Opinions

The Big 30 and What it Means

Baby Evan
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At about noon this past Thursday the 4th of February, I officially lived outside the womb for three decades. Yep, I'm now elderly, but interestingly, as every birthday that came before, the day came and went without too much fanfare. I certainly don't feel any different. I have been blessed with my mother's genes: A thin build, energy, elasticity . . . Compared to some of my friends who struggle with a few pounds or climbing a steep staircase, I am doing really well and besides playing hockey several times a week, being an event videographer, and walking in the New England elements, I haven't really 'earned' my body. Mentally, I feel as sharp as ever, although the further from college I get, the more useless trivia and high-end math skills I no longer need slip away. That's normal, right?

Despite feeling pretty good and looking fabulous, much has happened over the past 30 years. When I was born, the Internet was not around and personal computers were a luxury item. The Digital Age was just beginning, but I feel like everyone expounds on how much and how fast life has changed technologically since the 80's. So how about what has changed when it comes to turning 30 years old?

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Since I was born, life expectancy has gone up almost 4 years in America. At the same time, through fitness and surgeries, it seems like all our 'role model' celebrities don't really age or even get younger. Have you seen JLo? We have a social media presence that allows us to connect with people like never before. The average college debt is over $30,000 and it's hard to find a paying job in a field after college. All these factors form the archetypal millennial, who goes to college, accrues crushing debt, takes years to find a job in their field, and lives at their parents house longer than previous generations because they can't afford to move out. This person has all the ingredients to mature slower than previous generations. I mean, if you leave home at 18 to get married, buy a house, and start a family, there are certain skills you need to exist independent of your parents, but those skills don't need to be acquired as fast for kids who will definitely stay at home until at least the end of college. A millennial mind is well educated, but might not have the 'common sense' skills they need to survive on their own right away. Thus, true maturity comes a little later in life for these recent generations and, like me, people might not have the sense of purpose or know what they want out of life until thirty or even a little after.

There is also a sort of melding of generations where definitive boundaries once existed. A common theme from the 60's on up to the 90's in music, TV, and movies: Parents just don't understand! And there still is a gap between Parents and kids, but it seems to shrink every year. It makes sense, as parents are in their children's lives, directly, longer and longer and media is so easy to access and consume. I know my mom is far more updated on the pop music scene than I am and she also uses Instagram, Facebook, and other social media once reserved for young whippersnappers. Parents are easier to talk to, less hard nosed, more understanding (in general). I mean gender, race, and other barriers seem to fall everyday or at least inch closer to total equality. There are so many people willing to question authority or take a rationalist point of view (Most times to their detriment), that parents and grand parents are able to comprehend issues with greater tact and understanding than ever before. And so, in today's world, when generations are growing similar, age becomes of less importance.

When I crossed into a new decade earlier this week, it was by no means the end of my youthfulness by my own standards, but also by the standards of society. I'm 30. So what? Life is harder than ever, so it takes longer for some of us to truly find ourselves.

Time will tell if I am treated differently for being 30 or the same. For instance, as an online dating user, will potential matches think twice about me now that I'm not in my twenties? Does age matter and if so, when? Are there certain expectations that come with being a certain age? I look forward to finding out. Until I am truly old 'though, I will continue to eat Fruit Loops for breakfast, laugh at fart jokes, and send frequent snapchats secure in the fact that while I might be 30 years old in official terms, I'm definitely still mostly a child at heart.  

The Wedding Videographer Stigma

Bride Groom Golfcart

Greetings users!

Over the years, I have made at least some of my living off of the shooting and editing of weddings. Sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly, but especially now. Wedding videos are where I cut my teeth as an editor and grew to be a not-too-shabby videographer. I learned the hard lessons about the line between artistry and formula, working for an audience, and pushing the envelope of quality and execution. That sounds fantastic, right? Unfortunately, as a video professional, there are a few lines of work that will give you a bit of a bad rep: Porn is definitely a big one, then making photo slide shows, and finally wedding videography. As I navigate the professional film and video world, I always pause slightly before divulging my involvement in weddings, but thankfully the scene is changing and someday all of my peers will realize just how valuable the right wedding experience can be. Until then, here are three types of people I run into in the professional world and their thoughts on the wedding industry.

Move Along Junior!

The first person I meet usually is somebody who joined the industry in 80's or before. He (or she) has a plum job as a producer of Bank of America ads or is a major player in state or national production organizations. Basically, they rose to 'the top' where they make bank. When I introduce myself to them, I will always mention my comprehensive internship at Redtree Productions, a well established production firm in Boston, before anything else. After that, I have to explain what I'm doing now and what I'm doing now is making the majority of my money off of shooting and editing wedding films. A slight smile forms before me. "Good for you, Evan! Let me know when you want to be serious" they say in certain terms as they turn quickly to the next person in the room.

