At 22, Devon Drumm is a graduate of the Art Institute of Vancouver with a focus on graphic design, has created his own gaming start up called Pepperdev Studios, and is now working on Hungry Fins, a mobile game app that can be purchased in app stores once funded and produced. Let’s not forget that he can now add “Y57′s Youth of the Month” on to his list of accomplishments!
Caught the travel bug? Not too sure how to cure it? Well, from personal experience I would say, SEIZE IT AND MAKE THE MOST OF IT! Now, obviously it is easier said than done. But, if you want it, I can personally say it is possible to make it happen!
By no means am I a professional â€˜backpackerâ€™ or â€˜travel expertâ€™ but let me put it this way. I wanted the adventure, I saved the money, I found the group, I found the locations and I made it happen…
Disclaimer: I caution you that if you intend to travel on a budget versus a fancy luxurious style, then you have come to the right place. But the stories and the experiences include minimal opportunities for bathing, urinating in proper toilet facilities, and maximum opportunities for creating life long memories, and enduring life altering experiences and adventures.
Well, first and foremost ASSESS the situation! Think it through as much as you can before you go any further. I know most people will say, â€˜donâ€™t think, just doâ€™ when it comes to adventures and backpacking. You can definitely approach it this way, OR you can think things through so you donâ€™t run out of money Â¼ of the way through your journey and have to beg mommy and daddy to fly you home or wire you some money. I donâ€™t mean plan out every second of the trip, because what fun is that? But, if youâ€™re going to go on this journey, you may as well put the thought into it before going any further. Perhaps youâ€™re in your last year of university, or your brother is getting married next month…think about all the surrounding situations before you jump right into it!
For example: My buddy took me out for dinner, told me about her backpacking adventure coming up to India and Thailand after our graduation and and then invited me! I didnâ€™t think TOO hard about it, but I thought to myself, â€œHey, Iâ€™m graduating, Iâ€™ve saved the money, I have the time, I want a cultural experience and nothing crucial is happening in life, so GO FOR IT!â€ I didnâ€™t sit for a month and think about it, or it never would have happened, but I did give it the well deserved once over!
A. Is it an ideal time in your life?
B. Do you have the money, because let me warn you it will cost an arm and a leg (depending on the number of locations, the parts of the world and the classiness of your journey…but that is a whole different ball game that we will walk into later)
C. Â Are you prepared to be in your OWN company for an extended period of time or is there a group you can see yourself travelling with?
After youâ€™ve spent your three minutes thinking about the above, and hypothetically have chosen to PURSUE your dream, then go on to the next step. There arenâ€™t many steps but following through with them is crucial in the way that I see it if you want to maximize your opportunity and experiences!
There is a lot to do to make the adventure happen. But, by no means is it boring! Rather, it is the lead up to an extremely memorable experience. A third of the fun is the before, the other 1/3 is the during and the last 1/3 is of course the after when you are reminiscing, browsing through photos, and laughing while running through your experiences again on your own and with family and friends!
A. Are you going alone or with friends?
If you are choosing to travel alone, great! That means you already love yourself enough that you can be in your own company for extended periods of time and love it! That is truly commendable! It also means you a) prefer travelling on your own or b) are a social butterfly and prefer potentially finding some travel buddies along the way.Â If you choose to travel with another person or group, think really hard…how flexible are these people? Is it a bestfriend(s)? Do you clash a lot, or can you handle travelling together? This is probably the most important part of your trip! Who you are with, how you feel and your mood can really make or break your trip! I would not have survived my nights in the campervan with rain pouring down, nothing to eat but a cold can of beans and a bottle of flat coke, unless I had good company, which I sure did!
B. Communication is key
If travelling in a group, do you have the same goals in mind? Talk it through! You donâ€™t need to write down every single place you want to go and what you want to do, but if you have certain goals, make them known!
