Showing posts with label Film School Notes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Film School Notes. Show all posts

Feb 13, 2013

Spliced: Charlie Chaplin

The following comes from my column, Spliced from Volume 47 - Issue 23 of the Carillon (the University of Regina newspaper) from April 2005.

In film history, or just entertainment in general, there are few artists or projects that are able to bridge generations and that warrant a position in the collective consciousness of a society made up of people that can barely remember the name of a movie they saw a few weeks ago.  

With this in mind, I’d like to shed some light on a figure who acted, directed, wrote, produced, and composed the score for many of his films.  A character who you've no doubt seen mimicked, and a man who even if you've never seen one of his films, you’d likely recognize from a picture of early Hollywood big wigs.  Of course I'm speaking of, Charles Chaplin.

Born in London, England on April 16, 1889 Charlie faced extreme poverty, only made worse by his father‘s early death and his sickly mother.  By the age of 21 he became part of a travelling music-hall company and found himself in the United States where he was well-received by audiences. 

Charlie’s ambition and resounding talent led him to a film contract in 1913 with the Keystone Film Company for $150 per week. 

In 1914 Chaplin made over 30 short films, and by the end of that year had signed a new contract for $1250 per week.  Needless to say, audiences loved Chaplin, especially his cane twirling, bowler hat wearing, little tramp character who would later skyrocket Chaplin‘s name and career internationally. 

On a side note, one German dictator was such a fan of the tramp character that he actually styled his moustache after Chaplin’s.  True story.

What I’ve always found fascinating about Charlie Chaplin is that his own rags to riches lifestyle was made possible by a poverty stricken character, who aside from making people laugh, shed light on social issues such as homelessness and unemployment.  This was something Chaplin took great pride in throughout his life having faced these issues head on.

Chaplin, who began feeling restricted by the studio system, gained independence in 1917 when he teamed with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith in forming the United Artists Corporation.  Artist’s under the label essentially became their own bosses, and when your career can’t go any higher, that’s a big deal.

As for Chaplin‘s brilliant films, if you‘re not familiar with his work, I recommend Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931) or Modern Times (1936) to get you started.  Each one of these films is a shining example of Chaplin’s spot-on routines and the tramp’s infectious lovability that extends from situations he mistakenly becomes involved in.

Modern Times is my favourite film of Chaplin’s.  Some may remember a scene where Charlie slides through the cogs and gears of a factory, or his repetitious fidgeting caused from screwing in bolts on an assembly line, or his hilarious mishaps with an automatic eating machine used to save time on lunch breaks.  I’m laughing as I write it because it really is that funny.

Charlie Chaplin’s significance and staying power is no accident, and you’ll understand why when you watch any of his films.  For the record, all of his major works are out on re-mastered DVDs so there’s no excuse.  I guarantee laughs will be had. 

Jan 30, 2013

More Film School Slides

It's been a decade now since my first ever film school production class in the winter semester of 2003.  We did a lot with slides that year and used them as an introduction to visual storytelling.  Several years ago I actually shared a bunch of these images as a glimpse into what I'd come up with.  See that here.

I pulled out these slides again as a bit of a reminder of some of my early photo work, and stumbled onto a few shots I didn't remember.  There was one of Ward, who I did a lot of touring around Regina with during this project, and various shots of Regina landmarks that I hadn't remembered shooting.  It's not really that my style of photography has changed that dramatically over the years, but looking back at things like this is a nice reminder of how much you've improved and matured.  It's just a nice flashback really.  

Jan 22, 2013

Spliced: Movies About Movies

The following comes from my column, Spliced from Volume 47 - Issue 19 of the Carillon (the University of Regina newspaper) from March 2005.

Nowadays it seems that there is a sizable amount of behind the scenes knowledge, made possible through deluxe limited special collector's edition DVDs, that the average person feels no guilt in skimming over.

You have to question when watching some of these features (the lengthy Lord of the Rings box sets come to mind). Why would we want to know about the make-up artist who worked on extra number 11 on whatever deleted scene?

Honestly, I’m all for special features, and I did enjoy the Lord of the Rings, but so many DVD bundles seem to have ignored the “quality before quantity” rule.

