Lights! camera! action! .. at USC Film school

Report Card: Film  #1

Showed 1st film yesterday. Silent, no audio/dialogue. No editing. Viewed as shot. Came home all wound up, excited, happy. She loves showing films. "It's the juice," she says.

She was 2nd to show. One person before her. Viewed seven films in the 4-hour class. This was all films from the 'A' group. 'B' shows next week. 'C' group follows the following week after 'B'. That gives each student one week to plan. One week to shoot. One week to edit. Show film at end of editing week. This is, of course, on top of all other course work. 

Format for each film viewed = view film -> viewers (students, profs, TA) write critique -> discuss. 

"The part between the viewing and discussion was hell," she said.

The TA said that it looked so tight that it looked edited (but wasn't). This past summer, Wendy had all her undergrad (super-8) films x-fered to digital & re-edited on her PC. So she's gotten good at making things look 'tight' - no wasted footage. In contrast, Wendy's undergrad films tended to drag on forever. She was able to cut out over half the footage from most of her super-8, undergrad films. A common mistake of new filmmakers is run-on shots with lots of wasted footage. Shots should last no longer than necessary. Kind of the same principle with writing -> omit needless words. 

I agree that this piece Wendy did with Kellie was tight -> Bing, bang, boom. It did look edited. Both lighting & focus was good. Profs & TA said it was "technically proficient". Being a Film school grad, one might expect a tight film. There was one zoom they didn't like. Zooms = bad. The eye doesn't zoom naturally.

The non-dialogue/silent film makes it harder to communicate a message. The first two semesters, the faculty will try to develop the student's use of images - kind of like teaching a boxer to box with one arm tied to his side. When they finally untie his other arm (dialogue), he'll have his free arm (use of images) much better developed.

Wendy said the Harvard girl kicked butt. She did an animation of a director's chair, and a regular chain that gets throw out in the garbage. The director's chair then breaks itself to be with it's friend, the regular chair. Said the film had people totally caring about a stupid chair. Animation was 'flawless'. And there's probably a subconscious message about the chair representing different/changing aspects of the director's life.

That was the primary criticism of Wendy's film -> she needed something unique/quirky about the character to give the audience something to relate to, to care about, to latch onto emotionally.

Her prof said, "You got a good performance out of her." - meaning Kellie. Kellie had such an arc of character that she didn't even look like the same person at the end. She got to real tears. 

The first film showed - titled 101 Things to Fear - people just didn't get. It involved stills of various kitchen & household utensils that are potentially dangerous. A guy from NYC did a piece about an ultra-fastidious guy who ends up making a shirt out of a shower curtain cuz he gets blood on his collar. Film was technically poor, but had people laughing & engaged. Those East Coast boys can be funny.

Another girl went down to the beach and shot a few minutes of waves breaking on the shore, then added various effects to them. So there were all kinds of films shown. Many students are just starting to get familiar with the camera (Sony TRV900).

Wendy's second film is due in two weeks. Group A gets screwed early on, having to pump out two films in rapid succession. So she'll be shooting again this weekend. Plans to do a scene from Dante's Inferno. Seems a bit ambitious to me. She has Jonathan - a high school senior at Laguna Beach High, friend of Lani's - lined up for the shoot. Jonathan is talented. He just got an agent. He & Wendy are debating whether he should tell his agent, who probably wants a cut of everything he does. Think he plans to do it under-the-table.

Two of Wendy's classmates suggested that she do the forest scene from Dante's Inferno in an 'industrial forest' - maybe with real gang members. This made Wendy think, cuz her mom suggested a similar thing. She said it freaked her out that her mom was vibrating at the same frequency as some of her hip classmates. =D But setting up a shot like that takes much more time than she has available. The local nuclear power plants would be ideal, but I don't think they're going to let a group of Bloods or Crips in for shooting.

Next -> End Week 2

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