Tag Archives: indie movie

How To Brew Chai

19 Sep , 2008,
Chip Street
, , , , ,
No Comments

Okay, not the most compelling of subjects, but better than the “how to potty train your kid” video I did last year. This was shot for a local Chai manufacturer for use as a promotional tool. It’ll be used at trade shows and embedded at their site. I produced and directed. The client wrote it, though also I helped them refine the script.

The Style of No Style

10 Sep , 2008,
Chip Street
, , , , , , , ,
No Comments

“Wow, that $5,000 slasher horror flick you made sure is a crappy movie.”

“It’s just a slasher flick, that’s the style. It’s about the blood, not the production values.”

“So slasher flicks can be bad movies and still be good?”

“They’re not bad movies. They have a different style.”

“Er… movies are movies, regardless of genre, right? I mean, it still has to be in focus, doesn’t it?”

I’ve had lots of conversations around the issue of “style”, particularly with regard to genre work. It’s often said that for indie filmmakers, certain genres are more forgiving of mediocre production or execution because the “style” of the genre has a different bar than the “style” of other genres. I think it’s an interesting area of conversation in a creative context, because the issue of “style” is used to place value on people’s work. It can be said that work is “servicable”, “technically competent”, but if it lacks “style” it can’t be taken seriously as an art form, nor can it compete on the larger stage (nee Hollywood) outside its small, forgiving, perhaps apologetic genre audience.

Following is an excerpt from a manuscript I wrote about 15 years ago, discussing the “Literary” work of Philip K. Dick and his “style”. Remove P.K. Dick and replace with the filmmaker of your choice. Remove “literature” and replace it with “filmmaking”.

“Freedman wonders about how sf might fit into all that. His focus is on Philip K. Dick, a writer whose enigmatic career seems anomalous. Most folks seem to agree, he says, that with respect to “the most prestigious test of literary significance – style – Dick appears to fail.” Specifically, Dick’s work fails to demonstrate “the evident polish, syntactic elegance, and allusive resonance of incontestably literary prose.” Dick’s Literary Stylistic tradition is rooted in the pulps, those early years of science fiction history characterized by adolescent adventure tales written by vaguely talented penny-a-word armchair authors, whose prose “has rarely been acclaimed as anything more than serviceable.” (SOC 33-34)

Nonetheless, he tells us, lots of folks consider Dick to be serious Literature; that his work is, in fact, the most important and interesting since Faulkner. Could it be, he asks, that Dick attains greatness despite his Style?”

I’ll pose the question(s): Can there be a “style of no style”? And if we can redefine style to include some (otherwise merely competent) work and thus push that previously substandard work to the same level as more traditionally stylistically polished work, does that strengthen or devalue the art form as a whole?

Making Arrangements – Day Six Plus

18 Jan , 2008,
Chip Street
, , , , , , ,
No Comments

So it’s all in the can.

The rest is all about editing, sound and music.

Jay Kensinger is our editor. He did a manly job juggling this project, prepping for another film (he’s got one of his own in prepro right now) and launching his new band “Isadora’s Scarf”. Consequently, getting to a final edit was a challenge and took longer in calendar days than we’d hoped, but eventually we got it locked.

Jay’s work on the composited shot of Gina getting hit by the truck is perfect… still makes people jump.

The sound we got on location was great… some balancing of course, but we didn’t have to loop anything, so that’s good.

And the music! Man, did we score on that account. Jay himself is a musician, and created an couple of instrumental themes. Plus, as I’ve mentioned one of our stars Gina Marie is a musician herself, and is married to Greg Camp of Smashmouth fame (All Star and Walkin’ on the Sun, anyone?). Greg is newly solo, and was readying a new album for release, but was able to allow us rights to some of his work, as well as some of Gina’s.

  • Wrong
  • Down With You
  • Right Side, Wrong Bed
  • Pucker

So we’ve got a world class soundtrack for our little film.

Nice work, everyone! It was a great experience. A great crew. We finished on time or early every day. And nobody had a tantrum! The writer is happy, the actors are happy, I’m happy. Wish they all went this way.

EPILOGUE

Arrangements” was accepted to, and premiered at, the Santa Cruz Film Festival in 2008. Since then its “ownership” is a little shaky as the organization that produced it, Cinemar, has kind of folded its tent. But the film’s been submitted to a few other fests, and we have hopes that it’ll get seen again.

The trailer was completed and is posted on the site. It’s not the trailer I’d outlined, but it works okay. Someday, in all our spare time, maybe we’ll cut a new one.

Making Arrangements – Day Five

30 Nov , 2007,
Chip Street
, , , , ,
No Comments

Time for pickups. All shot MOS, just a few of us required… here’s what we needed.

It’s important to me to establish “Bill” and “Cassie”‘s marriage as a healthy one… Bill makes some questionable ethical decisions, and it’s important that those are weighed against a good relationship, not mitigated by a troubled one. No time to add more scenes to the story, so I wanted some shots for the opening title sequence… kind of “home movie” looking shots of them walking around a pond, feeding ducks, chatting and laughing. We shot around a local pond, and along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz… ending on a nice shot of them looking off into the sunset.

Also needed a shot of Kayla’s purse flying into the air, to cut into the car hit shot. Really wanted a close shot, SLOMO, against blue sky… keys and cards flying out. It’s both a stylish impact shot, and a plot point shot… we’ve got a shot of her “organ donor card” lying on the ground splattered with blood. I wanted to see it fly out of the purse to set that up. We stood in the park, surrounded by onlookers, as I threw the purse into the air repeatedly while Matthew hand-held the shot. Took quite a few tries to keep it in frame, but we finally got a usable shot. Not exactly what I wanted, but close enough to work. Next time I’ll put it on a lazy susan against a green screen or something.

We’ve got the party scene in the can: Bill throws himself a “goodbye” party once he gets the news. We had two huge banners that read “SO LONG BILL” but for various reasons they didn’t really read in the wide shots, and we didn’t get inserts. So I wanted a “collage” poster, a “BON VOYAGE BILL” sign with old photos of him through childhood and adulthood. We set it up on a tripod at the park against a backdrop of bushes, and it’ll cut in fine with the party footage.

That was all we needed, I think (as memory serves). That’s it for shooting. Now it’s on to editing. You’ve got the ball, Jay. :)