Special features are popular for obvious reasons; We enjoy seeing more of a film that we love. It seems sometimes that features are essential to understanding a film, and sometimes they’re purely promotional to convince people that the DVD is actually worth that new release $30 price tag.

I think we all roll our eyes though, when we click on a production featurette that is simply a mash up of the film’s trailer and the lead actors spewing about how this is a film you have to see. Perhaps it would hold some significance, had we not just watched the movie.

I find the best of both worlds in movies about movies, and filmmaking.

For instance, I love the opening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and how Robert Zemeckis melds animation and live action as though filming a cartoon is just a matter of getting all of your characters to show up at the same time.

It’s clever and good storytelling, but in its own right, it’s groundbreaking cinema.

Barry Sonnenfeld’s Get Shorty (1995) is another great movie about movies. Chili Palmer (John Travolta) comes to Los Angeles to collect on a debt, and ends up pitching a movie idea about the job he’s doing. Playing on the “everyone wants to be in the movies” bit, Get Shorty is great fun that anyone accustomed to following the entertainment industry will latch onto.

Other great movies about movies to check out include L.A. Confidential (1997), Ed Wood (1994), and Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending (2002).

And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003) directed by Bruce Beresford, is a story about how filmmaker’s were hired to film Pancho Villa and the Mexican revolution.

What’s astounding about this film is its historical context, and how the hired filmmakers created a legend out of such an infamous character. It's an entertaining movie made even better by the history of what they were doing.  Pancho Villa even agreed to a clause in his contract for the film that stated he could only fight during the day so that there was ample light for filming.

Learning about film can be a lot more fun, and even more educational when it’s dramatized (at least they have to hit plot points). Who is kidding who anyway?  Most of the special features are orchestrated pretty well on DVDs to make the experience of making the movie come across as awe-inspiring and life-changing.

I’ve yet to see a director or actor completely broken and confessing to the camera that it was all a mistake, but my fingers are crossed.  Use a few of these recommendations as a sampler to get into movies that go behind the scenes.  You obviously have some features to catch up on, so pop in a movie, and like me, use it as an excuse to study.

Jan 19, 2013

A Chill in the Air Storyboards

I recently discovered the rough storyboards that I created in January 2006 for my short, A Chill in the Air.  To be honest, I don't even remember making them, but it's pretty clear that I used them to plan out the project.  Some of you may remember that this project was an entry I did for the National Film Board of Canada Make Shorts, Not War contest.  It was because there was a lot to gain from the experience that I tried to plan out as much of the process as possible.  In the end, the project was tightened up from what I'd written in my storyboards, which is cool because they actually shed some light on my early editing and film making.

Jan 16, 2013

Spliced: Pixar Animation

The following comes from my column, Spliced from Volume 47 - Issue 22 of the Carillon (the University of Regina newspaper) from March 2005.

The year was 1995, and I was eleven years old.  My tastes in movies were just being discovered, and needless to say they had not ventured far from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) or Aladdin (1992).  

This of course was all about to change thanks to a little known company at the time called, Pixar Animation, who that year released the first feature length computer animated film known as Toy Story.

I think we all know where this is heading, since chances are you’ve seen at least one of the six smash hit animations Pixar has released in it’s 10 year feature animation relationship with Disney.

What’s exciting about computer animation, is not only the attention to detail and the mimicry of all of the subtleties that reality entails, but it’s a new art form and style of making movies that has really just taken off in our lifetimes. 

Surprisingly, or maybe not to some, George Lucas was responsible for the initial development of the company.  Long story short, the small division that would become Pixar was in its infancy when it was sold.  Had Lucas known how successful it would’ve been, or had it had a bigger purpose at the time, perhaps Lucas wouldn‘t have let it go.

When Toy Story burst into theatres it came to gross nearly $192 million in the US alone.  Clearly, the team at Pixar was on to something and their attention to detail and story was something that audiences were prepared to open their wallets for.

The team continued with the same formula (gasp).  Since there was an unbelievable amount of work being done, much of it being the attention to small details, the Pixar team took their time, and rightfully so, to turn out quality features and stories.

