Thursday, November 16, 2006

Filmmaking in the Digital Era

As all of you know I've been looking around the today's film making landscape, and am trying to come up with a viable idea for another film. As to date I am writing another script, but some articles which I read on different blogs have kind of made me think. One article is of a actor who is now doing wedding's on film. I've actually toyed with this idea, and have at times when I've been filming a wedding or at an event as a guest taken along my Super-8 camera, or my old Bolex. I usually just do it for myself, and I like the experience of shooting on film. I've even taken the old Arri out, and filmed our first Thanksgiving dinner as a married couple. Sync sound and all. The only reason I did this was for doing it. I like film, and am partial to it. Video comes close now-a-days, but shooting in film feels good. Focal length, f-stop, t-stops, depth of field, and film speed are all factors that go into shooting on film, and coming from the film arena I'm comfortable using them. Film has a latitude that I love. In low light, or in well light areas film looks good.

Now getting back to the article. I've always wanted to do a character piece about a wedding or event such as a anniversary or even a baptism. Weddings seem more fun to shoot because there is a lot happening, and everyone is in their finest. I still edit & shoot weddings on occasion, and I never have a bad time at one. I like doing it, and I take my time, and put no undue pressure on myself since I am usually doing it for next to nothing, or just for my own self. I did a lot of weddings in my college and high school days when I worked for a local wedding event company in NY. I learned a lot then, but I also learned what NOT to do, and as I get older I seem to be getting more confident in my abilities as a filmmaker. Especially now where all things seem to be done in digital. I've learned that it's in the editing where the magic really happens. When I shoot at events I shoot a lot of footage. It's only video after all, but when I shoot film I pick & choose the scenes I want to film. I try to get the key moments on film when I can. I combine the footage I shoot in different formats throughout the video.

Now here's the idea. Why not do a film based on the idea of a wedding. Use actors, and non-actors, and stage a wedding over a week-end. Of course the story needs to be GOOD, and interesting, and the film has to have that feeling of reality. After all don't we all love to look at other people and see their problems and joys. Hence all the reality programs playing now on television. The film would be scripted, but I think I would leave room for some improvisation. Trying to create the happy accident within the scene. Did you ever read how they shot the wedding scene in "The Godfather". Francis Coppola knew how to stage that, and it felt real, but I believe only Francis could pull that off, and make it feel so authentic. Of course that is only a scene in a movie. One really GREAT movie to be precise, but none the less it's an example of what you can do.

I'm not even saying shoot the whole film on film. Mix formats. Super-8, 16mm, digital video can all be combined, and give that feeling of authenticity of the film. The Blair Witch Project works because it feels authentic, and yet we are seeing actors up on the screen.

I bet a lot of filmmakers & aspiring filmmakers can do a lot with this. All kinds of stories are possible here. Over at "Lost in Light" a website where "they are devoted to preserving, showcasing, and celebrating films created on the small-gauge 8mm film format they're retelling old stories. I think this is a GREAT idea and something that needs to be explored even further. I've always said everyone has a story, and these small films tell that story. By using this footage one can only be inspired.

So I really don't know what will come out of all this. All I can say is that I'm excited by the prospect of using a variety of formats to tell a story. It's always been about the story for me. That hasn't always been the case earlier in my career. Style, and shots were more important back then. Now in this digital arena a lot of styles can come together, and a story can be told. I'm excited by this, and I feel that the many ideas springing up within my head have potential. Now it's just a matter of getting them up on the screen. Ain't that always the challenge.

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