Thursday, December 10, 2015

America In Primetime

So over the past week, I watched this documentary mini series called America in Primetime. Each episode dissects and analyzes an aspect of popular American television. Mainly they are common characters like the father figure or the crusader/hero.
This doc series is awesome! It is a really cool analysis on over 50 years of television in America. The series uses clips of television from The Honeymooners to Breaking Bad.

The even cooler part about this doc series, is that the interviews are of historians, prominent actors, directors, and writers. What is so cool about that is that you get all of these different perspectives from people who are involved and experienced in all different aspects of television; from watching it, to being in it, to creating it.

If you like television, or like me, absolutely love it, this is definitely something you should check out!

The Hateful Eight

So it's that time of year again. Time for family, holidays, good food and presents. However, it's also time for some interesting movies. Now everyone's been clamoring about the new Star Wars, but personally, I have my eyes set on a different movie. The Hateful Eight is the, coincidently or not, eighth movie from famous director Quentin Tarantino. He's made some of the most commercially and critically successful movies ever, such as Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, and most recently, Django Unchained. He has been known for his sharp writing, over the top violence and meticulous attention to detail that's garnered him such a loving following over the years.

The movie, set to star actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Walter Goggins, Tim Roth among others. Many faces in the cast will look familiar to people who have seen a Tarantino film before. Anyway, the movie is about eight different people who, against their will, get trapped in a building and have to spend a few nights with each other, and this isn't any happy sleepover. No one trusts anyone and tensions are bound to be high.

One choice Tarantino made for the film which is really interesting is he made the decision to shoot using 70mm film, which isn't seen too often these days, and is certainly worth checking out one of the 70mm versions, because it will contain 6 addition minutes of film as well as usage of different takes. The total run time for the 70mm version is 3 hours and 2 minutes, and it's likely jam packed with everything that makes his movies so enjoyable. The movie releases on Christmas day, and I recommend making plans to go see, not necessarily on Christmas. And don't forget to go with someone you trust.

Sanjay's Super Team

I have a confession to make. Last weekend I movie hopped. I was with my boyfriend and we went to see The Night Before starring Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Now don't get me wrong, that movie was phenomenal. Classic raunchy Christmas comedy, as anything would be with Seth Rogan in it. When the movie ended, it was only 7pm and right next door was The Good Dinosaur (Disney Pixar's newest movie) playing at 7:20. We decided to pop in, sit in the back and enjoy the easygoing film. The Good Dinosaur was also a great movie. I didn't last through the whole thing though, as sitting for 5 hours straight isn't really a hobby of mine. The best part of this whole movie-going experience however, was the Disney short at the beginning of our second feature. It's been all talked up and when it came on the screen, I couldn't have been more excited.

This Disney short is titled Sanjay's Super Team. Sanjay's Super Team leads Disney movies in a new direction. This is what I believe to be, the first time that Disney has covered religious topics in one of its films, intentionally and obviously that is at least. This story documents the bond between an Indian boy and his father. They are Hindu, and therefore Sanjay's father follows the ritual of meditation. He tries to teach Sanjay the importance of meditation, but Sanjay is preoccupied with his toys, coloring and television. However, once Sanjay sits down to meditate with his father, he accidentally extinguishes the oil lamp. As a consequence, he is a taken on a spiritual journey and meets the Hindu gods. Once he comes back into reality, his father is upset because he feels like he wasn't able to get through to his son. However, once Sanjay goes back to coloring, he draws a picture of the gods and presents it to his father. His father is ecstatic and we witness a major bond between the two. This is based off of a true story. Once again, Disney Pixar fails to disappoint!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

De Last Post


     I probably should have gone the route of writing this blog post in the beginning of the week before my sanity packed up a suitcase and left in the middle of the night, but it just sent me  a postcard from the happy recess of my mind so here it goes before I forget.  

     Just like everyone else probably I must reflect on the past year in Fiction Field 2, it had and has its ups and had and has its down, but one thing is for sure...I learned a lot. I learned a lot about production, myself, and other people. Highlights include the workshop with David Scalafile and the Sound Workshop in the Field with Jeff Pullman, and of course the Beautiful Stopover City!

     This was the first semester where I was actually given a taste and an idea of the what the actual industry is like outside of work in the way of making film and television, and i'm happy to say I was excited and optimistic by what I saw. I definitely have a batter of understanding of what i want to do outside of college and what I need to be doing now to get there. 

     Going off that tangent, there is a lot that I know nothing about and there is a lot that I need to learn and fast. I am always over my head but slowly I feel like I am swimming up to the surface and hopefully my next film will go a lot smoother and more stress free than this one. I am so thankful for everyone who helped out on this project and their experience and dedication, I only wish that our in class group was bigger so we didn't have to rely on so many outside sources, as most of them had to take time out of their extremely busy schedules to help us, thank you to all you lovely people!