For example: A friend I travelled with thought we were going to stay in luxury hotels every once in awhile, in between hostelling and grunging it up, I had no idea! I had intended to grunge it the whole time…so TALK IT THROUGH or you could hit some major road blocks when you are far away from the comfort of your own home, your own language and somewhere ideal to settle an issue.
Think about the place that you are going and the cost of everything!
When I went to New Zealand, I knew I would be spending a lot more than I would have been in India. Donâ€™t go travelling blindly…make sure you are aware of the basic costs of living, eating, and luxury wherever you intend to go. For example, I could easily survive on $15 CAD a day in India, but oh dear, that was not enough to even have a roof over my head per day in New Zealand! Be practical…or youâ€™ll pay the price during your trip…
Example: My friend ran out of money (luckily towards the end of the trip), so he ended up rationing out how much of a piece of bread and how much of a banana he could each everyday…trust me you DO NOT want to get to this point…itâ€™s slightly sad.
Look for deals on your tickets. I found GOOGLEÂ to be my best friend, I just continuously searched for cheap flights until I found the right one. Now, in Thailand we knew some of the dates that we wanted to get to certain parts that required flights, so we found local thai airlines and looked for deals on those flights. Booking ahead of time is key to a cheaper flight.
Think about the places you are travelling to and what form of transportation you will require. In New Zealand for example, we rented and drove a camper van that we lived in for a month. However, in Thailand and India we used local buses, local airlines, and local boats. Shop around for prices, donâ€™t just settle for what you find right there and then!
When I say this, I donâ€™t necessarily mean you have to know every city, village, town and attraction you will be going to ahead of time. But, for example, if you are travelling to India, have a map, know the key places and how much time you will need in them. Leave time to explore too though! BUT, what I really mean when I say â€œknow where you are goingâ€ is, know the way of the land. For example, bearing in mind India is a more conservative like and â€˜old-school mentalityâ€™ location, you probably wouldnâ€™t â€˜blend inâ€™ if you walked around in booty shorts and strappy tops right? Also keep in mind that most people in India, or Portugal, or anywhere that doesnâ€™t have English as their first language may or may not speak and understand English so have a phrase book or learn the basic key words that will get you through. Itâ€™s a sticky situation, when you arenâ€™t even able to order a bottle of water let me tell you!
Also, knowing where you are going means being aware of and abiding by the laws and customs of the region you are entering. Singapore for example has a million and one common sense laws that maybe your common sense hasnâ€™t abided by back home, so look into it. The last thing you want is a fine or being arrested in a foreign region, or at all for that matter!
There is so much to know about back packing and travelling through a world youâ€™ve never encountered, but you wonâ€™t know it until you try it. The first time I went, I had no idea what I was doing, the second time I went, I knew a little more, but it was a new location, new scene, new everything, so I just winged it all over again! Thatâ€™s the fun of it though isnâ€™t it? Regardless though, please donâ€™t be ignorant, make sure you have a grasp of the basics described above, along with anything else you or someone you trust can think of!
This is just the prep guide, so up next…the specifics of backpacking/campervanning through New Zealand and Australia, followed by a third world adventure through the local buses and boats in India and Thailand! Two entirely different adventures, but two wicked and memorable ones nonetheless!
Have you ever had this amazing thought or idea during the process of waking up in the morning- just as youâ€™re getting used to the subtle burn of morning light in your eyes- and you suddenly get this feeling that you just HAVE to write down, causing you to skip the next couple of steps in the â€œwaking upâ€ process so you can bolt for your laptop and just type it out?
Yah. Thatâ€™s what happened to me the morning that I thought after viewing Choose the Right Thing?, it was very obvious that I had â€˜chosen the right thingâ€™ to watch at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year.
Iâ€™m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.
Choose the Right Thing? is a compilation of 8 short films from the USA, the UK, Germany, New Zealand, and Brazil as part of the High School Outreach Program at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). Â I liked everything about the films; from the scenery to camera angles, everything was so raw, fresh and exciting and youth centric.
