Promotion Wanted Final Project

Unfortunately, no storyboard shots for this post (Jason turned them in with our portfolio).

For project #3, Jason Gonzales and I co-directed “Promotion Wanted” by Brandie Taylor. When we were in the early stages of preproduction and while editing the script, we were informed that our writer intended to make the script a comedy, although we saw more dramatic elements to the plot. Thus, in an attempt to make our video a comedy, we inserted the motif of Laura’s (main character) imagination playing out as she expresses her stresses over her workplace (ex: freak out in the copy room, or her hopes of being liked as she enters her workplace). Personally, I drew and proposed this idea based off of Waititi’s “Boy” because the film did a lot of those quirky cutaways to Boy’s imagination playing out.

My attempt at styling this short project was that I really wanted locked down shots for the real world shots and stuck to handheld (rig) shots to play out Laura’s imagination. I purposely shot the last scene in hand-held motion because i think it leaves the audience with the question: Was that last freak out real? Did she get the promotion? Or was it all in Laura’s imagination? But maybe that’s my opinion and should have locked it down?

Critiques of my own work and things I would change/and have learned for next time include:

1) better framing (some shots aren’t as nicely framed as i liked, some were overexposed).

2) Moreover, i did not like the scenes at the front desk, I kind of felt like that desk hid our main character, Laura. Also, we should have thought of a better way to frame the front desk scenes because we could not figure out how to turn on the computer, so the computer was off during those scenes (i don’t think it was plugged), but I should have been prepared for that or come up with a backup plan so that our actresses didn’t have to fake using the computer or have that blank screen show up on our video.

2a) The scenes at the front desk seem long and boring, I felt like i wanted to be closer to the characters (maybe a medium or CU could have been used here between dialogue of characters).

3) Music and audio. While i liked that our audio was crisp (for the most part), maybe a little bit of music wouldn’t have hurt?

4) Better time management on my part. I should have not assumed we were allowed to film at any front desk location on campus. We actually did not shoot any “front desk” scenes until the last day, which took away from class time.

All in all, working with Jason was great because while i have the ideas in my head, i can’t seem to find a way to communicate them clearly with the talent. He was a great balance and liaison between me and the characters and had wonderful ideas to contribute as well. He was filming with a second camera and working audio with a broken hand and was dedicated to the project as much as he could be.

Our final product:

PROJECT 3: PROMOTION WANTED

“Life of Pi”

Lee’s “Life of Pi” book adaptation was visually pleasing. Although I have not read the book, the director seems to have done a fantastic job at recreating the world we are introduced to. The graphics/computer generated imagery are astounding to look at. Lee seems to like to use special effects a lot from what I can remember, as I have seen his “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” as well as “Hulk” movies. While I am light years behind in CGI talent, it really is a good reminder of how effects (no matter how small) can really revamp one’s story.

As a student filmmaker, things i really picked up on that could help me further hone my skills, are his use of angles. I understand the movie was filmed in 3D, and i liked how he incorporated interesting angles not often seen in regular 2D movies. For example, i especially liked when the main character was training the tiger by using a long pole to keep him away—the camera was angled in a position so as to accentuate the length of the pole. His use of establishing incredible angles was seen throughout the film because of course, in a 3D movie, you would expect things to “pop out” at you, but watching the film even in 2D gave it a stylistic edge that i found pleasing. The use of angles and playing with the camera set up are things  I of course can keep in mind while filming my own future projects and endeavors.

“Red Road” by Andrea Arnold

Andrea Arnold’s “Red Road,” an Orwellian film portrays Jackie surveiling the world through a CCTV station. I liked how Arnold stylized the movie with surveillance-like camera motions, as there are seemingly rough jump cuts which actually add to the theme of the film-surveillance. We follow Jackie as she sits at her job and becomes infatuated with a man she sees on one of her surveillance cameras. The camera tracks Jackie in certain scenes when Jackie travels throughout her world. Moreover, dialogue scenes are often in motion (most likely shot on a rig), which add to the movie’s “thriller” aspect-it keeps the audience on their toes, anticipating action. Lighting seemed to be very natural or at least, minimal due to the fact that the scenes were shadowy, but like i stated before, it fit the theme of surveillance because there was no “Hollywood” lighting-it was a shadowy thriller with turns and anticipation at every corner

I feel as though the film style is applicable to the projects we are filming because i feel like the style was more “do able” for people like us in the class who are on a budget (versus having a Hollywood budget). Moreover, there are ways to withhold information from the audience members which can create a more dramatic effect on our videos, which i felt “Red Road” did throughout the film as it was very “voyeuristic.”