For most folks in that age bracket, they remember the weddings they attended in the 80's and 90's. There was a sniveling toad of a person lugging around a fat VHS camcorder, standing in the corner of the church, and usually mouth breathing as the toad's nose was clogged with an allergy to any real knowledge of composition, sound recording, or storytelling. This person usually spent Monday through Friday at a desk job and dreaming of making great movies like Star Wars, but settling on a consumer camera and a library book about mise-en-scène . . .

When I admit to being a wedding videographer, for some folks I become the inexperienced toad that stands in a corner, scratching my ass, and creating a in-camera edit that I will copy, but not really look at or review. That's profiling! That's not fair! . . . but that's the way the wedding video industry was then. It was mostly beneath a skilled professional to film a wedding for many years. It's just a stupid home movie after all. It's not something marketable to a larger audience. Wrong.

Why You Slumming It?

The next person I encounter may or may not be a little more contemporary. They also have a great job on the crew of an on-going TV show or have critical acclaim for some documentary they made as a young twenty-something. They claim to be artists in their field. When I tell them about being a wedding videographer, their eyes blink a couple times as the words settle in, they lay a hand on my shoulder, and say something like this: "Well at least you have your feet on the ground, Evan. That's the important thing. I'm sure something better will come up soon."

For these highly-touted individuals, they see wedding videos on the web and they know how complex and awesome the industry has become, but they always feel the gig to be far beneath them. After all, there are awards for wedding videography, but they are largely ceremonial or based on client reviews. A great documentary on the other hand . . . They also feel as though they could (Should they feel the need to stoop to such a worm's eye view) outdo any wedding videographer with their acclaimed filmmaking skills. For them, weddings are a gig you take out of desperation or if you just aren't good enough for a 'real' industry job. Now, there is some truth to that sentiment in some cases, but one thing is for sure: The skill set required to do a high-end wedding video today is NOT something you can just jump into and camera experience in the documentary, television, or narrative world doesn't translate to the running around and stress of a wedding videographer's day. Maybe they should do an award-winning doc on my typical wedding day and the edit after. Then they might understand.

I'm Hungry!

That leads me to the third person I meet: The do all, know all. This person actually embraces my choice of concentration in word if not thought and may even have filmed a couple weddings (or so they say). They are grips, set designers, production assistants and other below-the-line folks. They will hurriedly spout off everything they know about wedding videos. It goes something like this: "Sweet man! I shot a couple weddings back in the day too. You shooting on DSLRs? I hear that is the way to go. You know, I've used DSLRs and I'll shoot the wedding with you tomorrow if you want. I can also edit it too."

This person is a dangerous person. They do many things. They're usually good at some of them. They want to fill their schedule. Yes, they might have shot a wedding before and might even have the skills, but they haven't shot a wedding with me. Before I hire anybody to shoot with me, I not only have to vet their talent, but make sure that they shoot for the kind of edit I want and completely match my style. They may seem to value the work, but they are hitting the record button for the 8-hour day and handing in the footage at the end like a timecard. If someone doesn't understand these things, then they don't value the wedding gig the way I do.

So the problem I'll face in the foreseeable future with being a wedding videographer is this idea of value. Of course, I have to sell the value of my work to brides and grooms all the time, but I also have to sell myself to my peers as well. The way I strive to shoot and edit a wedding takes a pant load of commitment, time, energy, caring . . . And I will make money, and I will build a good reputation, and someday I'll look an Oscar winner in the eye and they might understand that my goal and line of work is a choice that may not be widely praised, but for at least 2 people, newly-wed, it will be the highlight of their entire lives. For me, that's all the reward I need.

Why Hockey is the Greatest Sport

Evan_Is_A_Goalie

Hello!

I know each and every one of you want to know all of my opinions and just how I came to formulate them and this is one that I have felt with increasing intensity as time goes by: Hockey, specifically the ice kind, is one of, if not 'the', best sport ever. To be fair, I didn't always think so. Early in life, I pretty much hated all sport in general, mainly because they were something I couldn't do because of my childhood asthma. Now, I definitely have developed clear arguments for hockey. Let me lay it out for you:

