Archive for January, 2009

The end of the River

Posted in Uncategorized on January 21, 2009 by thenexman

I’m here, keeping my promises, as long as it took.  I just finished my first stint as a crew member on thesis.  My first job was as 2nd AC for the RED camera. For those of you who don’t know, RED is a “digital cinema” company started by Jim Jannard, the founder of Oakley.  The RED camera has the ability to shoot extremely high resolution images with a framerate closely resembling the look of film.  The advantage is that the price is so drastically less than other professional cameras and that it takes many of the same high quality lenses and accessories you would use in cinematography.

The first two thesis movies being shot by the second-year students were shot on the RED.  So, we were essentially guinea pigs.  The school had just bought these things late last semester.  Instead of downloading and reloading film rolls, you offload the footage from the RED hard drive to two other separate hard drives.  This data is so GIGANTIC that it takes a good amount of time to offload it.  In one day we shot 88 gigs of footage.  On top of that, I’m SUPPOSED to build a dailies reel each day in Final Cut, but then it takes like 2 hours to render that stuff.  Anyway, technical stuff aside, sometimes it’s a pain in the ass… plus you’re doing this on top of setting up camera, changing lenses, slating, etc.

The movie we were shooting was called The River, Wind, and Tree.  The script is fairly abstract and our director said she was inspired by a dream she had.  They specially requested a jib arm that the school owns, though it never seems to work when they build it.  Of course, the weight makes the grip truck “too heavy,” so they asked me if I could put it in my Pathfinder (which is actually my mom’s car I drove back down after Christmas).  The first three days we shot in Tallahassee.  Then, on Saturday, we wrapped early and drove about 90 miles east to the Suwannee River State park right outside Live Oak, FL.  This place was really cool… BUT FREEZING.  I’m still thawing.  I got so sick of being cold all day long. Some seriously nasty weather hit us Sunday afternoon.  It was cold, windy and rainy.  The sand was EVERYWHERE.  That night, the entire camera team took all the boxes back to the motel and blew and brushed the sand out of everything.

I didn’t really get to hear much of the inauguration.  Someone had it on their car radio at base camp, but we were working.

What I’ve got next is an assistant editing job.  I’ll be syncing the sound with the daily footage and probably helping develop my own rough cut.  The editor, Charles, is a second-year and is a super nice Dude.  We got along really well on set while he was camera-opping.  I’ve learned a lot about what goes into filmmaking.  Mostly, unless you are a director, the creative decision maker that drives the process, you are a craftsman who accomplishes one task to fulfill a vision.  This guy is good at pulling focus, this guy is good at sound, this guy is a good camera op.  This is where I think the film world and I don’t gel.  I love editing, mostly because it’s a creative constructive acitivity.  I like writing as well.  But all the production stuff inbetween is something that just isn’t for me… and it took me coming here and jumping into to realize this.  I feel it’s just as important to know what you don’t want to do along with knowing what you do.  I’m not sure what this means for my immediate future, and as of now, I’m not like unenrolling or anything.

This line of work is full of so many people who are EXTREMELY passionate about what they do.  They’re good at their jobs and they thrive on anything having to do with the film world.  I just can’t share that same enthusiasm in a lot of ways.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s certainly something to take note of.  While many people here are totally content with graduating and leaving for LA to work on set and working through the union system, I now realize that I can never see myself doing that.  Being a dirtector is very cool and it’s soemthing that most people want to do.  Obviously, very few do.

That being said, if film is calling your name, go for it.  A lot of you are really good at what you do.  I love movies and I love certain aspects of it, but I don’t think I’ve necessarily been called to do it.  Right now, kids are waiting to hear back from FSU and checking their email every day.  They live and breathe movies, they’ll keep trying to make things on their own, regardless of whether they get in or not.

I’m learning a ton of stuff this semester and we’ll see how I feel later on.  For now, I’ll just post some picture below of the shoot this weekend:

Y’all behave.

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A New Year, A New Blog

Posted in Uncategorized on January 7, 2009 by thenexman

Yes, believe it.  This is new.  You have not read this.  You have no idea what words come next.

First off, even if it’s fruitless, let me apologize for my blogging moratorium.  When I last spoke with you, I was feeling rather down, rather… outdone with film school.  The production cycle grew much more demanding in the following weeks and I simply just didn’t have it in me to sit down and write.  In fact, I didn’t have time to do anything.  All I had time to do was concentrate on getting through it.  And therein lies a downfall with film school: time.  Now, when you inquire to FSU about the program, you are instantly hit with a HUGE disclaimer: “You will have no life. You will not sleep. We own you. etc.” Ok fine, I pretty much knew what I was getting into.  What I began to realize, though, was that when I’m consumed with “assignments” and “jobs,” I feel absolute ZERO on my creativity scale.  I mean, zero.  I was the second to last person to shoot my short this past semester.  By that time, I had been a production designer, Dir of Photographer, producer, and nine other little jobs on set.. so I was completely shot on creativity for my movie.  I had a few ideas, but nothing I could even get excited about.  My film turned out ok.  It was rather short.  It looks good, I’ll say.  My DP, Brian, did a great job.  Everyone on set did a great job for me.  My movie doesn’t come across that well, and that’s my fault.  It was just hard to convey some stuff in 2 1/2 minutes.  I’m trying to figure out a way to post it on here. Keep an eye out.  It’ll be compressed, but that’s the best I can do now.  So, I do apologize to those of you who wanted to see it (Mac, Randall, Nathaniel).  If it makes you feel any better, I only showed about 5 people back in Marietta over the holidays.

