Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Post #18: Polishing

Well, the exam was on Friday, so we screened 'Fragments' for the class. We got some valuable feedback that we really appreciated, and now all that's left to do is to polish up the final cut a bit more, and try to tighten up the film. I'm going to propose to Adam and Grant that we film one additional scene for the end of the film to help tie everything together, and then the whole project should seem a bit more cohesive. (Basically, instead of ending with Late-Night Larry's conclusion in the radio station, we should add another scene of Larry writting his radio script, just so that it's clear that they were fictional, which didn't really come across in the origional cut.)

Alright, so even with the semester over, we've got some work still to do. Once the final cut is complete (adding the extra scene and fixing up some audio levels) we'll get copies to each of the actors, and try to post the film online (if not the whole thing, then at least a few scenes...depends on copyright, etc.) After that it's just print the poster for our portfolios and decide where to submit the film.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Post #17: Wrapping Things Up

Well, the deadline is rapidly approaching, and we are uncomfortably slogging through the final stages of production while simultaneously editing furiously in order to get a cut together by Friday. Today we shot Larry's sequences with Michael in the radio station (quite a fun location), and some night next week we need to shoot the last two sequences with Rob (yes, I realize that it is ridiculous to still be filming so close to the end, but what can we do? There were just too many conflicting schedules to match up this time). we're also getting extremely discouraged (a nice way of saying completely freaked out) about the fact that the script seems to make no sense anymore. We've been through so many re-writes that we've lost count ( ten or twelve, I think), and when finally got a chance to breath and re-evaluate the final draft, it seems to have lost any semblance of a plot. The moment of truth was probably when I showed the script to my brother this morning in preparation for the shoot, and he confirmed that it made no sense. Needless to say this was very discouraging, especially since we've been working so hard on this project. I guess we bit off more than we could chew this time...


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Post #16: Grinding It Out

Well, here we are towards the end of the semester, and we're still working like crazy. This week we've been trying to determine how to feasibly complete our film by the final exam date, and the harsh reality of just how little time is left has been quiet discouraging. Right now we're toying with cutting out a character whose scene just isn't fitting in well (also, it's a scene we haven't shot yet, so leaving it in there would leave us with a lot of extra work). We've also hit a snag in that one of our actors who's (relatively complicated) sequence we need to finish shooting is out of town most of next week, so we'll have to work really hard to schedule his last shoot in time. On top of that, we still need to cast the part of Larry. Thankfully that's a one-night shoot with a relatively easy location (the Knight Radio station), so we can accomplish that pretty easily once it's scheduled.

Well, that's pretty much it. now it's just keep editing, finish filming, and hope it makes sense by the time it's all stitched together (I really hope it does).


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Post #15: Production Continues

Well, we've hit what is probably the mid-way point for production. We've made a few cuts in the script, and should have a final, final draft by Monday. This week we completed filming three scenes: Rob's introduction, Rob at the last bar, and Jessie's scene. Last Saturday we had filmed Rob's intro scene, which went very well except for the discomfort of having to work in 88 degree weather under a mid-day sun (Yuck!). Then on Wednesday we had a lot of fun shooting Rob's second scene. We were given permission to use the side-bar at the Irishmen Bar in Boca, and had a wonderful experience shooting on location. The managers were extremely friendly and accommodating, and we all had a great time. Finally, we finished up the week by shooting Jessie's scene Friday morning at Christines. For this shoot we braved the use of the steadicam, which I wore during the shoot (and yes, it is very heavy!). We were very excited about getting to check out this equipment, but production time was very tight (only 30 minutes between classes), so we have to review the footage and decide if any pick-ups are necessary.

- Stephanie

Here are the pics!

Filming at the Irishmen:

Virginia and Taliesin running a scene:

End of the scene:

Adam and Grant hard at work on set:

Steadicam-ing at Christines:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Post #14: Early Production Update

So, production officially began last week, and to date we have had three official shoots! We are almost finished with Mike's scene, which we shot last Sunday and Friday, and then on Saturday we got a head start on Rob's scene and filmed the opening. This week is planned as the biggest week of production, and we will try to finish Mike, Rob, and Jessie's scenes. That way we have next week to shoot Eva and Larry's scenes, both of which are still going through some major changes, but require the least amount of on-location work.


