PARANORMAN

PARANORMAN

I’m in the editing room, thinking about soundscapes for my second exercise. What better example of sound added in post-production is there than an animated film?
I decide to watch’ Paranorman’. I’ve been holding it off for far too long.
Five minutes in and I’ve already forgotten why I’m watching it in the first place. It is amazing. There is a beauty and warmth in this stunning stop-motion animation, and I can’t believe the lengths the animators went into crafting this wonderful world and its characters. The lighting. The way the fibres of the clothes move. The craziness of it all! The humour and beautiful ambivalence of the story.
This is the best animated feature I’ve seen probably since 2010 (How To Train Your Dragon/Toy Story 3).

I’m going to make a stop-motion film one day goddammit. Just try and stop me, universe.

Advertisements

Editing.

Editing.

I love the editing process. My mind almost goes blank when I get into the zone. Cutting together these strangers of clips, and making them join together in unison. I feel like I’m a matchmaker for single, flirtatious video files.

Or a magician. I’d like to imagine I’m like George Méliès. Magician-turned-filmmaker, who made cinematic magic through his editing. I’d like to think that this therefore qualifies me to perform magic.

Now seeking partner for my upcoming 2015 Vegas show. Unpaid.

Before Sunrise.

Image

Every now and then you watch a film that grabs you by the collar, shakes you around and leaves you to never be the same ever again.

To me, Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Waking Life)’s 1995 film Before Sunrise is one of those films. In a world of cheesy cliches and predictable romance films, Before Sunrise maintains a sense of freshness and honesty that likely will never be reproduced on screen. It’s a thinking person’s romance. It follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), two twenty-somethings that meet on a train to Paris – who on a spontaneous whim, decide to spend the day (and night) in Vienna together before Jesse has to take a plane back home to the US.

The film refuses to give you a decisive plot, instead taking the audience along with the characters, as they explore Vienna and talk about life, love, expectations and and the many mysteries of the human condition. It may seem bland on paper, but the dialogue and performances seem so real that it truly feels as you are watching two people find each other and fall in love. No cheesy grand gestures of romance. Just connecting through conversation. I can’t talk about these characters as if they once existed. I can only talk as if they really do exist, perhaps in a parallel universe. They feel complete, like real, flawed people. Linklater manages to capture what it’s like to be a young twenty-something: full of hopes, dreams and ideas. It’s not often you get a film that makes you question your existence every five minutes.

It’s also beautifully directed and filmed. In a film full of conversation, the moments of silence have a flooring effect. After I watched it for the first time, all I wanted to do was to catch a train to Vienna and fall for a French girl.

And guess what. It’s only the first in a set of three films. The third film, Before Midnight is coming out this year (I just bought tickets to the advance screening in June – I’ve never been more excited to see a film in my life). The story of Jesse and Celine is a timeless one, and I’m so glad Linklater wanted to keep catching up with his characters nine (Before Sunset) and eighteen years (Before Midnight) later, respectively. If all goes well – and I’m sure it will – The Before series will no doubt claim the position as my favourite film trilogy of all time.

Richard Linklater admits that the film was inspired by a chance encounter he had when he met a woman in a Philadelphia toy shop, and they spent the night walking around the city and talking. That night had a profound effect on him forever:

“It’s just how we influence each other. That’s why we always have to give your best self to everyone, because you never know how you’re going to influence these people in this world. And Ethan [Hawke] was like, well if she never existed, these films wouldn’t have been made and we wouldn’t have known each other. I mean, who knows how we reverraberate through each other’s lives. But she’s an inspiration on this.”

Before Sunrise is my favourite film of all time. It has a profound place in my heart – and it’s leased out forever. It’s a must see.

Speaking of “Some Like It Hot”…

I finally got around to watching Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 film, Some Like It Hot.

Wow.

The film just drips with wit, energy and charm. It so greatly deserves its place in cinema history. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are amazing. And Marilyn Monroe is SMOKIN’. Couldn’t help laughing out loud. I had an amazing experience watching it.

Comedies just aren’t made like this anymore.

VCA BLOG – SOME LIKE IT HOT

What a rush!

I had a very stressful-turned-delightful day on my second directorial shoot. Since 8am, everything was going down-hill: there was a long commute to the first shoot, my DoP broke her phone and it had started to rain. My stress levels were at an all time high. I’m always the most nervous the night before the shoot. I feel as though anything could, and probably will go wrong. I suppose it’s normal.

Image

Luckily, everything was perfect. We nailed it all in two hours. My AMAZING crew was AMAZING and I couldn’t have achieved what I wanted without them.
Greta, my whip-smart 1st AD.
Claudia, the best DoP a guy can ask for.
Misha, all-knowing camera assistant and man of the year.
Jesse, continuity and acting extraordinaire.
Gillian, wonderful and graceful art department.
Chris, the ultimate production assistant and also man of the year.

Communication was perfect. I was fortunate enough to be able to supply everyone with what they needed on set: shot lists, storyboards and scripts etc. It helped the takes move much faster. I knew that I set my own limitations by keeping a cast member who had to leave set early, rather than re-casting. I feel like it certainly put me at a disadvantage, but it also made me much more prepared and more efficient in knowing exactly what I wanted in each shot. I had to work at a discipline, and I managed to stick with it.

I also realised I made a silly mistake in buying a few grey t-shirts…. which all looked different. This was so I could do the last shot with the fake blood several times. I failed however, to see that it completely contradicts continuity with the last 9 shots if I change the shirt.

