teen vision : john loxterkamp
For the past 16 years, I’ve lived with my family in a small town on the coast of Maine. Our community is filled with quirky, independent-minded, rather remarkable people, and my son (now 18 years old) is lucky to have grown up here, with these folks and their children as an extended family. One of those children is now also a high school senior, preparing to move to college, and out into the world. I’d like to introduce you to John Loxterkamp, who, as you will soon see, has a unique sense of visual style and wit, and a sophisticated ear for editing. What are the origins of John’s artistic vision? How did his early drawing skills inform his current work with video and typography?
When John was an eight year old, I was struck by his highly stylized drawings. As I’ve written before, all kids make remarkable things, and many make remarkable drawings. But some kids are working at another level that really takes your breath away. Perhaps the most striking aspect of John’s work was his way of creating a sense of the passage of time… a rendering of cause and effect. This is no small thing, especially in a child’s work:
At some point, around the age of nine, John turned to video. He and my son Noah made and edited movies for hours and hours, animating many an inanimate object:
From that point on, John made film after film, and at a certain point, his sensitivity as an editor and his innovative use of graphics came to the fore. The lyric video below was created by him this summer. Enjoy this excellent creation, and read through to the bottom of the post for my interview with John Loxterkamp.
Your drawings were always distinctive. Have you drawn continuously since you were a child, or have there been times when you’ve taken a break?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and there have been slow periods where I haven’t drawn as much or as frequently, but I can’t remember ever taking a break from it completely.
What do you love about the video/film medium?
What I love most about film as a medium is that it allows one to tell a story with unlimited methods of doing so, through shots, scores, how the video is edited, etc. I also love the problem-solving aspect of film making. Throughout my history of videography, there’s always been a point during either production or post production where something doesn’t work, either continuity-wise or sound-wise or shot-wise. It is the duty of the filmmaker, especially one who is in charge of most of the aspects of production, to somehow solve or alleviate whatever problem it is. There are several ways of getting to a point where you’re satisfied with the final product and the imperfections are negligible. There’s no specific reason film is my medium of choice, except that I feel a strong passion for it and I am motivated to create short videos frequently, I do it for fun.
Tell us a bit about your MAX video. What do you remember about the process of making of it?
Max, as far as I can remember, was a very short stop motion feature Noah and I made for fun; we always created when spending time together, and in this case we had a camera and a lot of time. Though the video was short, only about 6 seconds of stop motion total, I remember there was speculation about how many frames each picture we took should last on screen. At the time, I was all about the fluidity of motion and the final presentation, and suggested that if we made all of the pictures 3 frames long, the video would flow rather than assume a more choppy feel with the more standard 8-frames-per-photo look. It was also challenging to move everything in the shot around with relation to everything else, sometimes we would find ourselves confused as to what we had moved since the last frame and what we hadn’t. In the end, I’d say it was one of our more successful stop motion productions.
Which artists/filmmakers inspire you?
I’ve always been a fan of Wes Anderson. The way he sets up his shots as a Director is very unusual and captivating, and I’ve taken much from his use of lengthy still wide shots.
I know that you’ve found, through the internet, quite an extensive community of other teens making films. How do you think the immediate feedback (likes, repostings, votes) affects your work?
I really learn a lot from how others receive my work, and I learn to deal with the negative feedback I receive. I always pay attention to and encourage the posting of comments on my video because I really feel that constructive criticism from those who scrutinize my work will help me in the long run to improve my craft. I’ve learned some techniques from those making films around me, but I’ve never shaped a video of mine around a fellow content creator’s style.
Tell us about your fabulous Nashville Lyric Video.
Nashville was my first full lyric video, although I had been working with typography and music before. The main thing I learned from working on Nashville was how to budget my time and meet a deadline. Because the video was a commission, the artist’s manager gave me about a three-week period to complete the lyric video, and that turned out to be a very short amount of time. I was working 6 or 7 hours straight some weekends putting the video together, and I had to prioritize; I would stay in rather than hang out with my friends some nights, and I would close out all other distractions to get the project done. It was a learning experience, I’ve never had to do something so time-consuming and intensive.
What are you working on these days? Are you open to taking commissions?!*
Right now I’m starting to get back into film, but I have one typography project I’m working on at the moment, which will probably take me about a month to complete. I am always open to commissions!
*Update: February 2012: John is currently working on a commission for me: a book trailer for my Fotoplay book, to be completed in early March.
Stay tuned for the link! HERE it is!