The end of the River

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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2 Responses to “The end of the River”

  1. Mike, Greg and Shannon informed me that you had written in your blog again, so I had to check it out. I’m impressed!!!

  2. There was a lunar eclipse last night so I thought perhaps you had updated your blog.

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