A nice dose of Apathy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 24, 2008 by thenexman

So, I’m sitting here on a loading dock somewhere on the FSU campus.  Today is my day to be 2nd AD, which essentially means I sit by craft services and make coffee.  No big deal.  Kinda like it.  Last weekend was the first cycle of shooting.  It started off pretty hectic for me.  I was producer, which is a major pain in the ass.  So much paperwork.  I’ve gone ahead and scratched off producer from my list of things. I was also script supervisor and Best Boy Electric.  Neither job is that bad.

I don’t have any Above the Line positions this week, so I was able to take it easy.  On Wednesday I had to get up early to help Kate go scout a location.  I got back to my house around 9:20AM and had nothing to do.  SO… I decided to start driving.  I looked at Google Maps and wanted to head South toward the beach.  If I took 98, it circles down to the beach and then heads back northwest, up toward Panama City.  Needless to say, I ended up in Panama City four hours later.  Along the way, I stopped to enjoy the view.  It was nice to just drive, listen to the radio and remember that there is a world outside of Tallahassee.  I hadn’t left Tally since I got here in August.  I will say that it made me very apathetic when I came back.  I was able to be back for a meeting at 6:00pm for the upcoming shows this weekend.  And Dude, I didn’t care about ANYTHING.  Not the best attitude to adopt.

Recently I’ve grown very tired of certain things pertaining to film school: the compressed amount of time, the lack of clarity, the egos of certain classmates.  I laugh about it mostly.  Sometimes, though, you look up and take yourself out of a certain scenario and go, “Man, am I paying tuition to put up with this bullshit?”  Sound harsh, I know.  I’m not angry, just sort of reached that limit.  I know that after this semester things tend to calm down.  I’ve also heard some of the second years complain about how they literally have NOTHING to do this semester.  They’re supposed to be prepping for the Thesis projects, but some of them have said how they feel like they’ve paid tuition for no reason the last few months.  they have like 3 classes a week and an occassional writing meeting.

That same nagging question comes up at times like these: “Could I be doing the same thing if I had just up and moved to LA and used some contacts for a job?”  You never know.  I have learned SO MUCH in the last two months. I’m certainly not saying that this hasn’t been a huge learning experience.  And I would never claim to know anything more than someone else.  I don’t feel like film school is beneath me.  I’ve heard some people allude to that and that’s just total BS.  Everyone here has room to learn and grow.  What gets in the way here is attitudes coupled with a very unforgiving curriculum. There have already been so many clashes in personalities, it’s ridiculous.  And truthfully, there isn’t a reason for it.  No one will get along with everyone.  I figured that would be something we would have learned by our 20’s.  But it’s become very apparent that certain people refuse to see anything another way or tolerate someone else’s shortcomings.  I feel like I’m back in middle with the way some people act.  I don’t like the fact that, as a class, we can still be in a position to “get in trouble.”  ARE YOU SERIOUS?  I’m 25 years old.  I feel like I’m on some reality show where they purposely grouped us because they want fights.  Maybe I’m just in a bitchy mood… maybe not.

What discourages me though is the fact I’m not exicted about the next two years or so.  I’m sort of dreading it in a way.  I wonder if everyone just goes through this.  i’m really excited about directing.  Really excited about the crew coming down to help out from Atlanta.  I’m also exited about possibly get a chance to shoot the Coke Young Filmmakers conest thingy.  But school? Ehhhh, not so much.

Hmmm, let’s see.  Nothing else really to say.  I’ve been able to keep up with my shows, thank God for NBC.com.  Finally talked to my brother for the first time since I left.  That was cool.  My Dad stopped through on Sunday to bring me some stuff from home (fog machines for set and my guitar for my room).  I almost forgot I had a Dad.  It was awesome to see someone “from the outside.”  It literally feels like I’ve been here for a really long time.  Like, years.  No joke. We hung out at On the Border for a while and then he had to head on to Jacksonville for work.  I’m pissed I’ll be on set all day for Halloween.  I’m pissed I won’t be able to go to Butler and see everyone there.  I’m pissed there isn’t a Halloween party at all up there.  There is one down here, but since we’re on set all day, it’ll be hard pressed to go.