     To this semester and to this class I say Adios! And in some ways just good riddance, I can't wait to leave the inexperience of this semester behind on my part and now tackle bigger issues that I need to work on to be the best filmmaker I can be.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Next Stop LA

I'm pleased to announce that I have been offered a video production internship with SoulPancake for my last semester in LA. Which is a professional way of saying, I'M SO FREAKIN EXCITED TO WORK WITH SOULPANCAKE. 

Honestly, since I knew I was going to be spending a semester in LA my number one choice has been SoulPancake. When I think about what I want to be doing after I graduate, working for their company is on the top of my list. Since it's such a small group of people, the interns are actually a key part of their team. They explained that while helping with all of their projects, they also have the interns collaborate on their own project as well. I don't know about you but that sounds a lot better to me than writing script coverage and fetching coffee all semester. 

Some people may find it cheesy, but we all have that one tv show we watch that makes us smile no matter what else is going on in life. That show for me will always be The Office. That's how I actually discovered SoulPancake. And that's what I want to do for others; create something that inspires and creates happiness. 

In the summer I found myself reaching for their book "Chew on Life's Big Questions" constantly. It's all about exploring the human experience and what it even means to be human. I'd highly suggest it. 

Their slogan is "We make stuff that matters." All their content is positive and just makes you feel good. I feel like it sparks creativity and inspires others. That's what I want to do with my degree. Not make commercials or other mindless consumer content. 

I'm going to work extremely hard next semester to show them I could be a great member of their team. *wink wink* To hire me after my internship. Everything they stand for is what I want to create.

Even though things this semester did not go exactly as planned, I'm just going to look forward to this next exciting chapter. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hello post-audio, hello score, goodbye sanity

Writing this post early in the week because Josh & I will have our hands full with editing audio all Thursday and then I'll be placing the score in the film.

When I think about this class I feel a lot of things: frustration, pride, anxiety, excitement. The time constraint is very unnerving and I just want to make the film the best it can be because we've put in so much work into it. There just isn't enough time in the day at this point to make everything perfect.

There are so many things out of my control. We wont get the edited ADR until Thursday, and I'm not getting music until Tuesday night. Then there's waiting for graphics editing/placing foley in. So I can't do anything on my end until at least tomorrow when we get all of that. (which is why I'm blogging now)

I know I'm the type of person who takes charge of things but I didn't expect to have to do so much of the actual work in post. I volunteered to do it because I know how to and it was easier to do in the time constraint than teach someone else how to log footage, etc. There are things I would change about the production, including my own work on it. I'm not perfect at all but I certainly tried. The film could not have been completed by the help of many of my group members and friends who are angels for stepping aside from their own productions to help in pre-production. This semester has given me so much stress and I am ready to be done.

Brb, crying over a bowl of cereal/pouring over all my other undone work/praying that I make it through this week in one piece. That was hella melodramatic and I know that everything will get done somehow. I'm trying to stay positive because I know the film will be great.

A small reflection...

This semester has been a tough one for me, mainly because of my health but also because I took on a lot of projects that I necessarily was not completely dedicated too. Don't get me wrong working on Stopover City was fun and the cast was amazing but creatively i didn't have the opportunity to invest as much as I wanted to. It always seemed like no matter how much help I may have offered a lot of things got done without me knowing. I respect my peers for their hard work and dedication to our film because that honestly can not go unnoticed and applause to them for doing so. I just think I would have had more fun if I wasn't just producing or marketing. 

Besides filming and countless editing for my other production course, I have a hard time with my health this semester. It's pretty tough trying to maintain a high GPA and being healthy (at the end of the day GPA doesn't matter- I know)! For some reason it seems as if I spent more time getting X-rays than I did taking test. But I'm happy to say that I'm getting better and everything seems to be perfectly on track again. I probably have a lot of thank you's to send out to my friends and professors whom have been so patient with me this semester. Ah it means a lot!

I don't want this post to sound all bad, because I came into this class wanting new experience and knowledge and for the most part I got that! Plus I made some cool memories along the way. For now I'm excited for London next semester, and hopefully LA! I've had the pleasure to design for my fellow student filmmakers future projects next semester. And overall the present is nice and the future is looking bright. 

For now I wish everyone patience for finals week and the best of luck,  


P.S: It's crazy to think that already next school year I'll be a senior! Honestly where the hell did the time go? 

Pushing the Boundaries of Horror

One of my first blog posts of the semester was about the horror genre, so it seems only fitting that I close out the semester on the same topic. By now everyone has heard about the horror-comedy Krampus that opened just last week. I previously blogged about  just how ridiculously easy it is to make a TERRIBLE  horror flick,   citing M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit in just how far fetched these horror films have become. I haven't seen Krampus, but I still can't believe that there was actually a horror movie made ABOUT CHRISTMAS!!!!! There is no way this movie can take itself seriously. 

The film is about an anti-Santa Clause those goes around punishing kids who have misbehaved on Christmas Eve. Of course in true horror fashion the creature has to be some goat-devil entity. This film was relatively low budget (surprise) at $15million, but after its opening weekend it has already pulled in over $16million and came in SECOND at the Box office. That is ridiculous. That means that Krampus beat out both Creed and good Dinosaur (sorry Sam). Lets keep in mind that this is a horror movie about Christmas, a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Not exactly horror movie material. This just goes to show you how far Hollywood is willing to stretch their limits. Or could they really just be that low on ideas?

