Tuesday, February 27, 2018

RavenzCraft Arts Presents

L120 Productions


L120 is comprised of a group of indie filmmakers from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
They create a variety of entertainment and productions for  feature films, short films, music videos, commercials, corporate videos, web-series, product pitch videos, wedding films, to documentaries.
The L120 crew definitely caught our attention with their new short film projects and we are honored to talk with them behind the scenes about how they got started and what it takes to produce and create these quality productions

We will be interviewing two members for this project Ximena Rios and Mark Riddle

1.Alright well,  first let’s start off with an introduction about yourselves, where did you grow up? And where do you live currently? 

Ximena: My name is Ximena Rios. I was born and raised in Acapulco, Mexico and moved to Calgary, Canada when I was 19, where I’ve been living for 3 years already.

Mark: I’m Mark Riddle, I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; where I’ve spent a majority of my life and currently still reside here.

2.What inspired L120 productions? When did your passion for movies and short films begin?

Ximena: It all started when my ex-classmates and I were still in college. L120 was the number of the classroom where we had all our classes. On our second year of the TV Production program we had a 5 minute drama/comedy short project. Therefore, we all decided to come up with a name and a logo to make our short films more serious and professional. I would say I was around 15 or 16 years old when my passion for movies and short films began.

Mark: L120 was a name my former classmates and I used to identify/solidify our work together as a team. When we were in school, we were always working together on short films, commercials, etc., and having a production name we could attach to each project just helped make us feel united. The name holds significance to us, as it was our classroom number. Once we had agreed on the name, and we had an animated logo created to put in our videos, and we sort of just took it from there.
I’d say my passion for film making began when I was 7 or 8 years old, I started out by writing scripts and acting them out with friends and family. When I was 11, I started shooting and editing together skateboard videos, just for fun. It wasn’t until Jr. High and High school that I really started to get into making narrative short films. Most of the stuff I made was more experimental if anything, but overall good practice.


3.Were there any specific inspirations that led to you becoming a creator? Any certain person or artist/producer that you looked up to?

Ximena: I think Guillermo Arriaga will always be a role model for me. He’s one of the best Mexican screenwriters at the moment.

Mark: The biggest inspiration for me personally growing up was my father, as he’s always been a huge movie buff. Since I was a child, he has always been showing/recommending different films for me to watch. He introduced me to some of my favourite films; Alien, Terminator, Jaws, Star Wars. He’s always been a great person at motivating me throughout my life, where a lot of parents try to steer their children in a safer and more secure career path, both my parents never once told me not to pursue filmmaking.

Nowadays I always go to him with my scripts, so that he can read through and see what I’ve written. I always show him my first drafts of films I’ve made, and I just listen to what he has to say. I trust his opinion, and if he tells me a bit of dialogue doesn’t work, or this scene seems out of place, most of the time he’s right. I think every filmmaker needs that one person they can always go to, and have them look over and inspect your work.

So what about today what are some of your favorite movies/films? Who are some of your favorite movie producers?

Ximena: Right now, I really like Nicolas Winding Refn’s style. He has a really interesting and weird way of telling a story. I personally love The Neon Demon. It’s amazing how beautifully shot that movie is. Refn and Natasha Braier did an amazing job on the cinematography. That’s my goal as a Director/DP to create amazing looking and interesting films, but maybe not as weird.

Mark: I mentioned a couple already, but my list never stops growing. One of my favourite directors, David Fincher, has directed three of my favourite films; Se7en, Zodiac, and the Social Network. I absolutely love Se7en, I truly believe it is still one of the best crime-thriller films to this day. Everything about that film was perfect, right up until the end. It’s fascinating to see the same director tackle similar material, but presenting it in a different way, like he did with Zodiac. I think Social Network is an excellently crafted character study, despite a lot of it being fictitious. I admire Fincher a lot; he truly knows how to craft an excellent film. Other films I hold dear are Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines, Beasts of no Nation, Silence of the Lambs, Usual Suspects, Prisoners, Moon, Super 8, The Shinning, and The Road.
Alongside Fincher, some other of my favourite directors are; Cary Fukanaga, Nicolas Refn, Denis Villeneuve, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo Del Toro, and Hayao Miyazaki.

