Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Oscar Predictions

I love movies. I love watching them. I love making them. But I have to honestly say that this is one of those Oscar years where I don't really care. I thought we had a great crop of movies but for some reason, the Academy Awards are just not getting me excited.

That said, I can't have a blog about Hollywood and not make predictions. So, here it goes:

Best Picture: King's Speech
Best Director: Tom Hooper
Best Actor: Colin Firth
Best Actress: Natalie Portman
Best Actor Supporting: Christian Bale
Best Actress Supporting: Hailey Steinfeld
Best Art Direction: Inception
Best Cinematography: Black Swan
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Foreign Language Film: In A Better World
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Film Editing: The Social Network
Best Original Score: The Social Network
Best Original Song: Toy Story 3
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Inception
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Original Screenplay: Inception
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Live Action Short: The Confession
Best Documentary Short: Poster Girl
Best Animated Short: Day & Night

Friday, February 25, 2011

SoundWorks Collection: Gary Hecker - Veteran Foley Artist

Michael Coleman, over at the Soundworks Collection, has posted a video highlighting the work of Gary Hecker, a veteran Foley Artist.

Funny enough, my wife was just asking me about Foley, what it was, how it worked, and then today, I find this video.

Fascinating stuff. Check out the video below. And if you don't know what Foley is, I'll let Gary explain.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dig: Post-Production Part 6

Based on some of my last posts, one might think that Dig is a disaster. Thankfully, it's not. Far from it, in fact. When I first started this blog I never wanted to shy away from writing about what it was like to go through some of these experiences (I can only think of what might have been had this blog and Twitter been around when I won my MTV Movie Award) and sometimes it isn't pretty.

There are times when you're looking at what you've done and it feels like a disaster. And you, as the director, feel responsible. There are doubts, second guesses, wishes and woulda, coulda, shoulda's. Every director goes through that, as you can see from this post. You just have to push through it.

The other night I showed my wife and her parents a rough cut of the film. I thought that it would be nice to have another set of eyes on the first cut, especially by those who have no vested interest in the project (other than hoping it succeeds for my sake). They knew the story but they're a good audience (showing people who work in this industry can often open the critical floodgates, since everyone knows how to make a film, right?).

Setting aside their comments for a second, I was pleasantly surprised to watch it myself and see that it's in pretty good shape. I was surprised by how well it flowed, and how all the things I was worried about almost disappeared (though not completely).

My wife and in-laws both liked it as well (and full discretion, they have not liked everything I've done). They provided me with some great notes, nothing major but a few speed bumps that affected their response to the film.

So, being that this is the worst the film will ever be, it feels good to be starting with such a solid foundation. Of course, that could be destroyed after showing others, who knows. I'm going to do another pass and then I'll start showing a larger group of people for feedback.

Will keep you updated.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dig: Post-Production Part 5

Wednesday night, I complete the first assemblage of Dig. It clocked in at 24 minutes without credits. Obviously, it's long and that's even after I cut an entire scene. Normally, I would have kept it in for the purposes of the rough cut, but I was having trouble getting it to cut together and, having looked at the scene in the script, realized a couple things: 1) there was nothing of any importance in the scene that wasn't covered later on 2) it was almost entirely exposition 3) it was the only legitimately cloudy scene in the film and 4) the film was too long already.

Since the last time I posted, my friend has taken a run at editing the opening sequence and while it wasn't perfect (considering he's an Avid guy who has never used FCP before, I think he did a pretty good job) it was able to shock me out of all the bullshit that comes with directing and allowed me to see the film in a new way. Like I mentioned before, we had a breakthrough and when I got the film back Monday night I started in on finishing it up.

I haven't watch the film straight through yet. Haven't spent the last week getting the rough cut in shape, I wanted to take a break from it, so I could come back to it on Monday and see it for fresh eyes.

It'll probably be terrible (ha ha) but the elements are there. I have full movie from beginning to end and I can now begin the best part of the process, which is taking that rough clay and shaping it into a finished product. It's looking great, the cinematography by Paul Niccolls is amazing as always, the performances are fantastic and now it's up to me, as the editor (and director) to shape into greatness.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dig: Post-Production Part 4

I haven't been able to do a whole lot of editing these past two and a half weeks. The entire Dare to Pass team has been pulling long nights and weekends in an effort to get all of our pilots in the best shape they can be in before we submitted them to the network. While exhausting and time-consuming is was nonetheless an eye-opening experience to go through the fire with Zuiker like that. As he likes to say, "Imagine doing THAT for 10 years and you'll have some concept of what working on a television show is like."

That aside I was, however, admittedly struggling. I have probably about 75% of the film in rough cut form, missing only one middle scene and the opening and closing scenes. I was more than lethargic and couldn't get myself into it (not being able to maintain any roll I had going because of the sporadic DTP schedule didn't help either) and I was in the throes of depression about the project.

For me, it was a big surprise that I didn't have a rough cut in a week or two. Put it this way, it will have taken me almost twice the amount of time to get a rough cut of Dig, at about 30 minutes, than to get a rough cut of Dark Prophecy at 70 minutes. Why? Cause on Dig I'm also the director. And that's the problem.

I knew that going into it (obviously) but though I could power through it and I really couldn't. It's just two completely different mindsets. I should have known this (and I did but ignored it) but the beauty of an editor is that they don't care. And I don't mean they're not interested or care about the project. They (we) just don't care (and didn't experience) what happened on set. They don't care that a shot took forever to set up, they don't care that your lead actor won't come out of her trailer, they don't care that your DP sucks, it was cloudy, the generator shut down (and I say these by way of illustration only). All they care about is the footage they have in front of them. The are, in every sense of the word, objective. And that, more than anything else, is the value of an editor.

No matter what I do, or how much I try to convince myself, I can't get past the subjectivity of making the film (at least not yet). That said, I am not a director who is not flexible, who doesn't recognize when something doesn't work. I will cut a scene like that if it's not working.

And I am in the end, I feel, a very good collaborator. That doesn't mean I'll hand over the key of the castle to everyone I meet, I'll fight for my ideas, but I recognize that I don't know everything, that others may have ideas that will trigger my mind to look at something differently, or that those ideas my be better than what I originally intended. (I've done the "I'm the director, I know everything" bit once and it failed miserably, so I know it doesn't work.)

So, finally a friend of mine who's a reality show producer, and also has a LOT of experience in the editing room, offered to take it off my hands for a bit and cut some stuff and just put together a rough assemblage of what I had. Give me a break, take an objective look at it. He's not editing it, per se, just approaching the material with fresh eyes.

Already we've had a breakthrough, approaching the opening of the film in a way that totally works and I was not in the mindset to think of. It's really strong, it's really interesting and it pulls the audience right into it, which is something that was NOT there in the script phase.

He's basically got it for the rest of the week and I'll hopefully have a full rough cut early next week. Then I can start trimming, cutting, fine tuning etc. I'm more excited about it than I was yesterday and I'm beginning to break through the director-haze that sticks around after every shoot.

My next project as a director, which will ideally be this feature Travis and I are starting to write, I am definitely hiring an editor.