I apologize for my lethargic post last night. Directing 1 didn’t get out until 10:35 and I was WIPED. Everyone was. I appreciate everyones’ enthusiasm for this forum, I’m having a lot of fun writing it. I did get a very funny comment posted on yesterday’s topic by someone anonymously. You can read it. They seemed angry, but sarcastic. I apologize, who ever you are. I will try and stop the “losing of my audience one person at a time.”
Let’s see, let’s see. Ok, so, yesterday with another class in the editing lab. This time, instead of learning the dreadful art of script supervision, we opened up Final Cut and began to learn the proper way, or at least for school, to organize a project in the program. We also briefly opened up DVD Studio Pro and learned the basic way to burn a dvd. Not gonna lie, this took ALL 3 1/2 hours…PLUS like 15 minutes extra. I pretty much know my way around FC, so this was long… long long. I certainly don’t fault anyone for having questions, though. At the pace we are moving, I could not imagine coming into this not knowing anything about how a non-linear editing system works. Our teacher, Sandro (very cool Dude), said that our class seems to be doing well with it. That’s good they think that, because between he and our post-production supervisor, Duane, they were talking NON-STOP for 4 hours. That would be the most arduous process ever, trying to teach people a computer program like this… especially people who weren’t already doing it on their own. Their patience was Guiness record worthy.
All week, Matt and I had been wanting to go try this magical dining hall that is supposedly just around the corner from the film school behind the stadium. A fellow MFA, Marie-Suzie, said she had eaten there on Monday. A fairly large group of about 8 of us went to go check into it. Turns out, it’s in the brand spanking new Athletic building. Walking down the halls, I realized we might be on hallowed ground, but we ventured forth. Akil and Dade were leading us and we walked up to the main entrance. The Dude didn’t really pay us any attention, and me, like the scared Whiteboy I was, just kinda stood in the back. Akil looked up and was like, “Come on, what are you guys doing?” So, we paid our $7.50 and walked on in. The place was fairly small, but chock full of football players, coaches, and other athletes. I still felt a little out of place. I could have sworn we were getting looks. But, I mean, no one stopped us. PLUS, the BFA’s were already in there eating, laughing, pontificating, all with full stomachs. Those crafty BFA’s, always one step ahead. This place is all you can eat too. I mean, it’s a solid deal, for sure. I wanted to check in to their maybe being some sort of one-meal a day plan for it, but who knows. Even if not, $7.50 is about what you’d pay anywhere. Shoot, I pay that at Taco Bell. We’ll see about this.
After lunch came our little camera demonstration for the weekend projects we’re going to be filming. Just for these first six weeks, we’re shooting little minute long exercises on the trusty Canon XL-1, a camera I have used before. They’re old… like, old. But they serve their purpose and the lenses always look nice. Some kids had never even touched a camera before, especially this camera. Our cine (cinematography) teach, Keith, just did like a 30 minute overview. The exercise we have to shoot is actually for our Directing class that I’ll talk about in a second. It involves using the “photo” feature on the cameras to snap a sequence of shots that will be edited together to tell a story. All that is required is for someone to see something, create a desire, and then motivate the person to fulfill that desire. It can’t be longer that 2 minutes. We were randomly assigned into groups. I’m with two people whom I haven’t mentioned on here, Smitha and Sum. Both of them are really nice. I think the key to any of these assignments is shear simplicity. Filmmaking in general is a very egotistical medium. Everyone thinks they have a an awesome shot in mind, or a mind blowing script, or just basically think they’re the shit. Well, you’re not the shit. You’re in film school.
The workshop ended way early, like, 4:15, which was a blessing. For the first time this week, I had a second to breathe. I didn’t really even know what to do. I eventually drove home and hung out in my room, not even sure why. I had already done my reading for the Directing class later that night. I decided to go back to school about an hour before class. Directing is another on the of the classes we have with Track 1, so that’s always fun. We had it on the big sound stage, sound stage A, with folding chairs, two cameras hooked up to TV’s, and a giant 50″ Samsung plasma. Reb Braddock, our associate Dean, is the teacher. Reb is quite an interesting guy. He’s been in the industry for quite some time and doesn’t beat around the bush with things. I like his philosophy on telling a story first, but through the language of film. I also like how makes sure you know that you’re not the shit and will be constantly reminded that you’re not the shit. We do exercises just because he knows we’re no where near able to shoot anything worthwhile right now. I like that attitude. it’s funny to me, but it also rings true and makes sure they keep everyone hungry for it. It also goes to show that FSU actually cares about their students as opposed to other schools that just leave you to deal with filmmaking and the curriculum on your own.
