domingo, 15 de enero de 2012

Reflective analysis

Everything is done. Production, shooting, edition, acting, and even advertising...all of this is over. Now I would like to make a final assesment of the whole project; which, despite the fact that it hasn't gone has planned on the pitch and on the scheduled, has helped me to learn many things about creating multimedia products.

I am dissatisfied with the location. I am dissatisfied with some of the cuts of the final movie. I am very, very disappointed because we have not been able to use the grandmother character, who, in my opinion, would have added a tragic element to the story (the blind, ignorant and happy woman who ignores what's going on around her and pronounces the fatal words: "Eat, or your food is going to get cold"). I am not only dissatisfied, but even angry with how the production work has developed; not only we had ten thousand problems to coordinate all the elements of the cast but our researcher (Robert) was not able to find a proper living room. I am not very proud of my acting, either.

But let's consider the elements that make me proud of our project. First of all, this was an idea, a script that have been on my mind for a long time, and I really needed to make it work. Second, the teasers are, in my opinion, powerful, different, aesthetically challenging. The combination of words, the strong music (thanks to Noisia) and the short images made a brand new product beyond any of my ideas. Third, this project revealed all the potential of my friend Irene as an actress; I really think she does a great work, especially on the mirror scene. Finally, I most important, I learned many, many things on how difficult it is to be a producer, and how huge is the distance between an idea on paper and its final development on screen. This is the best we could do with our idea and our resources (average cameras, amateur actors, poor lights and the worst location you can imagine), and I think we've made it work, somehow. I would give the final video a 7, but I'd daresay that the teasers are worth more, as it is the original idea.

as for the most difficult part of the production, I won't hesitate to say it is Laura's work. She did amazing with the edition of the final scene, and she knew perfectly how to get Irene on the mood to make such a powerful acting. I would also say that my job (coordinating the people, finding the attrezzo, etc) was not easy, and I've decided that I definitely don't want to be a producer...but it has helped me to learn a good deal about how creating digital products works.

Then, my final evaluation can be summarized on this sentence: if you have to create a YouTube product, don't be so ambitious and just shoot some cute cats or epic fails, because not only you will save yourself a lot of trouble, but you'll also get way more visits. However, if what you really want to do is to learn about Digital aesthetics and make something personal, just chose your best idea and make it work!

Let's get viral!

Well, we have everything: the teasers, the final scene, and our teacher's OK, at least concerning the flashbacks. What we need now is to get as much as visits as we can, and thus, considering the fact that we are running out of time and that the average YouTube viewer won't be interested in our idea, is going to be complicated. I tried to use this blog as an "advertisement" resource, to enhance the curiosity of anyone who likes digital art (I've put it pretty smugly, I know).

It has not work as I had expected, so far. Then, we also started moving our teasers (one month ago) via Facebook, Twitter and Tuenti, which is the Spanish network. We didn't get many hits, but we did get some interesting criticism: shocking, creepy and strangely powerful were some of the adjectives used to describe our idea. One viewer also told us that the first of the teasers looked a bit amateur, and gave us some good ideas for the second one. Right now the only thing left to do is trying to get all of our friends to watch our videos, sit down, and wait...

We've done it!!!

Last week for our short film to be ready, and the edition is not going as fluent as we had expected. We have already been late in all the stages of our project; first teasers, final shooting, production work...due to some unexpected problems (brief summary: I broke my ankle, Laura, who was supposed to be the camera man, burnt her hand, our actors were overloaded with work, and our location was poor). The raw footage was, as I had already said, pretty bad; the raccord was missing, the scenario lousy, and the acting...well, let's say it was amateur (especially mine, Irene was amazing).

If I didn't trust Laura's skills concerning adobe Premiere, I would probably be panicking right now. However, this morning she called from Spain to say that the final movie is ready. Let's have a look at the result:

Since our teasers have already been released and the final result is already here, I will try to give an explanation of the story, and to make our idea as clear as I can.

This really dysfunctional having is having what appears to be a calm, quiet Christmas dinner- maybe even too quiet. The father chokes to death, but no one pretends to notice and, as you can see, none of his children is going to bother and help him. The dinner continues as if nothing has happened. Suddenly, the youngest sister stands up and leave, somehow disturbed by the hypocrisy of her family. Then we can watch the first of the teasers which, no matter how abstract and conceptual you might judge it, highlights the idea of a father who abuses her daughter, disguising his lust on love and making her so unhappy she becomes an insomniac with suicidal tendencies. "This is not love, shame, touch, I'm not a liar..." are the words that, repeated over and over, create the idea of this pervert father whose  version of family love is pretty fucked up.

Then, the oldest daughter can't stand the tense silence anymore and goes to find her sister, so the second flashback appears on screen. This time her father destroyed her life by being too perfectionist on her, trying to persuade her that's she is not worth loving, and making her become an obsessive bulimic. "I'm not good enough for him", "You are nothing" or "Do not deserve to be loved" are the words that make the message somehow clear. The short movie ends with the sisters returning to the table, visibly relieved, and with the meaningful exchange of gazes and shy smiles between the sisters and the brother: the nightmare is over, he is dead.

viernes, 13 de enero de 2012

Shooting the main scene (or the production nightmare)

We had the teasers. We had the storyboard. We had the actors (Irene, Robert as the grandfather, our friend Fanos as the son, and me). We had the camera-woman (Laura) and the sound-man (our friend Juan Carlos). We had the attrezzo, which consisted, basically, on some Christmas decoration, a delicious looking roasted chicken, some jacket potatoes, a fake bottle of champagne and a nice table. However, we didn't have the kitchen, not after weeks of production search and thousands of useless calls to every contact I had on my agenda.

