03/11/14 Essays # , ,

The Art of Faking It (part 3)

The Art of Faking It (part 3)

After a day and a half worth of shooting, I began to look over the footage we got and start to edit it together. I hated it. Nothing looked the way I had imagined it in my head except for one shot. The lack of dialogue made the story feel like it didn’t flow. And, on top of that, I then realized there were a few key shots that I somehow forgot to capture. October was about half over and the deadline to finish for the contest was fast approaching and all I had to show for it was a jumbled short film that I was not proud of. I still needed to turn this in for class credit too. I needed to somehow turn this into something that I wanted to be associated with, so I started thinking of a voiceover that could help walk the audience through what’s going on without holding their hands and being overly obvious.
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27/10/14 Essays # , ,

The Art of Faking It (part 2)

The Art of Faking It (part 2)

The new semester started up that August right around the same time that I found out about the film contest. We got our first assignment in our Advanced Production course and I suggested to Ben that whatever we make for class should also fit the rules of this contest in order to kill two birds with one stone. We now had a way to earn a grade and get some exposure.

After a couple weeks of brainstorming ideas back and forth through simple word association techniques, I had the idea. I came up with a short film with no dialogue as a way to hide the fact that most of our friends are not good actors. And I found a way to include all the rules set by the contest.

At this point, the green on the trees was starting to fade to yellow and orange. September was morphing slowly into October and our time was running out to complete our film. Still, we pressed on and arranged schedules and refined the story more and more. Because there was no dialogue, instead of writing a script, I drew out story boards and explained them with the beats of the story. I even started writing the music for the film.

The story follows a grim reaper by the name of Gary. He works in a college town and is responsible for killing the various people in it. He does this by simply touching their shoulder and after some time, the victim will die a seemingly natural death. Once Gary is assigned to kill a girl in a bookshop, however, he has a change of heart and decides to quit his job, come back to life and fall in love.

I finally found my actors and scheduled the time to film. This would be the first film I directed anything that didn’t have myself or Ben leading. I also really felt the pressure with this one because it was a more involved production than I was used to. Rather than basically goofing around for a few hours with my buddy, I now had to make sure camera settings were correct, that I had the right lens on, my actor was in the right spot and in focus, and because we were filming in public, I had to make sure that the shot was clear from people in the background. On top of that, I also had to make sure that I was remembering to film all the shots I had laid out and because most films are shot out of order, that can be so much of a challenge that major productions will have one person completely dedicated to that job. That wasn’t the case for this small student production. I was basically in charge of everything except being on screen (even though I made a small cameo as a victim).

This is the second post in a series about creating my short film I’d Live For You and how I didn’t quite feel like I knew what I was doing at the time. However, after some research, I discovered that even some major directors don’t always have everything planned out. Stay tuned for more in the series. Or don’t. Whatever.

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20/10/14 Essays # , , ,

The Art of Faking It (part 1)

The Art of Faking It (part 1)

At the end of the summer in 2012 I came across a film contest called Parameter. It was presented by the website A.V. Club and was a challenge to create a 3-7 minute short film following some very specific rules such as having a theme that deals with an escape from every day existence and picking from a number of other random parameters that needed to be included. I had never participated in film contest before this, so once I found it, I got excited because it seemed like something I could easily participate in. I had until the end of October to complete my mission.

I had only been making short films for about a year before I found out about this contest. I started taking video production classes at Washtenaw Community College the previous fall where I met my good friend Ben Armes. About half way through our first semester in the program we started working on our own projects outside of class just for fun. We even filmed our first short film together in one day for about thirteen hours straight. A few weeks later we had a completed 5 minute short film called The Start.

At the beginning of the summer, Ben and I worked on several very brief short films, mainly as a way to experiment with new equipment and to continue learning during the summer break from school. The majority of these micro-shorts were written very quickly and directed the next day. I usually took care of both of those duties and appeared on screen. Ben would act and then edit the footage. We’d either film it ourselves or find a friend to help with that. This is where I really started to get my footing as a director.

Being that I was working with one of my best friends, directing seemed very easy. It also helped that we have a pretty good idea of how each other thinks so communication was very easy. I would present Ben with the script that I wrote, explained how I thought it should look, and within about fifteen minutes our preproduction was taken care of. The next day or so, we’d film it and then within the next week, we’d have a new short film. However, future endeavors would prove to me that directing isn’t always that easy.

This is the first post in a series about creating my short film I’d Live For You and how I didn’t quite feel like I knew what I was doing at the time. However, after some research, I discovered that even some major directors don’t always have everything planned out. Stay tuned for more in the series. Or don’t. Whatever.

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@johnhilltube Same thing happened to me when I tried a cigar.
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