(youtube link at the bottom of the page)
6th and final film project of first year is done! Does this mean its way better than my first one? Well actually, I think my first and last projects of the year turned out the best, so no, its not ‘way better’. But this last one was way more complicated to put together. I needed to learn a lot in order to pull it off. I’ll quickly go through the details so you know the story behind what you’re about to watch.
Script after suffering through 3 major rewrites, I finally got it to flow. To make sense. To achieve what I wanted it to achieve. Does this final one work? Did it get the point across that I was originally trying to make? Well thats for you to decide.
Preparation I completely transformed my whole room into a set. I had Tom fly out from Calgary to act. I made the poker table itself from scratch. Oh, and after all this prep work, I was this close to forgetting that my friend had the poker chips still at his place. 1am on the night before the shoot, I was phoning him up and walking over there to pick them up. Close call.
Shooting – Overall the shoot went well. All three scenes were filmed in one afternoon, so I wasn’t too annoying for my actors, having to drag them out here a million times. The acting itself was really good, I got the facial expressions and reaction shots I needed. All of it only took 1 to 2 takes, so that was nice as well. Directing was weird because all it consisted of was “ok now you put the card here” or “you look at your chips and put some in the middle” over and over again. At this point I was actually worried for the outcome – that it would have been a terribly boring movie about three guys siting there going through the motions of an extremely boring poker game. And I’ll be honest, thats exactly what the original footage looked like. It wasn’t until I added the following four things that it actually took shape.
Voiceover – When we first were given this project, our profs warned us that the V.O would make or break the overall outcome of the film. When I told Tom this, he instantly suggested I have Connor do it, and I was on board with the idea before he finished his sentence. Connor was the one person we knew that could not just read the script, but act out the script through the microphone. Before I shot anything, I was on a plane to Halifax to get this recording. Two takes reading through the script (one for safety, naturally) and he was done. In retrospect I probably should have recorded a 3 minute roomtone, and maybe even unplugged his fridge and a few other devices adding to the roomtone there, but overall it was a clean recording, and the fact that it is chopped up and scattered throughout in the final cut is almost unnoticeable. Only Garret Kerr (sound prof) will (unfortunately and probably) be able to hear it.
Stop Motion – Of the reviews I’ve got about it already, everybody seems to like the stop motion I did for the opening credit sequence. I know you are all wondering how long it took, and my answer is an hour. 60 minutes for 20 seconds of footage. It was really just a learning experience, more about myself than about film actually. I learned that I have a hell of a lot more patience than I thought.
Editing – When I showed my prof the rough cut, I was told I had to restructure the whole thing. The way I had it in the beginning didn’t grab the audiences attention, and therefore lost it for good. It was tricky to restructure, especially for it to still make sense with a V.O I couldn’t re-record. Cutting a few pieces of it here and there and re-arranging a few scenes was the best that I could do. I hope it fixed the problem. If you watch more than the first minute, I guess that’s proof that I did.
Sound – This last step was extremely tricky. There are only three small sounds in the entire film that are actually recorded on-location: the footsteps at the beginning, the sunglasses hitting the table at the end (and kurtis’ swear under his breath), and the crumpling of the paper bag the pizza came in. The rest is ALL post production. Every time a card is flipped, a chip is bet, a chair squeaks, someone checks by knocking on the table, a door is closed, etc etc. That was all completely reconstructed and overlaid in the editing lab. If I don’t make it as the next Spielberg, at least I’ll have a chance at being an awesome foley artist. Upwards of 15 hours in the lab were spent working on the sound in this little 4 minute project, so at least pretend to appreciate it.

That’s my story of the last month or so. Now here’s the link, as promised:
Youtube Link: Between Cards
alex is getting pity money from the government. if only they knew he was a french Duke that made 20 grand in australia and only worked 7 months of the last year.

One response »

  1. Josh M says:

    cool man :)Hah. his face has a Twitter account.Maybe the VO could have been a touch louder/clearer?The sound was seamless, and i appreciated it so much more with the background info. Really cool work–loved the stop motion.

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