It is impossible to watch any of these shorts passively. My mind was constantly in motion through the viewing of these shorts, for the storylines were layered and embedded with so much in regards to the youth experience. Each film details varying social, emotional, and cultural contexts that cannot go unnoticed in our world, and the steps taken to exemplify these issues in each short to the fullest is pretty remarkable. The execution of each story was unlike any other mainstream â€œbox office hitâ€ youâ€™d come across, and the feelings associated with these issues are very different. Take Opus for example: the issue of a student-teacher relationship is something that is not so new to the industry, however, Opus looks at it through a superficial-less and much more realistic lens of infatuation, and shows the mental and emotional (not the judicial ones) complications associated with such an affair. Â And in Just Like Her, when a teen girl has the opportunity to spend time with a model whom she idolizes, things un-spiral in a way unlike any other film has done beforeâ€¦but Iâ€™m not going to tell you what, because that will spoil the surprise!
One general note I feel compelled to make after watching each of the films is that the acting was fantastic. I kid you not; Iâ€™m pretty sure each and every character made me feel something. Whether it was wanting to beat the shit out of Micahâ€™s older brother in Crush, or hug poor Ahmad in Broken Cycle, it was crystal clear that the actors successfully completed their jobs in telling the story. There were plenty of times where I wanted to reach out to the characters in the film, and give them a hug or something, since they gave me the impression that they needed itâ€¦if that makes any sense.
I, too, felt the frustration and confusion dwelling within the teenage boy in Goalie, and IÂ so badly wanted to console the teenage boy in The Off Season who was grieving over the loss of his father. I was constantly on my toes anticipating the actions of each character, for it felt as though they were replicating real lifeâ€¦and we all know how erratic and spontaneous people in real life can be! There were instances in All Ages where I thought to myself, â€œstory of my lifeâ€, especially when the girls had to pee so bad at a party and had to squat outside, only to be caught by a smokinâ€™ hot guitarist (donâ€™t act like itâ€™s never happened to you). Each of the characters in each of the films are very relatable, which is something that I have always found to be pretty important; it was all very REAL, and that is what made these films so goddamn special.
Speaking of being â€œgoddamn specialâ€, I had the honor of interviewing (via email because we love utilizing technology these days, and of course, time zones) four of the film directors who will be in town for the festival: Matthew A. Brown (Crush), Clifton Archuleta (Broken Cycle), Laramie Dennis (All Ages), and Max Rousseau (Opus).Â I had planned to be all journalisty and incorporate their responses within the article, but the content within their responses was just too good and inspirational to pass up:
So tell me about yourselves! Please state your name, age, how long you have been involved in the film industry, howÂ you got started, when you did in fact start, what your films are usually about, etc.
Matthew (MB)- Matthew A. Brown. 37. Involved in the film industry since around 1997. Started as an actor. Did leads in some critically acclaimed American indie features like God’s Army (2000) and Brigham City (2001). But started writing very early on. Did English lit in university, where I started writing screenplays. And once I stepped behind the camera for the first time, I knew I’d never act again. Was ecstatic and so much more emotionally available and was always more interested in creating the entire world of the story than being a pawn to someone else’s vision. My stories vary. My first feature, which I’m shooting next year in Cape Town (I was born in Cape Town, immigrated to New York with my family at 16) is a South African coming-of-age gangster thriller, called STRONG BONES. Also have a psych-thriller in development. And another gangster movie with kids, but this one’s NY-based, called THE RISE AND FALL OF LORENZO THE KID. My shorts have displayed both these tendencies. Crush, my 4th short, deals with teenage violence, sexuality, revenge, love. And my previous short, Victim, is dark suspense thriller… Very much a genre piece.