John Lasseter, who had directed Toy Story, then worked with Andrew Stanton in shifting the focus from toys to ants and grasshoppers in the 1998 movie A Bug’s Life.

These new movies were so beautiful to look at, so witty, and so genius that the studio was soon growing at an incredible rate.  Yet, they never lost their focus for telling well thought out stories with an impressive standard of quality.  Each time they pushed their skills further, and have now really become the masters of the computer animation market.

Dreamworks was busy with it’s own animation department at this time, and had Pixar Animation not been so successful, it’s doubtful that Dreamworks would have worked so feverishly to develop competitive films.  They’ve recently shown their abilities, and made history with the tremendously popular Shrek (2001) and Shrek 2 (2004).

Meanwhile, the hits kept on rolling out for the Pixar team with Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), and most recently The Incredibles (2004).  What I find I can’t emphasize enough is that these are truly amazing movies about unique subjects and events that are only bettered by the vibrant cartoon colours and the physical depth that the computer animators create in these fictional worlds.

Pixar Animation has slated Cars for 2006, and using the previous films as a guide I have a hunch that it’s going to be awesome.  This film is also going to mark the completion of Pixar’s contractual bindings to Disney, but interestingly, Toy Story 3 has already been announced as a potential project.  Only time will tell how that will unfold.

Things are heating in the computer animation world, but it sure seems likes things are getting better and better.

Jan 9, 2013

Spliced: Steven Spielberg

The following comes from my column, Spliced from Volume 47 - Issue 21 of the Carillon (the University of Regina newspaper) from March 2005.

I’ve known since I started writing this column that it was an inevitability that eventually I’d be writing about Steven Spielberg. 

I certainly feel no regret in doing this, but you have to understand that it almost feels to easy.  Spielberg is a brand name synonymous with big budget blockbusters, heartfelt storytelling, and in no understatement of the word, success.

My personal DVD collection fashions more of his movies than of any other director.  Twelve to be exact.  And as a film major, to disregard the work of Spielberg is to disregard the Empire State Building in the New York skyline.  It’s tough to miss, and why would you want to?

The longevity of Spielberg’s career is undoubtedly because of his knack for great stories that often push the envelope, and his understanding of a medium that he wisely uses to inform and entertain. 

If you’re wracking your brain to think of Steven Spielberg films you’re crazy.  His real breakthrough film was Jaws in 1975, and please don‘t admit to anyone that you‘ve never heard of it.

Then there was Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), The Indiana Jones Trilogy (1981-1989), The Color Purple (1985), Hook (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Minority Report (2002), and The Terminal (2004).  And yes, I have omitted a few for the sake of not filling up the entire article with titles.

However, I did omit three films purely for the sake of pointing them out as my favourites, and arguably Spielberg‘s best work.  I’m speaking, of course, about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1984), Schindler’s List (1993), and Catch Me If You Can (2002).  These are three very different films, that each accentuate the talents and control Spielberg has over his craft.

E.T. is a shining example of the family drama that Spielberg is so good at constructing.  Can you honestly admit that you didn’t get the chills when Elliot’s bike took off, or when you thought E.T. might be dead?  I can’t even handle it, it’s just such a good movie.  Excuse me, I suddenly have a craving for Reese’s Pieces.

On a completely opposite end of the spectrum, Schindler’s List is probably one of the most shocking, emotional and powerful films that through its performances, horror, and beauty, captures the frailty, the inexcusable cruelty, and the hope that resides within humanity.  This film about the Holocaust and the work of Oskar Schindler is one narrative that can’t be underestimated.  It's one of the must see films in modern American cinema.

Catch Me If You Can (2002) is again another shift in Spielberg’s range.  This film embraces the best of popcorn entertainment.  It’s colourful, exciting, funny, and a great heist film that follows Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he takes to forging checks and living out the best of 1960’s pop culture.  If you‘re looking for a fun cat and mouse caper, this is it.

War of the Worlds is the next picture to grace Steven Spielberg’s illustrious filmography this summer, but in the meantime, there are more than enough of his previous works to enjoy. 

I hope throughout these weekly articles, you’ve been reminded about some of the movies that you haven’t watched in years, and feel encouraged to go out and pick some of them up.  If you want an easy choice at the video store, few people are going to criticize your taste in Spielberg.

