Music Video and Pre-Production on “Hannah”

My music video is so far behind schedule, I feel like choking myself.  I’ve got two performers who keep giving each other strep throat, so I’ve had to cancel shooting twice. Fortunately, I’ve been able to use the time to be extra-prepared, so I’m hoping to shoot everything I need on Wednesday. During the day, we’ll be at an apartment in Galveston. During the evening, Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe, also in Galveston. I’m afraid the shoot will bleed over into Thursday, which I would cause me to miss some classes on Thursday. But at the least, we should be finished in time for me to get to campus and help with Sensibilities that afternoon and evening.

Tyler and I are doing our best to create some momentum on “Hannah,” the project we will start shooting after Spring Break. We want to meet with actors soon, and I’m doing some prep-work for the budget and shooting schedule. I’m excited about the script and about learning more about the process and collaborating with some creative folks in class. I’m expecting the second half of the semester to be pretty packed.

Here’s a still from 2001. For reason I won’t explain, it’s part of the visual language of “Hannah” that I’m hoping to use with whoever joins Tyler and I as Director of Photography.

Image result for 2001 a space odyssey touching the monolith

Sonic The Hedgehog, Cool or Cute?

A while back, I saw Sonic the Hedgehog with some friends. I could talk about the weird writing and how it tried to be a movie for kids and adults. Or how it did ended up confusing my friends, myself and my brothers. Or how it underutilized Sonic’s voice actor, Ben Schwartz. But I would like to focus on a positive. They made Sonic cute.

A while back, I saw a video on YouTube called “It’s Not Easy Being Blue” (copy and paste it on the YouTube search bar, it’s the first one.) It talks about the fall of Sonic compared to the constant rise of Mario. You see Mario is just fun. There are little to no Nintendo title starring Mario that are genuinely boring. Mario titles are fun, so we associate Mario with fun. Fun doesn’t expire or change. Fun is just fun.

When competing with Nintendo, Sega wanted to make there mascot cool. They gave an attitude. In Sonic the Hedgehog for Sega Genesis, if you don’t move Sonic, he taps his foot at you. If continues to stand there he just leaves. Later on in the series, he would talk and insult his rival, Dr. Robotnik, calling Eggman. His cocky attitude and cool demeanor (inspired by Bill Clinton and Micheal Jackson) were great….. at the time. Cool has a limit. It changes with time. Sonic is no longer cool.

Thankfully the studio behind the movie didn’t try to make Sonic cool. Obviously, at the end he gets a cool little action scene, reminiscing of the boss battles in Sonic video games, but the studio gave him a new personality. He was cute. Being cute is something that has potential to stay cute. I don’t want to get the studio too much credit, it is a kids movie and kids love cute things. Also, Sonic’s original character design was awful. But because Sonic is now cute, the movie can now appeal to more people. I doesn’t have to try and be cool by keeping up with the time, it just has to play towards what makes a character cute and it will work.

In conclusion, this change in personality is very welcomed. It gives Sonic a fighting chance to compete with the other movies like Minions and other kids movies. I hope Sega’s video game division can see this change as a positive direction and can implement this in the future.

Thank you

As artists we dream of one day working without limitations, to have anything we want in order to allow our unfiltered visions realized. That’s the ultimate dream, but an artist should never start our careers absent of hindrance, this is without a doubt the most harmful thing you can do to any person. A spoiled child deserves the most pity because their life is absent of humanity and growth. Thankfully my pursuit has been met with many challenges, many of them coming from lack of support. These last two years have been the most growth I’ve had as a human being, and also the most stressful (in a good way).

A year ago when starting my internship with Orlando Briones of Filmatic I assumed he saw me as a child, just another kid who hadn’t earned the title of cinematographer and was just one of the millions living in a delusional pipe dream, I couldn’t be more wrong. Orlando always pointed out faults, called me out, told me to study more, would shut down ideas to make me a better cinematographer. A year ago I felt I wasn’t even on his radar, but a week ago I asked him for some of his time to get some insight and he gladly accepted. We talked for almost 3 hours about cinematographers, ideas for my current films, my plans for the future, and of course his advice. I also showed him a Demo shot for or “Music” video, his reaction shocked me. After seeing the demo shot, just a small idea he said: “what do you need?”