Ok, I’m sure you’re happy you read this little whine-fest.  I’ll post some pics below of my driving adventure, in case you haven’t seen them on Facebook.

News from the front lines

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 16, 2008 by thenexman

UGH

UGH

Ok, first off, producing blows.  I ignorantly listed producing as “second” on my list when entering film school.  Thought about it: OUT.  Too much paperwork with too many details that I’m bad at remembering.  I’m producing here in the first cycle of D1 projects.  This is actually a good thing, because it’ll be nice to get it over with.  I feel like I spend hours a day but don’t ever feel accomplished.  There isn’t anything tangible, minus some paperwork stuff.  Calling people isn’t fun and tracking down signatures isn’t fun.

I’m producing for Akil, which is a blessing.  I think some other people are having a much harder time producing for their respective directors.  We’re using Akil’s family office for our location.  That cut out the whole “location hunt,” THANK GOD.  Mostly, I just don’t like paperwork, and I’m probably being a sissy.

On another note, I finished up crew drills last week.  That was one of the craziest weeks ever.  It SUCKED SUCKED SUCKED on some days, but other days were great.  I certainly don’t like every job on set.  I was the last person scheduled to direct my drill for the week.  Man, I LOVE DIRECTING.  Kate was my producer and was able to score me about 8 volunteers.  They served as stand-ins for all the parts I was thinking of having for my actual shoot in November.  We only got four hours, but it went so WELL.  I was loving every second of it.  I designed a long tracking shot that moved in to reveal some action and then moved out to reveal some more.  That probably wasn’t the best way to describe it, but hopefully one day I can post the dailies on here to show you what I mean.  The second-years said I did a really good job and that I looked like I was having an awesome time.  I really appreciated it.  I’m super excited about my actual shoot in November.  I also might have some of the guys come down for Atlanta to help out on set.  It’s going to be KICKASS!!!

We start going on set this Friday.  Once that starts, it’s on.  We don’t let up for 5 weeks straight.  It’ll be tiring, but a good time.  I’m a little concerned about being the Best Boy Electric.  You know, don’t want to blow up anyone.

I’m sorry I can’t seem to post on here as often as I’d like.  School is quite demanding, and I’ll have some serious recaps and COMPLAINTS here soon.

I saw Body of Lies this weekend.  Not so bad.  Pretty typical.  Not groundbreaking.

I’ll post some pics below of the recent film school exploits:

The eye of the storm

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2008 by thenexman

Tomorrow is the last day of crew drills and I’ll have a moment to stop my head from spinning.  This week has been RELENTLESS.  I learned a ton but it wasn’t easy by any means.

I’ll write later in the weekend, but I wanted to post the video for that “Super Villain” application that Dan and Jacob had me perform in for the Dr. Horrible blog.  It turned out to be pretty hilarious, I think.  They had a cut out a lot of footgae because it was supposed to be under 3 minutes.  I think they’re making an extended version sometime soon, but here it is:

FINALLY

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 5, 2008 by thenexman

Ok, yeah, I know, I’m a promise breaker, a deadbeat dad of blogging.  It took me a week to to get this one to you.  I apologize.  But I only wanted to write about stuff when it was new and important.  There have been some redundant things lately.

So, to start with, this was a our last week of “class.”  Yes yes, we have reached the six week marker and it’s time to get down and dirty.  This last week pretty much just hit on some last minute things we need to know for being on set.  It seems as though the teachers are just having to pick and choose what to tell us because there is an overwhelming sense of there not being enough time…ever… for anything.  Can you believe it’s October already?!

On Monday, we met with the Dean.  Yeah man, the MAIN Dean about how the student body should represent itself with the administration.  We elected class representatives for each track.  My classmates were kind enough to nominate and elect me for track 2 and Clay for Track 1.  That was quite a privalege, so, thank you, Track 2.  That being said, Clay and I now have a special handshake, wear film school lapel pins, and earmark serious amounts of cash on the back end of production reports so that everyone gets paid.