Dec 18, 2012

Spliced: Mockumentaries

The following comes from my column, Spliced from Volume 47 - Issue 18 of the Carillon (the University of Regina newspaper) from February 2005.  In it I discuss my love of mockumentaries, and why I think others should drink the Kool-Aid too.

The fake documentary, or mockumentary, is something I could talk about, or not talk about for hours. And still, Id find things to not talk about.

How Id love to claim that joke, but its spoken by Sheri Ann Ward Cabot, a character in the brilliant mockumentary, Best in Show (2000). A comedy about the Mayflower dog show, and the fanatical, but hysterical characters that pamper their dogs in pursuit of a blue ribbon.

Eugene Levy, Catherine OHara, and Jennifer Coolidge, are just a handful who star as dog owners who bring new meaning to the words eccentric and witty. The cast is exceptional, and although theyre all outrageous, the semblance of reality is never far off.   The movie is so successful at breeding laughter from seemingly commonplace occurrences that youll come to find yourself saying, I know someone like that or at least you'll think you do.

Whether Im talking about Corky St. Clair, Nigel Tufnel, Harlan Pepper, Alan Barrows, or the modern father of the mockumentary (I thought Id exaggerate a bit to keep with the style of the genre), Im talking about one funny man: Christopher Guest.

His first big induction into the genre was in Marty DiBergis (aka Rob Reiners) rockumentary This is Spinal Tap (1984). For any music fan, this is a must see. Picture every stereotype, every unconventional act, and every nuance of the big haired, spandex wearing, heavy metal band culture of the 1980s, and therein lies the endless comedic foundation of this film.

Guest plays Nigel Tufnel, one of the bands leading members who is torn by the lead singers girlfriend, and the declining popularity of the group. The information and critical comment that this, seemingly ditsy, film provides is both inspiring and memorable. Its a challenge, but try not to quote something from the film after watching it, I dare you.

Later in his career, Guest turned to directing and starring in his own mockumentaries starting in 1996 with Waiting for Guffman. His flamboyant Corky St. Clair, decides to direct a pageant for the 150th anniversary of the small Missouri town of Blaine. The cast established in this film transcended into his future films, Best in Show (2000) and A Mighty Wind (2003), a mockumentary about the folk music scene.

In my experience, people either seem to love these films or hate them, however the tide seems to be changing with this style becoming more mainstream.  In many ways the genre is like a scripted blooper reel, which often makes you feel like you're in on the joke in that moment and not necessarily being played to.  Youll quickly find out for yourself if you like them, and chances are if youre watching with someone who doesnt, the experience will be ruined.

Documentaries have gotten a bad reputation for being boring, or too dry, which in itself is a huge myth. But, if youre having your doubts about watching a comedy posing as a documentary, dont.

Christopher Guests films arent out to trick you, theyre out to entertain and make you laugh. See Spinal Tap or Best in Show if you want to get your first taste of this genre and style, because if youre going to become a believer in the mockumentary, these are the films that are going to do it. And, if youre already hooked, I'm glad you're in the club!

I feel there is nothing more I can say to get you to see these films, for I think Spinal Tap summed up the mockumentary genre best when they mused, theres such a fine line between stupid and clever

Dec 14, 2012

Spliced: The Muppets

The following comes from my column, Spliced from Volume 47 - Issue 17 of the Carillon (the University of Regina newspaper) from February 2005.  In it, I muse about the influence and brilliance of the Muppets and how they're due for a proper revival.  Of course, all of this came before the 2011 Muppet movie that did just that.  It's like they knew exactly what I was thinking. 

Not too long ago I found myself gazing out the window at the lightly falling snow. It was remarkable how the wind carried and shifted the millions of snowflakes like a flock of birds darting out of traffic. If only I had had my video camera at that moment I would have recorded it and watched it over and over again in true American Beauty fashion, for I felt my heart welling up from the endless beauty that lay just outside my window. By no stroke of chance I began to question what likely every person questions at some point in their existence. What the hell happened to the Muppets?

