For most people that gets divided up into work time, holidays, seasonal activities and special occasions like birthdays. For some, a week is something to get through, not necessarily to enjoy. And for others it is a creative opportunity.
Last year, filmmaker, musician and photographer Shawn Pigott decided to do something different with his next 52 weeks. He pledged to release an original video on YouTube every week. Each video would be comprised of totally new material and would be accompanied by music and a blog.
As I write this, Pigott is working on Week 39 and is right on schedule.
“Thursdays and Fridays can be stressful,” the Cumberland resident admits. “Those are the days I figure out what the next video will be. Ideally I film over the weekend, edit early in the week and release the video on Wednesday.”
The videos range from three to 10 minutes and take anywhere from five to 15 or more hours to create. The most complex project to date, The Great Hiccup of 2012, involved six locations and 24 Grade 3 students from Mrs. Twin’s class at Cumberland Elementary School.
“Week 18 required obtaining permissions and co-ordinating the logistics and costumes,” says Pigott. “It was a challenge but a lot of fun.”
Topics for the videos range from family trips to grief and run the gamut from animated fantasy to real-life scenario.
“One person commented that watching the videos revealed insights into what was happening in my life at certain times,” says Pigott. “I think artists often reveal aspects of themselves without realizing it.”
One of the most popular videos was Before All Hallows, which Pigott filmed during Week 5. Set in Cumberland, the zombie clip includes gruesome makeup, a scary situation and a humorous twist at the end.
Another hit was Thursday, a 1920s-style tongue-in-cheek look at geocaching.
“It’s interesting that some of the videos I consider less successful are the ones that are the most popular,” notes Pigott.
All videos are available for viewing on YouTube, as well as Pigott’s website.
Challenges in the year-long project include the weather, the dark, short days of winter, plans falling through or his young son falling asleep. There have been days when Pigott’s been tempted to give up, but somehow each week, a new video gets filmed, edited and released.
The filmmaker has called on family and friends to star in his creations and explored every aspect of Cumberland’s unique architecture. Now he’s looking for new actors and locations.
“I don’t need professional actors, just people who are willing to be in front of a camera and perhaps say a few lines,” explains Pigott. “As for locations, these could be restaurants, a mortuary, a beauty shop or whatever. I love to take reality, add one variable and see what happens.”
Pigott was born in Victoria and grew up in the Okanagan. During high school he developed a passion for science and the arts. That led to science-focused studies at the University of B.C. But he hated it.
So he switched to Emily Carr University. And hated that, too.
“I finally realized that what I loved was the combination of science and art,” says Pigott. “I crave the problem solving of science, as well as the diversity of the arts. Filmmaking satisfies both those needs.”
Pigott was hosting a murder mystery event for a youth group when Kim Bannerman filled in for an actor that couldn’t make it. Marriage followed and, in 2006, they moved to Cumberland. Their family now includes Zoe, 6, and Linus, nearly 2.
“We didn’t want to raise our kids in the city,” says Pigott. “And Kim’s family roots go way back in Cumberland. We discussed it, and given her skill set and mine, it made more sense for her to have the 9 to 5 job and for me to look after the kids and freelance from home.”
He films, edits and composes music, as well as builds special effects and creates two and three-dimensional animation. His client list includes North Island College, the Comox Archives & Museum, the University of B.C. among others.
He also has hundreds of royalty-free musical compositions available for purchase through iStock.
Pigott’s 52 Weeks started last Sept. when a large video project fell through at the last minute. “I was ready to work so came up with my own project,” he says.
His goal is twofold. The first is to build a portfolio of work that is readily accessible for viewing. The second is to take what he’s learning and apply it to a specific project in the future.
“What I’m creating with 52 Weeks is very diverse,” he says. “After that’s over I want to start a series of videos revolving around one theme. That will provide an opportunity for more character development and drama.”
A countdown contest is planned for the final segments of 52 Weeks, as well as a screening of some of the videos.