We’re finally done withe McCloud. It feels like it has taken forever, even though it’s been a few chapters every week, I feel like it’s been months. My brain has been so foggy though, so that may have something to do with it. I’m going to warn you upfront that this post is L O N G because I feel like some of my other posts have been lacking and I want to make up for it.
Coincidentally, this post falls at the same time as me finishing up a project for another class that I have spent at least 140 hours on (that’s about average. Almost everyday for the past ~2 weeks, 8-12 hours a day and a few days I did 16-18 hours, because I am insane apparently). As it was for class I wasn’t getting paid for it, but there’s a good chance an internship in this wouldn’t pay anyway, so I got the experience without awful stress of the internship. Just the awful stress of feeling like I’d never be done and that it’s not going to turn out. I’ve watched it so many times that I’m unsure of how it is going to land with its intended audience. I’m not even done with it yet either, I’ve still got audio to work with and adjust and some scenes to clean up. I also have the hiccups while writing this. It’s a big part of why my comments and other work has been late in my other classes, but thankfully I’ve got some great professors who understand that sometimes I bite off a bit much and are willing to work with me. I’m also proud how much I’ve got done even if I pushed myself a little too hard and it resulted in me getting sick and remaining sick still.
But I want to talk about Chapter 7 in relation to all of this. Because I’m finally in possession of a current example that I’m going to exploit.
As soon as the Syllabus was live in LIT431RH I knew what chapter I wanted to do for our group project but I wasn’t sure how to do it. Then, as absolutely cheesy as it sounds, I thought of scene right before I fell asleep. It was one of those thoughts that you know you should write down because you’re going to forget, but you don’t
because you’ve reached perfect comfy and perfect comfy is more important that remembering something silly. The whole thought was of a woman standing behind a bar in a dark room and it was a close up of her left shoulder. THAT WAS IT. That was literally all I had. The idea that there was a man at the bar and that there was something else going on between them would come later. But at that moment I knew I would need to get something done in a bar. I think another reason I didn’t write it down is because it wasn’t a fully feasible idea yet. Sure I had a camera phone but that wouldn’t be good enough so I took my time and tried to plot out some other ideas. I knew that the Sirens chapter took place in a bar but the sudheading said it should be used for those of a musical persuasion and I thought that I would save that for someone else (at the time I had zero audio editing experience. Now a month later I can say I have at least some).
How’s My Form?
Ultimately I hatched it as a film. Not knowing where to start I realized I should probably find an adequate
camera to shoot with. I found a place in town that gave a student discount and that would let me rent several thousands of dollars worth of equipment of camera equipment for very little money (in comparison). It was the first time in my life I’d ever held a professional camera and I felt really cool. Before I ever picked up the camera though I know I had to convince SOMEONE to be in it. I couldn’t be in it because I was directing. But also, I know I’ve got a great face most days, but the rest of me belongs behind the camera, so that’s where I am (you can laugh at that, I know what I look like. I’m completely comfortable with it and work hard everyday to promote body positivity which means accepting that I make jokes about myself CONSTANTLY. IT. IS. OKAY. TO. LAUGH. AT. THEM. I. PROMISE.). In my head the woman I wanted was on the shorter side (which doesn’t mean much when it comes from me because almost everyone is short), dark hair, dark eyes, and the man taller than her but was quiet. In that class though, I barely knew any men. So I asked around and a lot of people didn’t want to be on camera. Fine. Then I found Matthew and Cassidy and it was perfect. A plus to that was they mostly had the costumes and that saved me some time. To get the Bowler hat I wanted I just called my hat guy and he hooked me up, lent it to me from his stock (he does costume rentals for theaters and we’ve been friends for a while now).
