Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Final Reflections

This class... oh, this class. Where do I even begin? We've packed a semester into a month, and I can feel it in my thighs. In this short month, I've read more, written more, lifted more, yelled more, filmed more, and sat in front of a computer more than I have in the past year -- and I loved every minute of it.

I can safely say that I have learned more real world skills in this course than any other in my college career so far. I learned how to work with people, how to organize and plan a production, how to deal with stress, and how to execute a directorial vision. I learned about different kinds of cameras, about color palettes and filters, about lighting and grip, and so much more.

I think that packing this course into one month was actually a good thing. Hopefully, what I went through in this course will help me to better prepare for what's waiting for me in the real world -- deadlines, collaborative work, stress -- all things that I got a taste of this past month.

And most importantly, I learned more about myself. I got to develop my visual style and learn more about directing. I got to learn what I have the potential to be great at, and what I should let other people handle (ie Alec Barnes, the craft services demigod). To steal the words from Shelby, I feel like this class was a TCF bootcamp (in a good way). I was catapulted into a filmmaking environment that truly helped me evolve as an aspiring filmmaker.

If I could, I'd do it all over again. I absolutely loved taking TCF312, and I love the friends that I have made in the process.


Artist's Statement

Here's my artist's statement: I want to project life onto a screen.

I know I'll need to go more in-depth, but I think that sentence sums it up. I don't want to stick to a particular genre, and I don't want to tell the same story over and over. I want my audiences to feel something while watching my films, and in turn, think about life in a different way. Some of my favorite films tell stories of ordinary people while others show fantastical dreamed-up worlds. I don't believe that these stories are mutually exclusive, and I don't believe that "genre" defines a film. I believe that theme should be the top priority of any film. Not plot, not visuals, not explosions, but theme. What the movie is about. If it's a good movie, then that theme should challenge you mentally.

This is what I want to create. I want to tell stories of people, places, and things that mean something -- stories that have more to them than just pretty pictures and crazy action sequences. I want audiences to talk about my movies after they end, I want them to think critically and feel something. This is why I am drawn to filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, and Terrence Malick. They treat their craft like a craft -- not a business.

Visual style is also something that is very important to me. And while I previously stated that I don't only focus on the visuals of a movie, I still believe that they are an integral part of storytelling. I am a very visual person, and I seek to show this in the films I make. There are times when a story should be told with words, and there are times when a story can be told with images. Both are equally capable of conveying the director's vision and the film's theme. Personally, I am drawn to dramatic, low key lighting, and muted color. I love deep, rich tones and focus on value and texture.

Going back to my original statement, I want to project life onto a screen. I want to give perspectives that audiences don't normally see. I want people to think. I want to create emotion. Through film, I am able to tell stories that matter to me, and hopefully, to others as well.

Scene Assignment: Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why the DSLR?

For my scene assignment, we decided to shoot with the Canon 7D. There were many reasons for this decision, but the main selling points were its availability, portability, and its treatment of light, color, and depth.

First of all, I own this camera. Even though that's not a good enough reason of its own, I still made the purchase decision based on a lot of research, the main points of which I will list in proceeding paragraphs. However, it was easy to choose this camera over the others available to us because of the ease of being able to use equipment I already owned.

Secondly, this camera is pocket-sized. Not literally, but it's a heck of a lot smaller than the other cameras in the TCF department. We changed locations three different times for my shoot, so having a camera (and accessories) that could easily be moved from point A to point B (to point C) was a huge plus.

Now let's get to the actual functionality of the camera. This camera renders color, light, and depth beautifully (with the help of some Zeiss primes, of course). It is characteristic of DSLRs to have a very shallow depth of field, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's great because you get that beautifully creamy bokeh, but at the same time, you've got to have a focus puller. And that focus puller has to have the eyes of a hawk and the hands of a seasoned artisan.

DSLRs are also incredibly sensitive to light, which, again, can be a good and bad thing. It's great for low light situations, but when it's bright out, you can run into problems. With no built-in ND filters, you are forced to close down the aperture to correctly expose your image; which, in turn, can eliminate that gorgeous depth of field that DSLRs are so good at. 

Paired with this camera, the Zeiss lenses produce a rich and deep color spectrum that appeals to my aesthetic taste. The high contrast and crisp focus is exactly what I look for when choosing a camera -- and the DSLR has that.

The other cameras that were available are all great, but did not make the cut for various reasons. The non-DSLRs are bulky and do not handle light and color the way that I would like (and no interchangeable lenses). When it comes to other DSLRs like the T2i and the 5D, it mainly came down to what I was experienced with and what I already owned. Even though the 5D is a better camera all-around, I am in love with my 7D, and I wanted to continue working with it since the 7D is likely what I'll be using until I can afford something better.

I'll close this post with a teaser for my upcoming scene assignment. Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Portrait of a Place

Midterm Reflections

With midterm coming up, I've found that it is quite hard to reflect on everything we've done in TCF 312 so far. Condensing a class that struggles to fit into a full semester into one short month is... intense to say the least. We've had so much information packed into our brains since day one, that I'm just now starting to sort it out. From camera specs to framing and composition to lighting, we've covered a ton in a few short weeks.

What has stuck with me the most so far is learning new cameras. I came into the class with a decent amount of knowledge about DSLRs, but I was completely new to most of the other cameras we were introduced to. I realized that I need to be well-versed with a variety of cameras if I want to be successful in the real world. Obviously, not everyone uses a 7D or 5D to make movies.

I'm really looking forward to the material that we still have left to learn over the remainder of the semester. The great thing about studying film is that everything builds on itself, so it's really fun to start seeing things come together.

Going into our final few assignments, I'm hoping to be able to put everything I've learned into practice. Although I'm slightly stressed about the amount of work coming up, it's still very exciting, so I'm going to take that excitement and run with it -- hoping I don't face-place into a wall.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Light & Color

This first image, a photograph my Laurence Winram, brings so much into play. This image is wonderfully composed, carrying the viewer's eye from left to right as he plays with the rule of thirds. The colors in this image are equally beautiful -- filling the canvas with muted, cool earth tones. I feel that the lighting truly beings this piece together. The natural sunlight, diffused by the overcast sky, paints the subjects and landscape with very soft light.

When I first saw the above image by Laurent Nivalle, I was blown away by the colors. The way the artist rendered the blue and green tones is absolutely gorgeous. The high contrast and relatively hard light make this piece more intense and mysterious.

The two above photos are by an artist named Alex Andreyev. The first image employs a cool color palette and very hard lighting, shining straight down on the subject. However, he the way he paints his shadows reflects a softer light source, which creates a beautiful contrast in the image. The second piece uses the same method. The hard hallway lights cast soft shadows onto the floor.

This final piece is a music video for an artist called Woodkid. The visuals in this video are absolutely stunning, and carry a lot of metaphorical value. The director uses very high contrast black and white imagery to draw the viewer's focus to value and texture rather than color. I am in love with this video.