Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Best Policy

Things are moving along with post-production. We’re deep into the fine cutting, meeting a couple times a week with our awesome editor Stephanie to look at scenes. As mentioned before, the first cut of the movie was two and a half hours. We’re aiming for a tight, fast-paced 90 minutes. Which means we’re doing a lot honing. A lot of taking out the air. And a LOT of trimming lines.

The writers out there might be upset to hear this. You sweat over a great monologue, write 12 drafts of it, and do extensive research on so you’d get all the details just right. Then the actors come in and reduce the essence of it to a well-chosen glance.

But guess what? This is a good thing. Film is a visual medium. It’s about emotion, immediacy, drama. Words can very easily get in the way of all that. If you can accomplish the same thing with less, great.

They say a film is written three times: when you write the script, when you actually shoot, and when you start cutting. This is especially true in our case. We’re adding a whole extra layer of style in the editing – flashes, jump cuts, weird audio overlaps – that we didn’t even dream about when we were working on the script.

The best thing you can do when you enter post production is forget everything that’s come before. It’s easy to go into the editing room and have a vision of what the movie should be in your head. But a lot of times, that doesn’t gel with what was actually shot. Don’t worry about what your intention was, or how tough things were on the day – try to look at your footage as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Really be honest with yourself about what works and what doesn’t. Forget what your “goals” were and pay attention to what the actors are actually doing. A lot of times, you’ll find you have something much more subtle and cool than you planned on.

And again, that’s good. Film is, at its best, a collaboration. It’s a bunch of people getting together and hopefully coming up with something better than any of them could have done on their own. And the best way to do that is be honest about your footage. If something’s not working, or it’s not necessary to the story, cut it. It will make the movie better and your audience will thank you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Number One-Sheet

One of the things we’ve been dealing with recently is the creation of our poster (or “one-sheet” as they call them in the biz). We’ve been talking about it and kicking ideas around for about a month, and Juliane (the very talented production designer) is knocking some rough ideas together over the next couple weeks.

Seems like a long time to spend on one image, right? Why not just grab a still from the movie, or a photo from set, plop some credits on the bottom, and be done with it? We could do that, sure. There are some fantastic posters out there that use just this philosophy. “The Exorcist” and “The Shining” both come to mind.

But we’re putting a little more time and thought into it because for us, the poster is extremely important. It’s the first thing anyone encountering our movie is going to see. It’s the first step in our conversation with the audience, our sales pitch, the first impression. We don’t have stars, we’re not based on a graphic novel, so the first thing people see about “Fugue” is going to form their whole opinion. Is this something they would want to see? Is it something they’ll remember? Something they’ll want to take the time to actually seek out? Put it another way: would you show up to a first date in a burlap sack and expect to score some sweet lovin’? Exactly.

So we find ourselves having deep, involved conversations on what our movie “Fugue” is exactly about. What is the theme? What audience are we trying to reach? What story are we telling? What can you expect?

In the best case scenario, a poster can actually build buzz for your film. Recently, there was a low budget indie called “Order of Chaos” that generated a lot of online talk simply because they had a striking, original poster. That’s what “Fugue” is aiming for. We want a poster that will make people stop, that will disturb them, that will leap out at them from their computer screens.

Here’s some examples of thriller posters that we really like:

What do they have in common? First, they’re professional-looking. The pictures are high quality, the fonts are well-chosen, and the design is interesting. I also think a good poster isn’t too cluttered. If you can’t sell your movie in one striking image, then what are you selling?

Finally, the ones we like seem to have a twist on them. Something that stops you, grabs your attention. They force you to look a second time. As bad as the movie was, I loved the “Silent Hill” poster. I couldn’t stop staring at the missing mouth (although it had nothing to do with movie, which kind of pissed me off when I eventually saw it. Again, be honest about what you’re selling.)

So that’s where we are: racking our brains to come up with that one, awesome poster. We have some good ideas, and hopefully we can put them out here in a few weeks to get your take.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Flashback: Day 2

Sorry the updates have been a little scant recently. We are still plugging away at the editing, trying to create this crazy jagged style that we'll be using to show the fractured state of Charlotte's brain. It's tough to figure out, but cool. At least that's the hope.

In the meantime, here are Barbara (the director) and my thoughts from the second day of shooting. Enjoy!

25 January, 2009

Second day of shooting, and the sun was out for most of the day. First up was Scenes 29 & 30, Charlotte carries plants up to the backyard and hurts her foot. Scene 29 went off without a hitch, even though we had to have Charlotte drop (and break) a clay pot.

Scene 30 was a little tougher, because Charlotte has to step on a pot shard and cut her foot. Barbara bought strawberry and chocolate syrup for the blood, and for some reason, I was tasked with creating blood packets for the foot stunt. Despite having no effect makeup experience ( besides the crappy “Lethal Weapon” knock-offs we made in high school), I was able to rig a ketchup-packet thingy to hold the blood, and that would shoot out when Abby stepped on it.

At least, that was the idea. We tried a few different methods, getting strawberry syrup all over the patio, but we eventually got a variety of blood takes. Then Abby knocked together an awesome foot cut in a few minutes, we poured more blood into it, and got some very realistic-looking close ups.

I just re-read that paragraph, and realize how crazy this is: our lead actress made cut for her own foot. Without anyone asking. What an awesome group of people we have working on this.


Thank you again to all of you for coming out this weekend and making a movie! It's really happening. There is footage. Yes, it looks and sounds good. (There may be a tad too much of it, but I have no AD to tell me to cut down my shots. Which is awesome! For now. It's just drive space, right?) Abby can do no wrong. And she creates her own special effects scars in between takes! Do I feel lucky? You bet.

Highlights of the day: Why am I forcing that pregnant girl to hold a bounce board?! Strawberry Syrup mixed with Chocolate Syrup make great blood. Unless it's all over your face and seeping into your shirt. Sorry, Abby! And my cat Emmie being patted by Aymae on the head and Matt on the back was probably as spoiled as she'll ever get. What's the best ways to slide down that hill without killing yourself?
I'm looking forward to the next time we all meet and maybe some dialogue scenes for a change. :-)