This film is based off of folklore, which in my eyes at least gives it some credibility, but I'm not sure making a feature film out of it was the right move. Sure, a dark and funny Christmas movie has been done before, just look at Gremlins, but making the switch to full blown horror with a touch of comic hilarity just doesn't seem right for a Christmas movie. 

While it might not be as downright creepy or gory, I can't help but think of the cult-classic Evil Dead movies when I think of Krampus. I just can't see this movie taking itself seriously; if it does, I'm not sure its worth the watch. If Krampus realizes itself for what it is and accepts its limitations as a film, then it might be a completely different story. 

Sigur Rós - Valtari

Because it is officially finals week I figure it can't hurt to post about something a little lighter. Sigur Rós - Valtari is a beautiful work of art, the music and the music video. The dancers in the video are outstanding and the video itself is just extremely well done. From the editing to the coloring it was just outstanding. While it may be unpleasant to some people I think most can appreciate this piece for what it really is. There is so much that is told visually in this piece; with no dialogue to drive it forward it has to tell the story through the actions and the editing.

The piece is a little lengthy for what is supposed to be a music video however I would consider it a short film and not a music video. Anyway it can be a little unsettling so here are some still photos if you dont feel like looking at the whole video. There is a little bit of nudity but not much.

And for all the cool people here is the link: Valtari

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My favorite Golden Doorknob

The golden doorknobs are one of the Park schools most closely held traditions. It's an opportunity for students, no matter their level of experience, to express themselves creatively, and possibly even take home the gold. Now being a victim of a doorknob killing myself, these films hold a special place in my heart, but there is one film that rises above the rest. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that I believe that "Gerbert the Pervert" may be one of the best Golden doorknob films ever made.
Now maybe it's just because this film is as close to a cartoon as you can get, but I absolutely love the energy of this film. You can tell that they really pulled out all of the stops. Every joke or gag they pull is masterfully executed, and always keeps the audience on their toes. Cinematography and lighting wise things are a little shaky, but I kind of feel as though that adds to the films charm. I don't mind if things aren't up to hollywood standard as long as they work well within their limitations. 

Anyhow, I just really wanted to share this film with you all. There are very few student films that come out of park that I think are at this level of creativity and comedy, so please take a look. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Academy Award Winning Movie Stereotypes

So when I was in high school I watched this video like once a week because I loved the YouTube channel and also I thought the video was genius. Funnily enough I completely forgot about it once I started college. Recently though the video popped into my mind and I re watched it. I still think that it is a pretty great video, and I have a much better appreciation of it since being in school for film/tv production. The video is a mock of common tropes that many academy award winning movies have.

The fake trailer shows a parody of things that a lot of really highly acclaimed films exploit like a privileged adult helping out under privileged kids in a school, and a happily single and wealthy man suddenly having a kid or a relative with a disability placed in his custody. I would definitely recommend this video if you are in the mood for a laugh. I also recommend watching the YouTube channel this video is from, the videos are all pretty good and definitely entertaining.

Things on my Mind

Tonight is the final premiere of the last few episodes of Campus Retreat. Actually it's happening right now... and I unfortunately, am home. I'm heading to NYC early tomorrow morning and had to drive home today after my last class to bring my dog to the kennel. It's kind of really upsetting that I can't make it to the premiere or the wrap party.

It's always a really nice closure to be able to watch the final product of all your semesters long work with the people who worked by you. I've worked on 8 different ICTV shows during my 4 years here and it's sad that for me it's coming to a very uneventful end. I wish I could be there to laugh with everyone tonight and to celebrate our success.

I'm trying hard not to think too negatively about my experiences this semester. I think I am mostly just very ready to get out of Ithaca. I worked on Fake Out for several semesters and my last one really wasn't what I expected. I only got to be on for 2 episodes, no halloween or last episode for me either. As much as I loved all of the cast and crew of Campus Retreat (I can't stress that enough) sometimes it honestly made me upset to be on set. As assistant director you don't have the most fun on set because you're the one making sure we're actually getting work done. The last time I was on set one of the actors (granted he did get eliminated earlier) asked me what my job actually was and joked if I was just a "professional yeller." He should realize the only reason I had to literally yell was because after the third time calling 'quiet on set' it gets really frustrating when people just blantaly do not listen. I know he was joking but it's a matter of respect.

This sounds like a really sad and depressing post, but I really have loved every show I've had the honor of working on. ICTV is where I gained the majority of my field and studio experience. Also, I'm going to nyc for a concert so I'm really pumped to jam out and see all the cute Christmas lights.

I'm just glad it's time for me to move on. I'm excited to work on professional sets. I'm excited for LA. I'm excited to graduate. I'm excited for a fresh start.

