Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adventures in Filmmaking: Direct Films & Projecting

Like this.
 I have always known that I want to have a library when I have a house of my own. I can picture it in my mind with from its worn leather chairs, to the wide windows showing a picturesque view of the garden outside, to the roaring fireplace. Today however, was the first day I imagined that library having a wide, blank white wall where I could project old movies on a projector.
We learned how to use a projector in my film class today and even though it was only for a few minutes I was hooked. That whirring sound, watching the film spin through the machine and onto the reel, the flickering of the image as it sputtered onto the screen all left their marks on me. For once, something about cinema that I can understand and do; there are steps, I follow them, and bam! my movie shows up on the screen. Pretty cool.
Another thing we did in class was make direct films. A direct film is when you do something directing to the film stock rather than recording anything on it. We each received a piece of clear and a piece of black film. On the clear film we had to draw images, pretty much anything we wanted. I drew lots of random lines and then attempted a sequence of pac-man eating some dots and then being killed by a ghost. For the black films we had to scratch the surface of the emulsion with a razor blade and then wet the film to change its color ala Stan Brakhage's Black Ice. We haven't gotten  a chance to watch our creations, but I am interested to see how they will come out.
I am just enjoying these small workshop type activities that bring me closer to feeling that I am actually learning something about cinema. Still waiting on my film, it comes back Monday. I'm more than slightly nervous.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Adventures in Filmmaking: Using the Camera

Why yes, that is my Fight Club poster to my right
 So this weekend my adventures in filmmaking continued with my first official cinema project and use of a super 8 camera. I have to say, it was much more difficult than it appears in the film. I think I always took for granted using a camera. I never really thought about all the work that goes into getting the perfect shot. Already taking this class is giving me a new found appreciation for cinema. I always loved cinema and respect it as an art form, but partaking firsthand makes me realize just how hard it really is. I just never really thought of all the little things it takes to make a movie. It makes me like my favorite films that much more.
Making a film is hard. And mine didn't even have a plot. The assignment was to shoot scenes in a certain order and with specific requirements. I am being grading for my understanding and execution of  exposure, composition, and focus. I honestly hope I understand all those things. I admit I struggled with the assignment because I haven't really learned how to do any of those things yet.
Another part of the assignment I struggled with was the creative process. With no need to create a narrative or any cohesive imagery I found myself pointing my camera abjectly at things. I feel like I could have at least tried to make it a little interesting. I feel like I lack vision. And I know this is only my first time using a camera, but I just don't have any ideas. Even in taking pictures I am not the best photographer; I point the camera and shoot. I have never been creative in a hands on sense. Give me a piece of paper and I'll write a story. Give me a glue gun and some paper and I'm helplessly lost. Some people are creative like that. I'm not one of them.
It is also difficult to create the image that you want while living on a college campus. I knew what I wanted to shoot, but for the most part actually making that happen was rather difficult. I got many strange looks as I was shoot people leaving class this morning. It made me wonder if the greats like Spielberg began this way, practically hiding out in the bushes hoping to get a good shot.
Another problem I think I have in all of this is that I worry about what other people think of me. I worry that people will think I am strange walking around campus with a camera. I am afraid that my project with be the worst. I am trying very hard to change all this, to develop some confidence in myself and my new abilities. Who cares if people think I'm weird carrying around a camera, I don't actually know any of them. My final result may not be the best, but I'm doing my best and that is all I can ask for. And who knows, maybe I'm not as bad as I think I am.
So now my film gets sent off to New York City for processing and I get it back in a week. As Alexandre Dumas says in The Count of Monte Cristo, "all human wisdom is summed up in two words: wait and hope." So now I wait and hope that my film came out and that I don't get back an entire roll of under or over exposed film. That would be the worst.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Think You Should Know Thursday

This Thursday the artist who I think you should know is Andrew Bird an American singer/song writer with an amazing voice and a penchant for whistling. Even more exciting, he is coming to perform at my university so needless to say I will be going.
I like Andrew Bird for his mellow sound (that seems to be a theme with a lot of the music I like) and quirky lyrics. He's almost like Bon Iver in that he chooses words for how they sound lyrically, rather than the sense they make.
"Fake Palindromes"  is an example of that. Lyrically it doesn't make the most sense, but it sounds beautiful with the rising instrumentation in the beginning and great use of percussion.
"And she's got red lipstick and a bright pair of shoes
And she's got knee high socks, what to cover a bruise
She's got an old death kit she's been meaning to use
She's got blood in her eyes, in her eyes for you
She's got blood in her eyes for you"
"Nervous Tick Motion of the Head to the Left" I like because of Andrew's characteristic use of whistling and because every time you hear it you can't help but dance by moving your head a small degree to the left.
"Barely alive we cover the blisters in flannel
Though the words we speak are banal
Now one of them's a lie
Now one of them's a lie
You're what happens when two substances collide
And by all accounts you really should have died"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Think You Should Know Thursday

This Thursdays, since it has been quite rainy, the artist I think you should know is The Smiths. The Smiths are perfect to listen to in the rain or whenever one is feeling quite depressed because of their mopey sound. They were the Death Cab for Cutie of the 1980's.
The Smiths are probably my second favorite English band behind only those lovable lads from Liverpool. Their lyrics are witty and the lead singer Morrissey has a style that is completely his own.
Oh and I liked this band way before they were featured in 500 Days of Summer. I have to thank my dad for that one. But who wouldn't fall in love with Zooey singing "There is a Light that Never Goes Out"?
 "This Charming Man" by the Smiths I love not only for the playful lyrics but also because of the video itself. They don't make them like this any more.

 "I would go out tonight
But I haven't got a stitch to wear
This man said, 'its gruesome that someone so handsome should care"

And perhaps my favorite The Smiths song "Ask." The lyrics speak to me on such a personal level. It was one of the first songs I've ever hear that I thought "wow someone actually gets me."

"Shyness is nice and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life
You'd like to"
"So, if there's something you'd like to try
If there's something you'd like to try
Ask me I wont say no, how could I?"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adventures in Filmmaking

I'm taking a bite out of filmmaking.
This semester I am taking my first video and film production class, which I am both terrified for and excited about. Just by walking into the class I could tell that it was going to be a different experience than what I am used to experiencing. Most people at my University take cinema classes as a way to get an easy "A" to fill their art requirement. With video and film production you have to take two prerequisites so you know that the people in this class are serious about cinema. Which is nice, but at the same time really intimidating.
I have hardly ever used a video camera except to film my sister's plays at school. Many other students in my film class play Super 8 like it's already their job. They all imagine themselves to be the next Spielberg or Tarantino or Goddard. I have no such ambitions. I do not want to be a director; I want to work on a film set or at a production studio. Honestly, my real dream job would be having a job like Ebert and Roper, hosting a t.v. show and writing about films.
However, I am ready for the challenge of this class and to see what it takes to make a film. Already reading my textbook (seen in the picture above) has taught me so many new things and that was just reading the first chapter on the parts of the camera (who knew the ordeal that went into just loading and unloading film into a camera?) But, I love learning new things so it will be fun.
And who knows, maybe I will love it and decide by the time the semester is over that I want to be the next Kathryn Bigelow...