Doctor with the Red Houseware was filmed over the course of 5 days. I intend to summarize each of the challenges and obstacles throughout the filmmaking process through a series of videos, and this video summarizes day 1.
Category Archives: short film
Roy Had a Heart Attack
My friend visited from oregon this week and brought along with him an A7iii. After a few drinks, I talked him into making this short film. Hope you enjoy it.
Film Journal 1 – Ways to fund your short film
The cringe is real. But I finished it so blah here it is.
Filming A Shitty Short then Exercising
I filmed the biggest crapfest ever put together on Sunday. Absent of rest and well beyond sleep deprivation, I decided to push onward and record the material I would need for a new youtube video. This was a mistake.
I had 5 different drafts of the same 1 page script. Each successive draft incorporated different devices intended to enhance the story. The idea was simple – a guy busts into an apartment to rob the place, but finds the homeowner is seated, waiting for him, and armed with a gun. Somewhere during the shit-storming process it turned into “homeowner is a bombmaker for James Bond level spies.” And then the person breaking into the home developed a new motivation – to inform the bombmaker that the FBI was on the way to raid the apartment. The new twist became the homeowner was actually an informant, and the invader who had been purchasing his weapons was going to be arrested. And to put the icing on the shit, the homeowner ends the scene by tossing an orange at the invader. Of course, it explodes.
Well I’m sorry to say the absence of common logic was not enough to dissuade me from filming this turd nugget. I brought out my gear, printed the 5 separate drafts, and set to work. But I noticed an immediate issue – I had 2 characters to play and didn’t have the lines memorized. So I recorded them then played them with a recorder in the background. I would say the lines after hearing them. Easy enough, right? There was a time when I was proud of myself for having this revelation.
Costume time – what would a CIA type home invader where? Well a white undershirt and a short sleeve button down sounded good. What’s that? I only own one short sleeve button down that was a never-used costume for a much thinner actor? No problem. As long as I sucked in my gut I could hardly tell the shirt was 3 sizes too small. I just left the top part unbuttoned.
So I begin filming. Right away I figured out the recorded lines were said too close together. So I left the camera rolling and the audio recording as I edited the lines further apart. Later on, I would discover, I didn’t have takes recorded because the camera had overheated and shut down.
I performed all my lines as Joe, then switched to Burrough. It wasn’t until this point that I realized the true idiocy of failing to memorize the lines – I had no idea what context or emotion applied to my statements. I started repeating the same lines with random emphasis and emotions. Fix it in post, you know?
So I finally upload all the data to my computer to begin editing. Merging the audio and video becomes a major chore because I filmed without a clapper. I have one video clip that, for whatever reason, I have no audio for. And I have an audio clip that I have no video for. And I have another clip that the white noise in the audio is so pronounced it’s unusable. Oh, and about the character Joe –
I was having trouble with his longer lines so I put the script in front of me. “Not a problem, he’s wearing sunglasses”. Bull-shit. A 2nd grader could see my eyes dropping to read each sentence behind my not-so-polarized lenses. And the T-shirt? Dear God. I went on my first run yesterday in 3 months, just to give you an idea of how awful it was. Think Chris Farley in David Spade’s suit.
I was still determined to finish and post it up until I realized the 6 takes I thought I had were really only 3. I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself but I’m also not going to post something when that is all this video will do.
I may rewrite the story for something that makes sense, do 3 drafts instead of 5, and try again tomorrow in man sized clothes. I am slightly defeated but also relieved to have saved myself from putting too much time into the editing room prior to cutting the chord. As a side note, I do have a rock-headed belief in “finish your shit.” That means to not give up on something just because it is bad, and put it out for others to judge regardless. But I also believe everything we do serves a purpose. The final reason I decided not to move forward with this video is that it makes me appear unprofessional, childish, and cringey. The videos are made to grow my following, not dwindle it.
Anyways, hope you all are having a great day. There’s a lot of good things in the works for me right now but this was a definite setback. Hopefully you had a nice laugh at my expense because I’m over here looking at salad recipes. Have a wonderful day.
Episode 4 is Complete!!