Anyway don't forget to watch ALL episodes (WOO!) of Campus Retreat on I'm really proud of all the cast and crew.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Almost Famous

Over Thanksgiving break I was driving to Long Island to see my family while my Spotify played on shuffle. All of a sudden, the song Tiny Dancer by Elton John came on and I was overcome with memories of one of my favorite movies that I haven't even seen in the longest time. Isn't it crazy how music can do that to you? You hear it and are instantly reminded of a moment - whether its happy or sad, there is always an association. The movie I immediately connected this song to is Almost Famous, starring Kate Hudson. She is my favorite character in this film as she plays the quirky happy-go-lucky Penny Lane. The movie is based on a young writer who gets hired by The Rolling Stone and travels with one of America's most popular rock band of that time. What I love about this movie is how it incorporates real rock musicians from the 70s such as Simon and Garfunkel and Black Sabbath, but the band being documented is completely made up.The movie does a great job of incorporating Stillwater into the time period and connecting their music style to other ones that actually exist. This movie is an excellent period piece. It documents the 1970s very well along with the lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock n' roll. William, the teenage journalist starts out very naive but after befriending one of the rockstars, Russell and Penny Lane, his life quickly turns around. It is a great story for character development as we witness Kate Hudson's character nearly hitting rock bottom. There are sad moments, but the emotions that will come over you from watching this film are worth it. Directed by Cameron Crowe, it very much reflects his own experiences. He himself was a teenage writer for the Rolling Stone and toured with multiple bands including The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin and The Eagles.  You can definitely tell that this story is written from some kind of personal experience because it touches close to the heart.

Why you should be using everyday


     So now the secret is out that is free to all of us students here at Ithaca College, and it's kind of a big deal. Why? Because in case you didn't know has an insanely large library of tutorials and resources, often times each tutorial being 2-3 hours. Especially in the camera department. So instead of browsing mindless Facebook posts or youtube for hours I suggest utilizing your time to learn, and become better at what it is you want to do. 
     I've always been a believer that education outside the classroom is equal and often times more important than that inside, especially in the medium we are in. Experience is key is learning and taking what we learn from the classroom into real life is where we synthesize and acts much like the classroom, often times giving assignments or tips on how to succeed in the field, and being able to take it at your own pace, and pick and choose what you want to learn, has been extremely valuable to me.  
     Lately I've been on a quest for knowledge, ingesting as much information as I can successfully and the resources we have now in this age are broader and vaster than ever before. There really is no excuse why our generation shouldn't be able to put out the best content in the history of the medium. Learning to utilize these tools is going to determine what the future of film is going to be and I intend to utilize all my resources until I can be the best I can be, which is a looooonnnnggg way off from now. 
     In summation, you have a fantastic resource that is free at the click of a finger. Use it and I promise you you won't regret it. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Learning from this semester

My name is Michayla Rose Savitt and this semester, I reached my breaking point. What was I thinking? Simultaneously doing production design for TWO films, one of which I co-wrote & developed? I should have known that doing all the production design for my fiction field 2 film would be too much, since I have a tendency to throw my whole self into every project I do (not a bad quality in all cases, but not great when you also have a thousand and one other obligations).

I also took on a large role in post-production by transferring/logging all the footage, re-writing the script supervisor's notes for our editor, and marking half the sound cues to foley in. And because I was so invested in other parts of pre-production, I don't think the production design was as spectacular as I dreamed it would be. This was super disappointing for me when I thought back to my original goals for my independent study in production design.

Over the break 12 hours total driving time to and from home, I had a lot of time to reflect on the semester thus far. A big reason that I end up going to sleep super late all the time is because I have too much going on during the day with planning for extracurriculars/having one too many radio shifts. The clarity was nice, but slightly upsetting. I realized that I need to discontinue more extracurriculars than I originally thought. I've written about this before, but I think I need to say it again for my own sake so I actually follow it. 

While this is an easy thing to say in theory, it's not easy in practice. I already made the tough decision to discontinue my involvement with the online radio station after this semester, since I have become more involved with the FM station. And like i've mentioned before, I am no longer on the producing team of After Hours. So two things that have been a big part of my life for more than a year, but I think I've gotten all that I can out of them and need to move on.

I'd really like to focus more on the art department side of things now that I have more experience under my belt. I made the decision to only take on positions related to art (aka already said no to producing someone's senior cinema thesis) because I want to further enhance my skills in that department. So far I've been recruited to working art crew for a media thesis, and also for this year's David Ames winning script. So i'm excited for both of those.

After rambling for 5 paragraphs, I'll leave you with some tips about how to stay calm when it feels like everything is about to swallow you whole:

-listen to music that makes you happy
-talk to a friend who can sympathize
-make time to exercise. it helps you blow off steam.
-journal about frustrations
-take 10 minutes out of your day to meditate
-make a list of stressor and number them in order of what's most important to worry about/what is actually under your control.
-hug a friend!!!!!!

That is all. Good luck this week, friends.

Monday, November 30, 2015

It Only Took A Day

It only took one day back from break and I am feeling just as stressed as the week before we shot our film, if not more. So I thought I'd blog twice this week, to take care of next week's now, because next week I will be editing audio LITERALLY ALL WEEK. (Help me).

