Well, I did something I didn’t want to do. I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project here in Columbus. No offense to TJ, the director/producer, as he did a good job and his team was cool, but I was not in the mindset. I did what I could as an editor, but overall, I wanted more time and that just isn’t what this is about. Mostly I detest any level of competition in filmmaking. I have always fought hard against giving awards at screenings and festivals that I am involved with. It’s art. It’s subjective. There truly isn’t a “better”, although you might like one movie better, we get into the entire “preferential/subjective” versus “overall/objective” arguments. What I love about my theory is that I have to be presented with an argument that has not been placed in the eternal loop of being subjective. I used the Socratic Method on this hypothesis and proved it as a theory for over 25 years since I was in grade school and first learned sciences.
The screening of the 48 Hour Film Project went well. I thought virtually all the films had merit. Some had great ideas, others great technicals, and others had both. The movie that I predict will win hands down is AIDAN 5, a sci fi movie with Bryan Michael Block as the actor playing 5 clones. It deserves to win, it was freakin’ AWESOME. Style, music, camera work, and most especially the performances were great. Again, they used hand drawn sketches instead of Photoshop illustrations, or even higher end material – but the idea was so visual and so well executed, it only ADDED to the experience.
Again, I hate “competition” in the arts because can you really compare a high end, produced at a studio piece to literally some community college kids with a camcorder shoot? There will always be perspective and preference. I respect and like both types of movies, but I understand people want to apply this Jock mentality to filmmaking. It’s like people need an adversary or external motivation in order to push themselves to achieve more. That works for some people, but not others. I am self motivating, so I don’t need that crap. I’m never truly satisfied with what I’ve made so I’ll be trying to improve my moviemaking perpetually.
If anything the screenings just verify my theory that Filmmaking is the new “Garage Band“. In the late 80‘s, cheaper guitars and amps made it possible for the everyday Joe to be a musician and start a band. Today, cheap HD cameras and home PC’s are making it possible for that same Joe (or Josephina) to make movies. And they do.
Last week I shed off my biggest freelance client, voluntarily. Given the economies instability and the prospects of the future look quite dim, maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did and I don’t really regret it. I’m looking forward to getting some of my free time back. I had this imbecile of a “producer” who in 8 months was on time a total of 4 times. Last week, I was so pissed off that when she was 90 minutes late, I left. Over an hour later, she called my cell phone pissed off I didn’t call her. She said she wanted to pick up her hard drive of materials and I told her it would be packed up and ready for her. I can’t abide people who don’t respect my time and efforts. I happily handed her back the drive. I made sure to email her the information that half the video files are in the Matrox hardware codec. She didn’t know what a codec was. Most people outside the film industry don’t, but an alleged producer with 10 years experience should have at least heard of it. She’s incompetent.
Now that I have time again, I can focus even more on the upcoming screenings. We’ve got Uweekly doing a story already. A good start and I want the WEEKENDER to do something for us too. Promotions are just as much work as making a movie. Most indie filmmakers don’t seem to grasp that, and even some of the ones that do think that by simply following in your footsteps will be enough. It’s not. Cheap knock offs of my promotional efforts don’t always equate to the same level of payout.
I’ve been working for 2 weeks on the animations and promotional items for the screenings. I was already doing “pre-show entertainment” when Paul Landis handed me several slide cards to play before the show. I was already doing some, but these were cool for the most part. I just had to omit a few. I don’t want people thinking I’m associating with some of these people/companies. Mostly because I don’t want anyone to get scammed or screwed and complain to me that I promoted those ones. Combine that with PAID sponsors, and I’d rather just not use those. It’s probably best to avoid promoting people who lie or just plain don’t deliver.
I’m going to use the solid state COMPACT FLASH card video player that plays MPEG1 and MPEG2 video files. I used this in Cleveland at my booth on an LCDS player, but for the shows, I’m going to play out of this thing into the Line In of the DVCAM/HD decks. It auto-loops, and I already have five 15 minute programs of pre-show that I’ve tested with this setup. I’m using trailers of upcoming films in the series, plus other local films, with drive in style promos, and animations I’ve made for the Cowtown Film Series.
I can’t stand projecting of DVD. First off, DVD’s are unreliable and never 100% guaranteed to work. They sometimes skip. DVD’s sometimes lock up. DVD’s also having such a high level of compression that the details are lost, especially when showing them on a 50 foot movie screen. Colors get muddled or lost on DVD when projected like this. I feel a responsibility to people paying to see this, nonetheless the filmmakers whose movies I’m presenting, to give them 110% and make certain we present things as best we can. DVCAM, being a mechanical tape, but at a much higher color and resolution gives a very good presentation format. When we screening HORRORS OF WAR off DVCAM, depending on the size of the screen and resolution of the projector, it looked almost as good as a 35mm film print (and better when using the Texas Instruments DLP projectors) with full colors and great amounts of detail on the big screen.
What I made yesterday, that I’ve been mulling over for 3 weeks how to do, is something for the actual main presentation. I wanted a special “please turn off your cell phones” promo, so I made this:
COWTOWN – Turn Off Your Cell Phones from Peter John Ross on Vimeo.
I used After Effects, Photoshop, and some funky fonts with some images I already had in the cue. Then I used, yet again, a tutorial and plug-ins purchased from VIDEOCOPILOT.NET and I processed this to look like old film. It was NOT a film look plug in, but rather an actual blank film clip, keyed in over top of the footage. I used the tutorials to see how to add the jumps side to side and top to bottom, along with a glow and the film sprocket holes on the sides. Strangely most of the images are from a FONT that came with our DVD duplicator.
In a very rare move, I recorded my own voice for this. Working on My Sexy Fiancé Veronica’s Holocaust documentary, we’ve been pouring over March of Times films from the 1930’s and I just had that generic old school narrator’s voice and accent in my head, so it was easy to exorcize that demon into this piece. I then processed the voice and the music with a high pass filter and added a loop of the static/film projector sounds and Oila! We have a semi-authentic sounding bit.
I feel pretty damn good lately. I can’t really say why (I mean it, I am forbidden from saying), but the sun is brighter, the air a little fresher, and my outlook has improved. As with all things, it seems karma pays out. You do some good things, and then good things return to you. I love life and fate because I seem to always get what I deserve, and those things tend to be happy.
As I have written in the blog before, the creative ice melts, and I’m coming back to life. My ambitions return with the creativity. With my new free time, I have a new book to write, this time something a bit more centralized and focused. I’m going to write out of the psychological effects of filmmaking and analyze the reactions of audiences. I’ve been mulling this over for a while and the threads that connect basic filmmaking techniques on emotional reactions fascinate me. I just want to write out my observations and put them out there. Plus I get off on having books that I write tangible in my hands. It makes me chuckle.
I got some royalty checks in from the other books. TALES FROM THE FRONT LINES sells a lot better than the HORRORS OF WAR ILLUSTRATED SCREENPLAY. The screenplays just aren’t moving as well.
Well, I need to get to finishing the last bits of sound design and music for GOODNIGHT CLEVELAND. What do I do with my time off editing full time? Edit. I am sooooo obsessive-compulsive when it comes to film.
Peace and love and good happiness stuff to the Acolytes of Boo…
All 4 of you.
Your faithful narrator,
Peter John Ross
PJR, the man, the myth, the legend always in boxers