Script is Almost Finished

I’m about 90% finished with the script for my directing class. I have to admit, having a deadline really does help. Also the fact that a bunch of people that I’ve never met are going to be reading it keeps me motivated to keep the quality up. Even with the deadline and quality of writing, I think the content will probably make a bunch of people start thinking things like, “What the hell is wrong with this guy? He should probably be locked up somewhere. Somewhere with really good medications.”

Besides all that I really do like the script, and a second draft will work out my problems with it.


Taking a Film Class

Wichita CityArtsA couple months ago I found out that my city’s art center offers a few filmmaking classes. This was a complete surprise to me because I had searched several times for classes anywhere in the area and had come up with nothing. I suppose it just took a magical combination of search terms.

Anyways, I signed up for two different classes –one on directing short films and one about lighting. The lighting class doesn’t start until the middle of this month, but the directing class actually started this last Saturday.

I had no idea what to expect when I went to the first class because I am one of only two students enrolled in the class. When I did arrive I was informed that the other student would not be attending because he was sick. So I basically got to check out the equipment that the “Digital Arts Studio” had for most of the class period. I have to admit, I was very impressed with their lighting equipment (it’s an Arri four light kit).

Now obviously with the low enrolment count on this class I was tempted to just drop the class since my main reason for enrolling was to get to meet other filmmakers. So what made me decide to stay enrolled? The instructor told me that I would be able to sign out any of the studio equipment, without charge, to make my short film. This means that I will finally be able to shoot a film with proper lighting!

So what am I shooting? Well I don’t want to give too much away (mostly because I haven’t finished the script yet), but it’s a mystery/suspense short about 10 minutes long. I have given it the title Photographs, and I will be posting updates throughout the production.

Starting on my backlog

Since finishing my last project I decided to go into my backlog and work on a short that I actually filmed about a year ago. The short is pretty much just an visual effects test, but I’ve learned so much working on it that it deserves to get finished. I am almost done with the roto work, then I move on into the realm of 3D modeling, tracking, and compositing! This is entirely new ground for me so I’m really excited about it!

Thanks for reading,

Lessons Learned

While creating my recent short film A Day in the Park, I learned a few things (meaning I made several mistakes). I decided to share some of the biggest mistakes (despite the fact that they betray my status as an FNG) so that you can be a little ahead of the curve if you haven’t run into these problems yet.

Make a Storyboard

I had honestly planned on storyboarding the entire film this time around, shot-for-shot. In the end I decided that since I had all of the shots planned out in my head it would be okay, but I missed out on a very important aspect of the storyboard. I didn’t really need the storyboard so much for planning, what I really needed it for was communication. For some reason I always assume that when I say how I want to shoot something, everyone automatically just shares my vision. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. It seems that if I describe something to five different people, there will be six different versions (including my own) of that same idea that everyone is equally convinced is what the other people are thinking of.

Find More Actors

First of all I realize that finding good actors can be difficult –nigh impossible. Finding good actors isn’t really what I’m talking about, what I’m talking about is just having enough bodies that I don’t have to be doing double-duty  behind and in front of the camera. I know I’m probably one of the worst actors in the world and since no-one on set will critique my work, I’m left with judging my performance on a 3-inch LCD. After seeing the transformation that my acting made from the camera’s LCD to my computer monitor, I’m convinced that anyone can act well enough for a screen of that size.

Get Audio References

This is another one that I had planned on doing, I even talked about it on-set with my audio guy but it slipped my mind before we got around to doing it.

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, whenever you record dialogue on-set that you plan on using later, it’s a good idea to record a couple minutes of just silence. This silence can be used when you edit the dialogue together in post to cover up all of the true silence that is created between lines.

Give Good Direction

Of all the things on my list this is probably the one that I need to work on the most. I just get caught up with all the technical details of the production that I don’t pay enough attention to the actual performances. Also, it’s a challenge for me to get my friends to act in a film, then tell them –however politely– that they aren’t acting right.

Commit to Edit

Even though I edited the entire film –and thought I was satisfied with it– before I even thought of opening After Effects, I ended up fiddling around with the timing of everything while I was still compositing. Because of this I actually ended up doing composites that were never used. Considering that some of the composites could have really used a lot more work (I set a deadline for myself so that I wouldn’t be working on this project forever), I should have stuck with my original edit and improved the comps that were a little on the how-can-anyone-upload-that-crap end of the quality scale.