PS- Here are some photos from Friday's shoot:

Below: Dawn light at 5:30pm for Mike's wake-up scene.

Below: Our DIY light rig to achieve the lighting affect showcased above. (Diffused 1000, blue gels affixed to barn doors with both gaffer and electrical tape, and Grant's closet door removed from it's hinges and relocated across the room for the venetian blind effect.) :-)

Below: Ahh! That door is possessed! (front view of the lighting rig)

Below: Giving direction to our actor Mike, who is playing the character of...well... Mike.

Below: The four of us (Mike, Adam, Grant, and I) crammed into Grant's bathroom during the shoot.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Post #13: Production Begins!

Alright, production for "Fragments" has officially begun! (Only, um, a couple weeks behind schedule). On thursday we met on location (a.k.a. Grant's apartment) to rehearse Mike's first scene with our actor, Mike. (Yes, the name thing confused me as well). After blocking the scene with Mike and working out lighting setups, we met again on Sunday for the FIRST DAY OF SHOOTING! YAY! It took a bit longer to set up than planned, but there were chocolate chip cookies so everyone was in a good mood. We managed to film the living room scene today, and had to push the rest for the next shoot (where hopefully we can schedule more than an hour and a half total filming time, schedules allowing.) Overall, it was a pretty successful shoot, and we can't wait to meet and look over the footage on Monday.

More updates to come, along with pictures from the first shoot.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Post #12: Script Overhauling

Whew, what a week! On top of the Student Showcase of Films Awards Ceremony on Friday and being constantly busy with the Nuremberg project, "Fragments" suffered a script melt-down. After consulting with Professor Watson, who gave us some much-needed tough love in terms of the state of the script, we decided to devote this week to a complete re-evaluation of the project. I must admit, on Wednesday we almost considered 'starting over,' so to speak, by completely re-writing the script. We decided we needed to take a break and re-convine the following day before we did something impulsive that we'd regret later (such as ripping the script in half and deleting all of the final-draft files.) By Thursday we felt a bit better about having to address the script issues, and after some brief consulting with Zac Weaver we realized that we might not need to change as many things as we thought (thanks Zac!)

Anyways, to make a long story somewhat shorter, we met on Saturday at Starbucks (couldn't take being on campus that many days in a row) and 'fixed' the script. This consisted of adding another layer of narration that should help lead the audience through the film without muddling the concept. I promise, more details will be available once I have time to write about them. For now, the great fix will have to remain ambiguous.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Post #11: Starting Up Again

Well, we're back from Spring Break and there's lots to do. It's true that we're a little bit behind schedule (about 1 week behind to be exact), but rehearsals should be starting next week, and filming can begin right after that. For now, we've cast four of five main roles, and should be wrapping up the fifth tomorrow afternoon. Here's the partial cast list we have so far:

Mike: Mike Westrich
Jessie: Kayla Golladay
Rob: Talieson Powell
Eva: Gina Coviello

Tomorrow we will make a final decision as to who's playing Late-night Larry, and then we'll start fishing around for the various extras and small roles that are left, as well as securing the remaining locations. Following that we have rehearsals with the cast members who are already cast (hopefully on location) so we can rehearse them. Once the actors are done, Adam, Grant and I will stay behind and practice lighting set-ups, etc. so that actual filming days will run smoother and require less time for set-up. We're still estimating about two shoots per character, with perhaps a third for a certain scene between Rob and Mike. That brings us to a total of 11 filming days that need to occur before mid-April. Yeah, it's a lot of work, but hopefully it will be worth it.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Post #10: Shortest Post To Date

Spring Break is drawing to a close. Immensely-large, too-huge-to-fathom-without-coffee, tons-of-work ahead.