I feel an array of emotions now when I walk into Fiction Field. I'm happy. I'm angry. I want to cry. I want to go home. I used to be so eager to make videos, but now thinking about producing a project just gives me a headache. Thinking about all the planning, arguing, coordinating, failing, changing, adjusting--it makes me very, very anxious.

I sometimes regret taking Fiction Field 2, not because I didn't learn (I learned A LOT) but because it's caused me so much stress this semester that I reached out to CAPS to seek help. I've been having problems because many components of this project are out of my control. We couldn't shoot at an earlier date because of scheduling conflicts. I can't get the picture lock of the film done because I'm not editing. I can't score the film. I have to rely on many other people for this. And I know that's part of life.

I don't believe I have enough time to edit the sound for this project. I will get it done, but I don't think it will be the best it can possibly be. Typing that physically hurts me.

I wanted this project to be something that I would be extremely proud of. I wanted people to see it and say "Wow, Sam was a part of that? That was really good." But now I'm afraid people will hear it and see my name in the credits and think, "That girl had no idea what she was doing." It is partially true that I don't have any idea what I'm doing. In this class and in life. I'm trying to do my best.

I just want to enjoy what I do and right now I'm not enjoying it at all. Next semester I plan on taking a step back from many extracurriculars and trying to work in smaller groups. I also plan to focus more on my mental and physical health. If you read this blog, please don't bring it up to me in class. It's sort of an automatic response now for me to start crying when I remember how stressed I am.

Thank you.

Animated Shorts: Goodbye

Over the holiday break I was more happy to be reunited with my family than to stuff my face with food. Prior to break I started sketching again and working on new animations (as you all know!) but during the break I found myself watching a lot of animated shorts. I'm constantly impressed by the talent of these artist, or filmmakers. But mostly impressed by the artist ability to transform paper drawings into visual animation while simultaneously illustrating a story with meaning. That's incredibly difficult... at least that's what I think.

There was one short in particular that caught my attention, personally I found it a bit horror-like, meaning it freaked me out a bit ( I scare easily) but nonetheless the short consumes your attention and puts life in perspective for you. And to top it all off its a complete digital production piece! Wow...

Take a look at Goodbye by Tyler Russo:

What I've learned from Filming Dollhouse

So throughout the semester, as the weeks went by and we time and time again had nothing tangible to show for our efforts, I knew that on the day filming Dollhouse was going to be a little hectic. I'm not averse to things getting a little hectic on set, as long as the group is working well as a team and stress levels are fairly low. However if I had to go through this whole process again there would definitely be a few things I'd do differently.

1. Get the Script finished faster:
I like writing a lot, but I've never really written a horror film before so this was perhaps the biggest challenge for me. I've grown to like horror movies a lot over the past few weeks, but I still feel as though their not really in my wheelhouse creatively. That being said I do think that our final script was leagues above the one I originally drafted up, and I have Sam and Anna to thank for that.

2. Get a solid budget together:
We've put a budget together fairly early on, but we had to make some cuts due to a few issues with funding. We wanted to stray away from crowd sourcing since we'd were thinking that we'd like to reserve asking for money from our friends for our thesis films, or if we ever become homeless. I thought that using venmo as a way to move money around would be easy as I could track everyone's contribution and make sure that we never spent more than we needed to . Venmo turned out not being such a hot idea, as only two of our group members actually used it to contribute, and the rest of the groups money came to me through cash. I think in the future I'm going to insist that we use cash exclusively for budgeting, things just get too complicated when I have to track two different accounts at once. That being said I really appreciate that everyone participated in lending some cash. It definitely made crafty a lot easier on me, and I'm just now working up how much I can pay back those who spent some of their own money on the project.

3. Better Group Communication:
The first thing that I got whenever I landed on a set in LA was a detailed rundown of what scenes we were shooting that day, and the shot order we were shooting them in. That did not happen on our set and I think our communication definitely suffered for it. There were times where I wished that had all met to talk more about the creative decisions we were looking to make, there were times when things like a storyboard would have definitely come in handy.

In Conclusion:
I hope that it doesn't come across that I didn't have any fun shooting over the past weekend, or that I don't think we put together a successful project, because that was absolutely not the case. I think everyone, no matter how tired, or frustrated, or hungry they were really brought it on set, and I think our final project will definitely reflect that. Though I didn't play a huge part in shooting the actual film, I had a ton of fun on set  and I hope everyone else did too. I can't wait to see the final cut, and I 'm really happy that this is the last film I'll be a part of here at Ithaca College.

Sanjay's Super Team

Over Thanksgiving break I went to see Pixar's The Good Dinosaur. The movie was good, but it was the same as many other Pixar movies: the protagonist is somehow removed from their comfortable home and they must go on a long journey to get back to it, seeking help from some funny characters along the way. Eventually Arlo, the good dinosaur himself befriends the little boy who he blames for getting him into this mess to begin with, Spot. Their friendship grows as the movie progresses, and I don't want to spoil anything so I'll stop there.

