Michael Franz is a Hamilton videographer. He makes historical videos of local and regional events and venues. Some of the videos feature local spots such as the Trenton Speedway, Duck Island, White City and the New Jersey Turnpike.
Franz also creates videos from his regional travels in a series called Destination Anywhere. For a trip back in time or around the area, search for his channel, The Mickey Shuffle, on YouTube.
What got you started making videos?
I’ve always had a passion for video going back to when I was a kid. A few years back, I decided to start making videos about local history because that subject always fascinated me. Four years later and I’m still making videos.
Have you always been a history and mystery scholar?
I’ve been a history nut since I was a little kid. Originally, I was fascinated with sports history, but eventually that evolved into U.S. history then World history. I always found myself really interested in weird history too, like odd stories or events.
How are your videos received by Mercer County residents?
The feedback has been quite positive. My favorite comments are when people say, “I lived here my whole life and had no idea about this.” I’m a very nostalgic person and I know a lot of other people are too.
How much work is it to research, write and produce the videos?
I used to get a video out about every three weeks. Since our son was born six months ago, that has pretty much stretched the schedule out longer as I don’t have as much time to work on the projects.
Where do the ideas come from?
I read books or old newspaper articles and I stumble upon the ideas. Occasionally, I have gotten ideas from viewers or family members. My criteria for a video is pretty simple, it has to be not well known, there has to be something to shoot video-wise and there has to be some historic element to it.
Which videos get the most reactions or feedback?
The most feedback comes from the videos about places that aren’t there anymore. Places that people have a strong memory or bond with. Another one of my favorite parts is when someone will comment about their memory or a certain place and then a bunch of other people start sharing their memories too.
When did you begin using a drone to film?
A passion of mine since I was a kid was aerial pictures. I absolutely love seeing an aerial shot, especially of something that you always saw from the ground like your neighborhood or something like that. I like to see the whole park, the whole area. I need to really grasp the size of the place being explored. The drone adds that excellent perspective to help me see everything.
What is your Dream Project?
I think one day I would like to make a full-length documentary of one of these little-known types of stories, preferably a sports subject. The 30 for 30 series on ESPN has always been one of my favorites.
What fight/struggle do you have regarding your art?
The toughest part of creating these videos is finding the time to do it. With a full-time job, a young child and other family obligations, it takes a lot of planning to fit everything in. Luckily, my wife is amazing about giving me the time, space and encouragement to do what I love.
What one attribute should all video artists have?
This may sound cliché, but it really is about the passion. When you really love something, you can be out there for hours upon hours immersed in it and never look at your watch once.
What is most fun about being making this video art?
Honestly, the most fun is when people watch the videos and then share their stories. People saying, ‘Thank you for making this’ and sharing their memories.
I think that comfort is a big part of the resurgence of vintage stuff these days. There are so many things out in the world to immerse yourself in these days, some people just want to go back and immerse themselves in the comfort of their own memories.
Michael Franz’ email is email@example.com.