Saturday, September 29, 2012

One Shot

My group shot Sam's one shot film this past Thursday. I think it went pretty well and Sam seemed to enjoy the clip. We ran into some complications when we first started. We had envisioned using a dolly but the concreate was way to bumpy to allow us to shoot a steady shot. We used our noggins changed how the actor ran, where he ran, and how fast he ran. All three of those elements, when adjusted, tell a whole  different story. Interested to see what the class thinks about it on Monday. 

I was also suppose to shoot my one shot film Thursday but my actors never showed, I knew I should've just asked Denzel Washington to do the scene. We waited awhile for them to show and they never did and group members had prior commitments so we called it a wrap after Sam's shoot. While hanging downtown I ran into a friend and I told him about my one shot film idea and he gave me an idea and volunteered to act in it, so we shot the scene since I had nothing else to shoot. I thought the scene came out ok, especially since it was a last minute idea. I went to go look at it on my mac later that night and it wasn't playing for some reason. I'm going to try again after this blog, if I'm still having issues with it I'm just going to shoot another one shot scene. 

One thing I notice when shooting scenes is that you should always expect something to go wrong. There is typically always something that doesn't go as plan and you'll  need to think on your feet and make adjustments. Preparation is key but you can't really prepare for the unexpected, just when shooting a scene you must always be on your toes and expect the unexpected. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Nuit Blanche" and other cool stuff

Last year in my Fiction Field I class, with Steve Gordon, he showed us a series of short films that focused heavily on special effects. One film that changed my perspective on how large of an impact special effects can have on the emotional and visual aspects of a short film, was the short film Nuit Blanche, a Stellar Scene production. The film is directed by Arev Manoukian and focuses on the connection between two strangers and explores their interactions in a fantasy world. I was captivated by the film's ability to display an array of emotions in less than 5 minutes and fully engage the viewer with beautiful music and exceptional special effects. The film is silent and black and white, focusing on the actions of the characters and the tragedies created by their love at first sight.

The most intriguing part of the film is the use of special effects. The first step used to making this film was  constructing the backgrounds and landscapes piece by piece, from a variety of city landscapes and building structures. Each building was carefully constructed and built to portray the dark feelings associated with this story of fantasy.  The director then used green screens the place the actors in these locations. To portray the car accident and glass shattering, each piece of the vehicle was placed in several frames and layered behind the actor. This created a sense of realism and made the car accident very emotional for the viewers. The special effects are done so flawlessly that you believe the accident really took place. The director also altered the lighting present in each shot, creating a dark and dismal look.  
I recommend every film student to see this film. It is an excellent of example of how short films can have an incredible impact on an audience and that sometimes the most powerful films are done without dialogue. Nuit Blanche is an excellent example of extensive special effects and how flawlessly scenes can be created. Manoukain does an incredible job of portraying the emotional complexities of love at first sight and the sometimes unavoidable tragedy. This film is beautiful and proves that the shortest of films can be the most time consuming. Please check out both videos and take the time to appreciate the beauty of this short film.

Enjoy the weekend,


Our group is done shooting for our one-shot! Finally... Mine couldn't have gone more smoothly. I love it and can't wait to start editing it, I have some cool ideas. It wasn't dusk like I had hoped for, but it was overcast and actually worked really well.

I saw "Superstar" on Netflix and had to watch it. An oldie, but goodie. I was laughing out loud while I was watching it alone. That funny. So I encourage you all to watch it and refresh your mind of its hilarity.

In case you don't know, it's an SNL spin off comedy from 1999. It stars Molly Shannon and Will Farrell. It is a definite feel good movie that will make you smile in the end. Also, maybe it's just our generation & how we are (I am) obsessed with the 90s and early 2000s, but it just adds to the awesomeness.  I don't really know how to critique this film though.... With shooting this week I didn't really have time to watch and critique a film.

This weekend is Applefest! Everyone should go and enjoy Ithaca fall!! :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

En Blomst

After spending time in class discussing short films I've been thinking a lot lately about what goes into making a short film and what the director is trying to tell the audience-especially in such a short amount of time. The other day while perusing the internet I came across an article about a short film by Lars Von Trier called "En Blomst." Intrigued by the idea of a short film made by one of today's great directors, I decided to check it out. The film runs about 7 minutes long and contains no dialogue. It follows a young boy who plants a seed and nurtures it day to day until it grows into a flower. When the plant finally blooms, the look of contentment on the boy's face is disrupted by the loud sound of two military planes flying by. Suddenly, we see the boy's body laying on the ground with blood coming from his head, indicating he's been shot. Next to his body, the once lively flower is now wilted.

The most amazing thing about this simple film is that Von Trier shot it when he was just 15 years old. It reinforces the fact that true artists have an inherent need to create, at any cost, no matter how old or young a person may be. Another striking thing about this film is highlights the central themes (darkness, death) that continue to be the focus of Von Trier's films. Another theme that stuck out to me was the idea of nature and the cycle of life, as everything that lives, plants and people, eventually die. Nature was also a huge focus of Von Trier's most recent film, Melancholia, so there is another parallel between connecting themes in the director's first and most recent work. Despite Von Trier's openness about using his own anxieties and depression to influence his films, it makes me wonder if most directors have constant themes (perhaps unintentional) that can be noticed in their own films.