That being said.  Let’s recap some things.  Most importantly, there has been a major change in my life.  Her name is Jennifer.  She is the most wonderful thing to have ever happened to me and I’m so happy to be able to call her my girlfriend.  Literally, the week I went to Panama City (as you saw in the pictures) I worked on set on some BTL positions (“Below the line,” just a refresher).  It was my turn to be gaffer, which means I’m in charge of setting up all the lighting on set according to what the DP has in his cinematographic plan.  We were shooting at a local video store called Video 21. (Kinda like Tallahassee’s version of Vision Video for my Athens crowd). As I was setting up the giant 2,5K HMI light, I was talking to myself in some stupid voice, because I messed something up.  Suddenly, I heard a snicker behind me.  There, was this redheaded girl laughing at me.  She suddenly got embarassed when I saw her and said, “Sorry… I thought that was funny.” And walked away.  From there, throughout the day, I began talking to her more and more.  I know it sounds really lame to say I “met one of the actress on set.” But since I was the gaffer, I had to take light meter readings allllll day long, RIGHT in front of the actresses’ faces.  So, I mean, I had an excuse.  I found Jen funny, interesting, beautiful, and friendly all at once.  I shared some of my “Munchies” with her (for those of you who don’t know, it’s a snack food grand slam of Doritos, Sun Chips, Pretzels, and Cheetohs). She chose to eat the cheetohs beacuse she said when she was a kid, she liked them cause they “matched her hair.”  Here is a picture of me right after Jen laughed at me as I set up the HMI.  I emailed this to some of my friends because I always wear tons of UGA stuff on set.  Notice the sweet black and red Under Armour batting gloves.

Douche

Douche

Anyway, fast forward over two months later, and we are inseperable.  She is the girl I always knew had to be out there.  She does and says all the right things.  I’m not one to talk about private things, but I figured my blog would merit a little mention of her… plus, she’ll be involved in some things I mention in the future.  She has made film school so much more tolerable.  It’s a wonderful escape from the insanity.

Moving on.  I finally got to film my movie on November 16th.  I chose to shoot at the house where David Bishop shot his film during the first week of production.  The Cordero family was nice enough to let all of us back into their home again.  I always knew Mac and Randall would be coming down to help out on set, but as I was working with my actors on the back porch, Steve and Whitney showed up too!  It was awesome for them to come down.  We even got to go to the FSU/BC game.  Here is a pic of us tailgating.

img_0392My shooting day started early, 7:00am.  I planned my short to be relient on 3 major dolly shots, with some close-ups inbetween.  Well… the first dolly shot took FOUR HOURS to set up.  I’m thankful my crew was willing to work to get it right.  Everyone seemed to be having a good time, but I did get a few comments on my peer evaluations about how much we were waiting around.  Whoops.  But in all honesty, I think it’s one of the best looking shots out of all the D1’s.  Just my personal opinion.  It was a 50′ dolly shot, so I mean, it took some practice.  Mac, Randall, Steve, and Whitney were good sports.  I think it was rather boring for them though.

The premise of my movie was from a script I picked about a house wife who sings a song to herself about the ingredients she’s going to use to kill her husband.  Originally, I was going to put it to music, but I couldn’t find a band in time.  During my crew drill, I used a group of extras to pose as the band and repeat some of the actresses lines as a refrain.  I decided to keep this concept and use them as sort of a “Greek Chorus” of sorts, reacting to the action but not being acknowledged by the characters.  Anyway, that lead to me dressing them in either white or red & black to represent some sort of conscience.   I also liked the concept of making it like a 50’s style sitcom.  In the film I added a laughtrack and some Americana sounding music.  Akil was my production designer and he ROCKED IT.  Every detail fit the theme.  The wardrobe, the props, everything.  Here are some screenshots below.

Once production was over, editing began.  We were assigned to our editors and they were assigned to us.  I edited Smitha’s movie about zombies and a priest who doesn’t let a woman in the door.  It actually turned out to be pretty good.  Smitha then edited my movie and did a great job.  It was nice to hang out in the post hallway and just go at your own pace.  The editors had 5 days to lock the edit before the directors came in to do sound design on their films for two days.  Then, on the 8th day, you tweaked color and did a final lock down.  We had our premiere on Dec. 12th and it was a blast.  All the D1’s pretty much turned out great.  I was really impressed by some of them.  We had an after party at a local bar and that was NUTSO.  Bobby, Stephen, and Kate made up an award called the “Noley.”  They basically just took WWC wrestler action figures and painted them gold.  It was great.  They gave out awards for different aspects of the D1’s.

I guess I’ll quit for now.  I plan on blogging again, so I’ll have many more stories.  I will say this:  At the end the semester, we lost three people.  Two were dismissed and one left on their own.  Pretty crazy.  It was a turbulent semester, to say the least.  There are just certain things I don’t want to publish on the internet.  Now we’re back, and divided into two tracks again.  All the writers are off in the theatre department working on plays this semester.  The 2nd year’s have begun picking their crew for thesis.  I’m in Track 2, so I start on thesis first.  Track 1 has already started class.  I’m kinda waiting around to hear when the thesis movies start.  I basically don’t have much to do, which is a rarity.  It’s good though, because I came down with Bronchitis this past Friday and am now on three prescriptions.  It’ll give me a chance to get on my feet again.

That’s all for now.  My new favorite quote is, “I don’t know what’s worse, my life or your blog.” ~Chris Ward

Y’all behave.