Ok, so the Muppets never really left, but the likes of Fraggle Rock, The Muppet Show, and feature length films featuring the odd bunch have either been left by the wayside or have faced poor attempts at revival. So until they (meaning the new owners, Disney) can make the Muppets better, I think its best to embrace the movies that made them such household names in the first place.

The Muppet Movie (1979) starring Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear, was the first feature length picture for the Muppets and was released during the syndication of Hensons The Muppet Show (1976-1981). With hopes of hitting it big in Hollywood, Kermit and Fozzie head cross country and run into all the characters youd expect from Gonzo to Miss Piggy. The usual sprinkling of celebrity cameos ensues, including Milton Berle, Steve Martin, Bob Hope and many more.

The idea for the film supposedly came from Jim Hensons own rise to stardom. Cameos by characters such as Big Bird, whos heading to New York to break into television, are obvious references to Hensons multiple endeavors at the time like Sesame Street. Any fan would do themselves good to see this and all of Hensons other films again.

Other pictures such as The Great Muppet Caper (1981) and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) continue to comment on the down and out luck that the group has, but the films follow the same formula with catchy songs, outrageous slapstick, and with a like-ability that appeals to almost everyone (and I say almost everyone, but Im hard pressed to think of someone who hasnt enjoyed something Jim Henson has done).

What is amazing about the films besides the original characters and talent is the technical aspect of it all. The fact that sets have to be constructed to allow a Muppet handler to move freely while interacting with a human character poses numerous problems, yet each film makes it look easy - like a live action cartoon. Keep this in mind when watching, and I guarantee youll ask howd they do that? a few times.

Literary tales have been the inspiration for the latest Muppet films such as Muppets Christmas Carol (1992) and Muppets Treasure Island (1996). The same is true for the latest project to come from the now Disney owned Muppet cast. Muppet Wizard of Oz is a made for TV movie slated to air on ABC in the spring of 2005.

Get out there and relive the zany antics of the Muppets.  Just walka, walka, walka to the video store (groan) and if you didnt get that, your need for the Muppets is far more serious than I thought. 

Dec 12, 2012

My Film That Never Was

Looking through old film school notes I came across this proposal I wrote dated February 7, 2007.  It was from my producing class where we had to come up with the idea for a film to pitch.  Not surprisingly, especially because I was working on Elliot at the time, I came up with the idea for a mockumentary centred around a film festival.  The idea clearly still needed some polishing, but there are a few gems in the premise that I'm still entertained by.  Have a look at what I submitted.   

Working Title:  Film Fest

Genre:  Comedy / Mockumentary

Length:  90 minute feature

Poster Line:  Now Accepting Submissions.      

Meets:  Best in Show meets Entourage


Film Fest is a feature length mockumentary about a man named Charlie taking control of an elaborate and outlandish film festival, created by his dead Hollywood producing dad, just one year after its disastrous debut.  With the festival in shambles and a town full of irritated locals, Charlie picks up where his dad left off (with a documentary crew in tow) and works with an assembled team of mismatched experts to revamp Silver Springs, BC from the ruins of a failed fest, to a celebrity saturated,  respected and acclaimed celluloid circus.  For the sake of his father's legacy and his own ambition to make the festival work, Charlie must confront the death of his father head on as he uncovers the affects the festival has had on the town and the previous attendees.  Film Fest is an offbeat character piece about the best and worst aspects of pop culture and the entertainment industry, while paying homage to the people and drama, in the one place where everything comes to fruition; the film festival.

The Silver Springs Film Festival opened with much excitement, but failed due to the excessive and unbelievable upgrades made by Warner Garber, the founder.  Fast forward one year.

Warner Garber, while talking about his new festival upgrades for the 2nd Silver Springs Fest, dies during an interview with a documentary film crew.  In his eighties, he was losing his mind, but to everyone else it seemed that he embodied the grand imagination of a true eccentric.  Charlie, Warner’s son, knew how passionate his dad was about the fest.  With no real direction of his own, he adopts his dad‘s position as head organizer of the festival, along with the team of assembled industry experts, the documentary crew and the shambles of the failed festival from a year earlier.

