful summer day.
She spoke with purpose
When she told me my bathroom
“Looked like someone died inside.”

“It’s just my shower.”
I explained in my defense.
“It’s cleaned every day
with a stream of warm water
that drips down from my body.”

“But your body’s gross.”
Jess shouted through the speaker.
“You’re covered in dirt.
A day’s worth of dirt that drips
everywhere the water goes.”

I went to the store.
Straight to the cleaning section.
Snatching up supplies
like bleach, gloves, scrubbers, face masks,
and a Snickers for the road.

A woman helped me.
The checkout line was too long,
And I wanted out.
She opened her register,
And laughed at my strange purchase.

The shower was gross.
Ohio water is gross.
My bathroom was gross.
So I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed.
Until all the gross was gone.

And I discovered
to my wonder and surprise,
that the tub I use
wasn’t shades of brownish tan,
but really a solid white.

The lesson is learned.
I know so much better now.
I will never wait
longer than fifteen months to
clean that which cleans me again.

Limericks on False Assumptions

There was a mechanic named Bob
Who praised Jesus like it was his job.
I found this bizarre,
But he fixed up my car
And made this Jew feel like a snob.

A girl and I started to speak
In an online dating boutique.
Though she played off me,
She didn’t like coffee.
Our “relationship” lasted a week.

In Ohio, I went out to eat
At an ocean-themed place up the street.
But just cause the sea’s viewed
Doesn’t mean there’s good sea food.
So next time I’ll order red meat.

Great Place to Werk!

My team and I recently came up with a concept for a video to promote our new company YouTube and Twitter channels. I say team, but it’s really just the two of us. I’m not sure how many people it takes to qualify as a real team. I just Googled “two person team” and “sniper team” came up, which makes sense as it takes one person to snipe and one person to spot. If they can be called a team, then my colleague and I can as well. Like a sniper team, my team takes risks. Unlike a sniper team, my team risks reprimanding from a higher authority and not death. We’re not like the sniper from Saving Private Ryan who gets blown up in the church tower by that tank. He sniped for most of that movie without a spotter, now that I think of it.

I can no longer tell if I’m off topic or if I ever had a topic to begin with.

Anyway, my team and I produced the most controversial video I’ve ever seen come out of our place of business. To be honest, it’s not that bad. It’s pretty tame. It’s just not something you would expect to come out of a global manufacturing company that often takes a more traditional approach to communicating.

But I like the thought of being different as you can’t really progress in life or as a company without trying new things, even if it means taking a risk. We were met with internal success, so it worked out in the end. But even if it did get us in trouble, I would still be satisfied knowing we tried it.

Take a look and see what you think.