Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Cutting Trailers, & selling a movie

The past few weeks I've been busy cutting trailers for my film "Deadly Obsessions", and looking into expanding the web site and getting a merchant account so I can start selling the film. I also need to put the film onto DVD, and I've been looking at pricing. In the past day I've finalized the video, and converted it into an MPEG file.

Cutting trailers is an art form all to itself. I read interviews with filmmakers who worked for Roger Corman, and in the interview they say that they would cut in a shot of an exploding helicopter if the footage from the film wasn't visual interesting. While cutting my trailer for the film that sentiment reverberated in my head for some time. To put it bluntly there are no rules to editing trailers. Just as long as you get people interested in the film. Well I haven't gone that far and edited in some exploding vehicles, but I hope I have made the film a bit more interesting with the footage I've included. At first I just sat at my editing console not knowing what I really wanted, but after talking to my wife, and a bit more staring I finally realized in what direction I wanted to go with. Did I want a narration throughout the trailer?, or did I just want music, and montage some scenes of the movie?, or did I want to just use both dialogue and picture to convey my story? I ultimatly choose the music route and I montaged a few scenes together. The results weren't too bad, and I hope to put it up sometime soon.

Which brings me to the redesign of the web site. I believe it needs to be restructured from the ground up. The actors page and a whose who of the film will be slightly modified, but the frontpage will defiantly be different. So when I finally get this done I'll post the link. Money is always a factor, so I may be moving my domain to another server, which I still need to learn to do. Filmbaby dot com is a choice I may also do. I figure the more the film is out there the more people will see it. The object is to get the film out there, and the web seems like the place to start.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Cinema is Over"

In an article in Britain's Guardian Jean-Luc Godard was quoted as saying: "It's over, there was a time maybe when cinema could have improved society, but that time was missed." Now far be it from me to criticize the great Jean-luc Godard, but I have to disagree with the above statement. To me it sounds like sour grapes. Godard himself mentions in the article that his movies have been unsuccessful in a commercial sense. I happen to disagree on that also but that's another argument for another time. I guess Godard is measuring his success to what Hollyweird produces, and it's success at the box office. I'll agree that the film business is just that a film business, but to say that cinema is over, and that no good can come from it is wrong. There is a lot of cinema out there that works, and gets it's message through. Of course since the results are not measured in the millions, Hollyweird and its brethren are not paying too much attention to theses small personal films, but make no mistake theses films are reaching it's target audiences. Through the internet and alternative distribution small films made by ordinary lovers of the cinema are getting out there. These films are eclectic, and cover all sorts of genre's. Some of these films are made on budgets that on a Hollywood budget would only cover the craft services of the film. Occasionally when the film crosses over it's target audience and finds a wider audience does Hollyweird notice and then step in to market that film to it's wider audience.

Hollyweird is only interested in the blockbuster, and that's fine with me. I like a good shoot-em up love story once in awhile to take my mind off the mundane of life, but I also love GOOD cinema, and there is still some good cinema being made both in Hollywierd land, and other places where you might not expect good filmmaking to come from. Now I'll be the first to admit that with this overabundance of films there is a lot of schlock. After all we cannot all be Godard's, and a lot of these video-makers try to emulate what they see in the movies or on television. After all that's how the French New Wave started. It was a bunch of cinema snobs (critics) who liked early American filmmaking, and so with the advent of more portable cameras they took their films into the streets, and started filming. Does this sound familiar. After all with the advent of digital video it is now possible for anyone with a computer and camera to do some pretty extrodinary things. But does technology make for better films? The answer is clearly NO! It's the story stupid. The story has been the key throughout filmmaking, and will always be the key.

In the article the interviewer asks the question to Godard "can these small digital cameras save the cinema?", and Godard answers only in a scowl and says nothing. To Godard these "small digital cameras" are what is ruining cinema, and they confirm his opinion that cinema is over. I have to disagree strongly on that. Cinema is an ever evolving artform, and digital video is just another platform for telling stories. It is these stories told by numerous individuals that may just find it's voice, and just maybe transform society into a better society. Whose to say that some film that someone shot in Wisconsin will not touch someone else living in Paris or Milan. The internet, and the digital revolution is what will make the difference. An idea starts with one individual, and if he or she finds other individuals of like mind whose to say that that idea won't move mountains and transform society. Godard has it wrong. Cinema isn't over, it's transforming. It's ironic that Godard should feel this way since he himself is a pioneer in filmmaking, and storytelling. He himself embraced video in it's early stages, and he should embrace this new technology. If anyone should be revitalized by the new technology I think it would be Godard. Godard is an innovator, and master craftsman of storytelling and if anyone should lead this new evolution of cinema I couldn't find a better suited person then Jean-Luc Godard, so please Mr. Godard don't give up on cinema you still have so much to show us.

