PRACTICAL makes films and videos that are the culmination of cameras, research, travel, sketchbooks, sleep, screen time, and running wild. Based out of Traverse City and Grand Rapids Michigan, we love sharing our work and process with those around the world.

Best of 2017

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At the turn of the new year, we slow down and reflect on the past 12 months. Looking at it now, it's surprising to see how many projects we did, how much has happened, and how many big events we've started taking for granted that are, in fact, very new developments.

In 2017 Practical officially expanded from Traverse City to Grand Rapids and opened up an office downtown. We worked on a plethora of large, small, medium, and oddly shaped shoots. We produced two music videos, and came within inches of finishing a short film (announcement coming on that soon!).  Our team grew, it changed, and the list of people we really like working with got a lot longer.  It's been a great year, but also a growing year.

This year has been all about people. Meeting new friends in a new city and savoring the relationships that keep us loving Northern Michigan. We are incredibly thankful to do what we do and for the support of those around us. We look forward to the new clients, crew, talent, and non-stop adventures 2018 will bring us. 

But enough talk, here are our favorite images of some places, faces, spaces captured in last 12 months of chaos and collaboration. Thanks for being here. 

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See you in 2018!


This Is How We Play

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Written by Paul Genzink - Project Release - November 14, 2017


When a project wraps, I'm always left with this excitement to jump into the edit suite and get an edit together to show the team and the client, probably before it’s wise to do so. Even with meticulous pre-production, storyboards, and demo edits, rushing through the post process isn't guaranteed to do favors for the end product.

What we noticed when putting together our latest commercial for Turtle Creek and Leelanau Sands Casinos is that when we began sorting through the footage and assembling a cut, the edit began to take on a life of its own. Shots we captured spur-the-moment were upstaging a lot of the shots that were planned. Many captured moments didn't time out in real life like they had in the demo edits, and the editing suite became a den of creative problem solving.


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Don’t get me wrong, the problem solving required wasn't a bad thing at all. It’s a beautiful part of the production process. It’s important to remain flexible, open to criticism and diligent to ensure that this altered direction remains in line with the projects greatest potential and what you, your team, and the client expects.


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What happened next was a revisiting of the script before we sent it off to the voiceover talent, nitpicking each word or line for content, timing, and emotional impact. It became a giant puzzle. Luckily we love puzzles. This, in turn, altered our direction for music and even sound design. Our motto became “I know we said this before, but ignore that, this is what we need now."


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In the end, we delivered a product that both we and the client were proud of, albeit four months after completing principal photography. Sometimes the best thing for a project is time. Sometimes not, but this had time to evolve, time to grow, and time to show its face; the important thing I want to remember from this is to be open to the opportunity to create something better than you initially imagined, even if it means slowing the approach to the finish line.



Just Getting By

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written by Paul Genzink  -  Project Release  -  October 31, 2017



It was my first week at Practical and found myself in the backseat on a 2.5 hour car ride. It was here that I listened to Joshua Davis’ song Just Getting By for the very first time. Immediately my head flooded with a variety of images; concepts began forming and my excitement level grew. The song, heavily influenced by memories of the past and of simpler times, transported me to my childhood, one filled with imagination, creativity, and play.


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In an early pitch, JohnPaul Morris showed me a photo of a young boy jumping on a bed. The content of the photo, the composition and the execution of the photographer created an emotional response for him and myself and it served as a north star for us as we pursued our options for each vignette we would film.


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One challenge that we faced with this piece was creating something simple but not something obvious. The narrative tone of Josh’s lyrics already communicate a beautiful story and we wanted to create a similar tone, visually, without being redundant. We entered into a balancing act of sorts, keeping in mind the emotional response we wanted to achieve while remaining close, but not too close, to the character of the song.


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We spent a few summer nights driving around, dragging friends along, and redecorating our own living rooms to capture the images that we needed for this piece.


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What made this process truly enjoyable for me was being given the opportunity to revisit my childhood creativity. To remember how I lived in a state of wonder and make believe and to be able to recreate those moments on camera is the very reason that I decided to get into filmmaking, and continues to remind this.