We Need To Talk About Kevin

The film was a great suspense/thriller movie. It kept us, the audience on the edge of our seats as we waited to find out how far Kevin would go with his rebellion and deviant acts.

Stylistically,  i felt like the film did a great job at following and staying with the characters as they traveled within the world that was presented. I really liked their use of rigs to follow the characters- characters were always in the frame and movements seemed carefully choreographed.  Furthermore,  their use of shadow and emphasis of red tones helped give the film a suspenseful and eerie look. Also, I like how the director played a lot with the depth of field making some scenes blown out to intensify the feeling of uncertainty. As far as the audio utilized, I noticed that the music foreshadowed extreme events to come, although the music’s lyrics were often happy. I liked how in the beginning montages of when the main character had her baby, scenes were contrasted (ex: Baby Kevin cries, cutaway to a man with a brick crushing machine being just as loud)-it felt like most of the scenes in the movie were contrasted as the mother had flashbacks of her experiences with her son.

I felt like this movie did a great job at withholding information, yet keeping us interested as we did not find out until the very end that Kevin would turn out to be a murder. This film is a great example of building up action and suspense and i believe that this is something that we can apply to our final films to give it a sort of “edge” that may be desired to keep audiences interested.

Taika Waititi’s “Boy” (2010)

Waititi’s “Boy” (2010) was a comedy with hints of drama set in the countryside of New Zealand. We follow Boy throughout his adolescent life with his friends, at school, and dreaming about his father until he shows up in a beat up car one random afternoon, who comes to look for buried “treasure” he once had. I felt like this movie closely resembled the style of Napoleon Dynamite as I really felt involved in the setting I was presented.

I found the framing of the film to be very quirky with jump cuts (example: Boy trying to show off his Michael Jackson dance moves to a girl he’s interested in), and flashbacks which fit the genre very well, since it was an odd film with vibrant characters. Waititi even resorted to utilizing scrappy, child-like drawing cutaways to emphasize the world he tries to illustrate-the world through Boy’s imagination, basically. An example of the cutaways he uses are when his brother play “shoots” his dad with a branch from far away or when he uses his supposed powers in other scenes. Moreover, I found he balanced these childish points of view by having hints of drama come in as soon as Boy realizes his father isn’t necessarily the greatest idol. As far as sound, I noticed a lot of non-diegetic sound was used in the film, which I thought was good since it was a comedy and drew us into the imaginative world a little more. All in all, it was an imaginative film that used simple techniques such as scrappy animation and extraordinary pop-culture/Michael Jackson costuming to further captivate the audience’s attention.

 

Update: I feel like for our final film, “Promotion Wanted,” I want to implement the elements of this played-out imagination (unsure if this makes sense). But i really liked how in “Boy” they did jump cuts to Boy’s imagination (ex: Dad dancing to Michael Jackson) which the audience thought may have been real—it’s as if we got a good look into the character’s persona as an imaginative, hopeful young boy. I want to implement this sort of style/motif into our film to add to the comedic element that we are trying to convey.

Exercise 2: Moving Through Space

This past week, our second exercise dealt with characters ‘moving through space.’

I collaborated with Xochitl Perez as she co-directed “Due Next Period” with me which was written by Jacob Fagally. Joining us were actresses Tatiana Saunders, Cassie Chase, Miranda Arias, and Kayla Holmes (not mentioned in credits, but will be fixed).

collage storyboarding

In this exercise, I felt like the most important thing I learned was that teamwork takes a lot of effort. We split duties, and that was helpful, but unfortunately, our equipment was running low on battery and adjustments needed to be made as we shot the project.

I also feel like story boarding helped save a lot of hassle.

<-Rough scan of sketches we storyboarded

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We filmed this exercise with an HMC-40, a shotgun, and a FigRig Stabilizer Wheel for the moving scenes. Perhaps we could have used a neutral density filter to get rid of some of the over exposure.

Below is a link to our latest product:

 

 

Things I learned:

1) Teamwork (as far as co-directing) is something that really has to be worked at. We really had to be on the same page and plan out our shots carefully in order to successfully film each scene. There were maybe one or two scenes in which we were both thinking of other shots we could replace, but we worked out a consensus.

2) Remembering the basics of equipment checks are absolutely crucial, as we had to stop/delay our shoots due to low batteries (we checked out equipment the day of, rather than a day before to give us ample time to assure our equipment had enough juice to keep us going).

