Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My experience in independent filmmaking

I touched on this last night, in that I mentioned that I was short on time. The reason? I had just finished my duties as music wrangler / cinematographer / director on my middle school aged niece's "Say no to drinking" magnum opus, so I wasn't in the mood to go into elaborate detail about anything. For you parents out there, I'll add that I held my tounge, and did not expound to my young niece on the joys to be found in the occasional libation. It was her artistic vision, I was just there to make sure it was recorded for all posterity, and help her get a passing grade.

So what did I learn during the making of an independent film a school video?

1. It was damn hard to find soundtrack music that didn't say how much fun drinking can be. The best I could do on short notice (ie: looking thru the 15 gigs of music on my PC) was George Thorogood's version of John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer."

One bourbon, one scotch, one beer
No I ain't seen my baby since a nigh' and a week,
Gotta get drunk man till I can't even speak
Gonna get high man listen to me,
One drink ain't enough Jack you better make it three
I wanna get drunk I'm gonna make it real clear,
I want one bourbon, one scotch and one beer
One bourbon, one scotch, one beer

With lyrics like those, I think about the indestructable 19 year old I once was. I hate to admit it, but George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers were the soundtrack to many a long night of youthful debauchery. Thing is, to this day, much like Pavlov's dog, whenever I hear any Thorogood song, I want to crack open a cold one... Honestly, after messing with the camera for an hour and a half, I needed a drink. Desperately.

2. A 13 year old teenage girl giggles incessantly, requiring retakes. Many retakes.

3. Write your script on only one side of the paper! I take it that's something they cover on the first day of "Screenwriting 101." Unfortunately, my niece hasn't had that class yet... It made for some interesting edits when my niece's script needed to be turned over so the "Actors" could read their next line. As cinematographer, I was too worried about stopping the camera at the correct time than keeping the damn pitcture framed correctly. Again, this is probably not an issue for cameramen in Hollywood.

4. Don't use a 9 year old to hold up the script like a cue card. She became bored after 5 minutes and wandered off to watch Nicktoons. Instead, use a chair or other handy item, as inanimate objects don't need to watch "The Angry Beavers."

5. When a 13 year old writes a script, you have to pad the action to reach the 3 minute mark set by her teacher. The first attempt we sped thru and got us to all of 1:30. To stretch my niece's vision at least another minute required much ad-libbing and pregnant pauses. We came up with our own version of "Sit Ubu, sit. Good dog" for kill the last 15 or so seconds. Hopefully the teacher wasn't too upset that my niece pretended to take a long swig from an unopened beer, and then said, "Just kidding, (giggle) this has been a (name withheld to avoid embarassment) production. (giggle)" But it got us to the magic 3 minute mark, so screw what the teacher might think!

6. Make sure the camera battery is fully charged. Luckily, I scrounged an extension cord. Did Tarantino start like this?

7. Check the lens cap! I was lucky, it was off...

8. Make sure you don't misplace the video tape you plan on using. Kids today... //shakes head//

9. My niece was insistent on using "fin" as the final title card to her film. Personally, I thought it was pretentious. I preferred, "The end?" No convincing the screenwriter though, as she thought "fin" was funny.

10. Now I know why they get the big money in Hollywood. Flimmaking, even on the smallest scale, is a total pain in the ass.

1 comment:

  1. Hell Yes, Not much different than your experience.