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Post #9: Casting Continues

 The research paper is done! Just thought I'd throw that out there... :-) Although honestly, it really was a very useful and enlightening experience to have to contact all those industry professionals.
Alright, so pre-production is continuing on schedule. We had a great first casting call on Friday, and met with some wonderful actors. We have a few more appointments on Monday for people who couldn't make the Friday call, and then later this week we will be announcing the cast for "Fragments." Along with the cast announcement, we will post the working copy of the script as well, so stay tuned as we finally unveil the mysterious "plot." That's all for now!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Post #8: Getting On With The Script

Ok, so it's taking a lot longer than was planned to finish the script; a fact which is beginning to be detrimental to our progress. Casting is scheduled to take place this Friday (yikes!) and we still need to get sides out to prospective 'auditionees'. The polished version of the casting call posters should be going up tomorrow, and hopefully we will have some sort of turn out on Friday.

While progress on the script has been slow, we are finally drawing close to the final draft. (I know I said that last week, but I really mean it this time!) Most of the main segments are finished, barring some final polishing, and once they're done all we need to do is work out some of the transitions and the intro. We are planning another nice long group meeting tomorrow to bash out the script, prepare our speech for Wednesday, contact as many actors as possible, hang up flyers, scout locations, and begin storyboarding. Then we'll have to break so we can each go work on our research papers.

I'll post segments of the script sometime during the next few days...This week is going to be very, very busy.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Post #7: Website and Facebook Page

Just threw together a website for the project, or as we will be calling it from now on, the short film called "Fragments." The site is up and running, and while it still needs work at least there's something out there that we can direct people to during the casting process. I've also created a Facebook page for the film that we can use to advertise the casting call. It can be found by searching for "Fragments, A Student Film" in the Facebook search bar.

Here's the URL for the website:



Monday, February 14, 2011

Post #6: Another Short Update

Today Pre-production begins! After an in-class meeting with Professor Simpson, we have begun preparations for casting. Right now we're in the process of working on a flyer to advertise auditions, as well as creating a Facebook page for the film. Adam has volunteered to field calls from actors, which I guess means he will be the casting director (at least he is in charge of taking phone calls and scheduling time slots, etc.) Auditions will be held on Friday, February 25th from 1-5pm. We should begin advertising for auditions sometime this Wednesday, once the script is finished (hopefully). In the interest of efficiency (and so that our actors will have some idea of what we're talking about) we've decided that we need to come up with a working title for the film. This is just so that we don't need to refer to it as "The Senior Seminar Project" anymore, and whatever title we give it now will probably be changed after the final cut (unless we run out of time.) So far, and in keeping with the 'time' theme, the titles I've suggested have been "Fragments" and "STOP." Perhaps a little out there, but it's a placeholder. I'll pitch them to the group tomorrow. I also spent some time this afternoon coming up with a logo for the film that we can use in the Facebook group. I've posted it below (watermarked for copyright purposes).


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Post #5: Writing, Writing, and More Writing

First of all, this weekend I  had the opportunity to take part in the 4th Annual 24 Hour Theater Project at Lynn University.  I had a great time writing a ten-minute, one act play (all in one very, very, very, very, VERY long night) and got to work with a fabulous group that really brought the script to life for the performance. Overall an incredible, extremely positive experience!

Alright, well with 24 hour theater taking place Friday-Saturday and the scheduled deadline for this script set for Sunday, it soon became quite clear that the theme for this weekend was (dramatic drum roll) WRITING. Now that the weekend is drawing to a close, I am pleased to report that the script, while not quite finished, is close enough to completion for us to begin pre-production on schedule (which means tomorrow). We had another two-hour-long group meeting tonight to assess our progress and work on the script, and we managed to arrange all of our mini-episodes in order to form a sort of skeletal structure, which I will elaborate upon in this post. However, I've just been looking through the old posts, and realized that I never updated our progress on the mini-episodes, or even really wrote about who our characters are, etc. So I'm going to rectify that oversight here:

