Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cloverfield Review

A couple of Fridays ago I had a friend Norbert and his sig other over for dinner. Norbert is returning to LA today to go back to what work he can find. He is an electrician in the local IA down there. I mentioned that I was taking my kid to go see Cloverfield and he rolled his eyes. "I worked on that and I dont think it's going to be that good. Nothing but Green screens and a giant Kermit the frog."
I did ask him the camera and format question. Still rolling his eyes, He said they used everything from 35mm all the way down to a consumer grade camcorder that some guy hand held. Taken out of context I can see where green screen work would look a little pointless but he even said he wandered over to video village to see what they were shooting and he still was not that impressed. Fair enough.
I grew up watching and loving monster movies. Old Japanese monster movies showed every Friday night and up until I was about 15 and had better things to do on a Friday night I would hang out with my other geeky friends and watch em all. Godzilla, Ghidra, Rodahn. I ate em up. Even the recent Godzilla movie i was entertained by. I just like that stuff.
What separates Cloverfield from the others is in their presentation of the story. All the other movies the camera and the audience were omniscient. We followed the Hero, usually a plucky scientist and a cute girl, get into the inner circles of the official response. The teeming masses fleeing and getting crushed by what ever was ripping apart Tokyo were merely extras.
The truth is that Average Joe is not going to be the plucky scientist The average Joe would be stuck right in the middle of the death and destruction. That is what excited me about Cloverfield. The device of having the story framed through a camcorder operated by a rank amateur served to enhance the experience. Here the main characters were the Extras if you will. Only hotter of course.
One of the most powerful moments for me was where we do not see an aerial view of a column of tanks shooting blanks at the monster. No we see this from the point of view of a scared !$%*less voice behind the sideways view of the camcorder as random angles of tanks and soldier’s boots go blasting by amongst the sheer confusion and cacophony of high intensity combat. I think it really worked.
The whole sense throughout the entire show of not knowing what was really going on other then what was in view of the camera and never getting a pat payoff, though risky also worked for me.
I grew to care about the characters and as is my way loved watching the death and destruction as "Kermit" tear asses around Manhattan.
Would I recommend it, yes absolutely. In fact I will likely buy the DVD when it comes out.
Oh yeah my, 14 year old daughter also loved it. She was literally on the edge of her seat through most of the show.

I give it 3 1/2 Frags

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Fearless Update

Yes there has been a lot going in my life and I have not posted much about it for a while. So How about I try now eh?

Fearless – I was getting snow blindness working on the edit so I left it aside for other things since before Christmas. That was until my friend Norbert came by to break bread with us a couple of Fridays ago. Sadly Lorraine was out of town at a funeral for an old family friend so it was just Jen, Norbert, Dylan and I. But we had fun. I wanted to show him a cut of the show so I spun it up and we had a watch. I was really disappointed with the work so far looking at it fresh and all the way through for the first time in months. Over all it was ok. It told the story but there were shots and edits that just bugged the crap out of me. So I spent all of last week re cutting the show. My biggest errors were in shot setup and execution of the edit. My original plan was to really pay homage to the two shot. A MySpace buddy, Gospel John, posted a rant about how the two shot has been forsaken for basic coverage.

Since I had not made any real stylistic choices regarding the show I thought sure why not. I’ll take up the torch.
But when I started cutting the show I reverted to trying to use all the close ups and reverse angles for the dialog. My biggest problem was that I did not frame the close ups well enough to work and they looked weird. The biggest spot was the scene with Emily and her friend Rhonda. We had even used that scene and setup in the test footage. I had a great two shot of the scene all the way through so I replaced it with that intercutting with reshoots if Lucy’s reactions. A bit of tightening here and there and it works great and I am very pleased with it. Mark came by yesterday evening and we went through the new cut with a fine tooth come and his comments were that it now plays like it should...about Lucy not Emily and Rhonda.
I also had issues with the opening scenes. I rearranged the sequences so that the very first shot is that of Lucy walking toward the camera. Removed a couple of Close ups there and now that plays rather nicely. With the addition of music, it will be even better.
In the party sequence I laid down some scratch tracks from a tool called smart tunes which provides royalty free music, but of the rather bland 70s porn variety. This needed fixing and I found a band on MySpace that will allow me to use some of their tunes to fill that in. I am also going to shorten the sequence by a shot or two.
Like I said Mark came by yesterday and we spent a couple of hours working on the color correction of the first half of the show and now the shots match in a rather pleasing manner. So all in all it was a very productive week for Fearless. Yea!
Other films – I lit two other shorts over the last couple of months with Mark. One was for Marty about this guy that is spending a lazy Sunday with his girlfriend who asks the dumbest question of all time – How many guys…? They are still working on that but in doing the show I met a new upcoming DP Named Anthony Tackett. He brought me on to another show we did a few weeks ago that was all dark and creepy that was some of the better lighting I have done. I think the camera has a lot to do with that. This was a Panasonic HD camera with the red rocks 35 mm attachment and the show looks pretty good from what I hear. But alas they are still cutting.
Anthony called me to light another show that the director wants to shoot film. Which will be nice but we are a week or so out from shooting and I still have not heard what stock they want to use or where the location will be.
There is another coming up in April and Yippee Ki Yea I do not have to gaff it. Just show up with my belt. Nothing firm yet but I talked to the guy and he seemed nice enough. He is bringing up a DP and Gaffer from LA. He says the script is 5 pages and he want to shoot it over 5 days so It will likely be stunt heavy.
That is all for now

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy New year

I am supprised as anyone by my Oscar nomination. That is what I would say if ever I were nominated. A couple of posts back I did a meme that involved the fist sentance of the first post of each month. My way of being odd.

The film has come to a bit of a standstill as I was waiting on music from Buck but he is having issues with his software. Not to worrie Buck.

I got to do a show last weekend with Anthony and Mark which was kind of fun. I really feel that I am starting to get my groove on for gaffing. Starting to have the solutions in place before I even know they are there.

I opened up the project yesterday and started making some suggested changes from Mark. This is an arduous task as I have te re render most of the project after each change to see how it turned out. But that is cool.

Oh yeah my bro from the 28th, Allyn Edwards has started a blog up. I linked to him on my side bar. Check him out. Some nice ski pictures and stuck Canadian trucks, eh.

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