Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Another solid year of films at Cucalorus. I was unable to fully immerse myself into the festival like last year but still caught enough to satisfy my appetite. I saw:
That Evening Sun
Mississippi Damned
House of the Devil
The Port Salut shorts
and Big Fan.

My favorite film was "She's a Fox". I thought it was one of the best shorts I've seen in a long while, from start to finish, it was flawless. I talked to the filmmaker afterward and he answered all questions I had about Chapman University, where he went for grad school, and certain aspects of his film. The atmosphere of Cucalorus is always great, laid back, energetic, outgoing, intelligent. It's always a great time to meet people and discuss film. I thought the entire block of shorts in the Port Salut program were amazing. Chip Hackler's "Two Hours in the Dark" received a standing ovation, which added all the more to atmosphere and my perceptions of it. The ovation was sincere and joyful and I was very happy for Chip. I also liked the short, "Nous". It depressed the hell out of me, knowing the outcome of this man, in his forties, and seeing him during a period of bliss, in love, happy. The image of a man dying, alone, with his memories of love locked behind a refrigerator door has stayed with me. I thought the film worked great blending the holiday footage with the facts of life. If the man in the film, on his holiday, had known then, what end was to become of him, what would he do I wondered.
Also, the short, "Small Change" was a very solid short as was the other film about a letter which escapes me. Both films, told a story in less than five minutes, which is no easy feat.

"House of the Devil" started off great, the opening titles, the set up of, the suspense. BUT the suspense dragged on and oN and ON. Finally, the "blood" which supposedly was to drench 75% of the frames came and in five minutes the entire "conflict" if you call it that was resolved and the audience was left with a cliffhanager.


It was my last year at Cucalorus and I'm glad I was able to see so many great things. It truly is a remarkable event.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Rough Theater

My rough theater would look like this:

It would be dark and personal. It's the kind of theater that encourages viewers to see a matinee and then sneak into a completely different film. It's the kind of theater where one leaves, often lost within oneself, within one's own thoughts.

Of course I would have another theater, and that would look like this-

This theater would be fun and goofy. It would bring out the child in all of us. It would encourage uncontrollable laughter, it would contain a rule where viewers cannot cross their arms ever, it would be silly.

Mystery Workshop Response

Fun as always!

I've never worked with 3D animation, and it was a fun new experience. I wish I had been able to think of a creative story to tell, or something unique. Also, I wish I was good at arts and crafts. My 3D glasses were nearly lost, barely salvageable. Luckily, Mark Eaton cut the glasses back to their most basic form. After that I added a little top hat and I had something. It was Saved.

3D appears to be the wave of the future and I was happy knowing, while watching the final product, that I could do it. However rough it turned out, I could do it, and I think that is something I am really learning throughout this course, that anything can be done. It might not be great at first, but most attempts aren't, as long as I keep working hard I can perfect whatever my endeavor my be. I'm also taking another look at what film tools are in my tool shed and what can be added to that shed of film tools. The means by which you tell a story should reflect the story itself, and when one has the power and the knowledge to wield many tools, they have choice when they begin production.

I am not and have not been the most knowledgeable person in the editing room, and I liken my mindset in the editing room to my mindset towards the weight room in high school. I played football throughout high school and unfortunately had to participate in wrestling my freshman and sophomore year. Both of these sports required time in the weight room to improve the body's strength. My older brother and I share similar frames but, unlike myself, my older brother spent a lot of time in the weight room and in turn excelled at both sports, finally receiving a scholarship to play football at a DI school, but I never spent that time and thus never bulked up. I was weak my freshman year of high school and I got deterred from going in because everyone older than me could put up a lot of weight. I think that's what happened to me in college with the editing room. Instead of working harder at my weaknesses I gave up and turned to something else. What I turned to was acting and I have done that the majority of college. For that reason, I haven't really felt like a filmmaker throughout college because I've created so little, but through this class I have created multiple projects that I am proud of and through these projects I've eagerly jumped into the editing lab and I've become stronger. I have more confidence when I say I am a filmmaker now, because I have projects that I created to back it up. I also am gaining confidence to undertake new technologies.

Overall, good stuff.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rights of the Molotov Man and Ecstasy of Influence

Cryptomnesia! I always wondered if there were a word to describe that inkling I get when a creative idea feels to familiar. Usually when I feel those inklings I back off from the idea or adjust until I feel safe. Growing up I performed a lot of improv, at school and then at the Second City in Chicago. It was a great experience, something I often think back on, recall what I learned and then apply it to what I think it is relevant for. The reason I bring improv up is because of this Cryptomensia.
In improv the mind is circulating a million thoughts. A performer is listening to their partner(s) and responding. One only has a few seconds, in which the brain must discover and forefront the strongest or the funniest possible thought. In this high pressure environment, I've experience cryptomnesia. My mouth has exploded with a word, my body has performed an action and during the ensuing laughter something clicks. There is that gut reaction of something vaguely familiar, a deja vu of sorts. Often times I would discover, a line, an action, or maybe just the delivery came directly from a SNL skit. Or from a line in a movie. Upon realizing it, I felt like a fraud. I enjoy creating, and therefore I always try something different whenever I get the inkling of cryptomensia. But this cryptomensia is unavoidable. It happens and I don't think their should be any punishment for it. When the problem I also think of George Harrison and "My Sweet Lord", which sounds a lot like The Chiffons "He's so Fine", or The Strokes "Razorblade" and Barry Manilow's "Mandy". In both Harrison's song and The Strokes song, there are chord progressions which match another song, what happened? George Harrison settled court and lost some money, the strokes never play razorblade. I don't think Harrison should have lost money, and I don't think the strokes should stop playing razorblade.
I think that its a new piece, new art, and should be respected as such.