Charlie and his team quickly move out to Silver Springs, BC and set up camp.  Initially the town’s reception is cold based on the previous treatment by the festival organizers, but monetary persuasion and mingling gets things underway.  Charlie frequently confides in the camera in response to his indecision, especially when conflict with his team arises.  Meanwhile, the festival undergoes massive correction, altering Warner Garbers original, but hilariously absurd, vision.  Zeppelins, wild animals, underwater theatres and such, are modified to preserve some of the insanity while adding much needed practicality.  Various comedic meetings and character clashes bring us to this point.

The following spring the festival is really coming together.  The small town of Silver Springs, BC, which is nestled along the Rockies, is undergoing upgrades (with the help of some of Warner Garbers old rich friends, and the absurd blackmail the team has acquired about them).  Charlie is still at the helm and we see clips from news spots, commercials, celebrity endorsements, and the towns people reacting to the revamped fest.  There is initial doubt about the festivals reach, and comparative draw to other major venues, but soon the submissions, both big and small, start coming in and it seems the festival has real potential.  The unique festival concept, which teeters on the edge of being a pop culture amusement park, garners outside attention.   

For the last half of the film, the festival is officially in swing.  Charlie has done a remarkable job, but he underestimates the industry heavyweights and celebs as the town, almost instantly, becomes overrun by them.  This is where the mockumentary reaches its comedic climax as the numerous groups and their attached films premiere.  We are witness to celebrity reactions, critics feedback, over the top art flicks, studio head clashes, Warner Garbers old friends returning to take some claim of the success, the townsfolk rising up, Charlie coming to terms with his fathers death and the modification of his dream, and a mishmash of regurgitated pop culture references by anyone and everyone in the small town.  The event takes a back seat here, and it’s all about the people at this point. 

The various filmmakers and celebrities that appear for the festival have delicate supporting roles.  Their characters really give shape to the festival, but none of them are around for too long to be of major consequence.  Charlie remains central, with reference to Warners contribution and the team which has made the festival possible.  In the conclusion, we see the chaos melt off of Silver Springs and Charlie personally (and perhaps seriously for the first time) revisit the death of his dad.  Charlie sits in a room with a view of the town behind him and is surrounded by the countless papers and sketches his father made.  In a spontaneous moment he rushes to the roof of the building and throws the papers off, which end up flying across the town.  We then see his team commenting that he’s lost his mind just like his father, and close on a group of townspeople sneering at Charlie as copies of the original festival idea shower the town.  Charlie is left feeling satisfied with his decision, while reflecting on the fact that were it not for his father’s over the top vision, he wouldn’t be where he is.

Charlie Garber - A 35yr old struggling actor.  He’s ambitious, grounded; your typical nice guy.  Still he tends to find himself in the middle of other people’s mistakes.  Despite his rocky past, he shines and finds direction in pulling his father’s film festival together.

Warner Garber - He’s flaky and off his rocker, but as an elaborate dreamer and a former Hollywood producer heavyweight he has the makings of a true eccentric.  Sadly, he dies pretty quick, but lives on in old footage and his festival plans that are shown throughout the film.

Nancy Monroe - She’s a designer and conceptualist in her late twenties.  Charlie calls on her to help establish a theme for the festival, and her bubbly personality and high energy are infectious.  Nancy is also aware of the power she has over Charlie and the sexual tension between them.

Kenneth Heinsman - He’s a staunch 60yr old money man, and although he’s great at running numbers, his elitist homosexual attitude creates conflict.  He always dreamed of being a celebrity stylist, but has no skill in this area.  Still it hasn’t kept him from trying, and throwing in bad fashion advice wherever he can.

Emma Chang - A 40yr old publicist, Emma is intense, but wickedly efficient.  She has an incredible talent for getting people to open up and therefore, has a valuable repertoire of industry secrets.  Many of which are used to ‘encourage’ Warner Garber’s old rich friends to share some money.

Sam Murphy - A local of Silver Springs, he assists in acclimatizing the town to the fest.  He doesn’t really understand the industry jargon, and so is easily relatable to outsiders.  He puts his reputation on the line to insist that the fest is good news for the town.

Blake Allen - He’s Charlie’s assistant, and despite his good nature, he is often overwhelmed by the things Charlie neglects.  He is also on the frontline with Sam in dealing with the demands of the townspeople. 

