Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Staying on Track

Misc updates:

I am currently writing the actual pages of the script. The two scenes I've completed are both about 2x as long as they ought to be. I'll have to go back and trim them down, which makes me sad because I love writing the details I see when I write -- but is ultimately detrimental to painting a realistic picture of the undertaking the film represents from a logistic and dramatic perspective. I intend to have the first draft finished by this weekend (somehow). The drafting that follows will be fast and furious in order to lock down a final script. Thankfully, I have a lot of good friends within emailshot from whom I can solicit feedback I trust.

I am prepping to shoot my first round of experiments this weekend. I have a solid crew lined up and am looking forward to having some fun Saturday night, shooting outside. Unfortunately, the forecast right now is for rain. Hopefully this will change, as we're going to be shooting with the Red and rain will make it exceedingly difficult to keep the camera clean and dry. We'll manage, its just added complexity that I really don't need. Fingers are crossed, but -- hey! -- it's the weather, what're you gonna do?

I also have learned today that my production period is about a month shorter than I'd planning on up until now. Instead of June 5th, I now have to my film ready to show around May 5th. I understand the department's logistics issues that've forced this bumping up of the schedule, but unfortunately, I will not realistically be able to have a polished work by then. I'll have something, no doubt, and that something will be coherent and as good as I can possibly make it. But polished? No. At this point, it looks most likely that what I present will be a honed edit of the principle photography with a good stereo soundtrack and maybe some temp music laid-down. Thankfully, I'm planning to do most if not all of my fx work in-camera, so the post-end of this version should be rather light. The most significant piece missing from this version will be reshoots, but I will also most likely not have the final color correction, final timing, and the final 5.1 soundtrack (incl. composed music) locked down.

The best thing about this exhibition is that I essentially get to "test screen" my film to a discerning audience for free. Beats show it to ma and pop and asking, "Whaddya think?" (No offense to my real mother and father -- they're great).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Scheduling Experiments

Experiments 1 & 2:

Jan. 25 - 29: Continue research on night photography & optics; prep for shoots
Jan. 30 & 31: Night Photography shoot; Night Optics shoot
Feb. 1 - 5: Post-production for night-shooting materials;

Experiment 3:
Feb. 1 - 5: Prep material and actors for shoot
Feb. 6 & 7: Shoot key scene in film with stand-in actors cast in parts
Feb. 8 & 9: Edit material into a scene; final touches on Exps. 1 & 2

I've decided that gunfire isn't a feasible option for experimenting with at this point, because I'm still trying to lock down funds for this project, and gunfire is an aspect that (legally) costs a healthy chunk of change.

Expect to see a more concrete attempt at gunfire in my prototype.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thesis :: Armature & 7 Steps

The following is the theme ("armature") and rough structure of incidents for the short film I intend to produce as my thesis project. For a link to the much more detailed beatsheet, email me:


ARMATURE: Bravery is more than just pulling a trigger.


Once upon a time...there was a hot-shot soldier name Jamie Keats who was in love with a fellow soldier named Camilla Derikson.

And everyday...they would comfort each other inside this war zone and talk of life together when they rotate home.

Until one day...
Derikson goes missing during a night patrol.

And because of this...Keats and a new grunt desperately search for her and stumble upon an enemy shack in the wilderness.

And because of this...
the new grunt is wounded and Keats is forced to take him back to the encampment for medical aid.

Until finally...Camilla comes out of the darkness near the encampment but she doesn't speak the password so Keats is forced to shoot her. She screams in pain and Keats tells the SGT to fuck off, he's going out to her. She's still alive, and the wire on her explosives vest is severed by his bullet.

And ever since that day...Keats understood that the courage it took her to not speak the password, knowing she would be shot, was far greater than any violent endeavor he'd ever undertaken.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

3 Experiments

Three Experiments (with an opt'l 4th) to nail down certain technical and aesthetic aspects of the short film I intend to produce for my thesis project.

Experiment #1: "Night"
The script I am shaping takes place almost entirely at night. I need to experiment with various night "looks" to find one that is aesthetically viable and logistically achievable.

a. "Day for Night": using a special polarizer, I will experiment with filming during the daytime to see if I can achieve a nighttime "look".

b. "Dusk for Night": using one or more cameras and a post-production process, I will film test shots at dusk to see if I can achieve a nighttime "look".

c. "Night for Night": using one or more cameras, I will film test shots at night using only available and/or practical light sources (ie flashlights, chem lights, etc)

d. "Augmented Night for Night": using one or more cameras, I will film test shots at night using both practical/available lighting as well as professional lighting kits to achieve a nighttime "look".