Without going into too much detail, I’ve completed Episode 4 along with the trailer. To say I’m relieved is an understatement. I spent much of last week learning how to create a 5.1 surround sound audio mix. I’m still very much in the dark, but I did realize I had configured my dialogue to play out of the front left and right speakers (wrong!). In film and television, dialogue plays out of the front center speaker, music is mixed in the left/right speakers front and rear, and sound effects are (mostly) in the rear speakers. There is also the subwoofer which can deal with explosions or perhaps a submix.
Believe it or not, becoming a sound engineer in 5 days was harder than I first thought (I gave up on 5.1). But I was able to finally figure out how to set my tracks to stereo and deliver a more full dialogue sound without blowing out the speakers.
Enough with the gibberish – I’m done editing! This means that I can go outside for a jog and expose my skin to sunlight again. But it also means I’m ready to enter the next step – marketing, contest, and self-promotion. I know a lot of people on wordpress are writers who are currently working on a novel of some sort. Before I got into film I was doing the same.
In the modern age it is highly advised to be marketing while you are still creating your project. Honestly I feel this sentiment is laughable. There is so much work involved in the creation of anything, and that work is always introverted. I am convinced the human brain does not work fluidly among all quadrants, but that one area of focus takes precedence over another. The reason that matters is because creation of any piece of artwork takes an EXTREMELY introverted brain. The type that is uncomfortable with the moral and spiritual implications of braggadocio style marketing.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that controversy, pie-in-the-sky claims, and a unbreakable ego are tools that will help you promote yourself/your work. It’s that “confidence” we always hear is so important for job interviews, first dates, and success in life in general. The great irony of “confidence” is it always feels that when you approach your work with any semblance of arrogance (i.e., the viewer will enjoy my material because I am great therefore my work is great) is that quickest way to compose a steaming pile of shit.
It’s taken a lot of words to get to my point, but here it is – When you are creating art, you must remain introspective and humble to convey the truth of emotion you seek to bring to life. When you are promoting your artwork, you must stay true to the realities of the world – that people won’t look at your work unless you give them a reason to (that ideally fulfills a curiosity, longing, or necessity you have attached to your product). It takes two different brains and personalities to accomplish these very diverse tasks.
Anyways, I will be spending my morning editing the subtitles of my video in order to submit it to amazon on demand. I am also hoping to send it out to a few contests later today. Along with that I’ll continue to promote the trailer.
You can find the trailer down below. If you take the time to view it and leave a like/comment, I will do 5 jumping jacks. Thank you and I wish you a wonderful day.
Approaching Completion – 11-7-20
I’m going to keep this short and sweet. I am not far away from having episode 4 completed. I’ve put together the first working draft of the entire film, start to finish. I’ve gone through the audio and brought the levels up. The pictures are all color graded.
The only items I have yet to edit are:
2 scenes in which I need to adjust the pacing
Creating a blood spatter animation
That’s pretty much it. But I’m trying to go about completion the right way. I am confident that the episode I’ve created is my best work yet and can help propel me to the next level, whatever that is. I plan to send the film to a couple contests, I’m just not sure which ones yet.
I want to get 10,000 views on this video. I know it’s a long shot as episode 3 only amassed 300+. I know that on my own I can get it to 1000. But I’m aiming for 10,000. I had a small cast of 6 people help me with this. They have family members and family who will undoubtedly check the video out. That’s not something I’ve been able to say before.
Beyond the contests, my two other obstacles are
- Create a method for future supporters to assist in financing the next episode. If I can secure financing of any means, I will be able to create films more frequently. The greatest challenge I presently face is working a shit ton of over time to pay for things. On top of that, I haven’t been able to spend as much time with my girlfriend as I’d like to (I love you babe).
- Learning after effects. I can’t understate how excited I am that I’ve been able to create 2 shitty animations this week. The program felt like hieroglyphics for me 2 weeks ago.
- Marketing. I’m going to create a couple of trailers for the film. I’m going to blog regularly. I might even create a twitter account for the web series and invest in advertising.
Ok fan base of 2-10 people. That brings this post to an end. I hope you are all having a good week.