As stated before, the film is based upon a series of mini-episodes that take place within a 24 hour period. Each of the mini-episodes revolves around a central character, and they are each linked together in a sort of fluid, arbitrary manner (similar to a network narrative) rather than through any direct relationships to one another.  For now we are looking at 5 main characters in 5 mini-episodes. Here's a brief description of each:

1. Mike the 'anxious guy': A character written by Grant, Mike is a college student who is, frankly, very anxious. Balancing work, school, friends, and a girlfriend stresses him out, and he is constantly talking on the phone and drinking down coffee like it's air (which might be contributing to his nervous, jittery personality. Didn't think about that, did you Mike?) Anyway, Mike's segment will feature Mike and his complicated, nerve shattering morning routine as he prepares for another whopping headache of a day. Mike's constant use of his cell phone will be used as a narrative device during this episode, with one-sided phone conversations linking the action together with a steady stream of frazzled whining, indignant complaints, and severe stress delivered in a type of quasi-narration through Mike's phone conversations.

2. Jessie, the 'budding writer': Next up is Jessie, a character that I developed. Jessie has just graduated from college, and is stuck in that awkward phase of being optimistic (perhaps a bit idealistic) about the future while remaining completely insecure and indecisive in the present. Having just graduated from college, Jessie is trying to establish herself as an author, but is at a complete loss as to how to begin living in the real world. To top it all off, she's been struck with a case of writers block! Jessie's episode takes place in a coffee shop as she tries to come up with ideas for her first novel, and features some exciting filmmaking techniques involving changing perspective, time lapse, and use of the steadicam!

3. Rob, aka '5:00': Rob is Adam's character, and let's just say that any possible instance of alcohol use in the film will be piled onto him. Basically, Rob is a guy in his late 20s who's stuck in a dead-end job and turns to alcohol to escape his worries. He is the embodiment of 'times in a bad economy,' having lost all hope in his dreams following his many failures in the job market. Rob's scene is still in-progress, but will involve more than a few bars and some very cheesy pick-up lines. (NOTE: at some point, Rob 'bumps into' Mike, Grant's character. As of now, they are the only characters in the film that ever meet one another.)

4. Bob, 'Radio Host': Another one of my characters, Bob is a radio host for a late-night radio program. Hmm, late night radio... Much dark humor ensues. Planning to film this episode in a sort of updated film-noir style.

5. Evan, 'Late Night Philosopher': Also mine, Evan is one of those pessimistic, absurdist, ironic, and bitingly sarcastic young adults. He has an opinion about everything and isn't afraid to share it. This is the last episode, and is still mostly a treatment. Basically revolves around a rather long monologue, probably in the form of a voice over, and perhaps with some instances of breaking the fourth wall, but that's still to be seen.

Ok, so those are the 5 episodes, and that's the order they will be in in the final script. There's also the plan for an opening/introduction to the film that is semi-experimental in nature, but that's still in the works and will probably be filmed last (or who knows, maybe it will be first if we get it done soon.) For now we need to finish up the scripts for Rob, Bob, and Evan, and then polish up the project as a whole. In the meantime, preproduction starts tomorrow, so we'll be balancing more writing with location scouting and casting for the episodes that are finished.

More updates soon!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Post #4: Short Update and Timetable

Well, this morning we had an in-class speech on our progress, so I figured the blog needed a bit of an update. We're still in the writing phase (pedal to the metal) and had to attach a long-range antenna to that police scanner as we push to finish the first draft by this Sunday before we run out of gas. (Ok, that's it for the car metaphor, it's getting old). Anyways, some of the mini-episodes are in treatment form, and the rest haven't yet fully solidified out of the brainstorming mists, but we're working on it. I promise to post a more detailed explanation of where the script stands sometime in the near future. For now, here's the updated schedule for the rest of the semester:

1) Script Outlined/Episode Treatments by Sunday, February 5th      (Completed)
2) Draft of Script Finished by Sunday, February 13th (One Week)
3) Pre-Production from Monday, February 14th through March 4th      (Three Weeks)
4) Production from Monday, March 14th through Sunday April 24th    (Six Weeks)
5) Post-Production Mid-March (?) through Sunday May 1st
6) Advertising/Poster Creation and Festival Research Monday, May    2nd through Thursday, May 5th

Well, that's the tentative schedule for now. Post-production is scheduled to overlap with production seeing as we will be editing each mini-episode as it comes off the 'production-line' while still in the midst of filming other episodes. Hopefully we can get everything done by the end of the semester (fingers crossed) and perhaps even hold some sort of screening on campus before we try for the festival circuit.