Clifton (CA)- Hi, my name is Clifton Archuleta and I’m 32 years old.Â As a recent college graduate, my industry experience is just beginning.Â Four years ago, I decided to make a major career change.Â I had been working as a contract translator after serving 7 Â½ years in the U.S. Army as an Arabic linguist, but felt it was time to pursue my passion to pick up a camera and start making movies. That’s how I ended up in film school. Since graduation, I’ve been working with a commercial production house in Denver and doing some freelance work.Â It’s all been a great experience and I feel fortunate for the opportunities that have come my way.Â Most recently, I was able to spend ten days in Argentina on a shoot. My films often deal with social justice issues.Â Making such films is difficult for me though, because while I’m very opinionated, I’m not interested in beating people over the head with my message. I’d rather let issues present themselves in the circumstances surrounding an individual and focus on the human aspect of how one deals with them.Â I believe this helps to provoke thought and allows the viewer to reach their own conclusion about a given issue.
Laramie (LD)- I’m 38, but my psychic age is 17. After college, I spent ten years in New York directing theater before deciding on a whim to apply to film school. All Ages is my graduate thesis, and the first film I’ve ever screened publicly.
Max (MR)- I’m Max Rousseau, 23 and I’ve really been involved in the film industry since I was 9. I wanted to be a filmmaker ever since then and never jumped ship no matter what was thrown at me. It started mainly with me wanting to be a Producer (when I was 9, I used to watch big budget action films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, he was my childhood hero) but that shifted to writing as I would write my own scripts on my free time. It wasn’t until high school that I actually picked up a camera and starting shooting my scripts. I interned on numerous low budget films shooting where I grew up in South Florida (Ft. Lauderdale to be specific).Â I decided to get my degree in film and I got into the Film B.F.A. program at the University of Central Florida. I directed four short films in undergrad, (one of which is Opus – which is playing/premiering at VIFF). Â Right now I’m at UCF getting an M.F.A., teaching Film Courses and directing my first feature which is in pre-production currently (check out www.pembrokecircle.com).Â My films to be honest are usually about outcasts of some sort, people who don’t fit into the “norm” due to social awkwardness, not relating to people their age, cultural differences or insecurities.Â That has been a running theme in all of my films including Opus and my up-coming feature Pembroke Circle.
All of these films revolve around youth (ages 15-25). Why was it important to you to create such a film using the demographic of teenagers? How do the issues in your film address real life, and why did you choose to create a piece on that specific issue addressed?
MB- I love working with teenagers because there’s so often a certain raw and burning emotional aliveness and immediacy. Also no bad acting habits from years of TV or theater or whatever. In Crush, I went through agencies in Berlin, and couldn’t find the right faces or rawness. In fact, many of the agencies were too scared of the material to even show their kids. But of course when the kids read the script, they loved it. Because it was real to them. But this was also due to working in Germany I think, where there’s a certain fear of violence. Unless it’s depicted in the past. I like to capture spirit on the screen. And teenagers are so often just exploding with all this life and desires and impulses going haywire… But that’s also why I like actors like Sean Penn. The unpredictability.
CA- I feel like teenagers are at a very vulnerable point in their lives.Â I remember being faced with split-second decisions that could have potentially changed the course of my life(drugs, vandalism, etc.).Â There was a night that I decided not to get in a car with some kids from school who had been drinking.Â Later that night, they crashed their car and two of the teens died.Â I feel that it’s important to address issues that teens are currently dealing with in order to help them see that a person doesn’t have to succumb to peer pressure or pretend to be something they’re not.Â Broken Cycle addresses several issues, but primarily racism and bullying.Â Several years ago, I read an article about a Sikh 9th grader in Queens, New York who had been assaulted by his classmates because of his appearance.Â That same year, there was a Muslim teen from Staten Island who finally spoke up about being beaten and bullied by his peers for over a year.Â Stories like these forced me to think more in depth about the potential consequences of such actions on the development of adolescents. There’s also my personal connection to these issues.Â My heritage is half hispanic, half irish.Â Growing up in an ethnically divided community, I found it difficult to find acceptance from my peers.Â Luckily, I was able to look past these things and not let it reflect negatively on the way I viewed myself, however, I can see how easily youth can get caught up in the conflict it causes.
