1988 creative. Photograph by Brandon Gaukel.
1988creative’s Justin Lon­goz and Chris McKin­lay. Pho­to­graph by Bran­don Gaukel.

A hookah gur­gles and gar­gles in Chris McKinlay’s base­ment. McKin­lay passes the hookah to Justin Lon­goz, but it is largely ignored as the two excit­edly launch into our con­ver­sa­tion, often say­ing the same thing at the same time. Lon­goz and McKin­lay are friends, and the film pro­duc­tion duo 1998creative. Work­ing for Global Mechanic, the film­mak­ers pro­duced their Ten Com­mand­ments series, for which they were fea­tured on the Huff­in­g­ton Post and in Jux­tapoz mag­a­zine ear­lier this year. 1998creative and their unique films have remark­ably cap­tured the lim­ited atten­tion spans of web video audi­ences around the world.

Their inter­net fame—and their cre­ative partnership—has been years in the mak­ing. Born and bred Van­cou­verites, McKin­lay and Lon­goz met in grade one while attend­ing Van­cou­ver Col­lege, an all-boys, shirt-and-tie Catholic school. “The whole ori­gin of [1998creative] came in high school when we would work on social stud­ies video projects,” says McKin­lay. “We got bet­ter marks than we ever had in school.”

Period,” Lon­goz con­tin­ues, “When­ever we did a video project, we got As.” Their long friend­ship would be appar­ent to any­one who meets them today. One instant, Lon­goz is com­pli­ment­ing McKinlay’s mad cow illus­tra­tions, the next, McKin­lay is lock­ing Lon­goz out of the house in the midst of broth­erly warfare.

Fol­low­ing high school, the pair attended Lan­gara Col­lege with the inten­tion of study­ing psy­chol­ogy and trans­fer­ring to UBC. “Wher­ever we go, we kind of pup­pet the other [one] and fol­low to the same place,” says McKin­lay. The friends soon encoun­tered bore­dom with the tra­di­tional aca­d­e­mic route, and McKin­lay enrolled in a film pro­gram at BCIT. Lon­goz quickly fol­lowed suit. “Even when we were at Lan­gara tak­ing psy­chol­ogy, we were still doing video projects,” says Longoz.

Never ones to set­tle any­where for too long, Lon­goz and McKin­lay quickly real­ized that they would learn more about film through expe­ri­ence than in the class­room, and spent most of their time at BCIT away from BCIT. “I failed out of film school because I didn’t want to go to all the law courses and we’d be out screw­ing around with a video cam­era,” says McKin­lay. Lon­goz laughs, “I want it to be on record that I didn’t fail film school. I passed the law classes.”

The friends abhor wasted time. For them, the best route is the one that leads quickly to the joy of cre­ation. This explains their choice to work as a col­lab­o­ra­tive team for Global Mechanic, a rel­a­tively small stu­dio, rather than for large insti­tu­tions, which Lon­goz describes as “dinosaurs.” McKin­lay, nods, adding, “The work­flow is just archaic.” The two go on to explain the stan­dard flow of film pro­duc­tion. A large stu­dio will cre­ate a con­cept and del­e­gate the work to var­i­ous other large stu­dios – each accom­plish­ing just one part of the project. “They hand it off and hand it off,” Lon­goz con­tin­ues. “It’s a game of tele­phone that’s passed on and the mes­sage is lost,” says McKinlay.

Under Global Mechanic, 1998creative aspires to be a full-service film pro­duc­tion oper­a­tion. “You come to us and we can do your cre­ative, we can do your pro­duc­tion we can do your post-production, we can do every­thing on top of the fact that you haven’t gone through eight dif­fer­ent peo­ple and the mes­sage doesn’t get watered down through each step,” explains Longoz.

Lon­goz and McKin­lay for­mal­ized their ven­tures as 1998creative two years ago. The name chan­nels their love of nostalgia—it was the year they began social stud­ies video projects, and a year burst­ing with movies and music that con­tinue to influ­ence them today. They have worked on a vari­ety of projects from back­ing videos for musi­cians to award-winning ani­ma­tion shorts, to paint­ing murals in McKinlay’s soon to be destroyed house. The Ten Com­mand­ments, one of their most pop­u­lar projects, is reflec­tive of their reli­gious background.

Roughly two min­utes long, each stop motion short enacts a Com­mand­ment with fruit. The shorts are funny, poignant and uni­ver­sally relat­able, much like 1998creative them­selves. “With­out being hyper sac­ri­le­gious or hyper-religious, we just wanted to tell the story,” says Lon­goz. “It’s part of the nos­tal­gia. To go to a reli­gious Catholic all boys school for twelve years,” says McKin­lay. “Kind of influ­ences you a bit,” fin­ishes Lon­goz. “We like to take the seri­ous part away and show it for what it is,” McKin­lay con­tin­ues. “… like, ‘These are the Ten Commandments—with fruit!” Lon­goz exclaims.

Most of their projects are released with a post on the Global Mechanic blog detail­ing the cre­ative process. This is in part because of Lon­goz and McKinlay’s shared sen­ti­men­tal val­ues. They want to share the per­sonal invest­ment made in their art. For a mural project, the duo cre­ated a time-lapse video of the pro­duc­tion process in McKinlay’s kitchen. “When we did our wall mural, it could’ve just been this pho­to­set that doesn’t tell the whole story of all the love. I look at the mural and it’s beau­ti­ful, but when I actu­ally watch the video I have the fond mem­o­ries. I hope there are peo­ple watch­ing the video who can have that same appre­ci­a­tion, and be there along­side us when we cre­ate it.”

Shar­ing the more tech­ni­cal aspects of their work, Lon­goz and McKin­lay exude a con­fi­dence that comes from expe­ri­ence. “I think that’s some­thing a lot of peo­ple are afraid of—the idea that you can’t be bad and then get bet­ter,” says McKin­lay. “Rather than hid­ing from a past project that fails or not you can actu­ally tan­gi­bly look your past work and improve upon it. We see what we love and what we don’t love and we extrap­o­late what we learned from that and move for­ward. There’s no fear from us.”

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A wall mural by 1988creative. Pho­to­graph by Bran­don Gaukel.

Nope,” says Lon­goz. “I just hope that when we do stuff like that other peo­ple will see that and think, ‘well they’re not afraid, maybe we shouldn’t be afraid either!’ Because if there’s a col­lec­tive shar­ing of how peo­ple do things everyone’s going to get bet­ter, right? You can make money off of it, but there’s no point if you’re just going to hoard it. Then, nobody learns anything.”

They just want to fill the world with great art—regardless of money. Not that they’re wor­ried; they’re hav­ing a good time. McKin­lay smiles, “suc­cess­ful or not, at the end of the day, you real­ize what makes you happy and I think for us, we’ve found it.”

Writ­ten by Rebecca Slaven.

Check out 1998creative at Global Mechanic’s Blog.

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