The Red Balloon

I had seen this picture numerous times before, but didn't know where it originated from until I recently watched the short film "Red Balloon". This film won an Oscar for best original screenplay in 1956. Running only 34 minutes long, I find it astounding that this film won its award before the Oscars even had a category for short films. Using very little dialogue, this film tells the story of a boy who discovers a balloon with a mind of its own. I was impressed by the production quality for it is such an old film. The Foley sound effects were done well, the colors were bright and defined, the music was driving, the location was utilized well, and I know this may sound childish, but I was intrigued by the balloon's seemingly self-achieved movements. I spent a lot of the film trying to figure out how they were able to make the balloon swoop left to right, up and down so deftly. At one point I was able to see the fishing wire that connected the balloon to the little boy so it looked as though the balloon was following him, but I was unable to figure out how they did other more difficult maneuvers like having the balloon go in and out of windows and doors. My favorite shot of the whole film is pictured below. I think it is very aesthetically pleasing and would love to have seen this in person. 

Many of you may have already seen or at least heard of this film. It is a very popular film that has been shown in many elementary schools. I read on one critics blog that "The Red Balloon" is the single largest-selling nontheatrical print in history. If you have not already seen it, I would strongly suggest doing so. Here is a copy of it that I found on Youtube. Ignore the introduction, I'm not sure who put that on there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Coffee and Cigarettes

In class this week we watched "Cigarettes and Coffee." After class I decided to look up the film, however I searched "Coffee and Cigarettes" by mistake. This brought me to the films of Jim Jarmusch, a director whom I have never watched but I have alway been interested in looking into.  I finally decided to watch this movie based on the cast, which includes Steven Wright, Roberto Benigni, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Cate Blanchett, Meg White, Jack White, Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan, Bill Murray, RZA, and GZA.

The movie is actually 11 short stories about people talking, drinking coffee, and smoking cigarettes.  Each of the films are unrelated and involve characters just participating in conversations. They are almost always playing themselves. The discussions do connect a little bit in theme; people talk about enjoying coffee and cigarettes, or why those things do not constitute a meal, Tesla Coils, familial relation, the music business, and celebrity life style. I also noticed that an Iggy Pop song plays during the Jack/Meg White short.

I thought some of the stories worked and some of them didn't just because the discussions were not too interesting. My favorites were Steve Buscemi as a waiter bothering two twins, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits (who apparently is a doctor) meeting, Bill Murray  (as himself) waiting on RZA and GZA, and Cate Blanchett meeting with her non-famous cousin Shelly (played by Cate Blanchett too).

Each short was in black and white and features many above-shots of the coffee being stirred on tables. I thought the shots were well composed and the shorts were well directed. Some of the subjects were boring, but I will definitely remember the ones I mentioned above. Although I wouldn't say that this is a must see, I do recommend checking out a few of the films.

Below is a link to "Delirium," starring RZA, GZA, and Bill Murray. Sorry that I couldn't get the video into the page, but it's not on youtube.

Things I've learned from criticism

Being that I am a film critic myself, I like to get tough criticism on my own films. I am my own worst critic for sure. I can tell you that none of my films EVER will make it on my Favorites List. Incase I haven't mentioned it yet, I have a giant list of my favorite films. None of my films will ever make it on there because I will always know the flaws of them. If one of my films could make it on my own list, I would die very happy. This to me will keep me making films for the rest of my life. I will always think of where I can improve. One might think this would be a depressing thought. However, it actually keeps me going, that there is always room for improvement. I currently have 121 films on my Favorites List (and growing).

My criticism of a movie to consider it a favorite is that it has to evoke an emotion from it's audience (especially if they are resisting this emotion and it happens anyways), it needs to have no questions asked (no cliffhangers (unless they work)and no misunderstandings), It has to be a movie that I would want to see again and if I see it again I either get a new feeling overtime or the same enjoyment with out degradation. For some of my favorite movies I laugh every time I watch it no matter what, I cry at least the first time I watch it (it's very hard to make it on my favorites list as a drama), It's extremely different/creative and there's no other that compares to it and for some of them I just enjoyed as a child and they stick with me forever.

When watching my films I try to pay attention to extreme detail. Then when I move on to a new film (after the criticism of my previous) I really concentrait on improving the things that failed last time. It's almost like studying for a test, you write down all the material you need to know and you go through each thing and cross off the things you already know by heart, and then you study the things you're not confident on.

Perhaps to answer what this most recent project; the one shot film with rotation of jobs, it's about fully expanding yourself in order to say you have done each of those jobs. It's about strengthening your weaknesses. No one is going to be "perfect" in everyone's eyes but I would like to come as close as I can to making my self the best film maker I can be. This unfortunately initials being uncomfortable. I'd like to thank all of those that have worked with me in my learning experiences especially in this project where you had to sacrifice having the best people do the job I was assigned to do, you may not have gotten the best aspect of that part of your film but I'm glad you allowed me to have that experience in learning. To me it is the best way of learning is just simply by doing. We as children learned how to read more by reading with someone. We learned to play video games on our own. We learned how to use a computer by seeking out and playing around. I think that is what we are best at and we learned these things by simply doing them. I can think of a few things I learned how to do on my own just by playing around, one is how to play the guitar, another is how to use a cell phone, how to use my ipod (not all of it's features, but most). If I can learn how to basically do something then I can survive in this business.

