Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back to the movies

It's been some time since I've posted. I haven't had a lot to talk about. I seem to be in a funk lately. It happens and eventually I'll break out of it.

I thought I'd go back to an old stand-by topic today - movies. We'll start with recent purchases and then move on to script-writing.

This week I picked up two copies of Quantum of Solace and one of Punisher: War Zone. Yes, I liked them both when I saw them in the theatre.

The two copies of QoS are for different media. The first that I purchased was via iTunes. I picked this up for three reasons. The first is to support this type of digital media. The more people spend on movie downloads, the quicker that technology will be more readily available. Let's face it, outside of HD/Blue Ray, video watching technology for the masses is not moving. It's starting to pick up, though. Netflix with it's download technology and more websites like Hulu coming about will push this closer to the forefront.

The second reason is that I wanted a copy with the extras on it as a dvd. That's my main source of movie watching. I don't care for going to the movie theatre, I haven't for years. I don't find the dollar to fun value all that high up there.

The third reason is that I wanted the iTunes copy for my movie making self. I find it much easier to watch movies for specific details on the smaller screen size of both my laptop and my iPod. Yes, my iPod! Camera angles and moves are easier to watch. Actions outside of the 4:3 ratio are easier to catch. Set-ups for Violence (stage combat) or stunts can be seen. I've also seen some interesting special effects when waching the outside portion of 16:9 ratio movies. All of this and more gives me information on how other people work their magic.

Punisher: War Zone worked for me. I'm interested to see it on the small screen to see how it comes across. Don't bother flaming me for liking this ultra-violent, over the top, movie. I like it and that's that. (It has the Brad Street Hotel for crying out loud!)

I also picked up the Punisher: War Zone soundtrack. It works for me, but I'm sure it won't be a go-to album for anything, besides maybe writing background music.

I've been asked by a friend to help with two school projects. One of them will simply have me overacting and hamming it up for the camera. I haven't seen the script, but I know the topic at hand and that we'll be shooting most of it in my living room.

The other project is much more intersting to me and has me excited. He wants to do a 2-3 minute short peice of people fighting with lightsabres. His project is to add the special effects to the video and then explain how the special effects work (or something like that). I've signed on to write, choreograph, and direct this no budget thriller.

I've put together 2 scripts thus far. He hasn't seen them and has final right as producer (and director of photographer and editor and whatever else he needs to do to pass the class) to toss them out the window. I wrote the first script after he and I spoke over the phone about what he was looking for in the short short film. After I had that banged out and rewritten, I headed out to one of the places I'm thinking of using for the film.

I walked through some of the blocking I would need to use to film the script. In doing so, I discovered several challenges with the location. There are many modern day items in the area that could cause problems such as signs, posts, street lights, and buildings off in the distance that may be seen depending on how much more plant growth we get in the next week or so.

In doing this, the script began to rewrite itself in my mind. Not only does the landscape lend itself to this new script direction, I like the new script direction. The first script has two people meeting, a transfer of the MacGuffin, those two people departing, the bad guy shows up and kills the person who originally had the MacGuffin, later the receiver of the MacGuffin meets the bad guy, and then they fight.

The second script actually slims down the story and tightens it up a bit. The same idea is present. The two people meet, but this time, the good guy who fights the bad guy is the one that hands over the MacGuffin. When the second good guy leaves, we never see him again. The fight starts (script-wise) within 45 seconds (movie time) after that. This version also leaves us with the open ending bit about the second good guy getting away with the MacGuffin.

After the producer makes his changes, I'll sit down and storyboard the script up until the fight. I have a 50 page book bound and waiting for the storyboarding process. I shouldn't need that many! I've already storyboarded most of these scenes in my head. The last time I storyboarded a movie must have been nearly 25 or 26 years ago.

I'm waiting on choreographing the fight sequence. I need to know which script we'll be using and where we will be filming. The producer is looking into a couple of locations and I have a backup location idea. My storyboarding technique for fights is a bit different. I'm horrible at art work, so it turns into StickFight theatre. It's actually kind of comical to look at, but it's better than nothing.

Writing for this project has me stoked. It's been some time since I put anything real down on paper. While this is all of two or three pages of manuscript, I still had to think about what the actors would be saying and doing physically during the scenes. I really like the process of only putting down words and some direction notes. I am not a big fan of reading screenplays. I do it, but it's not on the top of my list of "Fun Things to do in South Bend When You're Bored or Dead." I may try more of this style of writing in the near future!

I already have three people lined up to do the acting and two alternates. If anyone out there is interested in being another alternate, let me know. We'll be shooting April 4th or 5th, most likely morning and early afternoon. I'm hoping the shoot will take less than 6 hours. No pay is involved and this is not an union shoot.

2 comments:

edige23 said...

Interesting point about watching movies on the smaller screen. I hadn't thought about that. I've certainly been watching more on my computer than on the regular TV.

I read a related observation by Dick Giordanio (sp?) an veteran editor/writer from DC. He said he ends up watching most movies and TV with the sound off-- just to watch and see how the director manages the balance of visual images and storytelling.

the D said...

I've heard of people doing that. I don't know that there's a single film I could sit through like that. I can think of several shorts or scenes of feature length, though.

There have been quite a few movies that I've wanted to watch without the music to test the actual voice sounds and acting. I'm such a music person that my opinion will sometimes be swayed by the music.