A Wealth of Cool Autumnal News

Hey! I have an insane wealth of awesome production updates! Ingress, a film by a lot of old friends from Towson and which I Key PA’d on, will be having its world premiere at the Alexandria Film Festival on November 9th. Tyler Davis, our director, will be in attendance for Q&A. See the trailer below:

Producer Paul Hutson stands in for a shot in front of a Stefan Ways mural and instillation. Kyle Deitz camera operates on a Ronin.
Producer Paul Hutson stands in for a shot in front of a Stefan Ways mural and installation. Kyle Deitz camera operates on a Ronin.

A few weeks back, a lot of the same crew from Ingress worked on a music video for our steadicam operator, Paul Hutson’s collaborative music project “Bond St. District.” I worked as a Grip with an awesome G&E department of badass ladies. We shot tons of vignettes of Baltimore City over the course of a weekend, goofing off, hanging out with friends we hadn’t seen in a while and GETTING STUFF DONE.

I’m really proud of the video and am excited to see where it will take the musicians, DDm and Paul Hutson’s “Bond St. District” collaboration. The band’s EP, “Everybody’s So Sleepy,” manages to be a mashup of hip-hop, motown, and electronica. It’s awesome. Check the video out below, as well as the links to the coverage the music video is getting, including from Baltimore’s City Paper!

City Paper
Stereo Champions

Next, I worked on a series of United States Postal Service safety videos where we gripped trucks with camera mounts and crashed them. It was everything one could possibly imagine a shoot like this would be. The crew I worked with was super cool and I learned a ton from the expertise of my IATSE department heads.

Then, our continuously bizarre production team for the Frederick 72 Hour Film Festival, Stepdad Productions, produced a ridiculous film about… well… you’ll see. I’ve worked with this team for three years now and I’ve been involved with the 72 Festival for five years total. This year’s criteria was Movie Mashups and we received Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (the Costner version) and Forrest Gump. When you watch our film, you’ll notice that we very loosely interpreted the criteria:

I rarely act in roles, but when I know that nothing I do as a poor actor will truly affect the audiences perception of the film, I sink my teeth in. What I mean to say is that if I can ham it up and just be ridiculous, and the poor acting actually becomes a character element, I get super stoked. This role has that in spades. We were selected by the audience to move on to the second night of screenings, and I can confidently say that we got some of the biggest laughs of both nights.

Oh. I also got a full-time job at Serious Grip and Electric, the coolest production rental house on the planet. Not only am I working full-time in a position that is actually relevant to my college major and I am gaining essential knowledge for my career goals, but I’m working with the world’s best group of co-workers.

I'm being challenged to eat an entire cupcake in one bite.
I’m being challenged to eat an entire cupcake in one bite at lunch.

John Vallon, a talented camera operator in the Baltimore-D.C. area, stopped into the shop one day to test out a new robotic camera mount and shot this video for us, a remake of Scrub’s opening scene:

Then, on Halloween, we broke our backs to grip the next week’s truck packages so that we could shoot this Halloween postcard. Stuff like this is just part of the normal ebb and flow of working at Serious. We work hard, we play hard, we love our jobs and we love one another. I am excited by the notion of being excited to go to work every morning.

The last two months of my life have literally been some of the most fun I’ve ever had and I credit all of that to the blessings that life, friends, family, coworkers, and random strangers have thrown my way. I can point to so many moments as being particularly awesome, but in other respects, it’s all been one awesome blur.

I don’t normally post selfies, but I take them. Everyone does. Admit it to yourself.

In the Spring of this year, I was dealing with some junk. It was the hardest semester of my life in relation to my schoolwork, I was having to abandon friends and social events to focus on what I needed to graduate, I was holding down two part time jobs to pay rent… the list goes on and on. I took a picture when I was at the LOWEST of the low, one of those real Dark Night of the Soul type of nights – filled with introspection and self-loathing. That picture is on the left.

On the right is a picture a friend took of me two weeks ago on set. Not particularly proud of it, but I think it exhibits a marked change in expression and what someone might feasibly describe as something akin to joy.

Or murderous intentions… Whatever. The point being, my expression changed.

I know that as soon as Christmas time rolls around, I’ll be a constantly grinning mess. The lessons I’ve learned from A Muppet Christmas Carol are to share the joys of love and friendship in all you do, so soon enough, I’ll be watching Michael Caine’s oscar-deserving performance on loop and just going crazy with  good-will-vibes towards all. I highly recommend it; there is no drug better.

Thank you so much for reading this and for supporting my work and the works of my friends! I hope something here has brought you the same feelings of optimism I feel and that this joy can be infectious. Best to you, my friend!

Post-Grad Life: The Road Trip

[This article is part of a series. Read the first two pieces on 15Four and Z*Con].

This past semester was the most stress I’ve ever faced in school. I can remember multiple times where it felt like I was drowning in the amount of work I had to do. Senior year is expected to be tough, but I was holding down two part time jobs, trying to freelance, finishing up a double major, and preparing myself for the post-graduate life.