Desired Outcome: a "look" for the nighttime photography that is cinematic without being melodramatic, and is logistically feasible.

Experiment #2: "Gunfire"
My story also calls for gunfire in four scenes. There are any number of different ways of achieving this, whether practical or in post-. I will present several tests of blankfire, an After Effects-created "gunshot", and a third option I am still trying to work out.

Desired Outcome: a safe, cinematic and visceral "look" for the gunfire.

Experiment #3: "Night Optics"
The characters in the story posses nocturnal ocular devices (NODs or "night-vision goggles") and for several POV shots, I'll need to have a NOD "look" that functions for the story. I will test this with several different cameras and get several different "looks" in post- before deciding on the final one.

Desired Outcome: a cinematic and functional "look" for the night optic shots.

Experiment #4 (opt'l): "Characters"
I'll film a short dialogue between the three primary characters of the piece. It will be indoors, without lighting, likely on MiniDV.

Desired Outcome: Simply, to see the actors moving in space, and hear the characters speak. This will also help with casting, allow me to see how an actor's "look" and/or performance-type works for and against a character.

Plan for Critiques: all will be viewed as part of a video reel, so a screening will be appropriate.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Storm is Coming (Revised)

Been awhile: haven't posted anything all year. End of New Year's jokes. Still, it has been awhile. And now it's another quarter, 'nother blog.


1. Purpose: "The wise man speaks because he has something to say, the fool speaks because he must say something." - Anonymous

2. Simplicity: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Leonardo da Vinci

3. Emotion: "Don't give me logic, give me emotion." - Billy Wilder

4. Hard Work: "I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." - Thomas Jefferson

5. Discipline: "No one who gets up before dawn 365-days-a-year fails to make his family rich." - Ancient Chinese Proverb

Second, GOALS:


2. Lead role CAST & keys CREWED

3. PREPRODUCTION under-way

4. A series of thesis-related VIDEO EXPERIMENTS

5. A PROTOTYPED SCENE/SEQUENCE as part of thesis prep

5. A SILENT 5-MIN SCENE directed

6. A 10-MIN CLIMACTIC scene directed

7. IMPROV studied

8. Continued work with SCREEN ACTOR students

9. EXERCISE maintained

Third, TASKS:

1. Thesis 2.1: Construct my Screenplay; Commence Casting & Crewing; Begin Pre-Viz

2. Screen Acting: Study Rehearsal Techniques; Study Dailies; Sketch Two Dramatic Scenes to coincide with:

3. Thesis 2.2: Draft a Production Schedule; Draft 3-4 30s Video Sketches ("Thesis Experiments"); Craft a Polished Prototyped Video ("Thesis Prototype")

4. Stage Directing: Study the Director's Craft; Direct a 5-minute Silent Play; Direct a 10-minute Climax from a full-length play

5. Beginning Improvisation: Continue to study the Actor's Process, emphasis on Spontaneous Creativity; Incorporate Improv Techniques into personal Creative Process

6. Personal Health: Maintain Daily Exericse; Persist in regular Sleep Patterns; Capitalize on the Mind-Body Link

Last, TIMELINE(~):

Week 1 (4JAN):

Breakdown "The Strike"

Draft DxProps

Week 2 (11JAN):

Start Improv Class (1/12)

Draft DxProps cont'd

DUE 1/16: Original Treatment inspired by "The Strike"

Week 3 (18JAN):

DUE 1/19: Silent Scene treatment

DUE 1/20: DXProps

DUE 1/22: Madman Draft

DUE 1/23: Draft Prod. Sched.

Week 4 (25JAN):

Silent Scene rehearsals

DUE 1/30: Architect Draft

Thesis Sketches production

Week 5 (1FEB):

DUE 2/2: Directing Midterm - Silent Scene

Thesis Sketches production cont'd

Week 6 (8FEB):

DUE 2/10: 3-4, 30s video sketches

DUE 2/12: Carpenter Draft

Thesis Prototype prep

Week 7 (15FEB):

Directing scene prep

Thesis Prototype prep cont'd

Begin Casting

DUE 2/19: Judge Draft

Week 8 (22FEB):

Thesis Prototype production

Directing scene prep cont’d

Week 9 (1MAR):

End Improv Class (#8)

Thesis Prototype prod cont’d

Directing Final Scene rehearsals

Week 10 (8MAR):

DUE 3/9: Directing Final - 10min Climax

DUE 3/9: Directing Final - Paper

DUE ???: Thesis Prototype

Finals (15MAR):

DUE 3/17: Director Research Presentations

DUE 3/19: Final polish

DUE 3/19: Final production schedule

Drama Showcase Reels Completed


See you on the other side.