3) Some shots (quite a few) did not work with our short video–what may have seemed like a good idea on paper, turned out to be a not-so-good idea when we were in the production process–perhaps we could’ve thought more on our feet and changed a few shots to better suit the project at hand.

4) Knowing your equipment- I am not necessarily acquainted with the HMC-40, and felt like i should have taken the initiative to check the camera out before-hand in order to have proceeded smoother with our production. I felt like i may have held back the production process a tad bit due to the fact that I did not know how to change settings on the camcorder, whereas Xochi did.

Kimberly Pierce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999)

Kimberly Pierce’s 1999 film, Boys Don’t Cry, dealt with a topic some of us consider taboo or sensitive-transgenders . Because of its theme, the film was stylized in dark lighting to set the scenes and emphasize the dangers that lurked in a prejudiced Midwestern town. I felt like the harsh lighting (shadows, lack of light at night and often dark settings) fit the theme of the film as it dealt with a topic that was (and still is, depending where you’re located), taboo to discuss. As an audience member, I felt like the scenes were composed so as to make us feel like we follow Hillary Swank’s character. For example, we feel like we are in the moment when Swank is being attacked by Tom-you feel the danger. Furthermore, I felt like the story was really carried on well by Swank, whereas the camera motions and audio could only do so much. The acting played a key role in keeping us engaged and we really got a sense of Swank’s character perspective throughout the whole film.

Dardenne Brothers’ “Rosetta” (1999)

“Rosetta” was filmed in constant tracking motion (although I may be wrong for one or two scenes). The effect that constant camera movements have on an audience member is that it constantly leaves them anticipating action (action was especially shown when Rosetta would argue with one of her employers throughout the jobsite for being fired). Furthermore, as the camera followed the character throughout her daily routines of dealing with her alcoholic mother and while working to support her, the camera made a connection with Rosetta; the film felt very real and very “in the moment” with the story. I felt as though the camera made audiences feel emotionally attached to the story. Also, It appeared as though the characters and cameramen/women were/had synced their movements as the characters depicted were always framed fairly well. Finally, I don’t believe there was any music playing in the film unless it came directly from the scene (example: boom-box playing rock and roll in the scene), thus, this made the film more reliant on dialogue and acting to create moods versus relying on music to create a mood.

I liked this film because I don’t think i’ve ever seen a film that is in constant motion-where one follows the main character through the world. Stylistically, it is something i never thought about because I am amateur to narrative filmmaking, but it worked out very well and I will try to implement in our final film project to give the audience a sense of “realness.” What i really liked was that this video is very easy to do on a simple budget because it relies solely on acting and dialogue (then again, a really good actor would make or break the film).

P.T. Anderson’s “The Master”

I found P.T. Anderson’s “The Master” to be slightly hard to follow, but caught on that perhaps this was the style of the film. I enjoyed the composition of the scenes and Anderson’s use of lighting. For example, in the scene where Joaquin Phoenix is smoking with the writer, Anderson frames the scene beautifully using only enough lighting to illuminate the characters and small portions of the table. For some reason, I found that it was nice to have us (the audience) focus more on the characters and their dialogue-potentially a setup for an intimate heart-to-heart talk. Moreover, I find that the events that are portrayed in the film are loosely linked and maybe PT Anderson’s style is like Soderberg’s film “The Bubble” which is meant to be mostly observational. I found it engaging in the fact that I was trying to figure out what exactly was going on in the film or what would happen next. P.T. Anderson’s style is something I find to be much more extreme to something I would do, but I can see how it works in keeping audiences on their toes, withholding information so that they can come up with their own meanings and interpret the film in various ways.

Project #1: In-camera Edit —Thirstquencher—

These past few weeks, we have been gathering with the classes of actors and writers. For this first in-camera project, I was given Eric T’s screenplay, Thirstquencher, and had the wonderful opportunity to work with actresses Cassie C. and Miranda A..

Makeshift storyboard and annotations on screenplay

Makeshift storyboard and annotations on screenplay

 

 

Although I did not take pictures of the setup or any other production stills, I did some pre-planning with a few makeshift storyboards, as well as some annotations and tweaks to the original screenplay.

 

 

 

As far as the equipment utilized:

For the shoot I utilized a Sony VG20H (and tripod), 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS lens, a Seinnheizer Shotgun mic, and one soft light to add light to the room (although I could have probably used more).

During the filming of the project I found that continuity was a major factor to take into consideration since we did not edit our work before showing it to the class. Below is the in-camera edit with minor, tighter edits, some music, and credits. See link below:

Thirstquencher In-camera Edit

I would love all sorts of critique, it helps.

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