Arlo and Spot agree to help Nash, Butch, and Ramsey along their journey, in return for their help.
The movie was BEAUTIFUL. It looked so realistic and definitely inspired me to go hiking. However, what really caught my eye was the short film that played before the movie, Sanjay's Super Team. For me, the short film had much deeper meaning than the movie.

Sanjay's Super Team is about the Patels, an Indian-American family. Sanjay's father prays to Hindu deities while Sanjay prays to his deities, the superhero cartoons he watches on television. Sanjay is annoyed when his father turns off the tv, takes away his action figure, and forces Sanjay to pray with him. Sanjay is distracted by his action figure during prayer when his imagination suddenly whisks him away to a Hindu temple. Inside the temple, statues of Durga, Vishnu, and Hanuman come to life and help him defeat an evil monster. This experience changes Sanjay, who accepts his father's religiosity and consequently joins him in prayer.

(L to R) Durga, Vishnu, and Hanuman
I thought the short was really cool for a couple of reasons. First, this is the first time an Indian character is the focus of a Pixar film, which is important in animation history. Second, I'm interested in mythology, and the portrayal of the deities brought me back to my high school English class, where my yogi storytelling teacher told us both the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Third, the juxtaposition between Sanjay and his father shows that people of different generations and cultures are more similar than we think. At the end of the film, it is revealed that Sanjay Patel, the creator of the short, based it on a true story. 

The real Sanjay Patel and his father.


Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Over break I got a chance to catch up on many things. Homework, sleep, news, family, and my personal favorite movies. I watch a bunch of different films. Some were good and some were mediocre. One of the better films was Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. 

When I started watching this film I had no idea what I was in for because I had never even heard of it before but what I found was a beautiful little piece of art. It was by no means anything particularly amazing but it was funny and the story was well developed. It didn't spoon feed you anything and made you figure things out for yourself.
 I think the main reason I enjoyed the piece was because of the basic idea of  the film. What would you do with the last month of your life if you knew the world was going to end? Would you just be with family and wait it out? Would you do a whole bunch of crazy things before everything came to an end? Would you try and find away to survive past the end? These were all things that I couldn't answer and the film did a beautiful and fun job of depicting all the different ideas. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

HOLY SCHNIKES:Transitions in Tommy Boy

Over Thanksgiving break I found myself watching Peter Segal's Tommy Boy starring Chris Farley and David Spade. I've see this movie before and had recently thought of it as nothing more than a 'throw away' slapstick comedy to watch when 1) You are doing some other primary task that is infinitely more important or 2) Its 3:30am and there's nothing better to do. However, when I was watching this time something came to light that I had previously never noticed: the transitions. 

While 'cinematic elegance' may not come to mind when thinking of Tommy Boy, that's what I would call the the seamless transitions between many of the scenes in this film. Instead of just cutting between scenes, Tommy Boy utilizes surprisingly create camera moves and composition to create a 'seamless' transition that flows freely into the next scene in a completely different location.  While its no Birdman,I had never noticed these creative transitions before. After catching one such transition in the opening credit sequence I found myself waiting for them throughout the film. I had trouble finding any of them online for this blog post, which really surprised me. I'm not saying the transitions in the film were Oscar-worthy, I just thought someone else would have taken note of the transitions as I did. That being said, I was able to find one that occurs fairly early in the movie:

Skip to 3:30 to see the transition. This is actually a weaker example comparatively to some of the other transitional moves throughout the film because it is just a simple cut, with the second shot framed in such a way that you initially think it is part of the same scene, until the camera pulls back and it becomes apparent that we have moved ahead in time to a totally different location. Transitions like this were abundant throughout the film, most utilizing camera movement and similar shot composition to trick us into thinking the scene didn't actually change. 

You would think this would be a little jarring and unsettling to the viewer, but it actually works quite well. So well, in fact, that it appears that no one else on the internet has noticed it. 

I really appreciated this small filmic element thrown into an otherwise goofy comedy with no other cinematic takeaways.Tommy Boy really made me think about utilizing transitions in a creative way and not wasting any frames of the film. So, I've decided to re-shoot Dollhouse and make every scene change to be creatively seamless. 

Just Kidding. 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Team Foxcatcher

So I saw Foxcatcher when it came out in theaters, and I loved it! Steve Carell and Channing Tatum both gave amazing performances, and the cinematography in the film was breathtaking.  So last week when I saw that a documentary came out about the real story of John Du Pont, and Team Foxcatcher called Prince of Pennsylvania, I got very excited. And the documentary did not disappoint. It is an ESPN 30 for 30 film, which are always stellar. Here is the link for the webpage with some information on the film.

The documentary's story illuminated some stuff that the narrative film did not show. In reality Mark Shultz had left team foxcatcher before his brother Dan even took a job there. It also didn't really highlight the early success and great opportunities that the Foxcatcher facility provided for USA Olympic caliber wrestlers.
I highly recommend this documentary for anyone who wants to see the real story behind the film Foxcatcher. The Prince of Pennsylvania is available on Netflix. This documentary shows the haunting rise and fall of the man behind the 1990s wrestling champions.

