Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do You Log In Here Often? trailer release + Erik Stinson Personal Essay

Erik Stinson came to my attention in 2008 or 2009. At the time he was living in Oakland and going to Miami Advertising School, which was in San Francisco. He was also self publishing a book of poetry on lulu (I am Glad You Are Grappling With My Life Choices), and creating a featur-ette film shot entirely on VHS starring his friends in Oakland (Sorry I Like to Party).  He appeared to be making these things just for the fun of it rather than out of some pressing emotional compulsion or deep ambition for personal glory and fame. In more lighthearted moods, I consider this approach healthy, modest and even somewhat enlightened.

Erik is now working full time as a copywriter in a Manhattan advertising agency. He is in a stable relationship. He has self published five books of poetry and stories, completed a second feature film with his friends in Oakland (MLK Jr. Way), and aside from editing Sense Europa (a pdf literary mag masquerading as "The Only European Men's Magazine Published In New York City") contributes semi-regularly to dis magazine and htmlgiant. I have had the pleasure of directing 3 book trailers for Erik over the last two years. 

I think of these trailers less as promotional vehicles for a physical thing (the book) than strange and immediate encounters with a unique personality. Below you can view the trailers in chronological order. I will rewatch them and type my commentary beneath each.

The Stinson Effect
released: 12/04/10
Book it promotes: And Then I Disappeared Again

This trailer earned Erik a nomination for "Worst Performance by an Author" at Melville House's 2011 Moby awards. We went to the ceremony and were disappointed when they didn't screen the trailer. Jonathan Franzen won the award and was not present to accept. This is the first thing I ever made that truly mesmerized me, that I was totally enamored with. I remember watching it over and over and over and laughing hysterically and my wife getting annoyed. I think the video gives off a very strange and unique vibe. The audio is mixed poorly, as I was a less experienced filmmaker at the time, but some of Erik's lines are pretty great. "This Sunset is Locked." "It's like a cool pool you can dip into." Is this guy for real? I like that it feels awkward and earnest and goofy at the same time. Someone got us on the front page of dailymotion, I recall. I uploaded it to Funny or Die where it currently has 58 views and a rating of 60% funny. The color is pretty bad. The animation is a stock aftereffects thing layed over a sunset ripped from youtube. I think the shot where he slowly lifts the water is great. We made the music by dicking around with garageband for 45 minutes later that evening. The whole thing took less than 5 hours.

Midtown Skin / It's Morning In America 
released: 03/19/12
Book it promotes: Our New York Office

I have always been interested in trying to do something better and more unique with video embeds and I thought Mitch Trale, who I had become aware of through the internet, could help facilitate that. I wanted to have the player be like an extension of the video, which itself is an extension of Erik's web presence and art. We started with 90's luxury electronics and a DVD of cheesy money related graphics I purchased from an obscure video production website. I think the player looks really sweet. As for Erik: he seems pretty grim, here. This is when he was first working in the agency. He was single. I think he wanted to set himself up as a kind of dark sage of commerce… communicating to the disheveled and messed up creative people who knew him through the internet from a position of power, from 'inside the machine' or whatever. Erik free-styled the whole bit about the manhattan skyline and being dragged out to sea. He's amazing at doing this - totally comfortable on camera. Someone later asked me for the audio of Erik talking and I think it ended up on a radio show in Britain.

I think I'm In Love
released: 12/06/12
Book it promotes: Do You Login Here Often?

Someone who didn't know Erik had communicated to me, concerning the previous trailer, that they 'hated' him, and would 'never want to read his book' after watching the trailer; so this time I tried to be more upbeat and focus on Erik being in love, which he was / is. The inspiration was the Sinead O'Connor music video for "Nothing Compares to You." We worked with Mitch again on the player. The concept for this player was "PC Hell" but we couldn't find a good gif of a revolving internet explorer logo. I think this player also looks really sweet. I love how you click on the money sign and it moves when the video starts to play, then you click on it again and the players stops, the money sign moves back to the middle, and the flames return to the bottom of the screen. This trailer has the least 'poetic' voiceover parts - all of the audio was taken from me asking Erik basic questions. He talks briefly about his philosophy and goals with regards to publishing on the internet. He talks about who he sees himself writing for. In this trailer I see Erik sort of coming into his own, growing up a little - he seems happier and more comfortable and more open.

Talent: Erik Stinson
Player + Coding: Mitch Trale
Producer / Director / Editor: Adam Humphreys
Camera: Andrés Cardona *
Production Assistant: David Fishkind

*for "It's Morning in America" and "Do You Login Here Often"