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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Webseries Inceptions

I’ve been working on webseries.  This isn’t news.  A few months ago we filmed the first episode of Things We Do in Public, which turned out great.  This is a silly comedy–really silly.

And I love that.

I have a DP friend.  He wants to make dramas.  HARSH dramas.

This makes me sad.

In ways.  Anyway, I have been working on a serious webseries for him–I mentioned the vampire aspect, yes?–and I have finished the first episode.

Yeah.

It’s not happy.  It’s not even…funny.  It makes me think of one of my favorite films:  Inception.  It’s not like Inception at all.  No dreams or totems or architecture.  But it is like Inception.

Why?

Inception is a great movie.  It’s dramatic, action-packed, has depth of story and amazing visuals.  The actors are all fantastic and solid.  The editing is beyond reproach.  I mean, you have to pay attention to that movie, but it is edited in a way that makes it understandable.

But it lacks comedy.  Almost entirely.

Don’t misunderstand.  I think this movie needs no alteration.  But I find the lack of funny slightly disheartening.  I can’t watch it all the time.

I think movies should entertain.  Also, a friend of mine once said, “Fiction a way is to help us understand life.”  When I write, I try to create something that accomplishes both these things.  But mainly, I try to give you a little bit of sunshine, something that makes you forget or let go.

I hope that in the next episode I can create some moments of comedy.  I hope that we’re not always just making sense of life.  I hope sometimes we’re letting life go and laughing.

And laughing.

Pre-Production

My DP told me I was going to blog about him.

Well.

Tonight I had a pre-production meeting for Things We Do in Public.  I met the Director of Photography (DP) at a coffee shop with my script, shot list and storyboard in tow.  We sat outside.

It’s a good thing we did, because halfway through the meeting we got up and started walking around the table blocking shots.  We had to designate specific chairs for the characters.  DP made sure I wasn’t breaking the 180 line and I made sure he remembered which chair was which character.

I tried to imagine what the people inside the coffee shop were thinking when we ran around the table raising our hands like camera lenses.

At the end of the meeting we were both satisfied.  For a 4-page script we have 34 shots.

We’re in the tunnel.

Screenwriting

Screenwriting was my favorite class in college.  It was a brutal class, too.  I kept at it, and eventually I made it into a group of writers who were all Master’s students, except one.  This was a big deal for me, who was in the last year of my Bachelor’s degree.

At the start of the semester of screenwriting 3 we pitched a screenplay idea and then spent the next 2 and 1/2 months writing a feature.  Most screenwriters take six months to a year to write a feature.  If they’re fast.  (Christopher Nolan took 10 years writing Inception with his brother.)

A feature is between 90 and 120 pages long.  My teacher was kind and preferred scripts to be about 95 pages.  Mid-way through 2 and 1/2 months, we had to present the first 10 pages.  That meant my teacher read the prose out loud and my classmates read the dialog out loud.

Then everyone had a chance to tear the script to shreds and stomp on it, all with a smile.  Sometimes with great relish.  If you survived this first presentation–in screenwriting 2 we had a student get completely trashed that night–you would return to class a few weeks later with the finished script, modified per suggestions.

Round 2.

This is me after class.

At the end of the semester, I had a screenplay that no one understood except me and a deepening resolve to quit before my last semester of film school.  But over Christmas break something clicked.  Something changed.

I came back.  Screenwriting 4 wasn’t even ready for me.  I tore up that semester with a sci-fi script that succeeded in smashing all my classmates’ expectations.

And it was fun.

Next post I will share some of the things that occurred to me over that break, but until then, keep writing.  Just because you’re the only one who gets it now doesn’t mean it will always be that way.