Wait ‘Til Next Year

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The year is over, and now it’s time to reflect. I’ve met interesting people and leaned from inspiring faculty. I’ve seen Chicago through the eye of a filmmaker and am looking forward to what the next few years at Columbia have in store for me.

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Narrative film begins with a script. I am very confident in my writing ability. I have solid credentials, but by having a television background, I find myself yearning for dialogue heavy scenes. Stylistically I strive for pieces that move at a quick pace and have a lyrical rhythm between the characters. Great examples of fluid movements with cuts are found in the movie Melancholia. While this is great for the writer in me, it is a challenge for the director in me. I believe I can learn more about filmic form and structure. Therefore I want to improve my film sensibilities.

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My final thoughts revolve around “Casual Encounters.” This was the second film I directed at Columbia and the second film I directed period. Therefore I saw marked improvement from my last production but still see lots of room for improvement. The difficult thing to accept is that there are things you can control and things you cannot control. Improve on what you can control and hope for the best. Even if you plan for the worst, you still have no idea how bad or frustrating the shoot can be.

I chose to have regular pre-production rehearsals to get the actors to feel comfortable with each other, because of the odd sexual nature of the script. I have been exposed to mixed opinions about the necessity of rehearsal. However I believe this project needed the actors to grow comfortable with each other. I tried to give them things to do beyond the scene to keep the characters motivated.

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We got as many shots as we could, and then we broke. At that point, my DP informed me he did not feel the equipment would be safe locked in the room unless someone was there. I decided his concern was reasonable and decided to stay the night. And did I mention it was a sleazy motel? It pretty much sucked, but I persevered.

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Was it an easy shoot? No. Did I make mistakes? Sure. Did I do a good job? Yes.  There were lots of great moments and some frustrating moments. However, I’ve found the frustrating moments are where the learning comes. Here are just a few things I plan to apply to my next shoot:

  1. Use kickstarter, indiegogo, and other fundraising websites. It always helps to have a revenue stream.
  2. Aim for ten to twelve shots a day.
  3. Storyboards are great, but overheads are more helpful in the field.
  4. Trust my gut.
  5. Remember the three C’s (Coverage, Composition, and Close-ups)
  6. Insist on having all needed equipment.
  7. If you want the best project, get the best people.

I’m already thinking of my next film. I cannot wait until Fall 2012. And don’t worry– you’ll hear from me this summer. Until then…Ciao.