I distinctly remember one night when my roommates were out of the apartment and I was all alone. I hadn’t been home in a number of weeks, I’d had a tough schedule, and I was in the middle of writing an article on deadline.

The thought occurred to me that Red Lobster is bull&*#!

Continue reading Post-Grad Life: The Road Trip

Post-Grad Life: Film and Free Work

[This article is part of a series. Read the first piece on 15Four and the follow-up piece on Maine].

Around the same time I picked up the internship at 15Four, I got a call from Justin Chiet, an old friend and colleague from school. Chiet had been working on the behind the scenes videography for a crowd funded zombie film called Z*Con for a number of months. The production, headed by local director Michael Dougherty, had pitched a proof of concept to online donors in the hopes of funding their feature. The film was funded with a successful Indiegogo campaign and Chiet was booked to serve as the film’s camera operator.

Having worked with Chiet’s production company in the past, he invited me to work as a Grip/Electric swing on the film. Although crew would be working for free, Dougherty’s production company, Big Damn Films, is a registered 501©3, where any proceeds from his films goes to fundraising and advocacy for charities related to the film. Proceeds from Z*Con were going to the American Red Cross, Kids Need to Read, a to-be-named national animal rescue and Big Damn Films. I could take comfort in the idea that despite working for free, I was working for a good cause!

Continue reading Post-Grad Life: Film and Free Work

Post-Grad Life: A Summer Internship

[This article is part of a series. Read the follow-up pieces on Z*Con and Maine].

After 17 years of rigor and toil, I’d had enough of the education system. From behind the counter at my video rental job, I called Towson University’s graduation office to give them a piece of my mind:

“Alright buddy, listen up! I’m ditching this cow pen and there is nothing you can do about it!

“Sir, you have the required number of credits to graduate. I’ll file your paperwork now.”

“Yeah, well, you tell everyone down there that Mark Burchick is flying the coop! Towson won’t ever forget the name!”

“Can you please spell your last name to insure the documentation is correct?”

“Yeah, that’s B as in Yeaaaaah Boyyyy! U as in Uhhh-huuuuh!”

Needless to say, I had devolved into a mess of a human being after so many years of structured preparation for “the real world.”

Continue reading Post-Grad Life: A Summer Internship

Designed to Fail: Pokemon Fandom Produces Culture

[This article was originally published on March 25, 2014 at Hidden Baltimore. It is co-written by Mary Metelski.]

Chris Betts, 21, and his roommates walked around Towson’s CVS Pharmacy late on a Sunday night, not seeking out a pack of cigarettes, but a pack of children’s sidewalk chalk.

They headed to Towson University’s Freedom Square, hoping to create a work of art capable of viral Internet distribution.

After hearing about “Twitch Plays Pokemon Red,” an Internet-based live stream that allowed a massive number of players to simultaneously control one character, Betts was enthralled by the potential inherent in the platform.

“It was more than just this novelty of a bunch of people fervently mashing commands into a game from my childhood,” Betts said. “There was this whole culture behind it. It was exciting, hilarious and altogether just this fascinating thing to me from that point onward.” Continue reading Designed to Fail: Pokemon Fandom Produces Culture

The Crossroads of Science, Art and Storytelling

So I came across this article in my Facebook Newsfeed and was intrigued by the headline. I wasn’t expecting much, but was quickly blown away.

It wasn’t till after reading it that I went back saw that it was written by Robert Krulwich, the gentleman who inspired me to practice journalism. There is a beautiful and engaging crossroads of art, science, storytelling and journalism that he taps into.

In my sophomore year, my Towson professor Dr. Peter Lev introduced my class to NPR’s Radiolab, which Krulwich co-hosts. The strength of his storytelling ability inspired an audio documentary project on Sleep Paralysis that I co-wrote with James Ficklin, seen below.

My hope is that come graduation, I’ll have some free time to continue merging my interests in the sciences and arts, whether that be in documentary, journalism, or otherwise. I’m forever indebted to Krulwich’s awesome examples and I hope that you find his writing as unique as I do!

A Brotherhood of Boards

(Featured image courtesy of Katie Simmons-Barth).

Where most people saw a paved road on a steep hill, Towson’s longboarding community saw an opportunity.

“3 am, when the sun goes down and there is no one on Cross Campus, we own that street,” said Kevin Abelmann, 20, a psychology major.

Abelmann brought a group of friends together one evening to longboard down Cross Campus Drive, and he invited spectators to watch and cheer them on. The response to their downhill venture was immediate.

“I mean the other day, my goodness. We had people texting us,” Abelmann said. He pointed at his enthusiastic grin and laughed.

“This was our reaction for like an hour long.”

Abelmann is the vice president of Towson University’s Glider Alliance, a group of students united in their love for longboards.

Continue reading A Brotherhood of Boards

is a freelance filmmaker and a lifelong student.