In Directing, we basically got into the language of film and what shots can help you convey as a story teller. We also discussed the “180 Rule,” which for those of you who don’t know, deals with the concept of “eye line matching.” This means that if two characters are talking to one another, an imaginary line is drawn from one face to the other. When setting up shots, you can never go BEHIND the line during a scene, because then it won’ make sense visually, they’ll start to look like the same direction. For instance, if you’re filming my profile on my left side and I’m talking to, say, my wife Adriana Lima, and she is facing me so that her incredibly ridiculously Brazlian hottie right side of her face is facing the camera, you would never want to suddenly film me from my right profile, because in the editing it would look like we’re facing the same direction (and the right side of my face is no match for hers). Reb had Akil and I stand facing each other while he illustrated this point with the cameras and the TV monitors. It was very effective.
We also watched some clips from a few movies that broke the rule and some that obeyed it. One of the movies was that In Good Company movie with Topher Grace and Scar-Jo…man, she just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
After that, I cam DIRECTLY home and went to bed. I was pretty tired. 6:30AM came about the time it always does and I woke up fairly easily this morning. For some reason I was extra early today. I left my hour around 7:10am and went to pick up a Vitamin Water at the ole gas station. For those of you who don’t know, I am a gas station food junkie. An embarrassing habit, yes, but one that offers me the convenience of having a consistent menu, no matter where I am. I have actually cut out a lot of junk food recently, and that is a very good thing. I got to school at 7:30am and knocked out a huge chunk of reading. My first class was Sound. I LOVE sound. I always have. The teacher was awesome too, exactly like what you would think. He had been in live music and recording for years and made the switch to film about 20 years ago. (Doesn’t it seem like everything happened as a result of “the 80’s” in like everyone’s life story?)
This guy had a story for everything. I was able to talk shop with him about Pro Tools, mics, compression, etc because of my experience with recording and being in a band during my Better Luck Next Time days (R.I.P. 2002-2003). To me, sound is what differentiates anything you shoot from seeming amateur or being well done. Think about it, how many times have you been watching your friends crappy video he cut together and every time a scene changes, you hear the hum of the florescent lights at a different volume, or people’s voices are too low, or he decided to throw his favorite Linkin Park song on there to make it “cool?” Sound is something that moves you unconsciously. One of the articles we had to read for the class was by Walter Murch, a man who is wildly talented. He edits and does sound depending on the movie. He spoke of the good ole days when movies were recorded live and the sound guy sat waaaaaaay up behind a glass window at the top of the sound stage and called the shots, even more so than the director. Everyone cowered in fear. The other article discussed how, as fetuses, sound is our first sense to develop. We hear our mother’s body and hear the outside world to some degree.
Good sound isn’t about how loud the movie is, it’s about bringing you into a world that you feel is real. The images are totally worthless without sound. Otherwise, it’s a music video. Sound makes you believe that it’s real. SO MUCH goes into sound for movies, but a lot of times, the director and producers have no time to think about it. It usually gets crammed at the back of the schedule and takes a frantic ant bed of engineers and artists to work around the clock to get the soundtrack done. What you want to do with sound is take time to plan the environment. What would this place sound like? What would the sounds do to the character? How can you bring something completely artificial to life? For instance, when George Lucas was working on the first three Star Wars, there wasn’t a go-to bank for light saber or laser gun sounds… at least, not ones that wouldn’t be completely lame. The sound designers went out into the desert and hit the anchor cables for telephone poles with rocks and wrenches. The rock made that crashing sound for the light sabers hitting, the wrench sent a metallic “chooooooo” for the lasers coming from the AT-AT walkers on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.