Some of the weaknesses in my own films/films I've worked on (not even my own mistakes but others as well) are very big key things I needed to learn in order to be a film maker. One of the first things I learned in criticism of film is that you need to pay attention to continuity. It's very important to keeping your audience interested in the story.
Another thing I learned was that in certain cameras, horizontal close lines or white/light colors can mess up the vision of the camera by blowing out the color by the light or by creating a crazy moving pattern on someone's shirt or a couch.
I've also learned how to tone down an actor or actress.
How to give the shot the time it needs.
I learned early in my career that the use of a tripod can make a world of difference when you want to real critics to take you seriously. I had a DP once who flat out refused to use a tripod for the longest time. I eventually replaced him because he was lazy. After that I made sure my DP's were comfortable using a tripod before I assigned them to the job.
I learned in my scripting class last year how to write effectively with no dialogue let alone too much. It's one of the hardest things to master because you really dont know if your audience will get what you're trying to say. You're literally trying to play charades with a mass amount of people who will never see you personally.
Through this project so far I've learned how important it is to keep as many options as possible and try them all if you can, keeping it within reason and being time aware.
Also It's good to get things done in a timely manor as long as it doesn't hurt creativity. The best way I found out how to do this is by rehearsing a bunch times and planning your butt off for the shoot.
Being over prepared is a great thing. Keeping your crew fed and alive is a wonderful thing.
Another thing I try to always do for a shoot is research realistic situations. For last years project White Lights I researched a lot about people's out of body experiences and the similar things between each story including the biggest thing I noticed was that they all described a white light. Hense, the name of my film being White Lights.

Criticism is very important in growing if you want to be the best film maker you have to make more films than anyone else and you have to absorb the toughest critics so that you can learn and grow from your past. That's what we're all paying the big bucks for here at Ithaca.

So now, Keep calm and watch some movie mistakes where people still made billions!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Goodfellas, cocaine, and my one-shot-film location

A couple days ago my roommates and I settled down to watch one of my favorite movies, Goodfellas. The 1990 adaptation of Wiseguy, by Nicholas Pileggi is directed by Martin Scorsese and depicts the lifestyle of italian mobsters throughout the mid fifties to early eighties. It's a great story but more importantly reminds me of a personal theory of one of my friends regarding Scorsese's cocaine use and his directing style. My friend believes that throughout Scorsese's career you can see a fluctuation in his directing style dependent on his drug use, specifically the "speed" of the film. He believes movies like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets have a much slower feel to them then New York,  New York and The Last Waltz Personally, I've never agreed with him but it's a interesting theory that still pops into my head every time I watch a Scorsese film - at least it was memorable.

Lastly, I want to share my one-shot-film location with you guys:

It's exactly what I had in mind when I wrote the script so I'm really excited to film the project this Monday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A man amongst men

            I won’t publicly endorse a product unless I use it exclusively. My only official recommendations are U.S. Army issued mustache trimmers, Morton’s salt, and the C.R. Lawrence Fein two inch axe-style scraper oscillating knife blade.”

The perfect T.V, character has been a argument going on for decades. People say there is no clear cut number one character because there is no way to tell; I’m here to tell you THEY ARE WRONG. There is only one character that is clear-cut above the rest, and he happens to be on a T.V. show that is still on the air. This character is the embodiment of what a man actually is; Hid name is Ron Swanson.  Ron is a no tolerance man when it comes to the country he loves. He thinks a gun should be in every house and

“It’s never too early to learn that the government is a greedy piglet that suckles on a taxpayer’s teet until they have sore, chapped nipples. I’m gunna need a different metaphor to give this nine year old.”

This is a man who once gave a land mine to a nine year old. He is the American of all Americans. His love for bacon is only matched by his love for America. He is a man with his own pyramid, and that’s where I will leave you with this rant.

“I have been developing the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness for years. It’s a perfectly calibrated recipe for maximum personal achievement. Categories include: Capitalism, God’s way of determining who is smart, and who is poor. Crying, acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon. Rage. Poise. Property rights. Fish, for sport only, not for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable.”


This weeks post is going to be about the TV show "Wilfred starring Elijah Wood and Jason Gann. "Wilfred" follows the manic depressive Ryan Newman (Elijah Wood). In the midst of a suicide attempt, he's asked to watch over his neighbor Jenna's (Fiona Gubelman) dog Wilfred (Jason Gann). However, for some odd reason Ryan sees Wilfred as a human in a dog costume, whereas everyone else sees him as just a dog. Ryan begins to watch over Wilfred as Jenna lives her busy life, and they begin to form a friendship. Wilfred tries to help Ryan out of his depressive state, in his own twisted way (and with his own agenda).

I had first seen an ad for "Wilfred" when I was watching FX at some point over the summer, but never got a chance to watch it. I recently discovered that the first season was on Netflix, so I decided to give it a shot. Since then, I haven't been able to stop watching and have already completed the first season.

"Wilfred" is a show unlike any that I've seen on TV before. I wasn't sure exactly what it was about when I first saw the ad's for it, but I've got to say that I think the plot is ingenious and extremely creative. The character's personalities are defined so well, and the dynamic of Ryan's unsure nature and lack of confidence in himself, coupled with Wilfred's dog personality translated into a human life, is a great tag team for a TV show. It's an extremely original program. I would recommend it to anyone into the 'dark comedy' genre of programs.

In the Reach of Greatness

Last January I watched the cancelled Starz show "Party Down" when it was still on Netflix. I had heard it was a good show and I watched a few episodes, but I didn't really see why people loved it so much. I watched all twenty episodes, and towards the end of the series, the show did get better. Recently, I finished watching it a second time and I realized that the show was actually borderline brilliant, just short of greatness before it reached its potential.

