'You oughta be in pictures!'-- John Vincent balances the law with a movie and video company

By Frank Weir

Legal News

For many readers of a certain age, "Star Wars" is a good movie vaguely remembered.

But to Ypsilanti attorney John Vincent, it changed the course of his life.

An eventual film, video, and theater grad of EMU, Vincent was asked what led him to that degree field and he replied, "Two words: 'Star Wars.'

"I loved it. It caught me. And, as I see it, you can mark much of movie making as 'before Star Wars' and then 'after Star Wars.' It was the movie that truly introduced the modern age of filmmaking."

Vincent noted that the film introduced a new style featuring cross cuts, visual effects, sound effects, and especially editing, that have now become the norm since its making.

"I remember asking myself at the time of seeing the movie, 'How did they do that?' My father, criminal defense attorney Michael Vincent, told me, 'It's all real, son' but I knew better than that."

Years of watching moviesled to his making four feature films after his EMU graduation with a fifth underway. Except for one shot in Detroit, all were filmed in the Washtenaw County area.

Currently, he also is expanding his Vincent Video Service business, while continuing his fulltime criminal defense law practice.

"I can offer video deposition work, expert testimony, anything requiring a video presentation," he said. Vincent is especially interested in working with future judicial campaigns and feels he can offer more than recording video for commercials.

"I think most judicial candidates are not terribly familiar with the publicity end of a campaign. I try to help design the overall look of the campaign publicity since it's really important to have a unified theme and thrust.

"You need to have commercials, brochures, billboards, print ads all with a unified look. And I think I can help with script writing for commercials."

"I was involved in acting at the start of my career but I'd much rather stay behind the camera now. My film company is small but it's one of the longest established in Michigan. We've done a lot of political ads and commercials in judicial campaigns as well as our four feature films and other work."

Most of the films were sold to overseas film distribution companies Vincent says, so don't look for them at your local Blockbuster or even on Netflix. But they have played in countries as diverse as Germany and Thailand.

"The thought of someone in Europe or Southeast Asia sitting in a theater watching one of my films, with subtitles of course, is a bit mind-boggling, but there you have it. It has and will happen," he said.

Although some of Vincent's first films and early work were shot on film, he has followed the industry to video. The evolution in the industry continues to advance exponentially he says.

"It's really amazing. I'm 43 and have witnessed the change over from a film-based industry to first tape and now digital recording.

"In the film days, you would be looking at a 10-day delay for delivery of raw film stock to a processor to getting it back unless you were a major studio with your own developing resources. Today, younger people find it hard to imagine how you'd get anything done with that kind of time restraint."

In addition, Vincent notes that those who lament the loss of film, have gotten used to the look of digital recording. "When I look at film these days, it's actually kind of shocking particularly in a smaller format 16mm version. It's grainy and I don't think it looks nearly as good as even very early video tape looked.

"And of course now that we are in a digital era, the difference is even more dramatic."

He adds that currently, the camera itself represents what "film stock" was in the old days. And with the increasing improvement in video recording capability with today's digital SLR's, enormous film cameras or shoulder-mounted video camcorders are largely a thing of the past.

And, he noted, "video excellence is achievable with equipment that is not only affordable but available in anyone's neighborhood.

"Certainly you can still buy components like superb lenses that can cost many thousands of dollars, but decent equipment is affordable and available," he said, noting that the famous "Blair Witch Project" was shot on video equipment that was hardly exotic or particularly expensive.

Vincent commented that Francis Ford Coppola once remarked that he hoped someday, the next great film genius could get his or her start using their mom's camera.

Vincent thinks that time has come.

"When you look at the success of a project like 'Blair Witch Project,' you can see that creative people can easily get started now and with equipment that is readily attainable.

"Similarly, when I first began and told people I was going to pursue making films in Michigan, they looked at me like I was out of my mind. But I've made it happen and have kept myself busy in the industry. We have actors and all the film support personnel you need right here in the state to make movies."

Vincent Video Service can be reached at 734-547-0934 or at:


Published: Thu, Aug 11, 2011