Taming the Beast – 10-21-20
We finally did it. We are done filming episode 4, and I couldn’t be happier. Of there are many shots I wish I had taken that I didn’t, and takes I wish I had done one more time. But the point is this 3 month journey is completed.
Yesterday was my third attempt to film at an exterior location that had destroyed me twice. It was my first time filming a true action sequence (complete with blowup mattresses, a fake knife, and a “squib” for an improvised small explosion). Of course it didn’t go perfectly, but the point is the mission is complete.
We had to film in sequential order due to the amount of dirt and debris we would be covered in after wrestling on the ground. So from 7-10 we did takes for the dialogue, capturing every angle we could. At that point the overheating issue came into play (as anticipated) and we had to work with what we had. I chose a few camera angles based more on shade than framing. I hate that I had to compromise here, but after my last failed attempt it felt like a necessary decision.
The wrestling was physically arduous – we were on rock solid dirt. Along with that, it sure feels funny to have another man straddle you, but what are you going to do?
I finally had enough trust in Brad to allow him to pan for several shots. Allowing him to pan rather than setting up the tripod and re-framing each shot sure saved a lot of time.
When it came to the final gun shot, it was 1 pm and to be honest I felt pretty lightheaded. Almost like my loss of concentration was caused by physical elements rather than normal lethargy. Nonetheless, I have everything I need to put together a decent 15 minute episode. Now it’s time to “fix it in post” and regularly update my developments.
I’ll keep you posted.
Final Scene – 10-19-20
This Tuesday marks the 5th week since I experienced the horror that was my first attempt at filming my short film’s climax. I will have my opportunity to redo the entire scene.
If you read my post regarding my first attempt, you will see I entered the shoot unprepared and ambitious. I spent the morning at Home Depot searching for a part they didn’t sell in order to get my “squib”, or air-propelled blood squirt contraption, to work. I spent the next 3 hours getting coverage on a scene that has little value and only features the character of Leo speaking to a computer screen.
We arrived at the hill in mid afternoon, and overheating issues plagued us from the beginning. The entire sequence was shot with my kit lens at 16-20mm, so I didn’t have a single close shot or even a true mid.
Framing was non-existent – each time we were able to turn the camera on, I told Brad to hit record and we began the scene. On top of all this, I hadn’t read my lines prior to filming. Despite this seeming like the greatest evidence of my unpreparedness, the reality is that making your own short film involves so much prep work with regards to equipment, set design, props, cash on hand, and shooting order, that this has been a consistent issue for me. I’m highly interested in directing a short film I do not act in so that I can be behind the camera for a change.
After 4 straight graveyard shift, I will finally have a day to myself to hammer down my prep work as good as possible. There will be a sequence where Michael fires a shot at me that misses, I charge him, overpower his knife, and stab him. After tending to his wound, my character will be shot. Choreographing this sequence with proper camera angles will be my primary focus today. I will also make sure my fake blood appears authentic, measure the appropriate amount for blood spatter, and test my device at least once. I have tested it with water and it works.
After filming tomorrow’s sequence, I believe it will take me 2 more weeks to have the entire episode fully edited. I have a lot of scenes already pieced together, but the still have to go clip by clip to adjust audio levels and apply color correction.
I’m thinking of recording a few of these editing sessions and posting them on a youtube channel. I’m a stanch believer in reserving the tmwproductions to finished stories only, but feel it could be a good way to grow viewership for the films release.
Part of me is considering releasing the film for a contest entry. My hesitancy is caused by these contests reluctance to allow entry of a project that is already available online. I don’t have the patience to send it out to places only to sit on my hands and wait to hear back. On top of that, my character is an asshole. Especially in the film’s opening. I feel he will turn off a lot of viewers and support, but it is what it is. I’m not going to be able to reshoot the opening so that’s just something I’ve got to accept. I asked my buddy what he thought of it and he was furious about how I drank my beer – “Bro who the fuck sips a beer like that?” It’s crucial notes like these that always help me improve (lol).
The sun is rising and it’s 6:41. At this time tomorrow, I will be saying “action”. I’ve got from now until then to get things in order. I’ll be getting an update out later on this week, I hope you have a wonderful day.
Focus on Story 3-15-20
Today we are shooting part 2 of the first episode for my web series. I posted about the first shoot 1 week ago and how much I learned. I’m hoping to have a better experience this time around.