The show is about a catering team made up of 6 people played by Ken Marino, Adam Scott, Lizzie Kaplan, Ryan Hansen, Martin Starr, and Jane Lynch (who later went on to Glee and was replaced by Megan Mullally). These characters are aspiring musicians, actors, writers, and one who wants to own a soup restaurant. All of them want to make it big, but are stuck at the bottom  serving people who are richer and more successful them (and also obnoxious). They work multiple events, such as a wake, weddings, sweet sixteens, and Steve Guttenberg's birthday (which is probably the best episode).

The show is not always laugh out loud funny like "It's Always Sunny" or "How I Met Your Mother," but the humor lies in the realism of the dialogue. I really recommend it to anyone who likes the actors I listed (especially Jane Lynch and Martin Starr who probably do their best work here).
The show has great guest stars, including Joe Lo Trugglio, J.K. Simmons, George Takei,  and Steve Guttenberg.

Aesthetically, the show is like Arrested Development, with hand held cameras, not always going for super close ups.

Thematically it's about failure and how sometimes not all of us can be successful in life. This theme plays out through all twenty episodes, leading to a very subtlety poignant final scene.

Here's one of my favorite clips showcasing Martin Starr's Roman and Jane Lynch's Constance.

A Great Show

One televisions show that I enjoy and I think a lot of other people on this campus enjoy is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  This is a show about 5 friends that own a bar in philadelphia and go on crazy antics with different schemes each episode.  Each character is funny in a different way and they are all very self-centered.  With the Emmy awards coming up, I was surprised to see this show not nominated for Best Comedy.  I wondered why, because it has gotten a lot of critical praise.
     One thing about this show is that it is not flashy.  Aesthetically, it is nothing special.  The low budget probably plays an factor in this.  But there aren't any crazy camera shots or special effects or zooms that make this show special.  To sum it up, the show is shot in a very simple, unchallenging way.  Now I'm sure there are difficulties with filming and that not every shot is super-easy, but in comparison to other shows, this show is shot in a very basic way.  What separates this show from others is its writing and acting.  Its writing is what makes it so funny.  And the actors are brilliant with their characters.  This proves a belief that good acting and good writing can trump something that is aesthetically pleasing.  That the writing and acting are just as if not more important than the way it is filmed.  Here is one of my favorite clips from the show.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

American Horror Story

Happy Thursday,

It is that time of year again, when our TVs become filled with new shows and our favorite series are back on the air. Last year, I became completely addicted to the FX television series, American Horror Story, produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. The show features an incredible cast including, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Dylan McDermott, and Connie Britton. I was immediately addicted to the show because of its successful attempt on turning horror into television. I have been a huge fan of scary movies since I was a young child so I was extremely thrilled to get my scary fix from a weekly show. The show did a great job of maintaining the storyline throughout the season, with surprising plot changes and a strong character dynamics. Each episode left me excited for the next. I love Jessica Lange, for her part as Constance. Constance makes her presence known in the first season for her dark past with the house and her obsession with her youth. She is a strong and bold character and never fails to turn up the drama. 

Season two begins October 17 at 10/9c on FX. This season is set to take place in an insane asylum, instead of the victorian style California home, putting more focus on the living than the dead. Adam Levine, Lily Rabe, and Zachary Quinto will be making a debuts as vital characters in the show this season. It is rumored that season two will feature new characters, new locations, and new twists. Check out the trailer below.


The Last Farm

I recently watched a film called The Last Farm and found it very touching. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Live Action Short in 2006, but did not win. What I found so interesting about this film was it's use of P.O.V. In the end, when the main character is burrying his wife, we see the camera look up at him from the ground. The shot evokes a feeling of longing, as if we are his wife looking up at her husband from her grave. Another interesting use of P.O.V in this film is used a few shots later when we become the husband, lying next to his wife as the dirt falls, burying them in their graves. We first see a shot of the man, with a look of peace on his face, and then we are looking through his eyes at the sky and the dirt as it falls and eventually convers the entire screen. I also really liked the way the last shot is framed. We see the last few flecks of dirt fall onto the grave right as the man's daughter pulls up to the house. The camera contiues to pan, away from the grave, the daughter in her car, over the lovely landscape that this man and his wife must have admired, and finally ending on the sky, signifying heaven; the afterlife; peace. 

Life in a Day

So as I was browsing my Netflix homepage, I came across this documentary called "Life in a Day". I had never seen it on my homepage before and it had a pretty title cover, so I decided to watch it. (Yes, in this case I did judge a 'book' by its cover...and glad I did.) This movie has no real storyline and no main characters. The filmmakers asked people from all over the world to record their life for a day, July 24, 2010. It shows people living their daily lives and doing their normal routines, but from people all over the world. It has multiple languages and shows many different cultures.

I'm not really sure about who they asked to record their lives. Some of it is clearly amateur recording, but the majority of it is actually really beautiful. Some of the shot composition is truly gorgeous and very professional looking.

Very few characters are shown more than once. Sometimes they will do a brief montage showing 1 or 2 characters lives entwined, but then will never see them again. They show just enough of certain people's lives that you care about their well being, but aren't attached to them just yet. Some characters are briefly shown throughout the film.

This shows happiness, hope, fear, conflict, and similarity all over the world. It shows all of our similarities and differences in an extremely powerful way. It is awesome. I really recommend watching it, it is on Netflix - how convenient !

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I've been attempting to direct actors for about three years. I am NO expert, it's a world of science that can be quite a mystery. It's very difficult to work with amateurs, kids, animals, and many other life things!!
This really reminds me of a facebook note from back in the day when notes on facebook were cool! I actually found it on my facebook and I love it it's so funny.

