Archive for the ‘filmmaking’ Category

Snack-o-rama

I knew it was just a matter of time until I work for The Man, but here it is: Me and some friends made a “Doritos commercial” for the Doritos Viralocity contest. It started out as three separate videos but then was combined to create one epic story about a man tormented by his dreams (okay, it’s not as dramatic as it sounds).
Anyway, the trick in the contest is to share your video as much as possible, that is why I am using my blog, who usually concerns itself with topics as Why Are We Here and What Is The Meaning Of It All as a shameless plug-in to promote our little snack-o-rama (TM) masterpiece, which was, obviously, shot in snack-o-rama.

Enjoy!

Make ’em laugh

Getting ready for my screening at WILDsound Film Festival in Toronto, I started to think how nerve-wrecking it is to do a comedy compared to all other film genres.
With comedy, the rules are simple. If the audience don’t laugh, you’re screwed.
If you do a drama, a horror film, an action-adventure, you usually never know if your film worked until the credits start to roll. Then, either people clap, or boo, or couldn’t care less. You may know if it worked by talking to the audience, by looking at their faces or listening to their conversations when they’re leaving the theater, but comedy is the only genre where you absolutely know if your film worked WHILE it is shown.

But does a comedy HAVE to make you laugh to be considered successful?

Well… Yes.

I’m the first one to admit that my film, Hype, is not a laugh-a-minute-riot, nor is it a slapstick comedy or a comedy of errors. Instead, it relies on a certain punchline to deliver the laugh.
Whenever I watch it with a group of people I always get very anxious at the end, because i know that if people don’t laugh now, the film didn’t work for them.
So tonight, watching Hype with the (hopefully) largest audience I ever had for it, I feel excited but mostly anxious. You sit there and you know that if people won’t laugh, your film is a misfire, a dud, a waste of space. A comedy is meant to make people laugh through satire, irony, black humor, slapstick. Like every good film, it needs to say something about life and the world we live in, about the characters, and it needs to do so in a way that makes you laugh. Maybe not all the way, but I believe a good comedy has to have at least one big laugh proportional to its length.

Woody Allen made some great comedies. Some of them were funnier than others. Bananas and Love and Death were ribald and crazy. Radio Days and Mighty Aphrodite were much more subtle. All of those films made you laugh at one point or another. But while Allen’s first films are considered his funniest, his later comedies are considered to be more deep, more rounded and profound. They are more about something, while his early spoofs are more like 90 minute sketches.

But they are all comedies, and they all work in their own way. I love comedies such as Take The Money And Run and Airplane because I love nonsense humor, but I also admire comedies that are more mature. There’s a lot of leeway inside the genre confines, but the rule always stays the same:

Your audience needs to laugh. And laugh for the right reasons, too.

A comedy can sometime tickle your funny bone without causing you to burst uproariously with laughter. There are countless examples of that. But as I’ve said, it’s not enough. If you strive for a comedy, you need those laugh-out-loud moments. Because what comedy filmmaker would want to sit at a screening of his film and have everyone chuckle inside for 90 minutes, or 20 minutes, or 5 minutes?

No, when we do a comedy, we want to make ’em laugh.

And we will sit in the dark and hold our breath until then…

Here comes the rain again

The Hype production is hitting some snags again. The weather is the main problem now. Despite my best efforts to finish shooting all the exterior scenes by the end of September, scheduling problems have pushed the dates into October, and it’s been raining here in one form or another for almost everyday now. Mostly it’s light rain, but still, it makes you miss all those nice, warm, sunny or partly-sunny days which seem to have only been two weeks ago. Wait! They were two weeks ago!
Also, the temperature is much colder. From around 20-25 degrees Celsius in September, we’re down to 10-15 degrees.
Dates for the shoot have originally been pushed by one week because of the rain, and the forecast promises some more rain at the new dates scheduled. If I push it further, into November, most likely it will get worse, not better.

There is an option of transferring at least one of the scenes, which is a scene where our heroine gets a wedding proposal, into an interior location. But again, because that would mean finding a suitable venue for such a scene, i.e, a nice restaurant, for example, it makes it harder, not easier. It’s very hard to get a permission to shoot in a place of business when you have no money to offer them. Especially in places of business where people eat. One idea was to shoot this scene on a high roof (instead of High Park), but it’s still an exterior scene, and everyone will be much colder standing 50 feet or more above the ground.

And anyway, I feel I need to open the film a bit. I have too many scenes in enclosed places where characters sit next to each other and talk. It’s boring visually. Ever since the script- writing stage, This scene was devised as a romantic walk OUTSIDE. It was devised like that for a reason, and that reason hasn’t changed.

Rain will cause a lot of problems, beginning with the threat to equipment and ending with the fact that people will feel wet and icky. There are certain things we can do to cope with that. The camera can be covered and protected (but not the microphone, sadly), A PA can cover the actors with an umbrella right outside of frame, and the rain (and even umbrella as a prop) can even factor into the scene to make it even more romantic. Nevertheless, we’ll have severe lighting problems. The ground will be muddy. People will be cold. A thermos with a coffee might help, but we won’t be able to really eat and drink in a comfortable manner like we did when we shot the bar scene. That concerns me.

Yes, it’s a forecast, and forecasts can change. But last week’s forecast was right on the money, and anyway, you take a chance, because you won’t know for sure till the actual day arrives. So you can pray. How about that for practical solutions?!

I’m thinking of going ahead and shoot anyway mainly because I don’t see any other choice. Again, the weather in November might be worse. Another option is to just wait on those scenes till summer. Oh, my. I really wouldn’t like to do that.
The momentum of the shoot has been trashed by a month long delay. You pay a price when you employ people who work for free. You save money (and are able to use it for hard production stuff like rentals), but you lose a certain degree of commitment. This movie couldn’t have been made with a paid-up crew, though. That would’ve added hundreds of dollars to the budget.
There’s a fear. a great fear, people will lose interest in the project because of the delays. I’m starting to feel it now. The e-mail traffic has decreased. That means that people don’t care as much as they did when we first began, and I can’t blame them. I’ve sent out so many false dates I lost track of it myself. Only yesterday I got word from a location owner that the weekend I planned to shoot on and already told everyone about, is a no-go. My level of exasperation is at Defcon 4, reaching Defcon 5.

Not to mention the fucking outdoor-shooting permits I am not able to attain because the film office in Toronto seems to be under the impression that everyone who makes a film in this town has 5 trucks and 17 trailers, and therefore needs a 2 million dollar insurance policy. It’s time to change the rules. The digital age has ushered a new stream of indie filmmakers who shoot their stuff with small crews and almost no budget, whether it be a short of a feature.

Waiting for the weather to clear is tempting, but might cause a reverse effect. Procrastinations are psychologically harmful. I wish I could do a poll among my crew to see what everyone thinks. Is filmmaking a democracy? I suppose not. Is no-budget filmmaking making a democracy? Will people stand in the rain for free? Will I find another video store on time? Will ruthless park rangers throw us in the slammer, or worse, tell us to go away? Will Steven tell his parents he’s gay?

Join us next time!