When I first started this project I had not realized the huge amount of work that beeing the Producer involves; when using friends as actors, you have to consider their schedules, and also find some...let's say, incentives, to make them feel part of it, be committed with the idea. Well, this time, free food was our main bait. Then again, the location was the only thing missing. Finally, we gave up and decided to try to make our aseptic kitchen (one of the main inconveniences of living in Halls of Residence, that's it) look just a bit more Christimas(ish). Some work with the lights, an expert decoration and a table full of delicatessen had to do. We were finally ready to shoot, after who knows how many re-schedules and lots of stress to bring together all the cast.

Laura did an amazing work with Robert as the make-up expert, making him look at list forty years older without being too fake. Then, we started with our performance of the most uncomfortable Christmas dinner ever.As I had said, the acting was not hard, just a meaningful exchange of gazes among the siblings, the choking (Robert and Juancar did a nice job here), and the girls abandoning the table. The final shooting was not as good as we had expected, or hoped, but at least we had some material to start editing, something that seemed just impossible a few days ago. I was just somehow disappointed because our dismissal of the final scene; I had thought it would be the perfect brooch for our short film to shoot the grandmother showing a photo-album to her dead husband, remembering how "beautiful" and "perfect" their life together had been. after all, ours is a story about hypocrisy and how a guilty silence can destroy the lifes of the ones you love the most. 

jueves, 12 de enero de 2012

Second teaser (or how to become a temporary bulimic)

So it was my turn. My character was the obsessive girl, perfectionist and with a really low self-styme who never considered herself worth it. Then again, we didn't need many images, just some food being rejected, clothes being tried on and some failed attempts to look prettier. We did some nice work with the lights and we started the shooting, this time in my room and in my kitchen.

The decission to shoot in black and white and with many close-ups was basically an stylistic decission; we wante to make the teaser as unnerving as we could, and we thought that the black and white images would enforce the idea of a flashback.

The result was not as impressive as Irene's teaser, but I had a powerful, unsettling text which, after what seemed an eternity of edition work, worked really well with the images. You can have a look at the result here:

First teaser (or how to make an actress suffer)

Everything was ready for shooting; we had the brief script, the story board, the actors (although we had decided to dismiss the grandmother, since it was really hard to find someone good enough to impersonate her character, and we had also made changes on the plot), the camera and the director. The main problem remained the kitchen; apparently nobody was eager to allow us to use his or her house, and considering the mess we made afterwards, it is easy to understand.

Therefore, we decided to start with the teasers, firstable Irene's, and then mine. We didn't need many images, but we did need powerful cuts and long hours of editing. So we went to Irene's room (the scenario for the first short story) and we started recording images of the pills, her eyes widening, her attempts to wash a non-existent stain out of her face, etc. The result was surprisingly good; Irene showed herself to be a fantastic actress, but it was partly due to Laura's skill to direct the acting. While we were asking Irene what to do, we were also trying to get her on the mood; she was an imnsoniac, potentially suicidal girl who felt lonely, guilty and dirty.

Then, Laura spent some evenings editing the images with the text, and the final result was this:

Hope you enjoy it!

miércoles, 9 de noviembre de 2011

Story-boarding, alias my personal highway to hell

Next stage of the project: drawing the story board (since writing a traditional script was out of the question as there is scarcely going to be any dialogues), setting the production schedule and finding actors and locations. I don't know if any of you has ever drawed a story board or anything similar. It might sound fun, it might sound easy, it might sound like “oh, yes, let’s create our own comic and be innovative and blahblahblah”, but I can assure you, out of experience, that it’s no trifle. However, Laura and I spent a whole afternoon disclosing, cut by cut, camera position by camera position, perspective by perspective each and every single scene of the short film. Well, I can't say we made an artistic masterpiece, but it will do for our purposes.

As for the production plan, we designed an utopist-impossible schedule that we have already betrayed due to technical problems (to get it straight, I broke my foot during the Enrichment Week). Luckily we already have one of the flashback-teasers more or less edited with music and typography and we are working on the second one, whose images we intend to shoot during this week. The idea is to release all the teasers before December, but we don’t know if we are going to be able to do that, since our actors keep on letting us down. Although I don’t want to give a full description of the teasers, I’m going to disclose the soundtrack of the three of them, a great, powerful song by Noisia remixed by three different DJ’S: Noisia: Machine Gun. The first of the teasers is going to tell us the thrilling story of the older sister, an insomniac girl who never had innocence or even a proper childhood. The aesthetics, as I had already foreseen, is going to be a mix of the brainstorming of Requiem for a dream and the literary rythm of Dakota, in order to achieve great contrast between the silent, calmed table scene and the uneasy flashbacks. Next week I'll be talking about the content of the second of the teasers.

And then it comes the hardest part: finding actors and locations. Well, we are not so ambitious and smug about our project to use professional actors, so our amateur friends will do. We have Irene for the oldest daughter, myself for the second daughter (how narcissist is that?)and Alejandro (provisionally) as the son. But what about the grandparents, all wrinkled and old and decrepit? Apparently, some camera tricks and good make up (YouTube tutorials will never be so useful) will do. Grandmother: Ana. Grandfather: Eduardo. However, we still needed a cozy kitchen, and I've never seen anything as far of the idea of cozyness as our hospital-like kitchens. No need to worry, we have also solved that problem appealing to the most ancient resource ever: friends and their homes. 

And that's it. What's left now is taking the camera, the tripod and...lights, camera, action!