Win Wender's Golden Rules

1. You have a choice of being “in the business” or of making movies. If you’d rather do business, don’t hesitate. You’ll get richer, but you won’t have as much fun!
2. If you have nothing to say, don’t feel obliged to pretend you do.
3. If you do have something to say, you’d better stick to it. (But then don’t give too many interviews.)
4. Respect your actors. Their job is 10 times more dangerous than yours.
5. Don’t look at the monitor. Watch the faces in front of your camera! Stand right next to it! You’ll see infinitely more. You can still check your monitor after the take.
6. Your continuity girl is always right about screen directions, jumping the axis and that sort of stuff. Don’t fight her. Bring her flowers.
7. Always remember: Continuity is overrated!
8. Coverage is overrated, too!
9. If you want to shoot day for night, make sure the sun is shining.
10. Before you say “cut,” wait five more seconds.
11. Rain only shows on the screen when you backlight it.
12. Don’t shoot a western if you hate horses. (But it’s okay to not be fond of cows.)
13. Think twice before you write a scene with babies or infants.
14. Never expect dogs, cats, birds or any other animals to do what you’d like them to do. Keep your shots loose.
15. Mistakes never get fixed in post!
16. Final cut is overrated. Only fools keep insisting on always having the final word. The wise swallow their pride in order to get to the best possible cut.
17. Other people have great ideas, too.  (I LEARNED THIS LAST YEAR WITH WHITE LIGHTS!!)
18. The more money you have the more you can do with it, sure. But the less you can say with it.
19. Never fall in love with your temp music.
20. Never fall in love with your leading lady!
21. If you love soccer, don’t shoot your film during the World Championship. (Same goes for baseball and the World Series, etc.)
22. Don’t quote other movies unless you have to. (But why would you have to?)
23. Let other people cut your trailer!
24. It’s always good to make up for a lack of (financial) means with an increase in imagination.
25. Having a tight schedule can be difficult. But having too much time is worse.
26. Alright, so you’re shooting with a storyboard. Make sure you’re willing to override it at any given moment.
27. Less make-up is better.
28. Fewer words are always better!
29. Too much sugary stuff on the craft table (or is it Kraft?) can have a disastrous effect on your crew’s morale.
30. Film can reveal the invisible, but you must be willing to let it show.
31. The more you know about moviemaking, the tougher it gets to leave that knowledge behind. As soon as you do things “because you know how to do them,” you’re fucked.
32. Don’t tell a story that you think somebody else could tell better.
33. A “beautiful image” can very well be the worst thing that can happen to a scene.
34. If you have one actor who gets better with every take, and another who loses it after a while, make sure they can meet in the middle. Or consider recasting. (And you know whose close-ups you have to shoot first!)
35. If you shoot in a dark alley at night, don’t let your DP impose a bright blue contre-jour spotlight on you, even in the far distance. It always looks corny.
36. Some actors should never see rushes. Others should be forced to watch them.
37. Be ready to get rid of your favorite shot during editing.
38. Why would you sit in your trailer while your crew is working?
39. Don’t let them lay tracks before you’ve actually looked through your viewfinder.
40. You need a good title from the beginning. Don’t shoot the film with a working title you hate!
41. In general, it’s better not to employ couples. (But of course, there are exceptions!)
42. Don’t adapt novels.
43. If your dolly grip is grumpy or your electricians hate the shot it will all show on the film. (Also, if you’re constipated…)
44. Keep your rough cut speech, your cast and crew screening speech and your Oscar speech short.
45. Some actors actually improve their dialogue in ADR.
46. Some actors should never be forced to loop a single line. (Even Orson Welles wasn’t good at that.)
47. There are 10,000 other rules like these 50.
48. If there are golden rules, there might be platinum ones, too.
49. There are no rules.
50. None of the above is necessarily correct.