I didn’t realize what Orlando was offering at the time, the chance to work on my ideas without limitations. I couldn’t turn down such an amazing opportunity and in all honesty, despite being a little nervous, I felt I was ready to paint with the brushes of my dreams. The most valuable asset I had was the experience provided to me by filmatic, UH, independent shoots, and Digicinne. But the support is now going beyond just providing experience, it’s evolving to a full-blown sponsorship of my ideas. The generous spirit provided by my filmmaking community, CameraHTX, filmatic, Orlando, UH, my amazing crew who I all owe a favor, has improved my work and invigorated my filmmaking spirit to keep getting better, with or without gear. Now I have proof that my unfiltered ideas are not some desperate fantasy, they’re tangible and here. And it’s all thanks to you, so thank you so much to my film community, I hope to keep your support and will always try to return the favor.

 

Here are some photos of our BTS and a still from our very successful production

Thank you.

Still

Exploration

This year I made it my new year’s resolution to go hiking once a month. I’m excited about this for the obvious reason of just getting out in nature and moving around outside the city. But I’m also excited to explore my ability to shoot within nature. While hiking I’ll be using the photos I take to create a project inspired by Eric Magden Heck’s photography series “The Garden”

Heck explores many concepts in this series, but what I was interested in most is his incorporation of fashion in nature. There are so many other things I love about this series but I want y’all to explore it yourself. The link is below, y’all should check it out.

The shot above was taken on a Canon AE-1 camera. Kodak gold 35MM film.

https://maisondesprit.com/archive/series/the_garden/plates

Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

I was away from the offices today being, I don’t know, melancholic. I guess that’s the word to use. Maybe it’s not, but it is the word I’ll use right now.

Lot’s happening today and not all of it good. Perhaps that was the cause of things. Perhaps it is the odd joy of everyone finally creating and finally working together. Perhaps it is the term “art” being thrown around in the offices, finally, after years of telling everyone they are an artist. Perhaps it is all of these joyous and wonderful things paired with the knowledge that I am only tangentially involved. I spent all this time and effort pushing for everyone to become creators and I rarely am involved in the process.

Oh, well, that has nothing to do with the title of this post. “Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School” is the name of an album by Warren Zevon. It’s an odd title but Warren is or rather was an odd guy and a genius to boot. You really should check out his stuff. I saw him play only once in person at a club in Fort Worth called Caravan of Dreams. It was a great small venue and I saw many stellar shows there. When Warren played the crowd was equally split between people like me and people who were hired mercenaries. He drew an eclectic crowd. I was digging into the lyrics of this song and then read the album was dedicated to Warren’s friend Kenneth Millar. Kenneth Millar is better known by his pen name Ross MacDonald. If you have never read Ross MacDonald you have missed out. The Chill is a good place to start as is The Drowning Pool or the Far Side of the Dollar. All are excellent. The thing that struck me was the notion that Warren Zevon was friends with Ross MacDonald. It makes sense that Warren would be a fan of Ross. Just listen to his lyrics. Then after the initial surprise wears off, it makes perfect sense that if they met they’d be friends. How could they not?

What is odder is that Rob Zombie is good friends with Malcolm McDowell.

You never know who knows who or who you’ll know or who you know now will be someone everyone knows later and who knows it could be you.

Some Ross MacDonald Quotes for you.

“She was trouble looking for somebody to happen to.”
― Ross Macdonald, The Wycherly Woman

“Some men spend their lives looking for ways to punish themselves for having been born.”
― Ross Macdonald, The Chill

“Never sleep with anyone whose troubles are worse than your own.”
― Ross Macdonald, Black Money

“I have a secret passion for mercy. But justice is what keeps happening to people.”
― The Goodbye Look

And a photo apropos of nothing.

 

Look at the world around you

And always find something new to see or see something old in a new way. We all spend our lives waiting for one thing or another. Use some of that waiting time to see as much as you can.

1. This owl was hanging outside of Studio A the other night. I thought we had left a wind screen out after a shoot and then it looked at me. Very few wind screens look at you.

2. Waiting for tamales and BBQ. Open Pennie’s. Open.

3. Still waiting for Pennie’s to open.

4. A foggy morning at the beach. Even when the sun came up it was foggy. When the sun went down it was still foggy. There were many John Carpenter references that day.

5. A flower where the rich people used to live and now the tourists wander to escape the heat.

Week in Review #4

This week we all had a meeting and watched everyone’s 24 frame project. I thought my project turned out okay, I ended up liking the project more than what I expected. I get very nervous watching my own work, but getting to see everyone’s project was worth sitting through my own.

I also helped Sophia with her music video project. I ended up being an extra, which I enjoyed. It was my first time being in front of the camera for any project. Even in junior high and high school I was never in my own projects. Getting to help other people is very satisfying. Plus you never know when you might need their help for a future project.