The biggest difference this week should be our focus on story. Instead of just writing a script that seemed interesting than acting it out, I returned to my roots as a writer and put the best script together for the resources I have available.
I’m a big believer in keeping the story simple – give your main character an object of desire that he’s willing to derail his life for. Put many overwhelming obstacles in his path. Whatever lesson he learns to help him overcome those obstacles is your theme, and the attainment of his desired object will be your climax.
For the scene we’re filming today, I changed almost all of the second half of the script. Instead of the incessant back and forth that existed to make the viewer question the sanity of my main character, I’ve given the secondary character an object that will help him in his quest.
Instead of simply handing him this object, the secondary character uses it for leverage to regain his freedom and trick the main character into letting up his guard. I’m especially excited to see how this improvement in story plays out for the camera. I spent the better part of a week editing what we shot last Saturday. It took a lot of effort to clean up unemotional acting and cringeworthy lines.
Another big difference this week is that I’m going to encourage a stronger more emotional performance from my friend. It’s easy to just let him deliver his lines how he pleases – since he is my friend, he is performing for free, and I don’t like being a dick.
But I realize now that’s a huge part of the director’s responsibility. The performance of your actors reflects on your ability to coach them and get the best delivery. I’ve posted the updated script here, for you to check out. When I finish editing the video I’ll post it here as well. Wish me luck, and feel free to point out any critiques you may have. We begin filming at the time of this posting.
Practice Shoot – 3/4/2020
Now that all of my equipment has arrived, my location is set, and my web series idea has been established, it’s time I start learning my gear. I’m a big believer in learning by doing – how easy it is to jump on google and attack the search engine with every imaginable question before taking a single step forward.
This weekend I was able to bust out my recorder, microphone, and camera and capture some shots of a coworker along with sights and sounds of the job. Unfortunately this was all done on the clock, and seeing as how I’d prefer not to get fired – I’m not going to publish it here.
But yesterday I had a day off. It took one spontaneous moment – “Hey you want to film something?” and my friend Matt was in. The small backyard has a lot going on in it – trees and plants outside, empty beers and ash trays on the table. So the setting was a lock, and we were well on our way.
At first I figured we should just improvise something and do our best to repeat the scene in additional takes. But then I realized how amateur that would be, especially after dedicating years to the craft of writing. I wanted a script primarily because it would keep us on track with each additional take. I’m very new behind the camera, but one thing I rely on is 3 different shots – distant, mid, and close. Those 3 separate views of the same scene come together nicely when it’s fully edited.
The other obstacle was comedy. It’s really difficult when you pull out a camera with your friends to keep from saying something stupid to ease the tension. Our minds, or at least mine, are wired to come up with something witty on improvisation. The key to drama is to add tension with each line, have characters transform, and push forward with the plot. This is difficult to develop spontaneously. Scenes are built on action, obstacles, and character growth. You will know if you are a writer that often times these plot developments take prolonged periods of mental anguish to hammer out.
I’m not saying that the script I wrote is any good – but it’s simple and has some of the key elements to be an actual scene. The one-and-a-half page story is about Ryan (me) entering the backyard to inform Trey (my friend Matt) that he is no longer willing to go through with a bank robbery. He complains that the “haul” isn’t worth a possible sentence of ten years. This is new information for Trey – he’s ready to back out himself. Except when he tells Ryan that the haul is actually for a quarter million, the scene turns on it’s head. Now Ryan pressures Trey to go through with the job.
We’ve already filmed and recorded it so I won’t be making any changes, but I’ve posted the script here for you to read regardless. Feel free to offer me any constructive feedback if you’d like.
I’m hoping to edit most if not all of it today. I still need to learn how to color grade, as you will see in some of the disturbing colors of the footage. I anticipate I’ll be spending the weekend learning how to do that. I’d also like to set up a youtube channel, come up with a production company name and design a logo for it. That and write a 5 page script for my mini-series. If I’m on my game, I should be able to finish these tasks by the end of the week. I’ll keep you updated, but for now I’m aiming to have this short edited and uploaded for viewing before the weekend.