I noticed you use a certain dark natured mystery type style in your projects, I really like the vibe you give off in your videos, can you tell us what kind of films and projects you are aiming to create and express?

Ximena: We just want to create interesting stories that people can enjoy watching. Humans are really dark beings so we like to interpret that darkness through our stories.

Mark: I’ve always had a great appreciation for films that don’t follow the stereotypical Hollywood ending, “they drove off into the sunset, and lived happily ever after”. I hate those endings, where everything works out perfectly fine for the characters, it just feels unrealistic. For the films Ximena and I create, we try and aim for a more realistic approach towards how the story plays out and ends. A character needs to face challenges, and to take risks, and in the end there needs to be sacrifice, loss, regret and/or consequences. I like to show the transformation of a character, whether it makes them a hero, or a villain.

So I’m interested in how short films are created, can you tell us some of the kind of equipment you use to film? How do you get that movie quality look to your films?

Ximena: We don’t use really fancy equipment because we are just trying to start our careers and we don’t have a budget at all so we use what we have handy. We own a Canon Rebel T3i, two Rebel T6is, a Rode Mic with Boom Pole, cheap tripods and cheap lighting.
We try to set up an interesting look with just lighting on set but in Post-Production is when everything comes to life. High contrast and wide screen is our thing.

Mark: Our post-apocalyptic film “Surreal” was shot on a Sony PMW400 and a Canon Rebel T3i. The Sony camera is primarily designed for ENG shooting, which made it a little trickier to acquire a cinematic look from.

The film was shot at 29.97fps which also added to the challenge of making it feel more film-like. Despite these minor challenges, we were fortunate enough to have been able to make this film while we were still in school. We had access to a lot of high quality equipment, such as a jib-arm, Steadicam, lighting, and the PMW400. When we filmed Empty Space we had a lot less equipment, which required us to be a lot more creative with our filmmaking.

For “Empty Space” we used a Canon Rebel T6i, Fujifilm X-T2 to film, a rode mic for the audio, natural light and house lights, and Zhiyun Crane. A number of dolly shots were mostly done handheld or pushing the DP on a chair with wheels. We had roughly the same equipment when we shot the pilot episode of “Complacency”, except we had better grasp of the frugal filmmaking process. Because we are shooting on DSLR cameras, the look we achieve mostly comes down to good lighting, framing, and a lot of colour grading in post.

I’m also interested in how you go about finding actors and music content for your projects, do you reach out to other sources for help or do you have a crew that supports your projects?

Ximena: Fortunately, there’s an Alberta Indie Film and Video Production group on Facebook that a lot of actors and crew members that are part of it. We always post Cast calls there and we always find so much support from there, it’s amazing! All our crew met in College, we were either classmates or met through our instructors.
For music, we mainly look for copyright free music on the YouTube Library.

Mark: That’s one of my favourite reasons for living in Calgary, there are so many talented people living here, who all want to collaborate with eachother. I’m part of several filmmaking groups on Facebook that allow me to easily connect with actors and find people perfect for the roles.
YouTube audio library has been a hidden gem for us, as there a lot of great ambient style songs available, all of which are royalty free and copyright free. Our crew has always been made up of the same group of people; we’re all comfortable around eachother, and familiar with everyone’s abilities and work ethic. It definitely helps make projects flow easier when everyone is on the same page, and you do not have to try and prove your worth to anyone.

I noticed you have other films and videos on your YouTube channel, are these collaboration projects you have done with other creators? Can you tell us about any favorite collaborations?

Ximena: We haven’t collaborated with anyone yet besides between our crew members.

Mark: That’s right; those are all different projects the L120 team collaborated on. There were so many videos posted on multiple YouTube pages, rather than re-posting onto the L120 page we simply decided to create different playlists for different projects.

