Filmmaking is for Warriors: Does gender matter?

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I think it’s pretty clear at this point that I am a woman. I don’t consider that to be a good or bad thing especially. I am who I am.

I’ve been making films for 10 years. When I started I was a teenager so leadership was relative. I mean, we were all kind kids so me being in charge was just as valid as the next person.

Not that ANYTHING we made back then was good. But that was entirely due to ignorance and inexperience (ain’t nobody blaming equipment or money here – you can make a good movie on a zero budget if you are a good filmmaker).

College made it clear that the film sector, as far as the production side, was primarily made up of men, but there were strong women in my department. I mean, the main teachers were successful female filmmakers. But again, their gender had very little to do with their abilities as filmmakers.

Haters of Hollywood appear to believe that there’s some kind of specialness attached to filmmakers who are considered to be in the “minority.”

Good filmmakers are good filmmakers no matter what race, religion, gender, color, disability, ability, painting techniques, silliness quotient, bilingual status and whatever other demarcation is so popular by which to group individuals.

Are we not all human?

To quote Harry Potter, “…While we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one.”

I’m not a better filmmaker because I am a woman. A man is not a less interesting filmmaker or less capable filmmaker because he is a man. This silliness that is rampant in our thinking is just ridiculous.

Filmmaking is for warriors. There is no value distinction between us, just our work.

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12 Months of Movies: March

We set out to make a short drama, but that got put on hold.  So we made this other thing.  I came up with the idea, Cody wrote the script in about 30 minutes, then I revised it.  Paul and I came up with a rough shot list, mostly just coverage.

Then we filmed for about 3 ish hours.  We shot the barest minimum I’ve shot of any film since 2007.  That includes films made for the 10-Hour Film Competition and the 48 Hour Film Competition.  That made editing interesting.

Special thanks to Jeremy Wood, who allowed us to use his office.  And had grace with us when…well, you’ll see what we did.

Enjoy the tiny story that is night.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or films of your own!

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 32

This was a wonderful project.  We spent a day filming Cody getting chased all over a park.  We learned a lot and I am happy with the result.

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Sometimes equipment has technical difficulties.

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The Egg Chase Scene

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or projects of your own!

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 25

I hope you don’t hate me, at this point, for subjecting you to yet another week of creative.  I hate myself a little for making me do this, but I’ve learned something new every time, whether it had to do with art or creativity or patience or perseverance or just relaxation.

My life at this point isn’t as open as it was when the year began.  I have a new job I started in January.  I have a fiancé, and a wedding to sorta coordinate.  I have a group of good friends who meet every week–what an amazing idea.  I started long boarding, and oil painting.  I’ve now seen all of Veronica Mars, including the new film, and am almost through seeing it all for a 2nd time.

Every week something crazy happens, I swear, like a schedule change or a sick person or a dude shows up at my house before anyone else has a right to in the morning and proposes beside a fluttering cloud of balloon asteroids.

And I love it.  (And him, just in case you were wondering.)

So sometimes I forget that I have this blog and this commitment.  Sometimes I get to Saturday and FREAK OUT.  But I’m not giving up.  Nope.

(That’s the dad from Veronica Mars, just in case you were wondering.)

This week I filmed my dog.  I got a new lens and I thought, hey, I’m gonna go film outside.  The thing about being outside by my house?  Rory is there.

So Rory is my actor.  Rory’s telling a story.  Everything you see and hear is purposeful, in case you were wondering.  Let Rory tell you this story.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or projects of your own!

p.s. yes, Rory is named for the Doctor Who character.

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 22

I thought it was about time that I give you an update on another one of my New Year’s Resolutions: Long boarding.  So Kevin and I went out to long board.

Enjoy.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or projects of your own!

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 20

We finished a film.  By we, I mean DefineFast Productions, not the royal we.  I am not royal.  I’m not the royal type.

This took a while to get situated for the Internet.  Originally I had forgotten some things from the credits.  I’m totally sorry about that–these things happen when you’re under a time crunch.

I will say that this film was difficult.  I hope to not make a film this hard for a long time.  Maybe not ever.  But I’m glad we made it.  It was a learning experience.

If only all of our learning experiences could be fun.

I give you the long-awaited, Wooden Bullets: Sacrifice.

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or projects of your own!

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 17

I really, really, really want to not be doing this anymore. :p  WHY?  You say.

1.  I don’t have any ideas.

2.  My life has gotten complicated.

3.  I like sleep.

And really, the ultimate reason;  IT’S JUST SO HARD.

