Monday, December 11, 2006



Reasonable Success

My final project, hastily dubbed "Penance", was screened in class today and was received fairly well--that is, with less negativity than my last two. And furthermore, there were a few people who went out of their way to "Congrat" me after class, which was pretty cool even if I didn't know what to say. It was probably for just not sucking as much as they thought I would (modesty or Soderbergian modesty?).

I'm glad it's finally time for a break, although apparently Noel will sending out next quarter's first assignment sometime next week so that we can get a head start on it. Oh well. Couldn't hurt I suppose. And as much as I enjoy a good break, I was left in a unique situation after this last project, one I haven't been in since, well, ever: despite the massive amount of effort I put into Penance, the many, many sleepless nights, the logistical stress, the 5-day shoot, the four hours of rehearsals, the unending etc.'s amidst my other obligations, I completed this project wanting and ready to make the next. Usually when I'm done, I feel like I'm never going to want to make another short again. Not so this time. It was probably a combination of the great experience I had with this one, the feeling of (mostly) satisfaction, and the personal commitment I made to the project, the personal stakes. In the past, I've felt like I've been committed, like staying up all night is "commitment", but now I realize what was really going on was a desire to be committed. I wasn't actually. And that was reflected in my inability to make sound creative decisions and turn over a unified work.

There are a few things I gleaned from the critique:
1) I need to do a cost-benefit analysis of the film's visual quality vs. its story Quality. There has to be a balance between the two. Tip the scales too far in either direction, and you're going to end up with a wildly uneven film. One should not be sacrificed for the other.
2) Everyone's specific behaviors influenced the making/structuring/playing of your films in very specific ways.
3) Seeing the character's face made him human, showed that he wasn't a superman. Allowed audience to relate to him better.
4) "NO" was too much. We were already thinking that in our heads that killing is wrong. I don't need to tell them.
5) Removing the narration was like dodging a massive bullet. It strengthened the film: addition by subtraction.
6) "Balls" not necessary. Be mindful of the highly masculine environment associated with the military: saying "them" would have been enough.
7) Learn how to give us more without giving us more.
8) Because I'm a veteran, my audience trusts my authority on the subject matter, but if I go to far illustratively, I lose their trust in my authority. It's a fine line I have to walk, between talking down to my audience and not giving them enough information to interpret a world they may not be familiar with.

I'm fairly proud of the finished product. I think for the first time this quarter, I made the best possible product I could given the assignment, time constraints, available equipment, and where I am in my emotional/intellectual/creative growth. The two things that really pleased me to hear during crit were Shawn's two remarks about a) Jan's performance, how nuanced and particular every stutter and glance was, and the associated implications (meaning the 4-5 hrs. of rehearsal and 20+ takes paid off--although I'm not sure if anyone else caught on to the subtext); and b) that my film is "deeply disturbing"--the closest thing to a straight-up compliment I think I've yet gotten from Shawn, and possibly anyone, so far this year.

Listening to: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Going to watch later: Deadwood Season 2 eps. 6+

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Day of the Triffids

The Triffids were an awesome, post-Invaders from Mars, post-War of the Worlds apocalyptic species of alien; they were also kind of a pre-cursor to Invasion of the Body Snatcers--two subgenres of science fiction genre they were able to straddle because they were definitely an alien race intent on the complete and utter destruction of mankind! but also because they looked like trees so we couldn't tell they were aliens! until they started attacking! and then they were invincible! almost impervious to weaponry! until someone sprayed them with salt water and they melted faster than the Wicked Bitch of the East in That Wuss of Oz. 'Cept not the HBO. Not that I ever liked that show. I'm a DWood / Entourage / Wire kind of fella when it comes to HBO...

The day of the triffids. The Day of the Triffids.

I have a triffid infestation on my hands and I desperately need some saltwater.

Triffid: I am implicitly charged with finding a creative way to use the black void / Monolith-ic objects that now inhabit my short film in place of the chroma keyed greenscreen and the black horizon that is matting-out the Sound and Olympic Peninsula. I had originally planned to put found footage of Iraqi children in there, but after some guidance from Noel, the resulting look of the keying minus the footage is pretty spectacularly unsettling. He thinks there's an opportunity to capitalize on imcorporating an unforseen-albeit-awesome image that totally renegotiates the filmic space.

Saltwater: I think the best way to go about incorporating and clarifying the "running toward the void"--which is what this now is--is to use completely re-written narration. Currently, I only have a few lines at the beginning and the end, but I think if I expand on what I have already and construct more of a meditation on taking a human life--child or not--it ought to fit in nicely. The narration is the most influential part that I have yet to lock-down, so that's probably the most effective way of bringing the void in.

It'd be nice to take the title from a Nietzche quote. That might be too heavy-handed though.

As for the rest, there are moments that look pretty friggin' spectacular (compared to my past work), but it's in the editing I do in the next few hours and the audio work I do tomorrow that will make or break this sonuvabitch.

Listening to: The Departed Tango
Not Watching: The Day of the Triffids because THEM! busts so much more ass

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rendered Notes

A sampling of the lovely post-production tasks left to complete if my final project for this quarter is to be anything near as good as it is in my head (as of 1.46 am on 06DEC06):

1) Lock edit

2) Greenscreen keying -- Matte, single frames

3) Find found footage -- probably not necessary

Write new narration

5) Clean nat audio -- Low Pass/High Pass

6) Audio effects list

7) ADR and Foley

8) Color Correction

9) Title/Credits

Italics = Finished

Listening to: The Chud Show episode 17

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bloody Frozen Frame

I don't think this will appear in the short looking exactly like this--meaning, I don't think I'll be having any freeze-frames--but I thought this looked fucking awesome in all its motion blur, low resolution, eye-drooping, looking-into-the-camera glory, so here it is:

Writing: Final fucking essay