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Film, filming, and filmed

This weekend was jammed full of goodness. I saw an amazing movie, I made a fun movie, and then I watched one of the best wrestling matches of my life when Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels faced off at WrestleMania.

On Friday night I went and saw Sin City with Charlene. It was pretty amazing, not the best superhero movie (that honour still goes to Spider-Man 2), but it's up there in the top 10. The look of the movie was amazing, and it managed to capture the feel of a comic book better than any film before it. I was worried that it would be like Dick Tracy, full of flash and flare, but no substance, but there was nothing to worry about. The performances were awesome, with all of the actors obviously respecting the source material. Particular standouts were Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis. The techniques of using minimal colour, and the black and white work were phenomenal, and would inspire me later in the weekend.

My only complaint is that there could have been a bridging story which would have made the movie complete. I kind of felt they should have gone either the whole way and not referenced each segment, or did something to reference all of the segments…plus Dwight's story was just weak.

Saturday morning we began the 24 Hour Toronto Film Challenge as Team Lemon. We got our challenge pack, which consisted of the following items:

Genre: Arthouse comedy
Topic: A Blustery April Fool
Line: “You gotta be kidding me”
Prop: Yellow smiley face can

We then had 24 hours to write, shoot, and edit the film.

I had blocked out a brief schedule, with us brainstorming for 2 hours, writing for another 2, shooting for 7 hours, and editing for the remaining 12, giving us a 1 hour pad.

The first thing was about 2 hours of brainstorming, where we came up with the concept of a dinner party with two couples, a boss and his wife, and an employee trying to get a promotion with his wife. Hilarity ensues when the yellow can starts talking to the employee, and he eventually snaps and screams at the table. Liam and Lindsay would play the employee and wife, while Dave and Laura played the boss and his wife.

We then went to the set, and took about an hour to set up (we really should have had half the crew do set-up while the other half wrote in another location).

While the writing crew wrote the screenplay, Peter and I went out and grabbed some cover shots…which would ultimately prove useless.

It was this part that started to get off the rails, the writing process took until 6 (my budget had us ending it at 2), and we didn't bother to create a master shot-list.

When it came time to shoot, we had some issues with not knowing what to do in terms of shot-listing, and specific roles, but once we got comfortable in our positions, things started to come together.

Angelo was our lighting and sound guy, and I took care of camera for the first time in forever. Jeff played the role of director and second unit photographer, while Peter did some shot-listing, and some direction. Unfortunately it took us a long time to shoot our first set ups, and we suffered for that, with shooting not getting done until a little after midnight.

Back at Liam's, we started digitizing (which took longer than thought, and we didn't have all the software on all the computers). I started just grabbing shots I thought we could use, which took less time, but 4 hours of tape still takes 4 hours to digitize.

We then had some problems with the editng software, but Jeff eventually stepped in and took over on Vegas Video. Liam worked on the titles, while I played around with After Effects looking for just the right “feel” for the movie.

I toyed with some blasted out black and white, which used a stylized “hot” look. I then played with a blue tinted black and white look. Fooled around with a colourized look. Tried out a 24 frames per second film look. Added grain and digital noise to a test., and generally hit wall after wall.

What we really wanted to do was make the movie black and white (art house style), and add yellow to only the yellow can.

As I was cleaning up I found my Computer Arts magazine on digital desktop editing and started thumbing through for some ideas. While playing with the saturation on the video I suddenly had an idea, what if I cranked the master saturation way down, and put the yellow channel's saturation way up?

That was the look we were searching for, and my usefulness had ended. I took the long ride home and crashed out shortly afterwards

Liam, Jeff, Angelo and Laura kept on working away, and although we missed the deadline, we handed the movie in finally late yesterday.

All in all it was a fun experience, and we learned a lot for the next time.

By Brian Garside

Brian is a digital experience expert, and part time internet superhero. He focuses on digital first design, digital strategies, content management, website usability, and user experience. He was part of the team behind BalanceDo, the co-founder of All New Comics, and the chief strategist at NorthIQ.

One reply on “Film, filming, and filmed”

Damn mate, your description barely scratches the surface of what was about as intense as life gets. Anyway, the final product suffers a bit from anyone who has seen it thinking “this took 36 hours!?!” – It sure ain’t perfect, but you, half drunk with sleep, pretty much wouldn’t leave until our final (and most important) “special effect” got done. Dropping the master saturation and pumping the “yellow” value was a stroke of genius, and is certainly one of the (few) saving graces of the final film.

Ultimately we finished with a truly flawed final product, but anything good about it certainly had Brian’s stamp on it – that’s for anyone reading this. I’d go to hell and back with a man who can bring out the personality in a yellow can when you need it.

Having said that Brian, next time we are going to kick ass right? (Of course if we don’t, we’ll just have to animate it – which, yes, isn’t against the rules…)

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