Tuesday, December 9, 2008

54? Hour Video Race

If I could sum it up in a few words: Very cool idea for a project, but it definitely did not produce my best work. I went into this project kind of blind because I had no idea what I wanted to do and had done no planning before receiving the mystery prop at noon on the dot. Then when I found out we had to make a film (without a movie camera) with the cookie cutters, I just kinda felt like "Oh...shit." But, rather than panicking, I followed my trend of making a holiday-themed short and chose to apply my stop-animation filmmaking knowledge to this project. I ended up using my roommate's digital camera (because it was a whole lot better than mine) and finished after shooting around 215 pictures total. After stringing all the pictures together in final cut, shortening them to last 2 frames (instead of 10 seconds, the default; this was a huge P.I.T.A.), doing some very basic effects, deleting bad frames and slapping some holiday music underneath, I called it quits. I felt like I could have produced a much better final result, had I taken more pictures (maybe twice as many) and played with lighting a lot more. I felt pretty unaccomplished and believed this project to be absolutely terrible until the audience reacted in a much more positive manner than I had expected. It was a fun little project, but I wish I could have gone back and done it again with much more focus. Then again...we only had 48 (54) hours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cucalorus - Thursday and Beyond

Thursday was kind of a fall-through day because I tried to attend two of the special events that were going on and couldn't get into either of them. First I tried to go on the Blue Velvet tour because I had just recently seen Blue Velvet for the first time (truly the best Wilmington film so far) and thought it would be sweet to check out the locations (especially interiors) where David Lynch and crew shot. The tour ended up being full and I couldn't go (only 24 people???), so I hung around downtown for a little bit. Someone reminded me that Kodak's 'Stop by, shoot film' thing that was going on. I had heard last year from a few people who went and they said it was a lot of fun and good experience so I headed there. Of course, that event was full too, but it's okay, because I'm taking 16mm Narrative with Hulse next semester and plan on shooting 16 then. I went into Thalian hoping to catch a film but nothing looked very good and I was flying solo, so I kind of just gave up. So Thursday was kind of a bummer overall.

Later that night I went to a friends 21st birthday dinner and afterwards we headed to Jengo's (even though only half of us were film majors) to grab some free drinks. Fortunately we all got in a hung around long enough to have a beer with Hulse and Pack (what's with the absence of liquor this year? Not easy to complain about free beer though....). I also got to play around a little with the VJ equipment that had been set up, thanks to Jordan Leonard, Dr. Kreul and the majority of my Experimental Production class. I missed the main show but I heard the VJ'ing went great and could tell by playing with the Midi keyboard and seeing all the possibilities of manipulating the various media. Cool stuff.

I had to work Friday and Saturday. I was planning on attending the after party Saturday night but I got out of work around 12:30 and just didn't feel like cruising downtown by myself in the cold. I was a little disappointed that I had missed some good films like "A Day's Work", "Good Dick" and some various shorts, all of which I heard were amazing. I would have really liked to see some of the docs that were playing this year, as I think I chose to see none just because I saw so many last year. Oh well. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up on those later when the DVDs come out. I'd say overall I had a better film fest experience than I did last year. I saw more films, got to meet some pretty cool people and got to know some of my classmates a little better. Now I'd like to broaden my horizons and attend some other festivals, whether here locally or in California, if I ever get out there...

Cucalorus - Wednesday

I felt pretty unaccomplished after Cucalorus 13 last year, as I only attended one day's worth of films, so I decided that I'd attend as much of Cucalorus 14 as possible. I started on Wednesday, of course, with the Visions 08 kickoff. I have to give a huge thanks to Andre for his efforts to enter "Adam and Eve" which was a project that Dylan, Russ, Jamie and I made for 6x1 multi-plane animation. He basically just emailed us all and asked if we would mind if he put it into Visions for us, which of course we all gladly agreed to. So it was thanks to him that I even got a chance to see the student films from this year. On the topic of Visions, I thought all the films were pretty good, but Zero Deficit and Taintsmouth were easily my favorites. I had been hearing about Taintsmouth since I took Intermediate Doc and finally witnessed Rob's masterpiece. Brilliant.

I stuck around after Visions and tried to get into Chip's film "Two Hours in the Dark" but I was told it was completely sold out already. It's interesting how they made it work this year where, even if you were a FST major with an all-access pass, you still had to get paper tickets way in advance to have a chance to see the more popular features. I was surprised that some professors even had a hard time getting into films (Hulse couldn't get into Chip's film). I explored all my possibilities and talked to Joselyn and Bobby and somehow got hooked up with one of the small tickets they reserve for the last 10 passholders to arrive. So luckily, I got to experience one of the 'Work-in-progress' screenings. I thought it was a really good idea to put Chip Hackler, his editor (Alan?) and Terry Linehan, his producer, up front in Jengo's in order to guide the audience through the viewing. The film looks great, especially the art direction. The actor playing Frank Capra looks a little shaky though. Chip said the film should end up being about 40 minutes long once it's all done, and I'm hoping I'll be around to see it when it premiers. Oh and I can't forget to say that, although the editor seemed like a pretty cool guy, he just needed to stop talking. I just felt that he was stealing the spotlight from 1) the film, and 2) Chip as a director. He made some good commentary but just too much commentary. Oh well, the few scenes we saw looked very good and the screening itself was a new experience that I'm glad I was a part of.