I make an effort to at least watch one film I haven’t seen. This week I watched Pixar’s WALL-E, and I loved it. I started thinking is there a Pixar film I don’t like? I can’t think of one. I think Pixar’s success comes from family fun films that are entertaining for children and older viewers.

 

Thoughts From Home 3: Tokyo Drift

A lot has happened this week so bare with me.

  • 24 Frames

“a disservice” said Houk “to the project”. Those words rang in my eyes the rest of the days Thursday, February 20th. My 24 frames project, which told the story of four jealous Godzilla toys tying up there owner for buying new toys, had its ups and downs. On the upside, everyone who saw it pretty much understood what was going on. Houk even understood why I spent so many frames of shots of the Godzillas, to show there personalities off. On the downside, I did not take my time to make sure all the shots were done well. As a result, the whole project suffered. A really disservice. Going forward, I have to mind my time, make sure I can get the best product possible and really bring these stories to life.

  • Sofia’s Shoot

I have been interested to see how my friends work in there productions. Would they deal with stress? Would they give up? Would they be hard to work with? Observing Sofia’s production, I found that she took to directing very naturally. The shoot when very calming and smoothly. Before this project, Me and Kelvin would try to get projects off the ground. We would only get a two or three scenes and run out of time. Sofia would get two scenes fairly easy and move on to the next. I remember her saying to me ” Are you taking notes?” To be completely honest, I was.

  • She’s Leaving Home

The song I have chosen for my music inspired video is “She’s Leaving Home” by The Beatles. A deep cut from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, It’s beautiful arrangement and classic Lennon/McCartney vocals really stood out to me as a kid and even now. Taking what I learned from Sofia’s shoot, I got my shots quickly and cleanly as possible. I can say I am really happy with what I have so far. A huge thanks to Madison Alvis, Sofia Armintor, Austin Galvan and Kelvin Kataria for helping me out and stick with me. I really think this project will be amazing.

 

 

 

 

Directing No.1 Party Anthem

The first time directing was a fulfilling experience. Seeing my vision brought to life on screen was definitely a rewarding moment that everyone needs to have. Challenges were presented, and I learned that decisiveness is essential in this role. This is something I struggle with but having my crew there, especially my DP, helped a ton. Storyboarding is important, and we all know this, but so is sticking to the specific timing of your storyboard especially when shooting a video that relies on the beat and narrative of that song. I’m most proud of the opening shot of the video, but it definitely wasn’t the toughest shot to get. Getting the wide I wanted just wasn’t in the cards, mostly because of the power situation. This didn’t hinder how beautiful the project turned out. I’m proud of what my crew and I accomplished, and I can’t wait to see it cut together.

Tommy’s Party

Spent the weekend prepping a bit for my next project, Tommy’s Party based off the song by Peach Pit. I’m working with a solid shot list now which gave me way more peace than the storyboard I was originally using to organize my thoughts. I had more going on in my head than I (or anyone probably) imagined. I think I’m finally feeling prepared for my shoot Saturday afternoon.

Shots, listed. 

Location, scouted.

Actors, secured.

Equipment, reserved. 

There’s one final piece of the song I’m still struggling with, which are the instrumental breaks. My task tomorrow is to sit with the music, study the narrative, and find the best use for this creative free space.

Shot List: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pfpg_9dPR8dqZc25dX0B4_ub8agI3a3yUIgmufIjh6o/edit?usp=sharing

Lyrics/Script: Tommy’s Party by Peach Pit

Hey there bud, how’d it go last night?
I saw you at the band stand looking pretty slammed
Did you see me feeding all my drinks to Cam?
Probably not I guess, you were quite the mess
And that girl who tagged along there with you
I never caught her name but she seemed fucked up too
From where I sat she looked to be having fun
Keeping up with you, just like I used to
Hey there bud, how’d it go last night?
I’m sorry to have ditched out but I was pretty high
Heard from Leslie that on his stumble home
Nat was puking up all that beer she’d drunk
Though we didn’t talk much how’d your evening go
You barely spoke a word to me besides that slurred hello
But I happened to see without even tryin’
How she laughed with you, just like I used to
Hey there bud, how’d it go last night?
I woke up to a pair of shoes I’ve not seen next to mine
Did you whisper as you crept in through the door
How you’d never done much like this before?
I was thinking back just the other day
Remember when we used to sneak out late to go and blaze
Seemed like loneliness was all we’d ever do
But now she’s knowing you, just like I used to