Individual vs Group

Microcosm vs Macrocosm. Small pond vs the sea.

Before we begin our stories we imagine the message we want to convey. All too often we become wrapped up in a plot that is beyond our level of expertise. It doesn’t matter what your main character’s daily life consist of. If the experience is not authentic to your own, you will have readers and viewers that immediately dismiss the reality you’ve tried to reproduce. You can do all the research you want but authenticity cannot be duplicated. I want you to think about an experience/job/cultural perspective that is unique to yourself. I’m sure there are many secrets about that experience that those on the outside will not be able to find in any book no matter how hard they look. You can reproduce the jargon, but even that has its own intricacies.

I don’t mean to suggest you should abandon research on the story you would like to tell. For some this may be the primary motive of the project in the first place – to learn more about a subject that highly interests you. I am sure this was a major factor in Dan Brown’s novels. Then again, his wife was a well-educated art historian.

The significance of the title here is that thinking on smaller terms can enable you to convey the message you would like to get across while working within the resources available to you. Television and movie productions that deal with real life stories have a tremendous budget behind them. When Stanly Kubrick aimed to write a film about Napolean, he had an entire team assemble so much research that he could figure out what Napolean was doing during any given day of his life.

Let’s pretend you’re currently preoccupied with the covid-19 pandemic and its response. The message you would like to express is that illness strikes those who approach it with blatant dismissiveness.

On a macro level, this project would require you to consider the roles of politicians, celebrities, foreign governments, and statistics regarding the most adversely effected populations. You can find a lot of information online, but along your journey you realize you need one of your main characters to be a politician, another one is a reporter in a foreign nation, and another is a dementia patient/family member confined to a nursing home. You sit in front of your laptop and cannot even write a sentence because you are not sure how the regular life of a high-profile politician would even begin.

But let’s take these same power dynamics and apply it on a smaller scale. Your main character is a middle-aged female who lives in the suburbs (something relatable for you, the writer). They begin with the assumption that the covid-19 illness is not as bad as its made out to be. The main character’s husband, however, is deathly afraid and paranoid about getting the virus. He is a clean freak.

So we have our relatable characters who are easy to write and flesh out. You know who else could fit a character that has a lot of power and influence on this small scale? The media. That’s right – the newspaper, the online forums, the cable news network. You don’t need to dive inside their personal lives to be affected by their influence. So we make the regular news headlines and their arc a significant portion of the story.

Who else holds power? Maybe someone the main character looks up to. It could be a secret crush on a local small business owner who refuses to comply with the government shutdown. Maybe we watch his character change as he sees his customers become affected by the virus. Or maybe he doesn’t change, but the main character’s opinion of him and his reckless abandonment does.

So now we have 2 power influences that add to our story and reinforce/reflect its overall message. Perhaps the 3rd major character is based on our hero’s private ambition and subplot. The job they loved that they are prevented from returning to, or the fetus she carries inside her that is approaching delivery.

As a low budget filmmaker, I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of knowing your resources. I firmly believe the time you have each day for writing should be 90-95% devoted to crafting a compelling story. That is hard enough. The irony of doing all the research necessary to craft a story on a large scale is that it can only be as compelling as the story itself. Nobody who reads fiction is looking to read a manual. As a filmmaker it would be lovely to write scenes that include limousines, press conferences, and a large gallery of extras. The reality is I do not have the funding to make those scenes appear realistic. Rather than crafting a story that looks ridiculous when a green screen inevitably comes into play, I’d much rather write to the resources I have at my disposal.

Hope this helps in some way or another. Enjoy your morning and may you find your peace.

Writing Episode 4 – 7-23-20

white head

Finally, after over a month, I’ve begun piecing together episode 4. I have some strong ideas for how to make the “mountain cult” distinct from previous mobs, politically applicable to current events, and dangerous in a modern sense. The cult will also play to the theme of individualism vs. group think.

My goal is to crumple together a working script by the end of this weekend. If I do that, I can post for online submissions & auditions. My aim is to shoot in Mid August, which should give the actors and myself enough time to prepare.

I’ve already messaged my meetup group, Riverside Film Network, inquiring as to who is looking to work on another project. A few members have informed me they’d be happy to assist.

I’m also working my ass off at my primary job, working 6 out of 7 days this week. The more overtime I work, the more I can budget into the next film. I intend to pay each actor $50/day. I may use crew members as well, and can see myself allocating $25/day for that as well.

sink and blue moons

I have no reasoning for why the Sugar container is the focal point of this shot.

Since the last video shoot, I’ve purchased 2 additional lenses – a 30 mm f1.4 by Sigma and a 50 mm f 1.8 by Sony. I’ve been practicing using them all week and have been learning a lot of basic camera stuff that I never took the time to learn earlier. The biggest lesson I learned from Episode 3 is the importance of proper exposure, and also how to tell when my image is exposed correctly. I’ve already purchased 2 Led lights & a light bar that can change to 6 different colors. Yesterday I ordered my first ever variable ND filter. That will assist me in outdoor filming that requires me to turn down the exposure effects of direct sunlight. One thing that I learned late – Adobe Photoshop won’t read RAW photographs without some sort of plug-in. So the only photos I can show you from my new apartment were done yesterday with my sony 50 mm f 1.8 (done in JPG). I’ll try to upload shots from the 30 mm soon enough.

simba 1

kelly’s cat “Simba”. I like him a lot but he sheds everywhere!

It’s funny how much film has taken a backseat to other things the past 2 months. I hope that as I get closer to filming I can slow down from working so often and put more energy and focus into making short films, which is what I’m truly passionate about.

mcdonalds

Here I chose to focus on the big mac container. Not the obvious, giant McD’s bag in front of your face. Still learning.

One final note – I’ve been doing a lot of thought about story lately. The world needs more individuals who share stories that mean something to them and include a message that they believe in. When you tell a story, you have a responsibility to yourself to express your own message and life lessons through your medium. You can enjoy telling stories without making Hollywood or Penguin books your end goal. Instead of aiming to reach the widest audience, aim to provide a satisfying experience for those who choose your

Below are some more photographs from my Sony 50 mm. I’ll try and upload some from the sigma 30 mm f1.4 soon. Hope you enjoy.

new hummingbird

2020-07-20.00_00_31_18.Still001

I was really hoping he’d go for the in-focus blue feeder if you couldn’t tell

simba 3

Simba has mastered that classic look that says “Leave me alone.”