QUEENS — Lights, camera, action!
A Forest Hills kid with a passion for acting and filmmaking is turning into a regular Ric Burns — putting together a series of YouTube videos about his favorite places in the big city.
Nick Gambis, 11, and his dad, Lance, have been shooting short films for about five years now.
Most of the time, Nick, who is the narrator and sort of a tour guide, travels around the city with his camera-operating dad and talks about things he enjoys doing.
He has visited the New York City Transit Museum, traveled on the Roosevelt Island Tramway and the Staten Island Ferry, played on a granite slide in Central Park and goes around the LIC Flea & Food and the Forest Hills Greenmarket, interviewing various vendors.
“I love doing this,” said Nick, who just graduated from P.S. 196, one of the top elementary schools in the area. “It’s so much fun.”
Recently, Nick started his own YouTube channel, which contains about 20 short clips shot in the last couple of years.
The father-son team made their first film, a fiction about Nick traveling to the moon, for the annual Imagine Science Film Festival, organized by Lance’s brother, Alexis Gambis, who is also a filmmaker and a scientist.
“We really enjoyed doing that video,” said Nick, who in the fall will attend J.H.S. 157 in Rego Park. “We got more involved and we started doing video contests.”
They participated in a number of contests shooting commercials for Louisiana Hot Sauce, Al Fresco sausage, and — Nick’s favorite — Kikkoman sauces, for which he wrote lyrics to a rap song he performed.
They won the second prize for it, $1,000, which they invested in better equipment, Nick said.
The father-son team pays careful attention to the quality of the videos, hoping it will set their work apart from millions of videos floating around the Internet, they said.
“When you look at these YouTube videos, some of them have millions of views but the quality is very bad,” said Lance Gambis, 44, who works as a French and Spanish translator.
The filmmaking process is pretty time consuming, they said. They record the images with a camera and sounds with a digital recorder, and then they use software to merge them.
Nick, who already has his business card advertising his YouTube channel, conducts all the interviews while his dad is filming.
“Then we sit together, we look at the footage, we pick the best takes,” said Lance Gambis.
After Nick adds narration, they use Final Cut Pro to put it all together. Lance Gambis is still doing most of the editing, but Nick continues to learn.
Recently, the team decided to start filming recipes and product reviews. Their first one is about Nick’s razor scooter.
Lance Gambis says their projects teach his son how to do research and how to be creative, “as opposed to watching TV or playing video games.”
“But it’s also something that we can do together,” the proud dad said. “We can scoot around together and explore the city. It’s great.”