Thursday, December 13, 2007

"Making it" as a filmmaker

I realize that this will probably sound all noble and perhaps even a bit trite who knows, but while it would be cool to "make it" as a filmmaker, I'm really sort of indifferent as to whether or not I do. If I end up getting the chance to make films for a million each or more great, but if I get stuck making my little hundred dollar films that's fine too. I do it because I love the process, I do it because it provides an outlet for my creative energy and I do it regardless of the profit potential.

However, there are tasks in the process which, if I never had to do them again would be fine with me. The truly big pain in the ass for the moment is logging footage.

Directors on documentary films with real budgets will have production assistants logging every minute of film or tape shot. The logs will typically indicate a timecode, and some comment on what was said, etc. A couple of projects that I was asked to edit had the logging done for me and I have to say that it downgrades a "fucking horribly arduous task" to the level of "arduous task".

For my Silver Eagle documentary, I currently have about 20 hours of footage that really needs to be logged. After watching/logging just one hour of it last night, I'm ready to just hire some kid to do it. Yeah, there's a lot of great stuff to watch and I love the subject, etc. but it can be a bit mind numbing. In addition to this, at the pace I'm going, I won't be done with the logging for another month.

Another troublesome (at times grueling) task is editing. I have to say that I'm sort of torn about editing though. On the one hand, I feel like I'm starting to get fairly decent at it, and I think there's a part of me that likes doing it because I have control over the pacing, flow, shot selection, etc. On the other hand, I dread having to do it because, I can't do it until the vision for how I want the project to flow hits me. Scripted stuff is easier, because you can pull the screenplay out and follow that. I plan to try with the Eagle documentary to have some form of an outline to follow for the content, but there's still a visual style and flow that you want come up with that to me is independent from the story elements that you want to convey, and that's where the art of it comes in.

It must sound like I'm whining, but I'm not really... Well, on second thought maybe I am whining a bit, but as much as I hate these tasks at times, I can love them more than I hate them. I say this because there are always moments either when you're logging or editing where you run across a little gem that you forgot that you'd shot, you find just the perfect sound bite, or you work out a sequence that fits perfectly and everything falls into place. So as much of a pain in the ass as these tasks can be, it's really great as a filmmaker and director being forced to do them all at this stage because it gives you a great insight and appreciation for ALL aspects of the filmmaking process.

Varsity Inc.

My friend Gregg Therieau, one of the camera operators on my "Star Coaches" reality show concept, recently completed shooting on the first season of a new ESPN show called "Varsity Inc."

I managed to find a short promo for the show on Myspace (embedded below) but it doesn't really do it justice. I'm not much of a sports nut, but the pacing of the show and the quality of the footage that Gregg (director of photography) and the other shooter got was really amazing. I find the show even more remarkable considering that the entire thing was covered with just two cameras (stock Panasonic HVX 200's).

Varsity Inc. Espn Promo

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

FOX Update

Last month I posted about working out a deal to meet with a FOX executive in return for cutting them a break on something that they had rented from me for use in one of their films.

It's been just about a month now since I followed the advice of the exec's assistant and emailed the exec directly. Still no luck. I have not heard a word. On a positive note, I did hear from the producer who agreed to the meeting deal, and he said that he would follow up on it for me. It will be interesting to see if this ever goes anywhere.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

LOD Breakdown

So for once James isn't waiting on me. :) He's close to having the initial production breakdown for LOD completed, which is great.

In the mean time, I've been watching a bunch of films, heist movies and thrillers mostly just looking for some inspiration for LOD. I keep going back over the script, massaging it in various places. We do have one piece of connective tissue that's missing. The problem is that I've been trying to incorporate it in a really cool and subtle way. It's one of those small details really, but it has the potential to be that really sweet ah ha moment in the film where all the pieces fall in place for everyone. Apart from that, I'm mostly pleased with the latest draft of the script. However, I do think that James and I need a few nights where we just hammer the thing, finding all its faults and reworking dialog to give it that next level of refinement and memorable if not quotable lines...

For now, I'm back to working on my documentary, "The Silver Eagle Story". In going over the footage again last night, I was really surprised and pleased not only with the quality of the stuff that I shot (most of which I'll attribute to the wonderful DVX 100B camera that was used), but with the content. However, I'm sure there are dozens of holes yet to be filled, so the next task is logging what I've got and trying to sort out what story I'm trying to tell and what footage I'll need to finish it. I'm really itching to get something into the festival circuit this season, and I think this film may have some potential for that.

The following clip is a short that I cut from my footage for the folks at Silver Eagle back in June. The idea was for them to use it as a way to introduce potential investors to the story. There are some great sequences in this bit that I will be using in the finished film, though the progression and style that's used will likely change somewhat. As an introduction to the story and the new players, I think it works even though it uses more "talking head" footage than I'd like to see in the finished full length film.