#4: we went over this in class today!!
#6: I have a friend I interned with two years ago that was the script supervisor for a film I interned on! It was awesome having her around because she's gone on to do AMAZING productions: to name a few- Paranha 3DD, LOL (starring MIley Cyrus), Scream 4 (2011), and A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. Never really in big time A list movies but she does VERY well for herself and I had the privilege of working very closely with her. I also love seeing her facebook posts on what she's doing with her career. She's always got a ton going on and I think that could be the secret to her success. I've always wanted to try having a script supervisor for a film of my own! 
#17: I learned this in White Lights last year, I couldn't possibly take as much credit for what that film was with out Jackie Campbell, Josh Best, Dave Howelle, Maxwell Melhman, Courtney Herman, Harlan Green-Taub or R. Aaron Walters, or Benni Lee Janssen. It takes a crew to make a film happen you litterally can NOT do it yourself. Unless of course you're Jeffrey R. Newell.
#24: ALWAYS HAD to deal with this issue. I think it's made me a better film maker and a person. 
#28: I learned this in script writing last semester! It's ver difficult to deviate from thinking your actors need to explain everything they're doing. They don't need to! Trust me it makes it a lot better when they don't explain anything: as we've seen in The Artist (oscar winning best feature film 2011).  (see above video)
#41: When I directed a short adaptation called "The Flea" in 2010, it was a HUGE mistake casting a couple that was together to play my main couple. It was also a mistake trying to edit my film on a crappy old computer using a bootleg copy of a really lame editing software, but that's another story for another day! In the middle of my shoot the couple had broken up (WHICH would have been AWESOME for believable acting since it was a break up story), but He decided to screw my film because he was too broken hearted to leave his room to do a one hour shoot (tops) and have it be the end of it! My film sucked but it was the best I could have done given the circumstances! I can't say I regretted this film because I learned more doing this film alone than any other film I've ever done (directing). (see above film...and please!!! don't judge)
#42: This leads me to my next point. NEVER EVER EVER adapt a novel unless you have a bjillion dollars and you don't care what people think of your films anymore because you have so much money that you don't need fans anymore. It's so hard and I don't think the general public will ever understand how hard it is to adapt a screen play from a novel. Therefore, they automatically won't appreciate anything you put out there. If a film maker adapted a novel word for word it would literally be a three day film. It takes a magical person to please anyone when adapting a novel to screen. I took a class on it the year I made The Flea! I honestly believe that the only way to appreciate a film based on a novel is by being extremely open minded, not expecting anything upon entering, and understanding the film as a "take" on how they saw the novel visually and how they made it work. I personally don't like to read a book before I watch the adapted film, because, this way I don't form my own visuals before I see others take on it. I like to see the film first and then read the book because then I can see more clearly how the film maker had seen it that way. I also enjoy the experience of reading it and seeing the story in more depth, rather than seeing a summarized version of the story after you already know what happened and why it happened. To me it's just not worth risking my career over someone being too close minded about my take on a novel. So I personally try and avoid it at all costs. However, some may strongly disagree with me on so many levels. They can go make their films and I wont judge them for that adaptation, in fact if anyone does it, I have a whole new respect for them. However, I feel most people dont see it the same way I do.
#49+50: None of these rules need apply to anything. Do you're own thing. This is more of a good advice list from a professional. By all means go out and make mistakes, it's great to learn from them! I wouldn't have agreed with any of this if I hadn't made mistakes thus far in my own career.

I 'm learning about my self, I have learned that I don't personally take enough risks, I don't like to leave my comfort zone. No one has ever made anything of themselves by just waiting for miracles. Some how, I need to do what I don't want to do so that I can do what I love.

Anyways, I found this mostly relevant and fun too!

Monday, September 17, 2012


Louis C.K.'s "Louie" is one my favorite shows on TV right now. With its hilarious and sometimes painfully awkward and dark moments, "Louie" shows depth that a lot of other shows (especially comedies) fall short on. If there's anything that "Louie" gets across, its that being a touring stand-up comedian doesn't mean life is always funny and lighthearted, rather it is merely an average person's life, often mundane and sometimes dark. This season, "Louie" has taken a turn for the surreal- with an episode arc displaying the more bazaar aspects of life- which is why last week's episode "Late Show Pt. 2" featuring Mr. Absurdity himself, David Lynch was the perfect crossover.

I am a huge David Lynch fan, so when I saw him appear on screen I was pleasantly surprised. Lynch played Louie's raving, eccentric late-night comedy coach, forcing Louie to rehearse Nixon-era jokes in preparation for the potential opportunity to replace David Letterman on The Late Show. Lynch's role highlights just how weird show business is, as well the antiquated but persisting late night talk show format. At one point, Lynch's character is modeling for Louie how to properly tell a joke on a late night show. Lynch comes out from behind the curtain, smiling and waving enthusiastically to the audience that isn't there as Louie watches on. Frankly, he looks like a absolutely insane. Then Louie looks down at the camera when suddenly the sounds of music and the audience accompany Lynch pretending to host, and it looks completely natural. Being the extremely self-aware person that he is, Louie sees this contrast, and realizes that he is perhaps unfit for the gig, unsure he possesses the ability to ham it up for the late night talk show format. The episode ends in a Rocky-like fashion, as Louie, after being instructed by Lynch's character, heads to the gym to box where he is promptly beat up by a young, lean, boxer. A very adequate metaphor for Louie and his career in the entertainment industry.

TLC Changing

When I was younger I remember spending my Sundays afternoons with my mom and sister watching shows like "Trading Spaces" on TLC. This station was originally introduced as The Learning Channel. This summer i completed an internship with the hit TV show "Cake Boss". Ever since then I have been very interested in knowing what TLC produces.  With in the next few months they will be introducing 3 new shows called Breaking Amish, Abby and Brittney, and High School Moms. It amazes me how much the shows standards have change with in 10 years. Instead of teaching people how to dress better (What Not To Wear) or improve their homes (Trading Spaces) they are creating shows about a hick family in Georgia called "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo".

Breaking Amish is a series about 4 Amish an one Mennonite young adults who move to New York City. The show follows them around and tracks the drama that takes place throughout their lives

Abby and Brittney is a show about dicephalic parapagus twins, meaning they have one body with two heads. This show is basically a documentary of their lives and how they live it day to day.

High School Moms is a show about teenagers who are pregnant while still trying to attend high school. It will show their daily interactions with their peers and how they struggle to provide for their new family.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How I Met Your Mother is probably my favorite show. I'm pretty obsessed with other shows like Dexter, True Blood, and Breaking Bad, but in a different way. I can watch reruns of HIMYM all day and not be sick of it. If you haven't seen it, the narrator is the voice of Ted Mosbey, speaking to his children in the future. The show is made up of flashbacks of his life, telling the story of how he met his wife / their mother.

It's a weekly, 30 minute sitcom. A lot of people don't like the fact that there is a laugh track, but I don't really mind it. The writing is hysterical and the character development throughout the series just keeps getting better.

I need to start watching a movie a week instead of my normal brainless television shows every night before bed (South Park, Family Guy.. etc. -- even though those shows are awesome!)

