Class of Darkness

Production Journal

This has not gone as planned at all.  I had started this by trying to do a trailer for a film I wrote about a year back that I was planning to do in the spring.  I knew that I needed to have something video on kickstarter prior to the winter and full preproduction to have an idea of what our finances were going to be looking at.  The process started by everyone who I had previously set up to be involved in the Spring not being in town or simply not being available due to prior commitments.  These things do happen, and I also knew that I didn’t need to have the actual cast present in the teaser as much as it was important to capture the tone of what I wanted the film to be about.  Looking at how many people were in some of the scenes I really only hoped to get a lead male and female and move from there, but this proved more difficult that it sounds as it is the middle of finals and everyone is busy trying to finish their own projects.  Pleading with local family and friends went to no avail as the weekend disappeared to yet another missed opportunity and the mounting pressure of a deadline approaches.  I no longer care if this good enough to get money, so long as it gets done.

I take the time for the weekend to get ahead in other classes with the hopes that someone will respond to one of my posts online by the end of the week.  By Sunday Night I have gone over my outline of what I wanted to get so many times for so many different assortments of people that I might get until I have boiled it down to bare bones two people; male and female to contrast against each other in their loneliness.  I have tried to limit the number of locations down to two, with heavy use of voice over to narrate an unseen prince over a vulnerable woman in the dark.  Not exactly my original idea.

After getting done with another project I can’t sleep Sunday night to the point that I drag my fiancé out of bed to shoot some things.  I had originally not wanted to use her because of her weight because I wanted to get into the consumerism of people as objects and how that relates to deserving them, but at this point I have given up on the idea of getting what I want with what time I have left.  She is very understanding of the weight issue as it relates to image but less forgiving of getting dragged out of bed at 3 in the morning on her day off.  She makes me buy her breakfast and I see a sparsely lit residential sidewalk for her to traverse.  I know that I want to end with a long walk into a close up for the only line to be delivered into the camera.  I make sure to take multiple takes as the lighting is not good, and even though it is looking ok on my screen, I am fearful that it won’t turn out or will be too dark and I don’t want to have to come back out here again.  I do this with several shots to include a wide shot to have her walk across the landscape in and out of shadow as well as many close up shots of various body parts in movement.  I know I am going to be inter-cutting this together along with glimpses of disturbing imagery that I still need to find.

I tell her to look melancholy, which she has no problem at this hour, and am sure to have her walk further in each shot than she needs to because I haven’t really got my timing down yet of the cut as I haven’t really broken down my music yet, so better safe than sorry.

Dec. 7

I have been busy these week with other finals and so were most of the people that I have access to, though I was able to secure an actor for this Sunday.  Friday night when I got home I started to piece together a rough cut of the film that I had shot and started to put it to music.  As Murphy’s law would dictate, after purchasing PC editing software, my PC’s hard drive goes out, so I am forced to do my cut on iMovie, which is not my first choice, but I really can’t afford the expense of purchasing new software for a very small project when I have faith/hope that my PC will be working again by the Spring.  This limits some of the techniques I was hoping to use and makes overlapping sounds more difficult than it needs to be, Apples not so subtle way of getting you to buy the upgraded version.

The footage that was shot whittles down to about 48 seconds, which really isn’t horrible, and meets the music track that I had set up for it, though if my outline is to be followed I still need about another minute and five seconds of stuff, and that doesn’t even include the production logo and title sequence which should take up at least ten seconds or so.  The software will not let me put in music tracks without video to support so I have inserted some home movies to get a rough cut of the music track so I just have to edit in the images later.  I still need to record the voice overs which I am a little nervous about because I have no idea where it will show up as a voice track on this program so I will probably do some practice voice over work for a throw away film to get the hang of it.  I also need to lift a couple of clips to intercut with the night walking sequence and thinking that I might want to play with some of the film quality elements but I am going to wait until I am done shooting everything else so that I can see how that will effect the cohesion of it all, not to mention that my options are very limited on iMovie.

Dec. 8

I have done some rewrites to the script and have had Jackie give her voice over work.  She is not the best actress and I would really like to find a more talented subject to redo this with, and am hoping the girl that I had cast for the Spring will be available sometime over the holidays as it really hasn’t taken Jackie very long to do her parts, but there is nothing technically wrong.  Also, the light outside has been very dreary the past few days.  I woke up early this morning to try and get the sunrise coming through the window but it was too overcast to get much of anything.  I have thought about ways to artificially make light come through, but I think all would prove too difficult, though it is supposed to clear up some tomorrow, so I am going to keep my fingers crossed and try to come up with an alternative in case that doesn’t work out.  Also supposed to meet Andrew tomorrow night for his male voice work and one scene though I might try to see how long I can keep him for and maybe make up some new things for him since Jackie is getting agitated quickly by my requests.

Dec. 9

As can be expected, there was absolutely no light again today, so I really couldn’t wait with my fingers crossed for tomorrow as I am quickly approaching my deadline.  It is dank and drizzly this morning, with no sunrise that counts, so I still tried to use the woman in bed which really is just filler at this point, but as I need time I’m going to keep it until I have something to replace it with.  I also though of rain and melancholy and had Jackie stand at the window looking out not really thinking of a narrative, but it does work well when I cut it with the music so I’m really just keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn’t further implode, but I am meeting Andrew tonight for voice over.  I am also toying with the structure some to having a constant contrast and juxtaposition of the male and female elements.  I showed a very early rough cut with quite a few stand in shots to Jackie and all she can comment on is how fat she looks.  I am trying my best to minimalize body shots for her, both for her self-conscious and because I am afraid of changing the dynamic so much that the story becomes unrecognizable and I’m not sure that you can have an obese girl as the object to desire.