That's it for now, got to get back on the writing highway. (Oops, I lied about the metaphor thing... Sorry, couldn't resist.)

- Stephanie

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Post #3: A Day in Projectville

We had two more productive group meetings today. It seems like every meeting we manage to solidify the project further, and we are leaping forward in the initial plans far faster than I had ever anticipated. By this afternoon, the project had moved forward from a simple concept to a more structured framework that we all seem to be happy with. Of course, there still remains not so much a mountain as a mountain range of work left to do, and as we get farther into the writing the project is becoming increasingly more complicated. I think I'm beginning to realize that this final semester (which at first seemed to be quite a comfortable time interval for a short film) is going to be turning into more of a hectic scramble to the finish line. However, I think we've agreed that in order to make this a true 'final project' it really needs to be this ambitious. We'd only be doing ourselves a disservice by holding back in the conception stage, so we're going to gather all of the proverbial caution out of the wind and drown it in the nearest large body of water. It's past time to jump in head first and get messy.

That said, we did decide that in order to pull off such a complicated production (don't worry, the new details are coming right up) we will need to expedite our writing process and get to production much sooner. One of the keys to this project will definitely be to have a very strong script, so we aren't planning on rushing its development. Let's just say that if, for instance, we had been traveling comfortably through sunny script-land in fourth gear up until this point, we're now going to have to rocket into fifth gear and start barreling down the writing highway with the police scanner on.

Alright, time for the idea update. First of all, shout-out to Zac Weaver for his help brainstorming in class today. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us Zac, they were really helpful! Ok, so we're keeping the episodic structure idea that we had originally decided upon, but we have added some extra parameters to help focus the overall structure of the piece. Here's the thrilling tale:

Not so long ago, in a classroom not too far away, Grant, Adam, Zac, and Stephanie were discussing ideas for their senior seminar projects. After a somewhat abstract discussion of film-related topics, plot and segment pitches, etc. INSPIRATION stuck it's head into the middle of our group, reached forward with several elusive, invisible hands, and tweaked us all on the nose. "Ouch!" After the initial nose-tweaking shock, we were struck with the idea of structuring our project around the somewhat loose-concept of 'time.' We had already been playing with this concept in the two short episodes that we had been thinking of earlier (and, frankly, it's a concept that has always quite fascinated me, what with it's infinite potential in the film medium.) The idea was to limit the film's structure to a 24 hour time frame, a single day. Each segment will follow the next sequentially through a 24 hour period (although whether each segment comes from the SAME 24 hour period remains to be seen). In other words, the first short would be set in the morning, the next at noon, then afternoon, evening, night, etc. until we come full circle and end the film at dawn. Each segment of the day will be devoted to a single mini-episode with it's own protagonist in a type of 'network-narrative' with inventive transitions and unlikely coincidences. We have now begun outlines for two segments (morning and late afternoon) and will attempt to fill in the remaining time slots with plausible ideas by Friday. Then, once we've slain the structure dragon, we can finally begin seriously fleshing-out each mini-episode with dialogue, etc., in proper script formatting and get on with the quest, er, I mean the project. So, that's the progress in a nutshell. And it remains to be seen if they all lived happily ever after. (not) THE END.

Yes, we did have quite an adventure today. Now it's back to the racetrack for a mad-dash writing session before next class. Hopefully we won't hit any speed-bumps.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Post #2b: A Summary

Ok, so after publishing the last post I realized that it really was insanely long and contained a daunting amount of text. So here is a brief summary of what it contains for those operating on a limited budget of time (although I assure you the original is quite charming in it's own right.)

