Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adventures in Filmmaking: I Think I've Gotten the Hang of This

Every time I want to give up on my production class, I manage to surprise myself. After fretting for weeks about what I was going to do with my second film project, I finally came up with an idea. The second project had to be an installation, something that was simple, but involved more than one monitor or screen. My professor stressed simplicity and the importance of the image and sound and how it all looked as one piece.
As always, I over thought it. I really wanted to make a "chose your own adventure" type film with the screens starting off in one place and then ending up in different directions, but I could not figure out how to begin or what I would film. Then I thought of another idea: using the films as two different directions, I could make a film about choices and following different paths. On the weekend I shot footage in my University's Nature Preserve, an area of protected land where students can go to hike, run, or just hang out. I positioned my camera at every trail junction and filmed the world of choice as seen in nature. For the first time, I was shooting with a purpose, not just pointing my camera and hoping for something lucky like last time.
As I was filming the paths in the woods, I kept thinking about the nature of choice itself. It is all around us. Everyday, everything we do comes down to making choices. I wanted to incorporate that into my film as well and being a person so in tune with popular culture I decided to represent choices not only through nature, but through media as well. The more I thought about my project, the more I wanted to add. If I had more time I could have kept going; the more I thought, the more ideas I got.
The installation aspect of the film was something I also had to consider. I had to think about what was occurring on multiple screens and how to make sure the right image appeared on the right screen. It required a lot of close time spent with my friend Final Cut Pro. We've actually been getting along much better lately and developing what I would like to call a working relationship. I hope to one day actually be able to call it a friend.
Also, the actual projection aspect was difficult. I wanted to have three different screens of the same sizes and set them up with one on the left, one on the right, and one in the middle. I wanted to force the viewer to turn their head and make a conscious choice over which screen to watch. However, with the equipment that my university's cinema department has this was difficult. I could not find three televisions of the same size so I had to settle for one flat screen and two TVs probably from the 80's with really fuzzy pictures. Then I had to connect them all to power, make sure they all had sound, and connect them each to the correct DVD player all while trying to sort out where everything was and what we actually had in the classroom closet. Needless to say it took me almost 50 minutes to set the instillation up. Then, when I finally went to show it to the class, the sound was very faint.
My professor was complaining that he could not hear it and was so busy worrying about the sound that he did not really get a chance to fully enjoy it so I did not get too much feedback this time. However, the first edit (the one below) got great feedback from the entire class. My teacher really liked the opening, as do I and found the playfulness, even if snobby film guy didn't. They all seemed really impressed and actually got the concept which was nice for once. The only critique they had is to remove the shots of the people in the paths scenes and to make the focus on nature so there is a contrast between my shots and the found footage. I personally liked having the people in the shots, but in my final edit I ended up taking them out because it was the only major criticism I received.
This is one of the first times in a cinema class that I have actually enjoyed myself and felt that my project was one of the better ones. I like being proud of my work and as much as I joke around about it, I really am getting the hang of Final Cut Pro. I feel like I am gaining experience and confidence in myself and my new abilities. It makes me believe that one day, it might be possible for me to get some sort of job in cinema. Maybe. One day.

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