That way when people were looking for more work that we’ve done, they can see all the other projects we helped work on. During the month of October 2016, I was in the process of filming and releasing my short film “There is No Solace”.
I was also simultaneously helping shoot four other short films as well. It proved to be a very tiring and stressful month, but a great learning experience for time management and having a stable work flow.

On the topic of collaboration, are you open to working together on a future project with other artists and creators? Like for example, featuring music in one of your projects, or creating an all new collaborative music video/short film?

Ximena: We are definitely open on collaborating with other creators! It’s all about making contacts and getting experience on doing different kinds of videos.

Mark: We’ve actually worked with Arvin Siegfried now on several projects; he’s an electronic artist/film composer. He created the main score for Surreal, and his song “Space” was featured at the end of Complacency episode 1.

We also filmed and edited a music video in August 2017 for one of his singles; we’re hoping to release the video sometime in the next month or so. It has a Blade Runner sort of vibe, in terms of colour and lighting that is. I’m always open to working with new people, I had a lot fun filming this music video, and I’m eager to film another one sometime soon.

So I have watched your films, Empty Space, Complacency and Surreal along with pretty much everything else on your channel, are there any other projects you are involved in or have plans for in the future that you want to tell us about? Any other areas or places we can find your work?

Ximena: Right now, we are fully focused on Complacency as it is a 6 part series, but we have talked about new series ideas for the future like Insomniac. This will be a crime/mystery series as well.

Mark: Ximena and I have plans to film another short film this summer, between July and August. I can’t say too much about the story just yet, it will be a 10-15 minute mystery-thriller film with some horror elements. We’ll be filming in the small community of Water Valley again, same place where we shot “Surreal”. This will be our first film to be shot and released in 4K, so that’s exciting for us.

From your experiences, can you tell us what it takes to produce/create a decent presentable short film? I know it can be a long difficult process just to get a few minutes of good footage; can you share with us some of the difficulties and victories you have found in your career so far?

Ximena: Working outdoors can definitely be such a pain in the butt! Filming Surreal was a bit of a nightmare because of the snow and cold weather. At the end it all turned out great, and all our hard work paid off.

Mark: A lot of pre-production and patience.
Always walk into a project with confidence and a clear vision. Communicate with everyone, and be creative and resourceful. Every time you make a film, you’re going to run into problems, and how you overcome them is the best learning material.
I personally prefer to edit almost all of my own work, because I know what we shot, why we shot it, and where it needs to be. Having editing experience can also help with directing, as you know what can be done in post to improve the film, if you find it can’t be obtained on set.

Do you have any words of wisdom or personal advice for people out there that are looking to get into this type of work/career?

Ximena: Don’t be afraid of telling different stories and don’t be afraid of not having really fancy equipment. Your story is what matters, as long as you have a strong story and a creative eye you can be able to create some really cool material without having RED cameras.

Mark: Watch lots of movies and television shows, both good and bad, and study them. Listen to commentary tracks of your favourite directors, cinematographers, producers, etc., and listen to what they have to say. How they shot a scene, why they shot it that way. Then grab a camera, find some people, and go out and start filming.

This last question is open for you to say or mention anything you want to all the viewers and fans out there, we look forward to seeing more of your work, and appreciate you sharing a little bit about your career...

Both: Thanks for doing this with us Tim, great questions! To everyone who watches and follows the content we create, thank you so much. The biggest thing we want out of L120 is to create quality content for people worldwide to enjoy. Look out for episode 2 of complacency, coming early March!

I just wanted to add a special thanks to the L120 crew for taking the time to talk with us, this interview was very interesting for me personally as I am pursuing the same type of career, I have always enjoyed short films and being able to put your ideas on screen. L120 showed us all that if you focus and try hard enough you can create anything!

Keep up the great work and we look forward to more productions in the future!

Follow and support L120 at these links below-


Be sure to check out their Youtube channel and see some of their work here at 

Support and Subscribe to these amazing creators! Thank You

-Tim RavenRotar


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