Saturday, 7.17.04: The Week in Review
My weekly accounting to myself... in a week where the weather brought nothing but cool temperatures and torrential rains
A main theme was the LIGHTS part of LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! Maria's on vacation and my one assignment was to make sure we had a lighting plan for next week's filming of "Anxiety." I followed up with a name she got from a friend. He was a specialist. He might have been the nicest guy on the planet but on the phone he was kind of a prick -- questioning our credentials and implying his skepticism about the type of production that doesn't have a crew with traditional divisions of labor. And he wanted big money. I respectfully backed off.
The second guy ran an A-V rental. I had studied up on what we really needed in our tight shooting space. I talked to him about "renting lights" not hiring a gaffer (film-speak for the lighting guy). He was nice. He loaned me a light to practice with. It was a small light that packed about a thousand watts -- it was like plugging in an unprotected space heater or toaster oven. No wonder they have experts operating these things!
So I sat with my books and the Internet and sifted through myriad options. About 1 AM Wednesday morning I ordered my own humble lighting kit -- 250 W bulbs, with stands, gels, filters, etc. -- something more comfortable in households and offices with normal electrical service.
Still, when it arrived on Thursday, I was a nervous wreck trying to piece all the parts together. Even 250 W is intimidating -- especially when the first bulb burned out within 10 minutes and I was sure it was bad karma from thinking I could do everything myself. By Friday, the new lights and I had made cautious friends with each other.
The encounter with the lighting design guy and other signs have convinced me that Cosmopolitan Productions occupies a different niche from mainstream production studios that can afford to assemble teams of experts to bring years of savvy and just the right tools to any given job. We fall more into the new category of guerrilla filmmakers. Computers and comparatively cheap equipment have opened the doors to a new generation of do-it-yourself generalist filmmakers. Yes, we are unschooled and inept in many ways but clever and resilient in others. With communication channels now all in the hands of giant conglomerates, it's more important than ever for the message to take precedence over the expensive refinements. Hmm... sounds revolutionary -- "seizing the means of production." Goody.
Recruitment video. No word from our customers about script revisions. I thought they were in a hurry, but guess not. So I fiddled with extracting the best clips from the interviews so I could free up hard-drive space. I applied a film-look filter to make the clips a little prettier, then I played with a "color palette." One of my books suggested this. You take frames from the videos and pick out the dominant colors (see results on right), which you can use for other elements, to pull it all together and give your movie "a look." It was fun. It reminds me of playing with the paint chips my father would bring home with him from work.
Sales. I've done pretty well selling my World's Fair items on ebay. Who would have guessed that Ferris wheels were so popular? Two little pictures of Ferris wheels sold for over $200 each. We put our microscope up for sale. To experiment, we put a very high minimum bid on it. We won't be upset if it doesn't sell. There is something about ebay auctions that reminds me of horse-racing -- you have to figure out some odds in your selling strategy (handicapping) but there is still mystery about which horses win. You learn a little bit more with each "race."
Lighting for Digital Video and Television by John Jackman
Developing Digital Short Films by Sherri Sheridan.