Fore Score and Seven Years Ago

      It's that time of year again, when we start seeing previews for this years crop of Oscar bait. One such movie trailer was released this week. In fact this trailer had so much hype that it's trailer had a trailer. The movie in question is Steven Spielbergs Lincoln.
      The movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis as our most revered president. Along with Sally Field, Tommy Lee jones and Joseph Gordon-Leveitt. It seems like forever since Spielberg had a movie he directed in theaters but boy-o-boy does he return with a punch. Everything about this trailer and this movie look spectacular. the movie seems to be shot straight out of time with its crisp HD feel. But what really gets my going is Day-Lewis as Lincoln. Every line he has in the trailer is so powerful and moving it feels as if you are hearing and seeing stock footage of the President himself. Needless to say November can't come fast enough.

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Last weekend I saw "Celeste and Jesse Forever," the new post-romance comedy/drama directed by Lee Toland Krieger, starring Rashida Jones (who also co-wrote the film) and Andy Samberg as the titular married couple. The movie begins six months after Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Samberg) decide to separate, yet they still hang out everyday, referring to each other as best friends, much to the annoyance of some friends. After Jesse meets someone new, Celeste starts to have regrets about her decision to divorce and goes through a depression regarding her romantic life.

I liked Jones here and I have enjoyed her when she played the straight-woman roles on "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation." It was nice seeing Jones perform a character who is more distressed, showing off the potential of an acting range that we could hopefully see in future films. I liked Samberg in the movie, though his role as Jesse required less range (the movie is more about Celeste) but he was very good and funny in a charming way. The two leads have good chemistry, and it is possible to see that these two people could have been together at some point. Emma Roberts helped add some conflict to the movie as an insecure pop star that Celeste is forced to work with, despite disliking her for her music.

The writing was decent and I would like to see more things from the writing team of Jones and Will McCormack. Krieger, who I am not familiar with, seems like a director who might have potential; one scene that sticks to memory is when Celeste's is on the verge of tears that might shows of Krieger's skill. The way he changes the camera's focus shows the intensity that Celeste feels.
I know that I am really praising this movie, however I would not say this is a must see or for everyone. If you have an hour and a half to kill and you are in the Commons, it's not a bad time waster.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's All "Elementary" My Dear Watson

Or is it? With the fall season upon us once again, so too comes the plethora of new shows. And much like new born sea turtles, they must try their hardest to make it out alive. I guess you can consider me a hungry grubbing seagull, because I've locked my eyes on one particular aqueous babe and I'm going in for the kill.

On September 25 at 10pm, CBS will attempt to hop on the Sherlock wagon, because come on let's face it, Sherlock is a complete and total BAMF (I know I'm dating myself, I'm sorry). Though I admire their ambition to help keep the Sherlock torch ablaze, I don't think the results will be quite as they hoped. I quote straight from TV Guide (see, it's useful), "a modern take on the crime-solver with Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock, a recovering addict and NYPD consultant. His Watson is his "sober companion," a former surgeon — and a woman (Lucy Liu)." I'm not sure all of the added elements are needed. What appeal does Sherlock being a drug addict bring to the story? Wouldn't the copious amounts of drugs have effected his intelligence? I feel it's insulting to the character and his integrity.

Next off, tackling cases in New York City? It's seems forced and inorganic. Sure the character mentions that he worked with Scotland Yard, but then why not go to some other European country? It certainly would be closer to home then a trip across the pond. An aside from my beratement, I appreciate how they've tried to modernize Watson by changing his gender. I feel as long as they don't try to pull any romance business then that relationship will work.

Overall I feel that the creators are only using the name "Sherlock Holmes" to try and gain attention, they haven't really done anything with their adaption to commemorate the character and his efforts. Don't worry though, I won't just leave you high and dry. There is a solution, Sherlock.

 From this weird pairing of the BBC & PBS, they've created a wonderful show about Sherlock and Watson in the modern day, but do so with respect to the characters and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Two series (in the UK they call seasons series) have already been produced and filming for the third begins in January. The production design, cinematography, and acting are phenomenal.

One Shot Music Videos

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of the "one shot story," which seemed a little foreign to me when we first started talking about it in class. Thinking about it more, I realized that I actually had seen many one shot stories in my lifetime, through the form of music videos.

I had to question why an musician would choose to debut their own piece of art through the form of a one shot music video. They seemed, by nature, to be much more difficult than being able to utilize different cuts to get the message across to the audience. Later, I realized that there are actually many benefits of the one shot music video.

One benefit is that it has the potential to be cheaper and easier to make while still being engaging. Bob Dylan famously did this through his music video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues," in which he stands in an alley way and holds up signs for each of his lyrics as his song plays. Though it is pretty simple, the video is actually very interesting to watch, and forces the audience to think about the lyrics and meaning of the song. Watch it here:

Another case for the one shot music video is that it allows quite the opposite- an extravagant display of lighting, effects, and action, all planned out until the last second, as with LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends"

...Or a meticulously choreographed dance routine, like in Feist's "1234."

I realize now that one shot music videos not only give the filmmaker lots of creative freedom, but perhaps even allows the content of the video and song to resonate with the audience more, as each movement is clearly methodically planned and coordinated. 

One shot story- Palmer

As you guys might remember from class, my one-shot story was undeveloped and I had no direction about where to take this project. After racking my brain for the past few days, I have finally developed my story idea. I am open to suggestions, so please comment and tell me what you think.  At this point, I am worried that the story is a little cliched.

