Monday, October 24, 2005

Digital or Film

The above picture is one of the cameras I have in my arsenal. The other is a Arri BL, and I love both of these cameras. The above camera, which is called an Eclair NPR has been used in many productions in the past. Many an independent film has shot with the NPR because of it's portability, and it's relative quiet running. Of course both these cameras are older models, and now there are Arri SR's and Anton's which are quieter, but a lot more expensive. It's a no brainer to shoot film if you have the budget, but more and more the world is going digital, and if your final output is to DVD then you might as well shoot digital, and put the extra money you save into paying your actors or better food on the set. Trust me it will be money well spent.

I have a affinity for film. I like the latitude film gives, and even if I go the DVD route I know the film will look great. Maybe it's the cinematographer in me. I've gotten GREAT images in the past with film, and Kodak keeps coming out with some great filmstocks to capture images with. I spent a little over four grand on film stock for my film "Deadly Obsessions", and another six grand to develop it all. SO you can see why the temptation to go to digital is so tempting.

In fact I would say that if I was shooting a film NOW I would most certainly shoot on digital. Film festivals are more and more accepting digital submissions, and I've seen digital projected movies which look absolutely fantastic. But then again I still love film. Film seems to capture a lot of detail, and since I'm familiar with exposure, and latitudes of film I know what I'll get as the final image. Digital is immediate, and you can manipulate digital later, but I've always thought it was a cheat if you did that. I was schooled by teachers who told me to get a clean image, and I've always done that. Nestor Alemendros was one of my favorite cinematographers, and his photography still stands out to me.

I work with a lot of young adults and it's a shame to see that digital is more and more taking over the academic world. I still don't think film is dead. Not just yet. In fact there may be a resurgence of film some time in the future. Maybe then they'll bring us old folk out and they'll dust us off and have another go round in the world of FILM production.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Remembering Sarah!

Sarah Jacobson was one cool lady. She wrote & directed as well as edited, and produced along with her mother the film "Mary Jane isn't a Virgin Anymore". I had a chance to see the film here in Philly, but was disappointed when she didn't show up to the screening. You see Sarah was a one women tour`de force. She took her film to colleges, and small art theaters around the US and even in parts of Europe. She was exhausted, and could not come, but it mattered not, because I was thoroughly impressed at what Ms Jacobson had done for a mere 12K. Sarah was the original punk Do it your-selfer. She and her mom did their own advertising through the web, and by putting up posters for her screening. She sold a short film on video called "I was a teenager serial killer" at her screenings as well as T-shirts. Ms Jacobson eventually got a job at the Oxygen Network, and was a producer there before her illness took her.

I've read almost every article I could get my hands on that she wrote. I read all the interviews she gave, and she was someone I admired, and cheered on. It's hard work making a film, but it's even harder promoting it, and Sarah was a pro at that. She died last year, and it was a loss to the independent movement here in this country. She was a pioneer of sorts, and some one who influenced me on doing my own thing.

So when I get down, or get angry at my failures and think I can no longer do another film I think one thing, and it cheers me up. That one thing is: "What would Sarah do?"

The answer is always the same: Kick some fucking ass.

Here's to you Sarah. You are missed and yet you still inspire. I'd think she'd like that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It's in your head

The above is a saying my screenwriting teacher used to tell us, and she was SO right. Any idea starts in your head, and then gets written down. That journey from your head to the paper and finally onto the screen can be a long and cumbersome journey. Richard Rush took 10 years to get the movie "The Stuntman" made, and he suffered a heart attack in the interim. So though there is a lot of product out there in the market place. There is also a lot of junk too. Good writing is where it starts, and don't let anyone say any different. So I'm in the process of writing several things, and seeing which one pans out. I even have several ideas for shorts, but I'm a little put off in doing a short because there isn't really a big market out there for shorts, and if you're going to put in a lot of effort into a project it might as well be something you can market like a feature. The writing process can be one of frustration, and sheer isolation. It's you and the word processor, and that's it, and when there is no feed back you begin to question yourself and the work. Meanwhile time ticks away, and you're not getting any younger. Everyday you're not shooting your epic is another day you feel useless, but again it's all in the writing, so it is here where you need to get fired up, and maybe fire up some other people. Filmmaking never stops, and even when you think you're not doing something you actually are. It's a long road to the screen, and it's a road with a lot of traps, and pitfall. You need the story to drive you, and then you'll get through it all. Remember it's in your head.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Next Project?

So what to do now. I've completed a feature, and I've done several shorts. Now what? For a long time I've been looking for people who are in the same situation as me. People who had an overwhelming love for the cinema, but who also hold a firm grasp in reality. What do I mean by that you ask. The media is full of stories of people bucking the odds and getting their film made, but over the years I've met others who have danced the dance, and have been less successful. Mostly money, time, or both conspire against one and after all the film industry is a strange mistress. It will love you one minute and forget about you the next. For MYSELF I've been interested in film since I was a young teen, and it has given me much happiness as well as heartbreak. You do what you have to do, and with the tools you have. It's that simple. Glory, fame, money are all nice, but it's not what drives the engine. What drives the engine is the desire to create something better then yourself. Something that you can be proud of, and that says something. So the line for me has been between the academic world, and the entertainment industry. One feeds the other, and there is merit in both worlds. Since resources have been dry of late I have begun to dig deeper into the experimental. Maybe there I can feed the monster, and eventually apply what I've learned into another film. Everyday is a new day of opportunities and I need to look within myself for those inspirations. The catch phrase "Persistence of vision" keeps coming into my head. I was always told that persistence was the key to your goals. All I know is that I have stories to tell, and films to create, and I need to get on the stick, and do it. After all I'm not getting any younger.