The pool of scripts we have to pick our D1 shoots from was released last Friday.  Everyone has been pretty stressed and consumed by what one they’ll pick.  The second year writing students were commissioned to write 7 scripts each, each dealing with one of the seven deadly sins.  Each script is supposedly written within a different genre.  I’ll admit, some of them are not quite up to snuff.  I think the writers themselves will admit that.  But there are some with really interesting ideas and concepts.  We, as the director, are allowed to contact the writer with requests and notes as a type of rewrite.  We are not allowed to change the intentions of the writer or the essential qualities of the narrative thread.  What we are allowed to change is dialogue and address the logistical concerns of the script (location, gender, etc).  For instance, a script I like takes place in a grocery store, but I don’t see myself being able to secure that location any time soon, especially since most grocery stores are uptight and don’t really ever close.  So, I have requested to change the location of the script.  I emailed my writer…haven’t heard anything back.  Of course.

We were assigned actors to be in our projects.  I don’t if you remember, but a few weeks back I told you about the group of actors we met in our acting class.  Yeah, it’s them.  I’m very happy with the two actors that were assigned to me.  I’m also happy that my D1 is scheduled on the second to last day of the cycle, so I essentially have 7 weeks before I shoot, which I will really hope to take advantage of.

Matt and I drove around the outskirts of town this past week to do some location scouting.  It gets pretty rural pretty fast here in Tallahassee.  We found a lot of nice old towny-type places about half an hour from downtown.  We’re not allowed to have a location farther than 30 minutes away from the film school.  He are some pics of the places we found.

Cool tree in the middle of a field... I wish I had a metaphor

Cool tree in the middle of a field... This thing seriously had like a 100ft. spread

Ccreepy Texas Chainsaw abandoned building

Creepy abandoned Texas Chainsaw building

The “crew assignements” were just sent out to us on Thursday evening, about 7 days later than they were supposed to be, but no big deal, I suppose.  A lot of us were freaking out at first, but I thikn everyone is in control now.  It was just a little unnerving to not know when and with whom you’re shooting which would therefore determine the where and what you’re shooting.  For your particular D1, you serve as the director.  You have three other people who will be on your “Above the Line” team, meaning the creative forces behind your project.  Everyone rotates through and gets a chance to fulfill every single role on set.  For my D1, I have Kate as my producer (awesome), Akil as my production deisgner (awesome), and Brian as my director of photography (awesome).  On the camera team, Brian will be heading up Clay as 1st Assistant Camera and Smitha as 2nd AC (Awesome, awesome). As producer, Kate will also serve as my 1st Assistant Director, so she will be in charge of the set.  The one and only Dade Flavors will be my 2nd Assistant Director and will be in charge of the base camp, which is like way to much awesome in one place.  All in all, it’s shaping up to be an, you guessed it, awesome Prodcuction.

I’m a little concerned as to my performance on other peoples’ projects.  I guess being director of

And example of deep-ass focus from Citizen Kane... thanks a lot, JAYE

An example of deep-ass focus from Citizen Kane... thanks a lot, JAYE

photography is a little scary.  I’m Jaye’s DP, so, Jaye, if you’re reading this, I’m going to try and kick a lot of ass for you because I heard you want to do all deep focus Citizen Kane type stuff which means I’m going to light anything and everything to maintain that depth of field because I’m not Gregg Toland.  That was one of the most film school kid statements I’ve ever made, and I apologize for that.  Framing shots is no problem, but I am a little concerned about knowing when and what to light.  But I refuse to be a negative Nancy, because that’s a girl name and I’m a guy.  BUT, I do have Dade Flavors and Stephen as my camera crew, and that’s all I need for a bode of confidence.  Together, with our powers combined, we’ll knock Jaye’s project out of the park, all whilst singing the smoothest R&B classics from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.  Trust me, Jaye, you’re going to have the smoothest set of all.  I mean, Dade flavors! Good God, that’s smooth.

Matt Sanders’ birthday was today and we all went and grabbed BBQ and then bowled at the student center on campus.  (I know, a bowling alley on campus.  Who’d a thunk?)  It was a blast.  I went running last night and woke up this morning a sore foot.  It’s weird, it’s not like my ankle or a tendon or anything.  It’s the middle of the side of my right foot.  It doesn’t hurt to touch it.  It only hurts when I walk on it, like it’s bruised…but it’s not.  By the end of the night tonight, I was hobbling.  It also hurt my bowling game, because I didn’t even break 100.  I at least usually bowl like a 105.  I’m semi-pro.