Overall though, I had a wonderful time on my shoot. When we wrapped, the beautiful sun came out and life felt good. I had fully realised PSH (Post-Shoot High). I felt like I accomplished something that day.

I love being a director. But more importantly, I love having a great crew of friends that I can always depend on to be truly dedicated and amazing to work with.

The Place Beyond The Pines.

The Place Beyond The Pines.

I watched this film tonight. I think it’s quite possibly one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) is one of the most talented writer-directors working, and he’s created a film that is just so real and so vivid… I’m so emotional right now. The dialogue and performances, the camera-work… are just mind-boggling. It’s touching, sensitive and enthralling.

This is what I want to do.

THE SEEDLESS

ext. courtyard. day

Two guys are sitting opposite each other at a small table. OLI, 18, is leaned forward doing his homework, eyes focused on his textbook. BRYDON, 18, is leaning back in his chair texting on his phone, eyes glazed.

Brydon yawns and surveys the scene. He looks at his lunch: an apple, a sandwich, and a bag of grapes. Brydon picks up a grape and eats it. He looks at Oli, who is still studying hard. He picks up another grape and flicks it at Oli, hitting him in the face. Oli looks up at Brydon, and delivers an icy stare. Brydon looks back as if nothing happened. Oli continues staring but then brushes it off, looking back down.

A second grape hits Oli’s face. Oli ignores it. A few seconds later another hits him in the eye. Angry, Oli immediately picks up a grape and throws it right at Brydon’s face. The two are frozen when they realize Brydon has caught it in his mouth. The two squeal in delight at how awesome it was.

Oli and Brydon look at the homework on the table and then at each other. Simultaneously, they both shove their books off the table with huge grins.

They both pick up a handful of grapes and begin throwing them into each others mouth, starting one by one, but then just throwing without any care for accuracy. Oli and Brydon are laughing and getting very physical, throwing and flinching from grapes. The two then start grabbing for the grapes left on the table, throwing them at each other. It turns into an all out grape food fight. Suddenly, the table runs out of grapes and Oli – in a rush of adrenaline – picks up an apple without looking, stands up and pelts it at Brydon’s head.

Panting heavily, Oli looks down at Brydon, who is now slumped over the table, still and unresponsive. Snapping back into reality, Oli realizes what he’s done and stands frozen, eyes wide. He pokes Brydon, who is still unresponsive. He looks around nervously and back at Brydon. Slowly, he starts to raise Brydon’s head off the table to place him back into his chair, but drops him upon seeing blood on his hands. Oli starts to panic more, wiping his hands on his shirt, which leaves a large stain.

Oli then places Brydon’s hands on the table beside his head and places a book in between. Still looking around anxiously, Oli then scrambles to get his belongings and leaves the scene.

VCA BLOGGIN – MORE THAN FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS

The writing process is one of golden hopes and broken dreams. It’s the worst feeling when you realise at some point that you aren’t a world famous director with bottomless pockets and that a scene involving a thousand machetes and sexy kitten baristas probably won’t happen on your uni budget. 
I’m not saying that I had that specifically in mind (i did), but it’s always a bit of a dampener when you think about the limitations beset upon you, like locations, and available actors etc. You have to learn to compensate with the conditions given to you. Though I suppose the best writers are those that can use what they’re given and churn out a masterpiece.

Writing my second piece, I had to just think about what I thought was do-able. It’s an editing exercise after all, so I’m trying to minimise the number of props and keep it simple. I would have loved to utilze the amazing actors in our class, but it looks like ill be using two of my close friends instead. Risky and lazy, but you know what they say….

yolo.

VCA BLOGGIN’ PART DEUX REDUX – THE DIRECTORS CUT

It’s been a while since the actual shoot itself, but the whole week of production we had for our first pieces was a wild rollercoaster of RAM’s, fire isolation forms and accidental property damage. 

And it was a whole lot of fun. 

I loved seeing how everyone in Group A worked: as a director, DOP, 1st AD, camera assistant, and even as actors. We have a darn talented bunch of misfits we do! I was so impressed by everyone’s commitment and professionalism. As directors, some people were more direct and specific about what they wanted on camera, and some were more on the side of open collaboration and improvisation. I don’t find that either way works inherently better than the other, but I do know that personally as an actor, I like as much direction as possible, but with the availability to improvise if I so decide. I’m pretty open as a director: I like to ask every single actor if there’s anything they’d like to add, to help make the character their own.

I’m also very easily peer-pressured. 

I was ecstatic with my shoot. My actors: Claudia, Jesse, Greta and Misha were absolutely perfect, and I couldn’t ask for better performances. A big thanks to the rest of my team as well: Gillian, Thien and Dongmei. Thanks to you all, it went by as smooth as a river of dark Cadbury. I also had a blast during filming. There was a lot of simultaneous choreography, so I wasn’t even looking at the monitor: I was belting out commands left and right, making huge gestures to nail the timing. I worked up quite the sweat. Around the fourth take, we actually got a round of applause from nearby spectators. I blushed a deep crimson, but continued to be professional.Image

If I could do anything differently, it would to clean the lens before shooting. I thought it was a problem with the monitor, as there was just a certain part of the frame that was out of focus. But oh well, it’s a problem that will be rectified in the future to come. I’m sure Scorsese forgets to clean the lens every now and then. But he probably hires a dude to do that. Every day.

…Okay, I’m gonna drop it now.