Thursday, August 2, 2012

312 Reflections

I loved taking this class this summer, even though it seemed like TCF boot camp this past week.

One of the most important things I’ve learned in 312 is the importance of the director-DP relationship. I've experienced director-DP pairs that worked, and pairs that did not work. As a DP, it's almost impossible to do a good job when your director lacks a vision. When the director doesn’t know what he or she wants to say, it’s difficult to know what you need to get in your shot and what it needs to communicate.  When your director has a clear vision and purpose for shooting, that enthusiasm is contagious, and you’re more motivated to execute that vision. Working on Connor’s scene assignment was really rewarding because I wanted to see his vision come to life, and I think we achieved that.

Both my DPs went above and beyond their call of duty. They met me for more meetings than were expected and I think our meticulous pre-planning paid off. I was very anxious about the scene assignment, but I’m really proud of what my crew and I created. I can’t thank my group enough for their time, creativity, and hard work.

After completing the scene assignment, I’ve decided to not rule out narrative filmmaking. My focus will always be documentaries, but going through the process of working on the scene assignments has given me a new appreciation and interest in making narrative films.

Watching everyone’s films in class has been a great experience. Since we were watching films produced by people with the same assignment, time restraints, and access to equipment, we were on the same playing field. I was able think about what I could’ve done to improve it or how I would’ve told the story differently in the confines of what we had access to.

My favorite part of this class was that it challenged me to think creatively in a way that most classes don’t. Being in college is about playing the game. For the most part we’re asked to listen, memorize and spit back the information. In this class, we were given full access to the equipment room, a crew, and the information needed to carry out our vision and create something completely our own. I’m not only leaving this class feeling more confident in my filmmaking abilities, but also inspired to keep watching, reading, and creating.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Reel and Artist Statement

                                                                  DP/ Director Reel 2012 from sHadden Productions on Vimeo.
      While watching a rough cut of a film I’m working on, a friend asked me why I had so many images of my subject’s feet. My response was that our feet carry us through our everyday routines, victories, and defeats. Whether we’re crawling or running, in heels or in sneakers, our feet keep us moving forward.

      Documentaries are the stories of our feet. They are about where we’ve been, where we want to go, and how we are going to get there.

      I want to artistically represent people’s every day lives in a way that educates, inspires, and moves the audience. I’ve always wanted to be a journalist, because I live for capturing the little, quiet moments that you only get from being an outsider, waiting patiently, and listening carefully. But as a documentary filmmaker, I don’t have to pretend to be objective. Documentaries allow me to fall in love with my subjects in a way that I can fully understand and tell their story in a meaningful and artistic way, while staying a fly on the wall.

      I look for strong characters like Lilly Ledbetter and Ellen Hollis, who believe in something, aren’t afraid to try, and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. If they inspire me to be better and work harder, I know they will inspire others. My goal is to make the audience reconsider how they look at the world, to see the possibility that life could be worse, and that they can make it better, one step at a time.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Bean Trees

I based my scene assignment on the first chapter of Barbara Kingsolver's novel, The Bean Trees.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why the 7D?

It is extremely important in planning the scene assignment to have a good grasp on the strengths and limitations of every camera available. We have to consider our script, locations, shots, and the overall look we want to achieve when making the decision of which one to use.

I learned from my portrait of a place assignment that the JVC-100 doesn’t work well in low lighting. Since half of my scene takes place at night, it was easy to rule that camera out. The SONY EX3 would be too big to film in the car. Similarly, my DP wouldn’t be able to get a shallow depth of field in the car with the SONY HDV because there wouldn’t be enough room for him to back up and zoom in. Also, the HDV wouldn’t allow us to shoot in slow motion.

I knew I wanted to use a DSLR for a few reasons. Since I haven’t shot with them very much, I want to get more experience working with them. I want to get more familiar with their workflow since it is so different from the other cameras. Stylistically, I want a lot of intimate, close up shots with a shallow depth of field, which is the DSLR’s specialty. They are small and light, making them perfect for filming in the car and shooting handheld tracking shots. DSLRs also work well in low lighting situations, and since the end of the scene takes place at night, this feature is very important for driving the story home.

I chose the 7D over the 5D because the 7D offers different frame rates, allowing for some key slow motion shots. I want to get slow motion shots of the protagonist walking out of the house and the keys dangling in the ignition.

I spent a lot of time considering each camera, learning their strengths and weaknesses. I am confident that the 7D is the best choice for my scene.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Midterm Reflection

        I’ve learned a lot in this class so far. I’ve finally grasped basic, technical concepts that we didn’t go over in enough detail in the previous classes, such as the relationship between frame rates and shutter speed. Learning all the different characteristics of each camera has been extremely helpful. It’s critical to know the strengths and limitations of each camera when planning a shoot. While working on my portrait assignment, I learned that the JVC-100 doesn’t perform well in low-light conditions, which means I won’t be considering it for my scene assignment. I’ve decided that I will be working with a DSLR for my scene assignment. Before this class I never shot on a DSLR, but the in-class exercise provided great hands-on experience that will help me shoot and direct the scene assignments.

      I’ve enjoyed the readings and blog post assignments. These assignments work really well together- the readings prepare me to complete my blogs, and the blogs challenge me to think about my personal style, what I want to do, and how to communicate my vision. Working on my blog posts have forced me to look for more art, watch more videos, pay attention to more details, and think critically about every frame I see.

     Our readings opened my eyes to all the elements one needs to consider before shooting something. I like thinking about how everything from framing, lighting, and size and placement of objects work together to communicate a message or emotion. These concepts came in handy when I planned my portrait assignment and I’ve found that my strength definitely lies in having a clear vision. Even though most of the shots are extremely underexposed, I know that they were visually interesting and told a good story.

     I still don’t feel like I have a strong handle on the equipment. When I take my quizzes, I realize I know the material much more that I think I do, but in practice, I feel completely overwhelmed and worried that I’m going to mess something up. I’m sure I will feel more confident with more practice, and hopefully working on all the scene assignment shoots will give me the experience that I need to get more comfortable.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Portrait of a Person

                                                           Portrait of Bethany Lovell from sHadden Productions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lighting Styles

This Little Scout music video has a very simple concept: a ballerina goes into the woods one night and dances by herself in a pink tutu. I absolutely love this video because it’s about losing someone losing herself to her passion. 

 In the first half of the video, the natural lighting gives the video a warm, amber color palette. It’s soft and romantic, portraying a sense of innocence. The dancer is also very bare. She doesn’t have a lot of makeup on, and her skin, clothes, and hair all blend together, but the natural lighting emphasizes her natural beauty.

The second half of the video takes place at night. The “moon” acts like a spotlight. The cool colors and high contrast emphasize her solitude. I especially like the shots with silhouette lighting and fog. Placing the light behind her gives her a nice rim, defining the lines of her movement. 

The hard, directional light in this scene from Inception creates high contrast. Most of DiCaprio is in the shadows, reflecting the mystery and power of the totem, which the audience is not yet familiar with. Everything from the lighting, wardrobe, framing, and colors makes DiCaprio mirror the totem, implying the influence the totem has on his character’s life. If high-key lighting was used instead, the tragedy associated with the totem would be lost. 

This shot is from a sneak peak of the upcoming season of Dexter. He is almost completely in the dark. Light is implied to be coming from a window above him, just barely lighting half of his face. More light is on his victim in the background than the main character of the shot. Despite breaking the rules of traditional lighting, it is extremely appropriate because he lives his life in the shadows.