Dr. Horrible

Dr. Horrible

I don’t know if anyone of you have ever seen this Dr. Horrible’s sing-a-long blog or not.  It was created by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly) and it stars Neil Patrick Harris as a shitty super villain trying to complete his application into the League of Evil.  It’s pretty funny.  They sing a lot of songs and it’s pretty ridiculous.  Anyway, Dan and Jacob LOVE IT.  Turns out, Joss Whedon and co are holding a competition to find the best submissions for super villains to be included on the release of the DVD.  They (Dan and Jacob, not Joss) asked me to be their super villain and we shot it today.  Not gonna lie, things got a little out of hand.  They have some really funny moments in the scripts, complete with props and such.  They’re really into this.  I won’t blow the surprise, because I’ll be posting the video soon, but my name is “Brainstorm” and I seek to destroy the movie industry from the inside by making really really crappy movie pitches. I rifled off a few for them and it was funny, my favorite idea being a Biblical Noir called Frankincense and Myrrhder.  Yeah, I know, I’m pretty amazing.  I also wear a green police light on my head (get it, greenlight?).  Anyway, so look for that soon.  Hopefully they’ll win.  A good many of us in the MFA program were in it.  Here’s the link if any of you are interested:

It also hit me here at the six week mark about how I’m not at home anymore.  These past 7 weeks have been a tornado.  I just started reaching my limit with school and stuff all week.  I just couldn’t seem to muster the interest or the energy to really hit school hard.  I have been going so strong since we started, but I’m definitely glad classes are over.  I found myself staring out the window a lot, wondering what everyone back in Marietta was doing.  Since I got a new iPhone (thanks again, Dad) I finally got a new pair of earphones.  I can’t believe I left every pair in my desk back home.  I started using my ipod again.

AFI's Decemberunderground

AFI

That really takes me out of it too.  I mean, I’m not using it during class, but I do between classes.  AFI’s album Decemberunderground has been top of my list recently.  Not sure why.  I used to think AFI was some stupid emo band, but their albums, especially this one, have a nice amount of depth to them.  There is a relaxing amount of melancholy and nostalgia with this album.  Something about it seems 90’s to me, kinda reminds me of middle school.  So, if you’re looking for something to listen to, check that album out.

We start “crew drills” this coming week. That essentially means that we spend every day from 8AM-9PM doing test runs of how things will go on set.  Every person has a chance to act as the director.  Ideally, they want you to have your actual actors there to run through it, but, since actors can’t exactly skip classes and we didn’t know until tonight when our “drill” was, we might have to go with stand-ins.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to find one.  This whole process is really getting a little squirrely.  But this certainly isn’t the forum for me to complain.  I simply roll with it… like Steve Winwood.

I guess that’s all I got for now.  This week should prove to be one giant circus, no doubt.  Hope all is well in your land.

Y’all behave.

P.S.- Really getting done with Facebook.  I’m tired of people using their status’ as some one-shot politcal platform, and pretty much just losing interest in it all together.  I might consider deleting my account… Thoughts?


Message from beyond

Posted in Uncategorized on October 2, 2008 by thenexman

A decent size blog is coming soon.  We’re finishing up our final week of actual class, so once it’s over, I’ll have a lot more time to write and a little more time to write it.  I got an iPhone too!  So I’ll have some pictures to post too.

Hope all is well with you in blog land.

Little Saturday Morning Post here…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 28, 2008 by thenexman

My weeks are getting busier, for sure, so that’s why I’m having a hard time posting as often as I’d like.  That being said, let’s get it to it.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman

First off, Paul Newman died last night at the age of 83.  He was a really successful salad dressing entrepreneur for those of you who don’t know.  He was also nominated for 10 Academy Awards in his life time too, and won once for his role in The Color Money, a film, I’ll be honest, I have never seen.  It’s strange to see Hollywood icons steadily disappear, these juggernauts who used to be the face of the industry.  Now, there is a generation of people, myself included, who were never really familiar with his work, or at least had not rushed out to see a Paul Newman movie.  It’s just mainly cause of age.  That, and he had really taken to being part-owner of a stock car racing team and being a philanthropist in the twilight of his life.  I guess maybe I have some Paul Newman movies to watch now.  If you have any personal faves, feel free to let me know.