Things with Andrew went fairly well, as he is much better at voice acting and seems to be a much better person to throw ideas off of, though our shoot was cut short thanks to some bad Jamaican food.  When I finally stopped being sick and started to edit I quickly saw that the new footage is way better than the old, and that my original template is going to be all but abandoned.  I can already see the disparity between the two that this is not a likely couple and just their juxtaposition does not sell, but there is nothing that can be done about that.  It is like getting actors that have no natural chemistry.  You know this is going to be bad, but you grit your teeth and try to force the circle through the square.

The male clips are no longer a contrast of strength to the wailing female disposition as much as yet another dose of melancholy.  The one thing the piece has going for it is the music really does carry a lot of the mood and at least there is a fair amount of movement.

Interesting story.  I had originally planned to keep the first and second half separate, with only the first half really having voice work, but through the course of editing on iMovie, which has a really long and arduous sound editing process, one of the sound bites found its way attached to the more shocking clips from the trailer and I think it fits.

Self Analysis

As I am waiting for the finalization of the project for me to load it onto youtube, I have a lot of thoughts about the work I have done, not only on this project, but on the overview of the class.  This is not my best work, not by a long shot, as it really did mostly consist of me begging for help from a lot of my busy friends, and finally settling on people.  I really can’t use this for what I wanted to, and will most likely be re shooting much of it over winter break when the cast is less busy.  I really can’t complain because that is part of the risk when you can’t afford to pay your talent; that they will have to give preference to what is paying the bills.  I think it stands as a good template for what I’m going to do.  I’m really happy with how music turned out, much like I thought that it would, though I had to re-edit the song, as it actually jumps to different parts of the same song in three places..  Not 100% happy with the levels (which is not to say I didn’t toy with them till I was almost insane), but I’m hardly a sound mixer, so for what it is I’m satisfied, because I think it plays fine.  Most of my issues are with getting some of the shots that I wanted, which thanks to weather I was unable to get, and performances, both of which I will have to go back for, but I think it gets it’s message across.  I think it startles enough.  I still am wondering if I should have cut the audio in the second half to use the insect eating scene and Andrew thought the perfect counter to the foot being the male horror would be the 50’s housewife.  Men fear the sexualization of women and women fear their domestication.  Still, if I got all that I had wanted, I wouldn’t have got a couple of the shots that I did get if I wasn’t desperately looking for something to fill time, and I really preferred the on the fly over the planned stuff I just don’t like using clips that are so obviously not my own.   I don’t think I would put it in my highlight reel, but I would definitely show it to people I work with as a reference.

With that being said, I can’t help but feel that this class was an abortion of my efforts and the own classes potential.  I was excited to finally get to a class that had something to do with my major.  Something that would actually push me artistically, and what I got was a bunch of hippie nonsense.  The entire class was pretty much controlled by our connection with Iziwane, and furthermore, all we really spent our class time talking about was the environment and leftist politics.  I get that there are a great many people who subscribe to those beliefs, and I get this is college.  If I were in a political science class, I would be opening myself up to such onslaughts of opinions, but to bet preached at instead of actually get vital instruction in what I consider feedback while I hear from friends in sister classes referring to how much fun it was to make genre pieces or how to further storyline.  This wasn’t in the course curriculum, neither was this class marked as different, and as a requirement that had filled up prior to the start of class, making it impossible to switch without waiting a semester, delaying my graduation.  I know that I am not the only person who felt this way as literally every group I was placed in was full of objecting parties that were merely trying to get a decent grade, evident on the plethora that showed such an interest in the environment, or at least as she defines it.  There was no question as to what the “right” answers were in what this organization was looking for, the only problem the organization was wrong.

My intolerance at the far left can be summarized in their inability to do anything.  It is the smug acceptance of all things that lack function as a means to stand out and be different.  The ability to find individuality through mass marketed cultural norms.  I pointed out earlier that the garbage people were misquoting popular misunderstandings of history, and in the same vein this class is all about a call to educate people to do things that won’t matter so they can feel better about themselves. The real solution is for lots of people to die.  That is pretty much off the table so all the subsequent discussion is basically complaining.

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I could go more into my politics but I’m by no means a hypocrite, but I can say that I lost sleep over the roulette of the plethora of emails in the most archaic information dispersion system I have ever seen anywhere, where half are really important relevant information,  half are to really cool hippie stuff I would never go to that feel like someone is stalking my mailbox with spam from a clingy ex.  From in that some of the emails are to override blackboard, some are to give extra, some are reminders, some should be ignored, yet try to find the email you need in the landfill of what used to be an organized mailbox.  The inefficiency and pettiness are really what get to me.  Euphemisms like unique and special encircle me, when I know I am the only vocal protest, because at the heart of this, I wanted to get something out of this course.  Lastly I would like to enter my last email I received today.  I receive two emails full of people who I am supposed to comment on, followed by a third nullifying the “previous” email.  The “below” are the valid addresses which is left blank.  I question what the intent of this was to the reply,

“YOUR Final Project is due at 5PM with all corresponding links and documents to be posted on your blog and emailed to me in one email, as previously instructed.

From 5:30PM-8PM, as I’ve stated several times in class (and the previous instructions), is your regularly scheduled Final. During this time you are expected to review your peer’s work. Here are your assigned Final Project’s to review:”

I don’t think I have to spell out ” as previously instructed” or “I’ve stated several times in class” when getting contradictory information and simply asking for a correction.  Note the actual people I’m supposed to critique are not listed in her response.  It is no wonder that there was no class critique given for this class.

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