~viva Godard.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

What's Next?

I've been in a quandary for a while now. I've completed my first film, and I'm trying to get it into film festivals, but no luck there, so what do I do? I've been itching to do another film, but my resources are stretched thin. I'm also still working on getting my film "Deadly Obsessions" out there and seen. At this point all I want is to see it on a video shelf, but there isn't enough hours in the day for me to concentrate on selling the film, getting another film together, and of course working at my day job. After all I have a family and I like my job, so it's hard being torn in so many directions. I would like to just get a home for the film, and get it out there. I didn't make the film for profit though I was aware of keeping my overhead down so I could do the film for less, and for all intensive purposes I did that, but now I need to sell it. By the summer I'll be able to put the film onto DVD. Come hell or high water that's what I'd like to do. I've always thought that the internet would help me in selling my film, and I have several options there, but first I like to see if I could get some domestic distributors interested. I've been apprehensive about this due to my luck in the film festival community, but as someone said to me "just because you haven't gotten into a film festival doesn't mean the film is bad." So once again the push begins.

As for doing another film I've always been interested in anthologies, and long ago I wanted to do one with several partners, but it never happened, so I moved on. Now I'd like to re-visit the genre again, but this time with different themes then the one we were working on. Again I look at it as a practical way of doing a film. I can do it in spurts around my schedule. All that is needed is that I link the stories with a wrap-around story, and I think I may have that already. Of course there is little money to do this, but going the DV route is the most practical for me. I've been interested in many different things throughout the year and I've found several resources that inspire me, and excite me into doing new work. I've always thought that an artist does his or her best work with their back against the wall, and so I find myself there. I refuse to give up, and I refuse to go quietly into the night. I am a filmmaker and I have a lot to offer and say. There are others out there who have the same dream, and it's nice to know your not alone, and maybe someday on some project we can all pull our resources together and do the exceptional and make a stunning piece of work. The stuff of dreams, but a reality in the making.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Mix

After locking the film down I was ready for the mix. I mixed my film at Agnello Films in northern NJ by Tom Agnello. Tom is a cinematographer & editor, and he knows his stuff. Over three days we mixed the film, and it all went well because of Tom. The one problem that Tom found was that some of the footage seemed out of synch. This was attributed to me not coding the film and mag track so that when I began cutting the film I lost synch. When projected it became a bit noticeable, so Tom had to take the time to re-synch some of the footage. We also added some new sound effects that he thought would help. Tom has an extensive collection of sound effects, and it took him no time to cut them in. We edited on a another 6 plate editor, which was similar to a KEM. Tom is one of the few who still edit this way. His basement is his studio, and it works without a hitch. Tom is also familiar with the people at Color Lab down near Washington DC where the film was printed. So if you are going to edit on film do yourself a favor and edge code your mag track and film together after you synch up your footage. It will save you time and a lot of headaches. Another thing Tom did was to clean up the sound of the camera in the production track. It seems during the production my camera was a bit too noisy, and you could hear it though it was blimped for sound. So with a few tweaks and turns on the old sound board Tom managed to minimize the sound, and now it's nolonger a problem for the film. My sound person used a very expensive & sensitive microphone, and hence the problem. When I tested the camera for camera noise I used a good shure microphone, but one not as sensitive to noise up front. Remember folks expensive doesn't mean good, so if I were to do this again I would use a good cardiod-microphone where it's pick-up wouldn't be as sensitive as the one that my sound person used.

I remember working on many professional films where I heard camera noise at the screening, but when the film went to a mix the sound was minimized, so it's fixable in post, but that's something my film teacher hated saying, and I know why. It will cost you additional time and money to fix, and it can be avoidable with just good microphone placement, and a good microphone in general. The mix was fun, and exciting because I was seeing all the elements come together and making a honest to God film that I had created. Tom also shot my titles which were plain white titles on black, and I designed the title cards. Tom brought a lot to the table, and I'd work with him in a heartbeat, and hopefully I will again. Tom is also a director of photographer and has served as a DP on several independent films which are currently on tape.

Throughout the making of this film I've been exposed to many different people who have made a concentrated effort to give it their best in the making of my film. I could never have done it without paying these people for their services, and their expertise. But like any addiction after doing this I want more, and hopefully I can use the same people and pay them a bit more on someone else's dime. I'm afraid that may not happen again, but I always hope, and after acquiring the knowledge and experience in making a film I can say that I am a filmmaker, and my experiences and my film prove that.