The Yes Men

The Yes Men is a hysterical documentary that raises questions about the WTO and big business, raises questions about apathy and/or complacency as inhabitants on Earth or more specifically consumers in society, raises issues that many viewers would never care to think about.

I actually saw Yes Men when I was in High School and I forgot all about it except the phallic suit. I vividly remember laughing on the floor.

It's funny how it exposes the apathetic attitude within people, I'm guilty as well. We become so focused on our lives, next appointment, next task, next night out, that we find it easier to say the word "yes", to accept what we're fed and continue on in our lives. It's the easiest thing to do. What scars me about the film is comparing the business event in Rotterdam and the student event. The students begin to catch on, they ask questions, they begin to get upset, which is great. University is the time to ask any and all questions. It's a time to learn. There is a freedom. What confuses me, is why some adults, maybe a majority, continue to carry these freedoms into the world. Does society or the work force deter one from asking too many questions? Maybe, maybe there is a fear of losing a job. We have one life, and when we find a great job we don't want to part, and maybe in turn we sacrifice freedoms, or beliefs to more easily fit into the middle of the curve.

I'm not sure what I'm getting at.

The culture jamming aspect was great. The ideas they conceived and the execution of such were ingenious. But one thing I'm beginning to ponder is the effectiveness of comedy within political and or social commentaries. I feel like sometimes, we are distracted by the comedy. I for example saw the movie four years ago and the only thing I remembered was a man in a gold suit with a phallic television extension. I didn't remember the message at all. The idea was funny, the speech prior to the reveal and during its exposition were near perfect, and its shocking view of the audience members reacted. But in the end, I, as a viewer, four years later don't remember what point they made. I've seen numerous other docs on the WTO and big business and I remember something from them. Sometimes, they are the scary details, but in any event I don't know how effect the movie is.

Monday, October 12, 2009

One Saturday Morning

Limitations limitations, the presence of limitations. Saturday was a lot of fun and relieving in many ways. I filmed with my 495 project everyday over fall break and the amount of pre-production necessary to accomplish the task of filming a 10 minute short with only three weeks to do so, was physically and mentally exhausting. I'm still feeling the lingering effects. During those weeks I continued to surprise myself with a stupidity commonly associated with children left behind in kindergarten. I wasn't able to comprehend a square hole from a circle and thus I continued to pound my triangle peg without any progress.

The Saturday shoot was a relief because I had to accept what I was given. I wasn't allowed to call for another take, I wasn't allowed time, to ponder themes, motifs, symbols. I wasn't allowed precision, I wasn't allowed perfection.

Films aren't finished they're abandoned.
This, I believe is particularly true for the narrative form. In experimental, you can work alone, be a scratch film junkie by yourself, mold a project for as long as you wish and in the end you may still have to give up but you will know that you had the ability to work it to your desired perfection.

Narrative is different. It's impossible next to impossible to work a project all alone. You need other people and their hand in the process. Narrative in sports terms would be football, where playing one on one occurs infrequently in adulthood, where as a team you work as one, where everyone has a responsibility to tackle problems. Experimental would be like tennis, one on one is preferred but doubles is great too.

In general, I'm still trying to figure experimental film out, and in what capacity I can use techniques unique to the form, in creating a style that is unique to myself and the films I create.

Long takes are something I shall try now more than ever to incorporate. They are definitely exhilarating.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ideas for One take

I had an idea that I've been mulling over. Now I've never filmed anything at UNCW, or in my life for that matter, which included a gun. But on this occasion it could be necessary. The basic idea, stems from the idea that everybody is someone's son, or daughter, and I wanted to convey that. Unfortunately the only creative thing I can come up with-my brain is fried this semester-is this:

Idea 1:
Camera starts on the right side of Figure A
Camera finds left side of Figure B

Start: xcu on the eyes of Figure A and pull back to cu on the face framing them on the right side staring off screen left. Then down the persons neck to shoulder, down their arm and pull back to see their body as we turn and descend to their feet.
Slowly we'd move left three feet until another set of shoes, Figure B, appears, stopping we'd hesitate and then mimic the previous shots used to descend from Figure A's eyes to ascend to Figure B's eyes. But when we reached Figure B's arm we would see a gun pointing directly at Figure A. Upon reaching Figure B's eyes we would pan over following Figure B's eye line to where Figure A should be, but instead, in the place of Figure A, there would be a young husband and wife with a baby in their arms.
We would pan back to the xcu of Figure B's eyes, hold for a moment and again pan following Figure B's eye line to where Figure A should be, and this time Figure A is in fact there.
The camera then pans back to Figure B's eyes and holds for a second and it's over.

Idea 2: