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!

domingo, 23 de octubre de 2011

Cold dishes

Well, last week we had decided to make a documentary focused on the adventures and misadventures of a bunch of skater boys, their lifestyle, their tricks and how they had developed their talent. However, as I had disclosed on my last post, we had to divide our working group into two different groups, so Robert, Laura and I suddenly found ourselves lost without ideas.

I wanted to make a mini TV series using humour and twisted plots, something that could become as popular as the Spanish YouTube show Malviviendo, but we decided that thinking out a good script and shooting different short episodes every week was no longer an option, since it called for a permanent and coordinated effort among many different factors (the actors, the directors- I mean us three, the locations, etc). Therefore, as we wanted to make fiction, a short film became the most appropriate choice. Laura and I had been working on a script for a while, and this was the perfect moment to make it real. We just needed a kitchen, a good camera, a bunch of pseudo-actors (everybody would do, as long as they could speak English and stand the pressure of being in front of a camera, which it’s not as easy as it seems) and some notions of video-edition. Of course we know that a short film was not exactly the kind of content YouTube users search on their free time (as I stated before, the average New Media consumer looks for animal tricks, cheap humour and epic fails), but it was something we just needed to shoot, so we went for it. We also knew that we were going to need a good marketing campaign in order to get viral and achieve, at least, a mild success, so social networks, blogs and teasers were going to be our main tools.

I don’t want to make a typical summary of the story we are going to tell in our short film, not only because the form is just as important as the content (or even more, considering we intend to mix many different audiovisual formats in our “masterpiece”), but also because I don’t want to be a spoiler- they are utterly annoying. However, since I want to create some intrigue around our video, I’ll just disclose the main idea; a Christmas dinner, a dysfunctional family and hidden dark secrets among all of them. We don’t have the title yet, but we have an idea, cut by cut, of how the development of the facts is going to be and we have also planned the final, devastating scene (which, of course, I’m not going to reveal). So the only thing left to do was to distribute the roles, although it was going to be a team work and we are going to share a lot of responsibilities.

Laura: director, post production supervisor (with Robert’s technical advice) and producer. She had to work on one of our teasers for next week. We are going to use graphic poems mixed with brainstorming, following the aesthetics of “Requiem for a dream”. The teasers, which will tell us the story of each member of the family and their twisted relationship with the father on an abstract way, are going to be part of the final video, interconnected with the other stories.

Robert: director of photography (although I will give him a hand with the lighting, which is really important in order to achieve dramatic intensity) and researcher. His first task was to find a nice, cosy kitchen where we could shoot the main scenes, and, most difficult of all, to try to persuade some lovely couple of elders to be our main characters. However, we could also manage without old actors, some make up and little camera tricks will do if we don’t find anybody suitable for the role.

Therefore, I was going to be the writer and the production manager (my job was to coordinate efforts and to keep a work schedule, calling sheets and the rest of the bureaucratic organisation). For this week, I had to polish up the script (which, I must say, barely includes any dialogues) and to create a storyboard for the first of our teasers.

Well, I’ll just leave you with a hint of how our project is going to be- there you have the first scene. Hope to arouse your curiosity!

A seemingly normal family formed by the old grandfather, the grandmother, three daughters and the son is having a nice, cosy Christmas dinner. They are sitting around a warm table, sharing sophisticated dishes and eating them in delight. Nobody is speaking, not even muttering a single word. We just listen to the sounds of the forks beating the plates, an occasional swallowing or water being poured, normal sounds that form a strange, uneasy rhythmic pattern. Suddenly, the grandfather starts to choke making distressing groans, which we are not able to see, because what appears on the screen is just the close-ups of the other members of the family devouring the remaining food and exchanging unworried looks. Nobody seems to care, nor even realize that the head of the family is choking to death, so they just proceed with their dinner without helping him out...

sábado, 22 de octubre de 2011

Hello everybody!

“Lost in edition” is part of my project to report how long and hard is the way to viral success on the Internet. My name is Lucia Vazquez and I am a Spanish student of Journalism who is struggling to find a tiny place on the worldwide market of YouTube and the cybernetic world.  When I first started to think about the perfect, awesome, and, more important, popular video I wanted to make with my classmates, I realized we had two clear options: we could go for the quantity (to get as many hits as we could), or rather for the quality. That is, we could make a video we could feel proud of, something artistic, innovative, daring and original (and I could keep listing pompous adjectives for a while), or we could just shoot cats. Surprisingly, we made a bet for quality.

Which are the keys to make a video become a million-people hit? What makes clips such as “Achmed the terrorist” so widely known? What is the secret ingredient for YouTube success? And, more important, how were be going to be able to shoot anything that could get thousands of visits within just several months? After some hard and laborious research- which basically consisted on watching the most popular videos recently uploaded on YouTube and some statistic workout, we realized that there were four things that made a video ear-to-mouth popular: sex (implicit or just hinted), epic fails (accidents, people getting hurt while playing sports, stories of defeat and humiliation, etc), animals and little children (stalking cats, cute dogs with strange skills, Asian boys playing guitar as real rock stars) or humour.

Well, apparently recording anything with explicit sexual content was not the most elegant or suitable thing to do for a University task, so we just dismissed that option. It also seemed that nobody on our group had a superhero pet or an incredibly lovely little brother, so that option was also rejected. Reasonably, none of us wanted to get wrecked in order to achieve viral success, so it just remained the possibility of making a hilarious, funny video. Well, we considered the choices then: we could make a parody of a film scene, a parody of a video clip, a funny monologue, pranks with hidden cameras or a fake tutorial. Since the script needed to be really sharp in order to make it work (and also to avoid being cheesy), and, furthermore, none of us had the profile of a ingenious comedian, we decided that humour wasn’t part of our way to success either.

Therefore, the most popular idea seemed to be making a stop motion, something as unusual and funny as this. We also thought about creating a graphic poem using the aesthetics of Dakota, but we soon dismissed both ideas because we wanted to work with cameras. Then, someone came up with the idea of making a documentary focused on the lifestyle of skaters, making it appealing with different camera angles and a good edition work. But things never turned out as expected, and next week our group needed to split in two...