Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The 2010 video production class weblog--day three--the zombie insurgency

"Unmanipulated reality is filled with irrelevancies."
--Alfred Hitchcock

"I also have always liked the monster within idea. I like the zombies being us. Zombies are the blue-collar monsters."
--George A. Romero

1) Compared to yesterday, today's class went relatively serenely. I asked the students to take inventory of all of the equipment in the class as they continued to edit yesterday's videos and brainstorm ideas for their big 10 minute projects. The class now has two distinct groups named Sad Kitten Studios (a name which resembles last year's Kitty Wagon Studios, a reference to Kill Bill), and Afterglow Productions. The Afterglow gang finished their Cereal Boy opus, showed off the DVD version to generally good reviews, and then retired to a small classroom near my office.

2) For much of the morning, I walked back and forth between the two groups and tried to give constructive advice for their story ideas. After yesterday's practice videos either failed to show the heads of the female characters or used them as props to fight over, I recommended that both groups try to incorporate more women in the lead roles. One writer insisted that he had a compelling vision of a story about a popular guy who failed to ever learn to tie his shoes. The Afterglowers considered throwing a zombie attack into a scene involving a mugging of a couple making out on the edge of a lake, but they never fleshed out the zombie idea.

3) Finally, by 11:15, each group pitched three story ideas to the rest of the class. We tentatively settled on these:

a) a story that involves a woman infiltrating an illegal gang of technology-dealers with an unreliable sidekick. After a chase scene involving gunplay, she eventually kills the leader of the organization and takes over. Her transformation into gang leader should resemble the changeover Michael Corleone experiences in The Godfather (all in 10 minutes). Much of that movie will perhaps take place in alleys, abandoned buildings, and a furniture warehouse.

b) another narrative in which a woman gets placed in jail/insane asylum for vandalizing a car. In an attempt to save the said woman, her friend arranges to get arrested to try to get into the jail/asylum and set her friend free. So she shoplifts and commits various other crimes, but nothing works. Finally, in despair, she tries jaywalking, and immediately gets arrested. Her plan does not succeed, because her friend gets freed just when she enters the jail/asylum. The movie ends ironically with both passing each other in the hallway.

4) After lunch, we shot some practice footage in a new wing of the school building. One student kindly agreed to wear a coat and tie and sit still as two of the girls placed dark eye shadow around his eyes with glitter, and black and red lipstick all around his mouth, chin, and neck to make him look properly zombie-like (although they said his chin looked like a watermelon). I showed him how to walk like a zombie, and he picked it up without much trouble. Then, as we toured the classrooms and hallways of the wing, two students took promotional footage of the rooms (mostly panning shots on a tripod), as the other crew filmed a dingbat reporter raving over all of the wonders of the building local-news-style ("Look at this beautiful wooden cabinet that killed off so many trees!") before being attacked by the zombie. At one time, he followed her in circles around a large room with a microphone pulling the cameraman on a wheelchair (for a dolly shot, and me and the crew dodging to stay out of the shot). Eventually, in the last scene, we set up one camera to videotape the videotaping of the scene for meta-cinematic purposes. Then we arranged for the reporter to brag about her success on a cell phone before being attacked and finally killed by the zombie. The zombie then turns on the cameraman, kills him, and then grabs the camera, groaning wildly, and then films himself as he attacks several other guys who happen to be in the women's bathroom.

5) All in all, a satisfactory day. Tomorrow, the two groups will edit today's footage. They will also write, revise, and begin drawing the story-boards for the larger videos.

2 comments:

Hokahey said...

Love the studio names. I've enjoyed my students to name their production companies and they come up with imaginative names.

Love the wheelchair dolly. We use an audio/viz cart with a short tripod taped to the top of it. Works well on the smooth hallway floors.

Also, the stories sound fun. Next Film Club meeting I'm going to push for the group to get going on a video with a story.

FilmDr said...

Thanks, Hokahey. For the new combined group, they are thinking about naming themselves Sofa Depot Productions.

The insane asylum narrative struck me as a little implausible. I'm glad they switched.