An Idiom for You, An Idiom for Me
But how was I going to shoot this? What sort of look was I going for. I realized that the hat I had on the way and the other props and costumes we’d organized were things that didn’t fit quite right to have an entirely
modern setting. That was okay though, because one of the first things the internet taught me about shooting a independent film was that if you do it in black and white, no one can tell if it sucks (also that you need permits to film on most city streets, I’m sure you can figure out which one I ignored *shhh*). So I was sure to pick colors that were somewhat neutral. But I needed a ‘damsel’ and realized that if we did this right, it could almost be a noir film. Or at least the prelude to one before the hard-boiled detective gets put on the case and solves the problems and get the girl (or in the case of the Maltese Falcon, sends the girl to prison). So I used as many film noir tricks that I could, my male character was down on his luck and thought he had met a girl who liked him (though they had never spoken) and he slowly starts to lose it as time goes on. I had the pessimism and menace down. It was a perfect fit and I loved the idea. One thing that I did want though was red. The color red was something important as it represented the lust he felt toward her and how the lust resulted the way it did (I’m not spoiling it because we haven’t released it yet). So the film was black, white, and red. I don’t know if you know HOW MUCH RED is in the world but it is A LOT. But that was just apart of the Sony Vegas learning process.
My Creation Lives
We filmed over three days total I think. It was super quick. Getting half the spaces we needed to film was hard though. Thankfully Plonk (my bar scene was going to be amazing) came through right away but finding a stage to film our finale in was near impossible. Theaters in Bozeman are not friendly to film projects and some wanted a couple thousand dollars up front. I don’t mind paying someone for their time but it was immense. Securing permission took a lot of time the first week. Cassidy finally remembered taking a tango class in the Romney gym and I was able to secure the dance studio for 4 hours. There were a few shots where we ignored protocol and one shot where I almost got hit by a car, but we go
them. Through the cold and wind we got them. There were scenes we had to change a lot because filming them became impossible without permission. But even after all the filming it was now the process of fitting everything together. I know that there are lots of takes when it comes to film and that something that takes you 4 hours to do can yield as little as a minute or so of footage. You have to cut out the first few seconds usually before you say “action”, or in my case “go”. Then missteps or mistakes need to be cut. Editing together footage to keep in time with a dance scene was super hard. Didn’t think it would be as hard as it was but it was. You have to keep stuff that goes with the continuity of the scene too. You can’t have something happen and then show it happening again in the same scene without an indication as to whether you’ve switch POV or not. Things have to be is the same place. People have to look the same. Whenever I think of continuity issues I always think of the BBC show Merlin where Merlin, Colin Morgan, had to be under an umbrella if he were outside because everyone was nervous that if he were to tan between takes that is would effect the continuity of the show. So that’s always a big thing that you have to be careful of in film.
Let’s Get Shit Done
I had an idea when I started how much work this would be. I knew what I was getting into and took every opportunity I had to learn the program I was using and all the things that go along with that. I’ve watched so many youtube tutorials on how to do cool tricks in Vegas that I think I’m pretty competent in it at this
point. My art school background helped here a lot as well. I knew how to cancel out certain colors in scenes and was able to identify how the scene should look overall. Actually sitting down and working on it for so long has reminded me that patience is key and that I need to practice it more. I don’t think I would have been able to figure everything out in time without Youtube. I learned the audio editing part of the project by cramming a bunch of tutorials into a weekend (something I should have spent more time on but I didn’t know it was going to be to the extent it has turned into). Without those videos this wouldn’t be done yet, it’d be far from it. I knew though that if I kept my head and if I stopped when I was getting frustrated I wouldn’t burn out. I burn out more while I try to work through frustration because it doesn’t work and then I just don’t want to look at what it is in front of me. That was key to this craft.
(Hang in there, we’re almost done. I know it’s a lot of words but you’ve got this)
How Are Others Going To Appreciate This
Now this project isn’t technically done yet. That’s okay though, I still have a bit to work on it. However I know for a lot of people watching it there is going to be massive focus on just how it looks. They’re not going to see the work that was put in. They might in some scenes where I could conceal or cancel other reds in the world to make sure my red stood out, definitely be able to see those. But I also think that it’s important
for me to remember that that is okay. Not everyone can do what I did in such a short period of time. I’m starting to find my niche with projects and I like how finishing things makes me feel. I might even go on to finish a novel (finally). But when I apply the project to McCloud’s process I see a lot of what I did paralleled, even though I didn’t read it a month ago when this started. I know there are many people, even in my own major, who are more adept at things like this than I am. I know some of them may criticize it. If there is one thing I wish I could do it would be to give myself enough time to disassociate emotionally from this project. That hasn’t happened so I’ll be running with pure emotion when we present on Wednesday. Let’s see if I can be okay with that.