As far as film school is concerned, we’re really starting to gear up here for our D1 projects.  Next week is the last week of actual class.  We’ve been assaulted with information since we got here.  Now, we actually have to use it.  After we’re done with class, we have a week of what they call “crew drills,” which is essentially you learning from the second year MFA’s and professors on a real set environment.  This should be a little nerve wracking.  We had an exercise the other day in Directing where we were to set up lights and camera for a closeup of one person in a two-person dialogue scene.  After that, we had to set up another over the shoulder shot for a second person.  Then, a wide shot.  What Reb was doing was showing us how clunky it is to light fr a scene in a close-up and then try and move the lights for a wider shot and such.  When you film a scene, you typically want to shoot from the outside in.  Meaning, you need to light the entire scene first, and from there you can move in to the close ups and such without having to adjust the lights much after that.  On a film set, it’s all about time.  You have a specific schedule of shots you plan to shoot and if you’re not being efficient with how you set up, you’re going to blow the whole schedule.  If you blow the schedule, you don’t get as many shots or coverage of the scene.  If you don’t have as many shots, you’re stuck in the editing with whatever you have.  There is no way out of it.  Everything in film is like this assembly line and one little snag has ripple effects way down the line.

For our D1’s, the whole point is just to get through with a some semblance of a movie on the other side.  They’re only going to be 5 minutes long.  We pick our scripts from a pool of shorts written by written by writing students based on the 7 deadly sins.  They vary in genre: horror, comedy, thriller, drama, etc.  We get 1 or 2 actors assigned to us, and we might have to cast smaller roles to fill out the script.  It’s pretty much just a test to see if you can even handle making a movie.  Our MFA class has two tracks of 15 people each.  You only make the movies with your track.  Each person gets one day to direct their project with everyone else in the track filling out the crew positions.  We rotate through every position on set, from Above the Line positions (Producer, Director, Director of Photography, Production Designer) to Below the Line positions (Key Grip, Gaffer, 1st AD, 2nd AD, 1st AC, 2nd AC, etc).

I’ll be honest, I have no idea how this is going to go.  I keep having this vision, like I said, of showing up to the location and no one having any idea where to start.  It’s going to be fine.  I think everyone is a little concerned.  Our track has had a few clashes of personalities lately and we need to make sure there isn’t like “an incident” on set.  I’m not expecting to make a groundbreaking movie here, I just want my set to be calm and fun.  No yelling or screaming.  Let’s just shoot something and hope it goes well.  The cool thing is we get our films assigned to the other track for editing.  So, we’ll have a completely objective opinion about what works and what doesn’t.  This will be a big help when you are dealing with a very complicated dolly shot you spent 3 hours on doesn’t fit into the overall feel of the film and it needs to be cut.  You would want to keep it becsause you’re attached.  The editor will say, “this blows, lose it.”  I mean, this could be good and bad.  So, maybe I’ll cut together a directors cut with some commentary for the DVD.

Ok, I started this blog in the morning, but then I left ot eat some Qdoba with Dave and Matt.  We saw Eagle Eye after that.  Not bad, kinda long.  It was a fun movie nonethelsess.  Then we had a little Back to the Future Part II.  Not sure I like Part II as much as the first but it is so cool.  They really had a fun time splicing in new scenes into the old ones.  That was really awesome.

I guess I ran out of things to say.  I’ll have more of an update in a few days.  Some things to look forward to this week: We have to interview as a rockstar in our acting class.  I’m Ozzy Ozbourne.  That should be fun to play.  I’ll just bumble my way through it.  Then on Friday night we have the rockstar performances.  Every person has to perform a song from their respective rockstars and it’s going to be an all-out party.  I think that will be fun.

Pretty upset that UGA lost to Alabama.  But at least we lost to a ranked team, USC, looking at you.

By the way

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2008 by thenexman

Hope you like the new layout.  I thought it looked pretty sweet.  The picture at the top is actually from set when Matt took a pic of the monitor when we were shooting stuff in cinematography.  I know I know, I’m pretty much awesome.