Thursday, January 15, 2009

Video production class weblog--day 9--liveblogging the apocalypse

“A film is like a battleground; It has love, hate, action, violence and death. In one word, emotion.”
--Samuel Fuller in Godard's Pierrot le Fou.

1) In what other job do you get to spend the morning in the scummy basement of a museum trying to adequately light some black-clad hooded figures trying to kill each other over a backpack full of jewels? One student places a gun to the back of the head of the other. She spins around, knocking the gun out of his hand. He grabs a broom as she snatches up a rapier. They duel their way into the next room where they both manage to lose their weapons. He grabs a large wrench as she procures a planing tool. They continue to cross tools until again they lose both weapons and find themselves wrestling on the dusty concrete. Finally, when she kicks him in the leg, he says "Ow, crap!"
"Is that you?" They raise up their hoods to discover that they know each other. In fact, they are a couple in a relationship and each independently decided to rob the museum for his/her own purposes: she needed the money for her education. He needed it to fix a keyboard. "What are we doing here?" she asks, and they cheerfully run out of the building together.

2) That scene took over an hour to shoot. We kept having to adjust the work lights, the white boards, the extension cords underfoot. I noticed some rat poison in one corner. At one point, a student got her hand smacked with the wrench. Both actors got dust all over their black clothes. After the prop gun got knocked out of her hand five times, it started to fall apart (and I wonder why I go through several a year). Afterwards, we managed to cram all of the equipment into the car before the students returned to the museum to thank the people for letting us use the place.

3) In the afternoon, another group continued shooting a chase scene in a pine grove near a lake. I mentioned that the pursued student should fall at some point to create suspense, so she ended up falling about four times on purpose before accidentally falling several more times over branches, ripping her jeans. We also figured out that there are several ways to run while holding a gun. Trying to point a gun while running looks silly, so it's better to just keep chugging one's arms up and down like a train (to paraphrase a track coach). At one point, the director climbed a tree to shoot the chase scene overhead, and I promised them all that by 2012, I will find a crane for future video production classes. I said "Why don't you shoot the POV of someone falling out of a tree?"
"No."
"If you fall out of the tree, I could deny that this class had anything to do with it."
Someone else chimed in: "If I help you deny it, can we work out an arrangement with my spring grade?"
"No."
By the end of the afternoon, the director made a steadicam by ducktaping a free weight to the tripod. She then held that arrangement under one arm like a football as she walked off to shoot a POV shot of the entire chase. After that, we were done.

4) Right now, after six pm, students are still shooting a dinner scene and a murder. Tomorrow they will mostly edit. On Monday, the major videos come due at 4, along with blooper reels, for the final judging contest. On Tuesday, the best one will be shown to the student body during the closing two-week class festivities. At this point, I have no idea which video will win.

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