Norton Gash -  He’s a virtually unknown director, but his film Abundance becomes a breakout success at the festival.  Gash is a nervous and jittery man, and the public attention causes him grief despite all the praise.  He turns to Charlie for solace.

Vivian Terracini -  She’s the rising star from Abundance and embodies the worst aspects of modern celebrity.

Adrian Ulrich - He’s the rising star from Abundance and embodies the best aspects of modern celebrity. 

Ed Fink - He was an old friend of Warner Garber’s, and owns his own production studio.  As a businessman, he’s come to the fest looking to acquire distribution rights and give some unknowns their big breaks.  

Intended Audience:  

Film Fest should have wide comedic appeal between men and women aged 14 to whatever.  The target is those who are educated or interested in pop culture and the entertainment industry.  

Tone & Style:

The tone of the film is light and snappy.  Things move relatively quickly between characters and events.  Everything is shot like a documentary, but there are contrasting moments.  For instance, when the festival starts and things are hectic, the documentary style can capture the manic pace well and put the audience right in the event.  At the same time, in serious moments or screenings, or conversations, the look can be focused and clean (fly on the wall even).  Overall, the look is to be vibrant, colourful, and polished.  It should complement the diversity and the energy that a festival represents and the over-the-top world of film and the characters within it.

Website & Promotion:

Possible ideas for the website include sticking with the whole mockumentary theme and promoting the film as though the festival is really taking place.  There will be bios of the numerous characters, additional clips from the documentary in production, and examples of Warner Garber’s original and over-the-top vision for the festival.  The site could also take the Corner Gas approach, and provide interactive access to the fake festival town of Silver Springs, BC.  Site involvement could even go as far as holding an online short film festival, where users could upload and share their work.  The entries would be treated as submissions to the Silver Springs Fest and viewers could vote on their favourites.  I think Film Fest lends itself to a wide amount of interactivity with its viewers, and the website would certainly reflect this.    

Nov 29, 2012

Writing for the University Newspaper

One of the more productive past times I took up in film school was writing for the University of Regina's campus newspaper, the Carillon.  I had casually written a few film related articles for the paper in my first few years of uni, but it was in the winter semester of 2005 that things really got interesting.

My friend Kelly was the Editor-in-Chief of the Carillon that year and while hanging out one night I proposed an idea I had for a column I was interested in writing.  I really had no expectations, just a willingness to try something new, and she seemed keen to give me a shot.  The basic premise I had was rooted in childhood nostalgia, film school experiences, and highlighting the classic flicks that I thought should be required viewing. It was essentially a film student's guide for getting lost in the video store.

I titled the column, Spliced, which if you weren't aware is the editing term referring to the joining of two pieces of a filmstrip.  I thought it sounded cool and also related to people missing certain films, cutting them out, etc. It was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun writing about everything from mockumentaries (like This is Spinal Tap), to a rundown of the Muppet movies, to my favorite films about the movie business (like Sunset Boulevard).  Some of it was a bit indulgent I suppose, but the idea was always to share my appreciation for flicks that I felt didn't get mentioned as much as they should.

I only ever wrote on a consistent basis for the Carillon that one semester, but the few remaining articles I ever wrote for the paper still ended up under the Spliced banner.  It was cool to do something like that for a brief period of time, especially because stuff like this foreshadowed what eventually came from this site when I started it in 2007.  Keep an eye out for some of my favorite articles from Spliced in the coming weeks.          

Mar 1, 2012

Bolex Camera Diagrams

All of the film I shot in film school was done on a Bolex camera.  It's essentially the old work horse of all film school cameras as pretty much up every introduction to shooting uses this versatile 16mm piece of equipment.  After recently purchasing a vintage 16mm projector to watch some of my old shorts, I was reminded of the Bolex diagrams we had to learn.  The camera had to be threaded in complete darkness as to not expose the film, so knowing your way around what wraps where was kind of a big deal.  In any case, I found those original Bolex diagrams in my notes and thought it would be cool to share them.  Someday in the not too distant future I'd like to buy myself a used Bolex and give shooting on film another go.