  1. The Essence of Sport - Sports are a critical part of civilization for many reasons, but the 'team' or community mentality has always been the strongest for me. We want to be a part of something larger than ourselves. We want to be a part of a brotherhood of like-minded people. We want to be a crucial part of a success. Unfortunately, we are stuck in a cheerleader role more than anything when it comes to the sports we enjoy and watch, but we still feel the camaraderie of fandom, the joy of victory, and the sting of defeat (In some cases even stronger than the players themselves). We feed off of the idea of the team. Even solo sports need teams of people to succeed including coaches, trainers, promoters, etc. No one can win alone. When it comes to sports, I would argue that the strongest sense of 'team' is present in some sports and definitely not others. In this, I concede that Football (the American pigskin kind) probably is the sport that needs an entire team to work together near perfectly to win. A team can have the best player in a position (Quarterback, running back, etc.) and still lose if the line men, receivers, and others don't do their job. Hockey is second in my mind because one player can occasionally (albeit rarely) take over a game. Goalies can get hot. A forward can go end to end and score at will with enough talent and luck. After that, however, there is a huge drop off. Soccer, the better football, has an astounding gap between the best player on a roster and the worst player. That coupled with the amount of space on the playing area for elite players to show off in, and the game can be decided night after night by a select few on the field rather than the team as a whole. Basketball is similar: If you have LeBron on your team, you just might win a championship. He is that dominant. Baseball is the absolute worst 'team' sport. Players are chosen strictly on analytics and virtually nothing else and the offensive side of a baseball team is completely individualist. Granted you need complementary pieces and strategy for your baseball team, but the game is so compartmentalized by position and numbers that players exist in a vacuum where his/her contribution to the good of the team is empirically measurable. Boring. That leads me to what I consider a very strong component of team: Heart.
  2. The Margin of Victory - What does it take to win? In every sport except golf, you want to score more points than the other guy before time runs out. Of course, it's much more than that. There are also moral victories. Games within games. Strategy. More than any other team sport that I can think of, Hockey does all these things the best. What is the margin of victory? Las Vegas will give you odds on any sport and tell you who will likely win, but part of the reason hockey isn't as popular as it could be is that there is no such thing as a safe bet: Any hockey team can beat any other hockey team any given night. Emotions can win a hockey game unlike any other sport. Why was the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team's win over the Russians considered a miracle? Because they should have lost that game 1 out of a 100 tries, but they didn't because of some intangible force that no one, least of all the players, will ever understand.
  3. The Game Itself - Now at this point I totally switch to personal opinion mode, but it cannot be helped! Baseball is slow and you can be fat and still be considered for a roster spot. Soccer is a beautiful game mired by diving and a rules system that is very black and white and perhaps overly simplistic. Football is crafted for television timeouts and advertising and there is absolutely no way I could ever understand the seemingly thousands of rules. Basketball is a slugfest of back and forth action to the point of boredom. And what of Basketballs' rule system? It is very hard to understand unless it is explained to you (Why can't I push him to the court again?). Then there is hockey. Hockey is fast. Hockey has a, more or less, very understandable rule system (unfortunately, the game has grown slightly more complex than I like over the last 10 years or so). Unlike baseball and football, players need to be athletes through and through and not just specialized (to throw, run, or be a heavy wall). The objective of hockey is simple, yet the subtleties of the game so fluid and beautiful. You have the physicality of football combined with the finesse of soccer and the fast transition from offense to defense of basketball. Simply, the game of hockey itself has the best of all the top sports. Where is the argument against?
  4. Sport verses Game - If you read this far, you're either very angry or you've totally agreed with everything I wrote. Good. Now I'll lose a few more of you because now I'm going to lecture you on what should be considered sport. In its most basic terms, sport is a physical activity in which you can take enjoyment out of. 'Game' can be defined similarly, but also includes mental challenges, puzzles, Parcheesi . . . For me, the definitions go even further. To me, a game is activity, with a set of rules, that one plays for enjoyment with others. 'Sport' is also an activity with a set of rules played for enjoyment, only, to me sport is something akin to a tiered system of athleticism. If you are the best at a game, you have developed a set of skills specific to that game that are not universally transferable. A sport however, includes the development of skills that are universally transferable to other sports. As an example, Sidney Crosby is arguably the best forward in hockey. He is an athlete through and through. When he was asked to participate in the Pittsburg Pirates' batting practice, his hand-eye developed in hockey allowed him to cream the baseball and I'm pretty sure he could out run anybody on the Pirates' lineup. You take a typical baseball player and he will be unable to skate, let alone perform any other skill considered a basic part of hockey. That's because baseball is a pass time: Baseball is a game. Similar to hockey, football players have a long tradition of excelling at other games, but then some football players are very specialized for roles such as an offensive or defensive line. Chris Drury, an elite hockey player in his time, won the little league world series, but you will never see the winner of the big league world series be able the even take a face off in hockey. Granted, most of baseball can outrun, out jump, out everything the common person and maybe, some diversify their workouts, but I believe that the best baseball player of all time, whoever that is, could never even be a match to the best hockey player of all time on a skill by skill basis.
  5. Fighting - Whether you hate it or love it, fighting is such a unique part of hockey. Granted there are scuffles in other sports, but fighting is built into hockey itself. Fortunately, fighting is more than just violent aggressors looking to injure or otherwise work outside the structure of the sport. Rather, fighting has its own set of unsaid rules and definitely positively affects a hockey game. There have been times when referees have been asked to curtail fighting and what resulted were dangerous plays during the course of play. Fighting allows for aggression to be released and positively channeled through an isolated event and there is a set penalty for it. I believe, more than any sport, hockey gives the bulk of the power to the players, rather than the rules, to dictate the end result of the game. A player can do what he wishes and if there is a consequence, he knows what it is and accepts it for what it is. That's not to say there isn't controversy or bad calls by refs, but hockey is definitely a sport of effort and determination of which fighting is a part and plays a role in the outcome.

There you have it! Some of my strongest arguments for hockey and let's be honest: Several reasons why baseball is really stupid. I love hockey a lot, so I'll likely write more about it, especially considering I play it, but I think I've said enough for one post!