Why 3D?

I was asked to write a guest article for a new Filmmaker Magazine column called “Shooting with John” (a subtle knock-off of the classic/amazing “Fishing with John”) — the idea was to give a group of filmmakers an opportunity to talk about the why’s of making their relative art. So, naturally, I wrote about 3D. The multi-talented John Yost also produced a companion video piece where we shot skeet (with John… hence “Shooting with John”), which I’ve included at the end. Here’s the article’s original link. Enjoy!

John has graciously given me a chance to tell people why I do 3D, why I ACTUALLY do 3D, to write something beyond the technical babble that typically highlights any in-depth discussion of 3D or the snark that informs any “3D, Ugh” diatribe or the relative silence from my fellow indie community. I’ll do my best to talk about 3D in a way that I haven’t heard often… less a technical piece (or 3D ugh-fest), more an honest ramble on independent artistic creation. An ode, if you will.

It’s a shame to start like this, but to get it out of the way — I’ve written a bit about 3D haters before, and I know you’re out there. And I agree with you, sometimes: a lot of 3D sucks and a lot of it is gimmicky. But this isn’t an article about that, and so I’ll let my last public words on 3D act as primer. But in the spirit of openness, I also must admit that YOU have a large part to do with my drive, my need to make this happen. I want to win you over. I can’t speak for the other filmmaker/artists out there, but there’s a definite me-against-the-world thing going on: you face so much uncertainty, so many no’s, such long odds of actually creating your art in this industry, that one can’t help but build a selfish little bubble as a shield against That Which Doesn’t Matter (while it always kinda does). I’ve never quite understood anti-3D vitriol — lets all just make art, man — but the noise and the negative energy is real. I’ll nevertheless let my own positive energy be my guide and hopefully you’ll find reason to join me inside the bubble.

That being said, I’m in the thick of a multi-year transition into 3D art/photography/video… a kind of artistic paradigm shift. This is not to say that I’ve given up on 2D — I still love it, just like y’all — but it is to say that I’m all-in. I’ve been shooting exclusively in 3D for a couple years now (mostly stills, but I’ve got a ton of stuff being edited down for various projects and about a zillion GBs of 3D footage that you’ll probably never see). I’m still most definitely a youngster in the 3D game, but I’m going for it: I’m in the middle of helming an ambitious indie project called MAX & CHARLIE, a combined 3D feature film/3D graphic novel/3D video game, all built around the same surreal/magically-real “children’s story” that I wrote (we just finished the graphic novel’s oh-so-lovely rough draft; the film and video game are in pre-preproduction).

And so my life is literally entrenched in 3D: 2D to 3D conversions from this upcoming graphic novel cover my walls; cases of thousands — literally, thousands — of anaglyph 3D glasses are all around my room (among too many other things, I run a little goodwill biz called FREE 3D GLASSES DOT COM). I find anaglyph prints and 3D glasses everywhere in my life… crumpled pairs at the bottom of every bag, in my laundry, in the most random places you can imagine. This is all just to say that I’m about as deep into the 3D rabbit hole as an indie filmmaker/artist can be. 3D is my life right now… and yeah, that kinda weirds me out too.

Okay, so… why? Continue reading