But, we carry on.  I’m not a quitter.  Never have been.  Never will be.

This week we finished a film.  THE film.  What film is this?  Well at the end of March we entered a month-long film contest called The Fiery Wheel-O-Rama.  We were given the genre Vampire Movie, the location A Car in the Woods, and 5 plot points of which we needed to pick 3.  We used:

1. Broken fingers.

2.  A menacing phone call.

3.  A heart attack.

And then they gave us a month to make a film.  Now, this isn’t like the 48, at least, it shouldn’t be.  We’ve done that, here.  But writing, filming and editing a movie in that time frame is still really difficult.  Not bad.  There is no complaining here.  I had an excuse to make a film and have it screened in front of other filmmakers.

Bring.  It.  On.

Preproduction went well.  I wrote a version of the script, thought it was too violent, and rewrote the entire thing.  We had an advantage in this genre, actually, because I wrote a feature last year that was a vampire film.  It was meant to be a web series that when edited together made a feature.  So all the characters, the crime world of vampires, the look and feel and motivations and backstory…All that was done.  I just needed an original plot line for a new short film.

My fear throughout this whole process was that it would be too complicated or only understandable to me and the other people who’ve read the feature.  I wanted to create something that felt like it was part of a greater story and a greater world, but I didn’t want the audience to feel like they weren’t part of the experience or get confused.

You tell me if we succeeded.

The morning of the shoot was early.  But optimism ruled.  We had amazing actors, great equipment, and my crew was ready to do the whole 14 hour thing.

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Then I got a call from my lead actress.  She was sick and unable to come.  There was no way around it.  We couldn’t postpone, we didn’t have time.  I couldn’t bring in another actress that short notice.  We didn’t have time to bring someone new it, anyway.  The light’s only good for a certain amount of time…And it was getting away from us.

So I took a deep breath and stepped in.  I knew the work better than anyone.  I’m the right age and gender.  I didn’t have the look I had wanted–I’m not Italian in any way.  And my personality isn’t as suited to the original version of the character.

But things can be changed.

Directing and acting at the same time is really, really, really difficult.  It’s hard to pay attention to everything that needs attention.  Also, method acting isn’t conducive to happy set experiences.  Why?

We were making a dark film.  Bad things happen.  The same emotions that I needed for the character would come out as I was directing, even if me as a person wasn’t really supposed to be feeling them.  I needed to be sad, grief-stricken, upset, angry, determined, conflicted, in love, fearful…and let a man I had just met drag me all over the woods.  My friends watched all this with rising unease.  I don’t act in films.  I have a history of theater and stage performance, but that ended 6 years ago.

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I had an advantage though.  I knew exactly what I looked like in the view of the lens.  I knew exactly how big my facial expressions needed to be and exactly where to stand or move to stay onscreen.  I am used to cameras and lights and people all around me on set.  I am comfortable with my friends and their various jobs.

I know, this doesn’t sound like acting at all.  But on-camera acting is all about the environment.  You may be a great actor, but if you can’t act in the environment of people in your face and staying within the boundaries of the lens…You can’t act for movies.  A lot of time you’re imagining the entire scene.  There’s no actor sitting there for you to react to.  There’s no woods or gunshot or blood.  It’s the actor’s job to make the audience believe that all those things are real, and are really there.

Acting for the camera is also best when the actor feels safe.  Acting is inherently vulnerability.  You are letting other people see all your emotions, real emotions, even if those aren’t the exact ways that you as a person would normally express them.  Again, I had an advantage over other actors because hey, these were almost all of my closest friends and my boyfriend.  No matter what went down–and some of this stuff was so difficult that my friends found it hard to watch–I knew that I was safe to express everything that needed to be expressed.

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We started the day at 7:30am.  We finished at 10pm, I think.  We took over a week to edit.  We turned it in on time.  The screening happened.

Then I made a trailer.  Soon we’ll post the whole film–it’s about 9 minutes long.  But here’s the trailer:

As always, feel free to comment with feedback, ideas or creative projects of your own!

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 12

EDIT:

Here’s the link to our Indiegogo campaign: Keep Coming Back.

A looooooooooooooong time ago I received an email from a school friend of mine.  She was wondering if I would be interested in revising/rewriting her screenplay.  Basically shehad written out her story of how she had gotten out of a life of drug addiction.

So I did research.  And I talked to a paramedic.  And I listened to her descriptions.