We watched the rough tracks from that crappy Adam Sandler movie Bulletproof because our teacher had the master sound tapes. It was amazing to see just how many tracks went into making a movie come alive. It’s hard to explain, but EVERY SINGLE THING you hear in a movie has been put there. Even something as simple as a beer bottle being set on a coaster.
For lunch I had to make a phone call and then I sat in my car and listened to the radio while I ate. Writing was my next class. This was the class I had to do all my HW assignments for this summer. The movies I was required to watch were Fargo, Leaving Las Vegas, Se7en, and THE ROCK. Pretty sweet selection. Our teacher has been writing screenplays and reading them for years. We learned about writing “coverage” for a script. Basically, producers get inundated with hundred, if not thousands, of screenplays a year. Interns are hired to read through the scripts and write coverage on them. That is, to write a 2 page synopsis and an analytical page on what the strong and weak points were. If it gets past these gate keepers, then the producer will genuinely take a look. I know what you’re thinking, cause I was thinking it: “You mean some LA douchebag wanna be is thumbing through my script and deciding whether or not it’s good enough?!” The truth is, yes, that’s exactly what’s happening, but if your script is so “awesome” like you think it is, it won’t be long before someone notices. One brosef named Fade skimming your script between organic sushi shots isn’t going to stall your career forever. If you have real talent, get an agent.
We discussed the forms of narrative and why characters need to have they have in order to drive the story. We compared the blatantly obvious motivations in something like The Rock (Must stop Ed Harris from launching VX gas warheads on San Fran because my pregnant girlfriend is in town) to the more subtle, beneath the surface themes of Fargo (William H. Macy’s character spiraling deeper and deeper into bad decision making).
… Then came the homework. FIVE ASSIGNMENTS. All due Tuesday, the same day that Track 1’s are due, but they’ve had a 2 day head start. In actuality, they aren’t awful. I’m pretty much done with three of them. 1) Name 10 of your favorite movies that your would hope to write a screenplay like one day. 2) Read 5 short articles on http://www.wordplayer.com and review what you got out of them (these articles were awesome, btw, I highly recommend you check that website out). 3) Write a 3 page script about someone trying to get their dog outside, but with no dialogue. 4) Watch an assigned movie (Empire of the Sun) write down the character motivations and such like we talked about in class. 5) Read thru this GIANT ASS screenplay and write coverage for it. It’s like 110 pages, normal length, but geez. We already have like 2 other projects this weekend. WELCOME TO FILM SCHOOL!
He let us go really early, so I stayed on campus and busted almost 3 of them out. I’m pretty pleased with my script about the person trying to get their dog outside. I’ll tell you about it after I get my grade. I enjoyed staying the school and working by myself, even though we get better internet in the effing parking lot. Somehow, the film school doesn’t have a wireless router anywhere. Ridiculous. I brought a CAT5 and just plugged into a jack. Always have to be nerdily prepared for these situations (Mac). As everyone came back in for Genres, two of the Asians, Ryan and Cindy, came into the class where I was and started a seemingly intense conversation in Mandarin. I for them to slow down because I couldn’t understand them. They got the joke and thought it was funny. They are extremely nice, and very funny.
Genres was cool. The BFA’s announced that they were having a party and wanted all the MFA’s to come, you know, to sort of close the gap. The thing is, it started at 11:00 tonight. To an undergrad, that’s pre-gaming. But to a grad, that’s bed time. Man, we’re so old. Oh yeah, and we also have THIRTEEN HOURS OF CLASS A DAY, GUYS. Sorry. I would have gone… truthfully… no really… everyone in my class kept giving me that same look too. WHAT? I’m not being sarcastic.
We watched a movie called Thieves’ Highway. It was WAYYYYYYYYYYYY better than the movie we watched on Tuesday. It was by a French director named Jules Dessin. It was quite well done for its time. We all genuinely laughed had some good conversation sparked. Our teacher let us go early early so we could go home to watch the Obama speech if we wanted to…. … … yep.
Otherwise, I’ve been writing this for a while now. You a-holes kept me up past midnight. I don’t have time to proofread, so sift through the mistakes. Thanks again for all the support! I really love writing this and getting feedback from everyone. Let’s hope this hurricane in the gulf turns around. We can’t afford that right now. IT’S FRIDAY! THANKS GOD.
Man, my hand it cramping.