Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Video production class weblog: Day 2--The Dead Must Walk

After a morning discussing screenplay writing techniques, shooting brief screen tests of the students with something like 3 point lighting, taking inventory of the equipment, and coming up with a studio name ("December 21 productions"), we broke for lunch.  I had to go to a meeting in the early afternoon, leaving the class to start shooting an action video in my absence.

When I returned, I found a photo of Indiana Jones on the screen, a student wearing a red cape standing on the edge of the class window, and everyone else huddled out on the lawn around the camera.  They had already shot some footage of my assistant W acting like a teacher. He stands before a photo of Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer from Scorsese's The Age of Innocence and, using a pointer, intones about how his nose is staring at her lips, but she's not concerned.  Also there appears to be a dead chihuahua on her head distracting from the composition. He's basically mocking my image analysis of compositional weights, the dominant, the secondary contrasts, etc. from the day before.

Meanwhile, in the movie, our hero, a student, falls asleep at his desk.  When he awakes into a dream, the classroom has strangely changed since Taylor Lautner appears in the back wearing a fedora (actually a life-sized cut-out photo of him found in the girl's dorm. I was thinking that Taylor should show up in every shot in the dream, but no one liked that idea).  For some reason, our hero runs out of the classroom, escaping out of the window, dashing across the lawn, and jumping up on a six foot concrete post along a Gothic pointed metallic fence outside.  Then, the "teacher" runs out after him, snarls, points his pointer at him in frustration, before pulling out a gun, and then follows our hero. Standing high on the post, our hero whips a leather whip out from his carrying bag, cracks the whip over his head majestically, and then dodges a bullet from the "teacher" by leaning back in a Matrix-like way.

While the students shot all of this, they forgot to turn on the external microphone after telling a guy on a tractor across the street to stop making so much noise (a good example, I said, of aleatory conditions, and why Hitchcock preferred to shoot in the studio).  So, after they realized that there was a lack of sound in the playback, they shot the whipping scene again, this time with the whip pulling the gun out of the teacher's hand.  A neighborhood woman drove up and asked if we were engaged in some hazing incident. The whipper on the post said no. Then, we had to stop, but the students plan on finishing the scene with a car running over the hero tomorrow morning.

It seems to me that the class has been indulging in a bit too much easy irony thus far, but that could perhaps be my fault. Could they write and shoot something serious? Should we have unacknowledged zombies as part of the mise en scene in the major 10 minute film? Perhaps we'll watch some of Children of Men to give them ideas tomorrow.

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