And I rewrote and wrote a screenplay called Keep Coming Back.

We of course wanted to produce the film.  For my 12th week, I made a promo video for the project.  This is us, talking up our project, which will shortly be live on Indiegogo.com.

52 Weeks of Creative: Week 3

Okay, I made it to week 3.  But I didn’t do this project alone, not by a long shot.  I worked with 6 of my very favorite people, some of whom were in the first films I ever made.

Here’s what we did:  I wanted to film a fight scene, because I haven’t done that legitly.  Filming and editing fighting is a little different than other filming and editing.  It’s supposed to be more frenetic and alive, giving the viewer a feeling of being in the action or alongside the characters.

I wrote a basic script outline, based off of an old project that involved sword fighting and elvish clothing.  I say OUTLINE, because it was more like guidelines than a real script.  We got half-way through fight choreography and decided to kill off a character.

I think I like guidelines.

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Paul shot nearly all of it, and didn’t drop my baby.

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Kevin allowed me to put lots of makeup on him and try on totally absurd costumes.

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Anna choreographed all the fighting, and also fought our villain, Cody.  Cody was a trooper with all the stuff we made him do.

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Lindsey did script supervision, a coffee run, some makeup and other magical things behind the scenes.  And Sarah let me get all in her face and then was tied up for a few hours without complaint.

We made some mistakes.  I know this.  There are some shots we should’ve gotten, some sound that could’ve been better.  If we’d had the time we could’ve learned the fighting a few days before and really been dangerous.

But overall, these people did fantastic.  Not only did they devote an entire Saturday to run around in elvish clothing and fall down in the melting, icky snow, but agreed to put it all on camera.  I was very impressed that all 4 of the actors learned this fight in a few hours.  And even without lines, I know exactly how they feel.

Special thanks to my boss, Jeremy, because he allowed us to use a lot of his equipment.  When I told him we were filming sword fighting, he went a little pale, but trusted that no swords would be hitting any of his lenses.  Thanks for trusting me, man.  We didn’t let ya down.


This was my absolute favorite day of filming.  Ever.  In over 7 years.  These are my friends, and also, apparently, my crew.

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52 Weeks of Creative: Week 2

I know some of you were expecting this post to be a sword fighting video.  Sorry, that’s not this week.  Though we did film some sword fighting yesterday.

I’m keeping very quiet about it.

This week I quarreled with myself about whether or not to post my creative project.  I’m not a huge fan of putting my face or myself on camera or on the Internet, which is why you see very few pictures of me on this blog.  But as a personal challenge this week’s creative project features, well, me.

Singing.

Please forgive me this moment of narcissism.  I really don’t think of myself as the premier singer, but I’ve always liked it, and I did a lot of musical theater in my teens.  I wrote a song once when I was 19 or so and I write a ton of poetry.  A few months ago I found this song that I loved, but it’s just music.  And it intrigued me.

So I wrote lyrics.

I guess I was pretty frustrated at the time with some people in my life so these lyrics are not exactly…nice.  But it was fun to sing and record them to music I really like.

I’ve never made a legit music video before.  I don’t recommend trying to make one by yourself of yourself.  There’s some logistical issues with that plan and it ensures that a lot of your footage will be out of focus, especially when you use a lens with such a short focal length.  It does mean that no one else will see or hear you pretending to be Lorde or Pentatonix, but then you also have no way of knowing how much you’ve failed in this pretension.

Here’s some of the color correction I did on the footage:

Before:

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After:

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Before:

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After:

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The Sony FS100 is a delightful camera.  And I do love editing on FCP7, even though it is a bit older.  Color correction on it is very effective.

The original song is called Celestial Soda Pop and was written by Ray Lynch.  This man is a genius and of course owns all the rights to the song.  Thank you, Mr. Lynch, for writing something that inspired me to make up lyrics and then be brave enough to share my performance with the whole Internet.


Feel free to jump in and join me in creating something every week this year.  Or offer creative ideas in the comments.  In case you missed out on why this is week 2 or what’s going on, here are the rules I set down from last week’s post:

“My goal is to create and finish something “creative” every week.  That’s 52 things.

1.  Must finish by 11:59pm on Sunday of the week (Yeah, I edited that because 12am didn’t make any sense).

2.  Must accept a CHALLENGING project, not something like “draw one picture of a dude.”

3.  Must post by the following Monday.

4.  May work with others on any project.

5.  May work in area of expertise, as long as the project still offers a degree of complexity.”