Monday, April 14, 2008


Here's a Halfsquatch EXCLUSIVE! Earlier in March I had contacted Fred Spencer of Fred & Sharon's Movies and asked for an interview. Since Fred & Sharon posted their "Who Needs A Movie" on YouTube, they've become quite busy. Fortunately Fred was gracious enough to give me a few minutes of his time.

HALFSQUATCH: Hi Fred, thanks for taking time out to talk to Halfsquatch. Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves? Where are you guys from? There's mixed reports of where you live ( Kelowna, Vernon, Peachland, Crazytown?).

FRED SPENCER: Sharon and I will have our 18th wedding anniversary this year. We have lived in (from North to South) Winfield, Kelowna, Summerland and Pentiction in the Okanagan Valley. We are currently living in Kelowna but I still have some business interests in Summerland. I was born in Montreal Quebec and lived there until I was 20 and I am in my sixties. Sharon was born in Prince George BC. And she doesn't give out her age but she is quite a bit younger than I am.

HS: How long have you been making movies and videos? Is this your background?

FS: I got my first movie camera when I was in my teens and as I remember it was a beaut. It had 3 lenses and could do slo-mo and fast-mo. It was an 8 mm, not even super 8. In those days when you bought film, processing was included in the price. I later acquired a 16 mm camera and took a limited amount of footage with it. It was a Bolex but was quite old and worn out when I got it. I did use it to do about 30 seconds of experimental animation, all hand drawn. I also got into darkroom work with still photography. In 1968 I started a small film company which never made a film and never got off the ground. Around this time I took a film course at Sir George Williams University in Montreal.


HS: And you've been making movies since?

FS: I was not active in anything to do with 'movies' from 1968 to 2007 and did not have a movie camera during that period. I took a lot of still photographs in relation to the business I was in at the time but it was not a photography business and the photos were incidental to the business.

HS: So how did you get back into the craft?

FS: In 2007 my brother sent me a digital still camera which was capable of short video clips but did not have a microphone. Around the same time a friend of mine who was in the computer business recycled a couple of fairly up to date computers with Windows Movie Maker on board. The coincidence of these two events rekindled my interest in movie making and I started uploading on YouTube. My videos started getting better and I started to seriously think about getting into the movie business. I got a better camera, better software and started doing animated drawings. I created the 'Who Needs a Movie' video when I established a Web Site to get the business started.

HS: What kind of gear do you use? What kind of camera? What kind of operating system? What kind of editing program? How do you do your keying/green screen and effects? What do you do your motion-text and graphics in? What kind of 3D software are you using?

FS: I have a very good quality Camcorder, a good still camera and 3 cell phones with limited capability for video and still photos. I try to have a camera with me at all times, hence the inclusion of the cell phones. My lighting consists of 7 sets of lights with clamps for affixing them to various surfaces. I try to use as much natural light as possible. Lighting is always tricky. I have several editing programs, including Windows Movie Maker, Pinnacle, Magix, Nero and Art of Illusion. Some programs can do some things but not others. Which one I use depends on the task at hand. At the moment my favorite program for drawing is Open Office Draw. There is a fairly long learning curve to getting the most out of this program and I am sure I am not there yet. When I first started to use it I gave up on it for a while but gradually have managed to unlock some of its secrets and have started to get some decent drawings efficiently.

HS: It seems like the two of you kind of popped up out of nowhere and suddenly WHAM! You're taking the internet by storm! How did this shock wave of internet fame begin? Did you have a game plan or know that you'd get this much attention? Is it fun or frightening? Both?

FS: I am not really sure why we got so popular on the Internet so fast. I think that my 'Who Needs a Movie' Video had a catchy title and that helped. I did try to place my web site address strategically on Facebook and other internet sites. According to the video tracking web site Viral Video Chart it caught the attention of the blogs on March 7, 2008. Recently it appears to be taking off again.

The whole experience has been mostly fun but a bit frightening.

FS: I never expected to get all of this attention and I wasn't really ready for it. Having said that I also was not entirely taken by surprise. Put it down to a belief in myself and Sharon and a sense of confidence in what we are doing. The attention has caused a great deal of short term inconvenience primarily due to the fact that our phone number appears in the 'Who Needs a Movie' video and we got bombarded with calls from around the world.

