Since the last update I've discovered an entirely new way to chew up my time. Creating music. A thought that had been weighing on my mind was the need for some music in this short film. I can't play any instruments and my singing causes epileptic seizures in dogs, so it seemed some help was needed. I know a couple musicians and was considering asking them to come up with something but without anything to show them, it seemed too much to ask. How do you come up with music for a movie when nothing has been shot and even the script is unfinished? I have no idea and thus didn't even know what to ask for. So the music question just sat on the back burner, like Jabba's pet, squawking from the rafters.
Then I remembered something I saw in the extras for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, in which the director Robert Rodriguez scored the picture himself with the aid of some music making software. Long story short, I started tinkering with Sony's ACID program. It takes samples of sounds and loops them over and over to create a continuous bit of sound. These can be arranged to create music with a bit of thought and skill. After spending several night fooling around with this program, I've come to the conclusion that I could actually provide my own music for the movie. I still don't know what I'm doing with music but I have a plan. That's good enough for now. If I really get stuck, or suck horribly at creating my own stuff after the movie is shot, I can go to musician friends. You can listen to my early efforts here. This isn't something I intend to go in the movie, it's just an experiment. Make no assumptions about the movie or my musical tastes from it.
As always, I keep my head in a book when ever I have the time. This week's selection was Making Movies by Sidney Lumet. Great book. Lumet is a great director and his book is a no nonsense nuts and bolts look at the process he goes through on every movie. The most important thing to take away from the book is the importance of planning and organization. Lumet has already worked out most of the details before shooting starts, making it easier to handle problems that arise but more importantly tending to avoid problems by being well prepared. The book largely precedes the massive shift to digital processes so he has a lot to say about dealing with film itself. And frankly, it's one giant horror story. I'm beginning to wonder why anyone would want to deal with the stuff. With the exception of Steven Spielberg, who still does editing on film, the entire industry has moved to computer editing. Several directors, like Rodriguez, Michael Mann and George Lucas have started shooting entirely with HD digital cameras. If you watch the production diaries for King Kong, you can see that Peter Jackson's operation works entirely digitally after shooting on film and transfering it into computers. Certainly, digital can add a huge layer of complexity to a project, but it also offers a lot of ways to simplify a shoot. Most importantly it removes an unreliable and unwieldy chemical process from the act of making movies, making the whole affair a lot less prone to disasters. I'm not going to go into detail here so let's just say for now that I come down on the side of favoring digital to film.
Back to the short film. Casting has made a little progress. Four people have signed on, although they all will have rather small parts to play. There is only one big role in the movie and it remains open. The script is now about three quarters done. I'm still trying to decide the ending, which is the only thing holding it up. A big thing right now is accumulating equipment. A wide angle lense is on its way. I need to get some lights and will be putting together the $14 Steadycam. The plan is to shoot in 16x9 mode, but conveniently, my camera turns off image stabilization in that mode. So hopefully the cheapy steadycam will help smooth out the handful of moving shots I'm planning.
That's about it for now. Shooting won't start until the trees here are fully covered in leaves to give me the opening shot I want. Right now they are just putting out leaves, so there's a little time yet. More later.