That Other News Show

Hey guys, when trying to think up a topic to write about this week, I couldn't really think of anything. But then I thought "Hey, I can shamelessly plug the show I worked on this semester!" and all became right in the world. So That Other News Show is an ICTV show which just began this semester and provides the news, along with sketches and field packages, and delivers them in a humorous way.

Think something along the lines of The Colbert Report or any of the various late night shows with (insert host's name here). I was actually recruited onto the show last semester when it was still being planned, and went through this season as the head editor. I don't mind editing, some people do, but I don't and I have gotten pretty alright at it, so for this semester I became head editor on two shows and it's been pretty cool. The only issue with editing this show? Our turnaround time was seriously tight, having it due at noon on Monday and only being able to begin editing at 3 on Sunday. Since I didn't want to throw my Sundays away every week, I typically started editing after midnight and would stay up all night to finish it. Due to this, there are a few slip-ups here and there that with a little bit more time, I could've ironed out. Anyway, I got off track.

Now that the season is done and everything is up on the website, I recommend checking it out, everyone pull a lot of heart into it and I think it's come out pretty good. Plus, it'll give you the chance to see what some of the people in our class worked on.

Sound Workshop


by Josh Tomany

     I went to the sound workshop this past Sunday and I do not regret it. Even though sound isn't necessarily the field that I want to go into it is extremely important to understand it and to make sure everything is being done in a film to produce the best sound possible. What I learned from these professionals in the four hours I was there I will surely carry with me into future projects and hopefully have future connections in the industry.  
     One thing that I need to say is that the turnout was a blessing and a curse. I understand that it was Cortaca but the lack of people was truly disappointing especially knowing how much effort and time it was to get some of these working professionals to talk to us. That being said I will say that having as many professionals as students there made it an extremely hands on and personal experience, and I think the speakers were more candid and open with us then if it was a lecture type presentation. After the Q&A type portion of the group we split up into even smaller groups, some going to post sound and some going to locations sound. Knowing the challenges and experiencing first hand the devastating feeling of bad location sound I chose to go to that one to benefit myself and my future projects. Fo those who couldn't make it here are some things I gathered from the workshop in general.

1) NYC is a freelance city
2) The industry is often "Quantity over Quality" and the turnaround is extremely tight especially in Network television. 
3) Attitude, timeliness, connections, be fast, develop self discipline
4) The importance of the Union and how and why to join. 
5) Think about the environment you thrive in when picking a job to do. 

     Obviously there are many specific tricks I gained especially in the location sound portion but learning about the environment of NYC was really helpful. I didn't know if NYC would be a place I could work in and I always dreamed of LA but now I am definitely considering it an option , and seems more appealing when I consider other factors in my life. It was also really helpful after and in-between moments of "learning" to just talk with the people about the industry in general and what it's like working in the field and how to make it as a human being who wants to make a living and also live. Very helpful, and couldn't be happier that I chose to go. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Small Update

Just a little update on my life:

Being sick is possibly the worst thing that can happen at this time in the semester, mentally i'm feeling strong but physically my body is just not having it (let's just say I've been very limited). I'm still pretty icky but now we all guessing that it may be an internal issue rather than just a really really bad cold. Hopefully all goes well, but on the bright side (in some odd way) being sick has given me time to devote to all my interests like sketching and animating. I'm actually really proud to say that there looking really good (pretty quirky and adorable actually).

I'm also excited to say that I'm back art directing and production designing for a student film back home. I've been working with the script for a couple of weeks now and I've finally developed the final color schemes and began sketching the costumes. I guess the reason why i'm so excited is because the writer and director have given me complete creative liberty, which is rare usually they want you to draw their vision. It's still in the early phases of production but I'm excited to be working on something that isn't a project or for credit, its purely just for fun.

Not so fiction related news: I've began watching A LOT of Netflix documentaries, and for future reference if you're ever stuck in bed or have a long weekend, just skim Netflix and watch a couple! 

I wish you all a happy break!

Learning from our Mistakes

WE FINALLY SHOT OUR FILM. I REPEAT, WE SHOT OUR FILM IN ONE WEEKEND. I cannot put into words how much better I feel. I am ~glowing~.

Obviously we made mistakes this weekend, some of which could have been prevented early on. If we don't learn from our mistakes, how are we going to get better at anything? So, I compiled this list of some issues we ran into and how we can fix them (for next time).

1. Insufficient budget - Our third day on set was very low budget when it came to crafty, and when the people need crafty, they need crafty. Perhaps we could have set up an Indiegogo campaign like Stopover City did. Then we wouldn't have to worry about paying for food.

2. Poor(ish) location - I threw the 'ish' in there because there were some great things about our location. For one thing, it was a two minute drive from campus--this made it super convenient to haul equipment, cast, and crew there and back. It was also Connor's friends apartment, which made coordinating times to shoot fairly easy and we didn't have to pay for it. However, Danby is a highway where cars drive by at 40 miles per hour and I could hear every single one. This is going to make my life a living hell when I try to edit the sound. I tried to prepare for the damage by putting lavalier microphones on our actors. Next time we'll have to look for a place in a quieter neighborhood, far away from any main roads.