Today we had our first official group meeting. We came up with a timeline of deadlines for the project and decided to create a piece made up of a series of mini-episodes all tied together 'somehow.' Each group member will take a leading role on at least two episodes and rotate roles on others. More info soon.

Well, there you go. Want more details and a healthy smattering of dry humor? - Read the original. Content with this brief missive?- Stay tuned for more.

Now here's a pretty picture to alleviate all this text.


Post #2: Group Meeting No. 1

   Today Grant, Adam, and I met to discuss our goals for the project and set some preliminary deadlines. Over the course of the meeting we pinpointed, more or less, the "essence" of what we will aim to accomplish over the course of the semester. First, however, a list of the proposed schedule (which of course is subject to change as any form of minor, or drastic, 'developments' arise)

          Writing and Preproduction: Present - Spring Break
          Production: Begins NO LATER than the week following
             Spring Break (probably earlier) - Mid- April
          Fine Cut/Final Deadline: End of April
          Publicity/Festival Entries: First week of May
             (if applicable)

   Alright, so that's the schedule give-or-take. Now for the exciting bit. So, here's the idea: rather than create a  typical, narrative short (not that I have anything against a well told story) we've decided to create a project composed of mini-episodes, or chapters, that tie into a central theme. (I find myself objecting to the use of the word 'theme,' and am using it here simply for clarity's sake. In this context, 'theme' should be taken to mean some sort of loose, connecting thread(s) between episodes rather than any sort of 'cliched,' moral drive behind the work.)
   I guess the question that pops up next is what this film will 'be about.' (Another least favorite question of mine, however one which all writers/filmmakers must eventually come to recognize as a generally inevitable part of the process of making one's work accessible to the public, while occasionally the question can serve as a useful tool to employ when searching for direction in a script or series of artistic choices.) Unfortunately,  I cannot explain at this point what our film will 'be about.' While I am not displeased to have a few more days to scramble around for the adequate words to convey the meaning of this piece, the simple fact is that we haven't yet developed anything close to a storyline or plot, and are still searching for that elusive 'theme' from which to draw some inspiration, or at the very least some form of constraints.
   However, what I can tell you is what we hope to achieve by attempting a project of this nature. Constructing the film around this episodic structure will create, we feel, a great forum to showcase a variety of different filmmaking styles. Within this structure we will allow ourselves the creativity to jump from episodes that are more narrative in nature to others that border on the experimental. Shooting styles can range anywhere from naturalistic to stylized, and editing choices can be tailored to each episode. Through this process, we will be able to showcase the full extent of our creativity and technical skills, while on a more practical level the process of shooting multiple mini-films at once (while more complicated on a scheduling level) will allow us to keep momentum through the project even if there are delays with permits, cast availability, conflicts, etc. In other words, we will be plenty busy and always have something to work on.
   While the exact number of episodes is still undetermined (and will probably continue to vary until we finish the final cut) we are expecting to have a minimum of 6 episodes/chapters. In order to assure that each group member has equal participation in the project, we have decided to rotate roles for each episode (i.e. Director, Cinematographer, Sound). With a minimum of six episodes, each group member can take a leading role in at least two small projects, and better pinpoint their role when citing the work in a resume/reel. At this point, the final editing process is still undetermined, but will most likely be completed in collaboration.
   Alright, well that's it for now. This week we plan to meet several more times to begin writing, and will be spending some time individually researching topics, characters, styles and more to try to bring more of a shape to the project. Thanks for bearing with me through this rather long post! I'll try to make them more manageable in the future, but no promises. ;-)


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Post #1: Hello

Welcome to my first blog! This blog will be used as a type of e-journal for my senior seminar film project.  The goal of this project is to create a 15-20 minute narrative film in collaboration with fellow filmmakers Grant and Adam. Subsequent entries will detail our progress through the writing, pre-production, production, and post-production stages. Future posts will also include notes, ideas, storyboards, location photos, and more about the project.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more posts soon!