Late Wednesday I returned to Jengo's for the film party and managed to get into the 'sex shorts' as they were called. All of them were pretty ridiculous and hilarious. "The Letter 'C'" was awesome and kept everyone constantly laughing, but my favorite was the extremely weird "Hezurbeltzak, A Common Grave" which was basically very cryptic pencil-looking drawings being animated, showing sex and some very odd things (like a woman swallowing up a dog with her something-or-other...) Very, very strange film but I thought it was amazingly creative. After the sex shorts, I met up with a bunch of friends behind Jengo's and went out back for the best part...FREE BEER.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Take One, Action, Cut, That Was Perfect.

The Bolex shoot was pretty amazing, simply put. I showed up with low expectations but left extremely impressed with every single project. It was cool being part of another groups project while waiting to shoot mine. Just seeing how their project evolved and flowed helped warm us up for ours. My group (Dillan, Russ, Jamie) and I had a general idea to launch off of (doing the one-shot out of the back of a car), Jamie showed up with ridiculously awesome props, and it all just flowed from there. It was unbelievably amazing that everyone (and I mean almost the entire class, including you Andre) pitched in to help out our shoot. I strongly believe the collaboration made everyone's project the most it could be. Being the camera operator was a priviledge, too, because that's pretty much the position I most desire to work in film. So pat on the back to my group for the awesome ideas, cheers to Andre and the rest of the class and extras for support, but most of all....special thanks to the free rice cakes.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The One Take

I'm pretty damn excited about the upcoming one-minute film project. I've used a Bolex before but only got to touch it a very limited amount. I'm hoping I can be on camera for one of the projects and want to do sometime along the lines of the following:

-Camera starts steady, maybe low to the ground
-Camera follows action that invades the frame
-Camera gets 'passed off' between different actions or movements 
-Camera reveals clearly as many things that are going on as possible while staying smooth and steady and within the one minute mark

Children of Men comes to mind, because it has some of my favorite cinematography of any recent film. The long takes Cuaron uses in the movie are inspiring because they carry the viewer through huge action scenes seamlessly. Can't wait to try it out on the Bolex.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Finding my way back from the land of sleep...

So I have now unintentionally missed two classes in a row. And feel like an underachieving jackass. I don't do this...why is this happening? Well what's done is done and the only thing I can do now is try my best to catch up and not let my partner down.

As far as the cameraless filmmaking goes...I'd have to say I feel like I've had more hands on experience in the first two weeks than in a whole semester of any other production class I've taken thus far. I really enjoyed the magazine transfers, mainly because it was an experience seeing everyone work independently and then contribute their work to one large piece of film stock. Now I'm not a painter, but I'd have to say I was pretty proud of my little bit of dabbling on the film stock at the end of class. I experimented a little with combining colors and having them metamorphize into images with meaning.

I really, really wish I wasn't being such a failure at making it to class. I'm going to have to talk to my partner Jamie about what we did the past two weeks in order to catch up and try to gain some kind of understanding of what I missed. I guess I'll experiment around when working on our elements project in order to see what I missed out on. Sorry Andre, Sorry Jamie!

But I WILL be there next week and ready for the multi-plane animation session.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Responding to Brakhage

Of course it would be Stanley Brakhage, the yoda of experimental filmmaking, teaching us the basics. The first part of his article was exactly that, basic. I almost laughed at how trivial the part was where he began talking about how to physically project an image from film..."you would have to concentrate bright light thru it and focus it sharply thru some lens..." Part two, the letter, was a step up the ladder though. The writing almost became more poetic and like a memoir of his previous filmmaking. I liked reading him talk about his films that I've seen in previous classes, such as Mothlight and Dog Star Man. Part three was a flash back to Shannon's Doc Production class last semester, as we had used a seconic light meter and talked about different film stocks and all that jazz. I had to reread the part concerning the "Rayogram" to figure out what the hell he was talking about. Overall, the reading has allowed me to become more anxious to figure out/perform new experimental techniques so I can make sense of all the ramblings of the genius that is Brakhage.

"...And yet I don't want to discourage you from attempting anything, no matter how impossible seeming, which might permit your muses to show us all something new..." I accept your challenge Stan.