A young man in his early thirties is on the brink of his life. Palmer is recently married, has a child on the way and has finally achieved professional success. He is in good health, works out regularly, doesn't smoke and rarely drinks. One day goes to see his doctor, Dr. Amadi, for a regular check-up. The appointment is going accordingly. The doctor checks his vitals and for obvious lumps and bumps. Everything is going well. Palmer explains to him that he has been experiencing shortness is breath and it is becoming increasingly difficult to breathe. Dr. Amadi scans Palmer's lungs, as Palmer waits nervously on the table for the doctor to process the lab results. The doctor walks in the room, as if he is carrying the world on his shoulders. Palmer's stare is blank. The doctor places his hand firmly on Palmer's shoulders as he zones out into space. His life that was just beginning now had a dim and unpromising future.  This was the beginning of the rest of Palmer's life.

My plan for the shot is to avoid dialogue and represent the severity of the situation only with actions. I want the set lighting to be dark with the exposure of the outside world displayed through natural lighting. I want to portray a real-life feel. The setting will be early afternoon. I want to concentrate on the contrast between Palmer's dark and dismal world and the bright and promising outside world.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Film Safety/ Learning from the worst

In light of recent discussion in class about the way old movies were shot with no doubles. How actors like Charley Chaplin and Buster Keaton would do their own stunts. Pointing this out, there are still some actors who dare do their own stunts. In the eye of a director this can be seen as a pending law suit or not having to pay an extra person on set.
Garrett Brown is the inventor o the steadicam, the olympic under water camera, and the football field/concert cam. He once gave a large lecture in Syracuse NY. I went with a small group from my old college, Cayuga Community College. We sat through his presentation at the end of a TV expo in the Crowne Plaza next to highway 81. He began a discussion about cinematography, and about how it can be dangerous.  This was the point behind his exploration of where we can put a camera and how we can get it there. He was also the cinematographer of The Shinning in 1980. He spoke briefly about his experiences on that film and several others. A very much more specific one for this topic was the film "Indiana Jones" in 1984. Here they had been setting up a shot where Harrison Ford runs across a rickety looking bridge. The above video is probably the scene he was referring to. Durring this scene, they wanted Harrison to runs across the bridge. Durring one of the rehearsals, of this shot either Harrison or one of the stunt doubles almost fell through the bridge on a rotten board. He of course was completely outraged at this happening and demanded that it be re-built, fixed etc. or he would quit. Garrett also went on to describe a scene he was asked to shoot at the top of (what I remember being) the San Francisco bridge. He was harnessed and all but probably afraid of heights. He was too afraid to get the shot that the director wanted and I think he never did the shot since it wasn't (in his mind) safe. As a human being you should know when and where to make that decision. Whether to move forward or step back. He stressed than no shot, and no film would ever be worth your life.

Another instance where danger was a very prominent issue in film was the making of "Noah's Ark" in 1928. Durring the climactic flood scene of the story of Noah's Ark, several extras were asked to swim around in a pool while they dumped water into it. I remember vaguely an interview with Delores Costello (on of the main actresses for the film). She stated that people would get up out of the water because they were drowning and the director told them to keep swimming, that the show must go on. Three people died durring that scene and countless others injured from props and set dressing falling on them and being pushed around by the water being dumped on them. She recalled an extra hanging on to the door of her wardrobe room. She could see that he was badly hurt and that he needed medical attention. She asked if he was alright, he said it was alright, but he thinks someone may have died.  The clip above is that very scene. It's awful to watch knowing that the director Michael Curtiz made the choice to keep those people in the water. This film and many other films that had unfortunate accidents encouraged the laws to be changed and other safety rules put into effect.

I watched a documentary on Netflix once about the making of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre film in 1974. The events of the film were much more horrifying than the story of the film itself. The film is available on Netflix still I believe. I would recommend watching it and absorbing it as a 'How not to make a film' film.  It's incredible that no one died durring the making of it. As an independent film they never had faith in it but eventually it made it very big and it became one of the biggest horror fliks ever.
If you have time I would consider watching it. I have actually found it on youtube. Although, I'm not sure it is the entire documentary.

As a director I always keep this in mind. I try to put myself in my actors shoes and wonder. How would I feel if a director asked me to do that. What am I putting my actors through, is there any other option we could do in order to get the same effect without putting anyone in danger.


I've recently gotten into the TV Show Archer. My initial reaction to the show was, "Wow this animation is poorly done!" Two minutes in, I was about to shut it off, thinking it looked like a waste of time, but I soon found that what the show lacked in graphics, it made up for in writing. The witty, quick-paced dialogue is so entertaining that I started to overlook the ancient animation. I find this style of television production interesting. The writers clearly drive the show and it is the dialogue and subtle jokes that make the show so great. As someone who is interested in writing, I really like that the script of the show has gotten the most attention. It goes to show that the story drives every episode, and even with lackluster graphics, the show can be successful. Although I love the show, it is clear that it is made for a niche audience. I assume it resonates best with men 18-25. The show's raunchy humor and the impossible proportions of the female cartoon characters leads me to believe men of these ages would definitely enjoy watching at least an episode or two. Although I don't fit into this demographic, I still find the humor wildly entertaining. If you like shows like Family Guy or South Park, I would definitely check this show out!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

FS100 settings

This video shows some of the picture profile settings that optimize the Sony FS100 for a couple of lighting situations:

Courtesy of AbelCine

No need to freak out. I'll explain it in class:-)