The two phone lines that were included in the video became essentially useless and we had to turn off those phones. Fortunately we did have two other phone lines so we were able to cope. We had to shut our Web Site down for a few days. The host, who is a personal friend of mine, runs a fairly small hosting business and his bandwidth was swamped. We than instituted a $1.00 charge to view the site, primarily to slow things down. We have now removed that charge, hoping that the volume will be manageable again.

HS: With all this fame and attention comes many words of praise and support but at the same time, you've received a lot of harsh comments. How do these negative comments affect you or does it? Have you been receiving a lot of attention from your local community?

FS: The whole experience has been mostly fun but a bit frightening. Some people have taken advantage of us. I was quite upset to find that a racial superiority fanatic was plugging up my bulletin board on my YouTube channel. I abhor the idea of racial supremacy and this really bothered me. I think I've got the bulletin board problem under control but I do try to check it regularly, just in case.

HS: What's with the snake wrapping itself around you in the "A Tribute to Students & Troops" video? Maybe it's just me but I don't get it! It seems so absolutely out-of-left-field but maybe there's more to it? I love it, but I just don't get it and was hoping you could explain.

FS: Re: 'A Tribute to Students and to Our Troops' I knew when I posted it that not everyone would get this video. I can tell by the comments that quite a few do! I don't really want to say too much about it because it is meant to be thought provoking and a little twisted. If you were in University in the sixties in Vancouver you probably would get it. I suspect that quite a few University students of today will get it as well. I was hoping, when I posted it, that this video would get a kind of 'Cult' following amongst young people. I knew that this might be difficult due to the (initial) dry nature of the subject. It hasn't happened yet which does not surprise me. If it does happen it will probably be a slow but accelerating build up, or it may just die.

HS: What inspires you? Not just in making movies, but in life? What do you and Sharon do when you're not working or making movies? What really gets your goat and makes you angry? You guys seem like really nice people with a good sense of humour. What makes you guys laugh?

FS: Sharon and I like to have fun. We enjoy going out to dinner and we enjoy watching old movies on TV. We enjoy films that have an interesting story We don't care for films that employ excessive stunt work, violence and show close up of gory body parts. I am particularly disturbed by the genre of films that promotes the philosophy that 'might is right' or 'the end justifies the means' or 'if it is for my country it is justifiable'. We believe that each of us, as individuals, has a responsibility to be harmonious in our dealings with other people and to seek solutions that benefit all concerned, not just ourselves.

HS: I hope you don't take this the wrong way but the biggest question everyone's asking is "Are you and Sharon for real? Or are you taking the piss out on all of us?"

FS: Sharon and I are definitely for real. We are trying to produce interesting and thought provoking videos. Yes much of what we have done up to now has a certain rawness about it and yes it is honest and direct. My resources are limited. I am not a big budget Hollywood Producer. When I get carried away trying to create perfection I remind myself of the following two principles:

1. It is important to have an interesting story, drawing or action.

2. It is more important to have an interesting story,
drawing or action than a perfect one.

I am not striving for imperfection. On the contrary, I fully intend to produce better and better movies. I just don't want to get bogged down in circles trying to produce perfection and in the end producing nothing.

HS: How would you describe your art form?

FS: How do I describe my art form? Well I hope it is broad and varied, a mix of serious and humorous. I hope it gets people to look at serious ideas in a light hearted and non threatening way, so that if they have an inflexible point of view they may be able to see a side of things which they hadn't permitted themselves to see before.

HS: Finally, have you been receiving any work due to the exposure?

FS: Yes I have received work because of the exposure. I am hopeful that it well keep coming in.

HS: Thanks so much for your time Fred and thank Sharon for me as well. I wish you two success in the future and I can't wait to see more of your work!

FS: Thanks so much! I hope your blog is doing well for you and grows to whatever size you want it to be.



Johnny Darrell said...

To answer a number of people at once...Yes, this interview is real.
It's a bit lengthy for sure and I did cut out a couple of questions/answers to keep its length down even more.

I hope you enjoy/enjoyed!

BEADLE said...

This just proves that if you want something badly enough you will eventually get it.

your pal,

CAMacKinnon said...

Nicely done!

johndryden23 said...

I can't wait until you stop posting shit about these two. pretty boring.