3. Bad timing in the semester - Due to group members' commitment to various other projects, this weekend was literally the only weekend that worked for everyone. What sucked was that it was Cortaca weekend, which meant people's friends from home would be visiting, loud music would be playing, and people would want to take a post-game nap (understandably so). There were a number of times we had to hold for people moving in and out of the house, and I felt terrible keeping these people from sleeping at 3:00 in the morning. Next time we'll have to figure out more than 3 long shooting days and break it up.

4. Bad time of day - We shot our exteriors at Connor's house in the morning and it was cloudy, which was a great thing. But the next two days we were seriously rushing to get in all our daytime shots because there are only so many hours of daylight this time of year. This gave us ample time to shoot our night scenes because the sun went down by 5:00 PM. Next time we should definitely make sure that the call sheets have sunrise and sunset times on them and factor that in to the shooting order.

5. Production design - This also goes along with location scouting issues. Most of the walls in the house are white, which made production design a bitch. This kind of went along with our story though, because our antagonist is supposed to be obsessively clean. If we could do it again, it would be better if the location had different colored walls; this would also make lighting much easier.

6. Call sheet errors/lack of info - Our call sheets looked super professional and that's just dandy, but they were lacking information. Maybe it was because we were trying to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time, but for me they were hard to follow. I would like to see the specifics of what we're shooting on them. Instead of the scene number and a couple word phrase explaining it, I want to see the page number in the script that coincides with the scene, the exact actions the actor takes in the scene, and which actor(s) are needed for that scene. We realized after arriving on set that the call sheet for our first shoot listed both actresses, but we only needed one to be there.

I don't mean to be a negative Nancy, I just want to make sure that I or my group doesn't make the same mistake twice.

Some sound speed on a Saturday

I am a firm believer in that every choice you make affects the path your life will take. I sat in my bed Friday night thinking of what I wanted out of the weekend. I knew that we would be shooting the Stopover City title sequence and scootering pickups most of Sunday, and also had my 10 AM-noon WICB Best of Broadway show before all of that. So basically Saturday was my only time off; therefore I had a choice to make about how to spend my Saturday; I could either:

a.     go to the Cortaca football game and have a mediocre time whilst freezing my butt off.
b.     sleep in and regain some strength lost from overworking the whole week.
c.      attend the sound workshop held by multiple Ithaca alumni and professionals in the field.

After a fair amount of late night internal debate, I decided to attend the sound workshop. I reasoned that there are a ton of opportunities to sleep and have fun with friends, but it’s not everyday that professional location & post sound mixers come in to talk with students freely (it literally only happens once a semester). I also don’t know a ton about on-location sound mixing but would really like to improve in case I ever needed to do emergency sound mixing for a film.

So I woke up the next morning (at 7:30 AM because my roommates were blasting music in preparation for the game, *sigh*) and made my way over to Park to learn! I thought I would experience some fear of missing out (aka FOMO) but the workshop was so interesting that I forgot all about the other potential plans I had.

The workshop began with the sound mixers in a panel discussion, including both location and post-sound mixers. They spoke not only of the sound industry, but also of the overall tv/film industry workflow. The panelists had a lot of very helpful/inspirational things to say—some of which I wrote down in my handy-dandy notepad. Here’s a few pieces of advice they gave (all 8 of) us:

-it’s really important to invest in your own equipment—that way you get more practice with the equipment.
-(more audio-concentrated but) know signal flow; that helps you troubleshoot a live recording session if something isn’t working
-learn how to manipulate mics
-“it’s all about listening”
-the turnaround is a lot faster in television than in TV.
-fast problem solving is the key to making yourself irreplaceable
-if & when you’re a freelancer, you have to be accountable for yourself
-figure out what type of work you thrive in and what works for your personality*

*I found this piece of advice most significant for people of all concentrations. I am still unsure of where my “calling” is in the industry based on my personality. On the one hand I love doing art department but it is extremely difficult with little to no budget, and I am not interested in producing because I don’t enjoy bossing people around. Location sound is not something I’d like to pursue as a career but I would definitely like to get a better handle on it so I could run sound on a future documentary passion project(?). I am getting quite off topic, but that’s how most of these posts go.

the 1 picture I sniped: mama & baby mixer--SO CUTE
After the panel, we split off into location and post-sound mixing. Four people (including myself) meandered off to 269 for the location sound where Jeff Pullman and David Rosenberg worked with us on refining skills such as boom and lavaliere placement, in addition to little tips and tricks in making our location mix the best it could be. While most of the mixing stuff went right over my head, it was extremely helpful to learn about the microphone manipulation tips. It definitely inspired me to refresh on the pickup patterns of different mics to be better prepared for shoots. At the end of the workshop Jeff generously offered for any of us to shadow him on Madame Secretary in the Big Apple, which I will definitely do (hopefully) over winter break.

Overall, it was a very intriguing workshop and I feel that it was time very well spent.