LD- When I was in high school, my friends and I were obsessed with the movies John Hughes made with Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club + Pretty in Pink). We wanted Molly’s clothes. We wanted to get the guy in the end, like Molly always did. We wanted to be her. But we also identified with Molly. Whether she was playing an awkward sophomore or a prom queen, she radiated this intense, teenage self-consciousness. This fear of acting like a dork. I really identified with that.
MD- I think it was important for me to make the protagonist of my film 17, because I wanted to show a character who felt alienated because of her passion (in this case classical music/ piano) which ultimately leads to her falling for her teacher. I think many of my peers, in my generation at least, have no idea what they want out of life or are afraid to follow their dreams (or passions).Â The main character in my film is following her passion (though she has temptations along the way) she does what many people my age seem to not be doing.Â They’re not willing to take risks.Â This could just be Florida though…
Do you think the teenage experience often exemplified in film and television is generally important? Why do you think the medium of film is so successful in raising awareness to teenage issues and struggles?
MB- I’m not sure the medium of film is so successful in raising awareness to teenage issues… Most of what I see nowadays that deals with teens in cinema has nothing at all to do with raising awareness… I see a lot of purely entertaining stories that involve teens kicking ass, sucking blood, flying broomsticks, talking about cocks and cunts, and generally living balls to the wall and loving life. In fact one my upcoming features is a teenage surfing vigilante movie called MY NAME IS CALIFF HUTCHINS. And it’s a balls to the wall and ecstatic celebration of living your dreams to the full. And yes, killing, or at least maiming, anyone who gets in the way.
CA- It’s definitely important.Â Teenagers are influenced by so much.Â The culture they experience through movies and on television helps to define their self-image.Â This can be bad, violence is a good example.Â Not that I’m against violence in media, I think it has its place, but I don’t agree with violence being gratuitous or glamorized.Â For this same reason, film and television can also be good. It has the ability to reach so many people, as well as, show youth that there are others who share their experience.
Why do you think it’s important for youth (ages 15-25) to be involved in the film industry, whether in front of the camera or behind the scenes.
MB- I think the teenage / young adult perspective will naturally bring a whole other energy/vision to the table. Harmony Korine’s writing KIDS for example. Or Catherine Hardwicke’s writing “13″ with the teenage girl. There’s an element of life there that’s raw/burning, like what I was talking about above. And the other major thing for me is that so often adults either forget or try to deny just how hardcore their thinking/dreaming/desires were as teenagers. I was so excited when I saw Chloe Moretz in KICK ASS. Firstly coz it felt like at least now there’s a precedent for some of the shit my kids get up to in LORENZO THE KID, which has a much darker, but ecstatic tone… But also I was thinking how brilliant it is that she was just allowed — by parents/guardians/agents/whoever — to do the role in the first place. I feel like it should be the kid’s decision. Sure, there are limits. But I think kids reach the age of discernment infinitely earlier than parents are willing to admit.
CA- I think it’s important for several reasons.Â One, it helps them to get their stories heard. A major problem with issues like bullying is that teens often feel that no one is listening. Two, filmmaking a hugely a collaborative effort.Â Becoming part of a team, such as a film crew, helps to instill a sense of belonging and confidence through accomplishment in people.Â It also allows people to express themselves creatively, which can help break down barriers and inhibitions.
LD- Make movies if that sounds like fun to you. Or act in a play. Or play basketball. Play violin in the dork-ass ORCHESTRA, if that’s what you’re into. (Do schools even have orchestras anymore??) Tell your mom you’re going “out for coffee” and go to rock shows instead.
If you have anything at all, whether it be advice or something important about your film that you would like revealed in the article.
MB- Do what you love.
Agreed. Do what you love, people. Just like Ellie did in Ellie. Not sure of what she did? Then go see Choose the Right Thing? and be inspired to create and do the things it is that you love. Speaking of which, Iâ€™m going to eat now. Thank you very much to VIFF for accommodating Youth in 57 Minutes Media, and an even greater thank you to those directors who shared a word or two with usâ€¦we appreciate it, and look forward to seeing more of you in the future!
Photos from www.viff.org