A trailer for my new short film, WHAM. The film was finished in November 2017 and will go out on the festival circuit in 2018. You can learn more about WHAM here.
It was a great weekend! The festival was so well-organized. The parties were great. The other filmmakers were great.
The screenings were excellent, with average and peak quality of films far above what I’ve been seeing at other festivals this year.
And Bloomington, IN is a lovely college town. The screening venues and projections were great too, especially the main theater.
I can’t recommend this festival enough.
I’m also really happy that The Deadline got to premiere there. They gave it two screenings, including one in the main theater.
It’s really amazing, the first time you see a film you made up on a big screen with a professional audio system.
I had tears in my eyes. Then it was too much and I had to leave for a minute because sometimes I get weird watching my stuff with other people in the room.
And Off Book won the award for Best Comedy Short!
But really, I want to share some of the films that I saw and made me laugh:
Lovewatch by Harrison Atkins. One of the best/funniest things I’ve seen this year. Unfortunately, he hasn’t posted in online yet, but here’s another great weird short from him:
The Day Before. The full film isn’t released yet, but here’s the trailer:
I was going through my Evernote to catch up on stuff I’ve saved but haven’t had time to digest and this Tony Zhou video came up. I realized that I already posted it but it’s worth posting (and watching) again, as are all of his video essays.
Having just directed a short film that relies mostly on physical comedy, and certainly using (or trying to use) it in The Deadline, I’ve really developed a profound appreciation for Keaton and the filmmakers he collaborated with. It’s insanely hard to pull of physical gags and requires a lot of good camera technique as well as performer technique. And rehearsal. And props. And special stages in Keaton’s case.
For the last short, I have people bumping heads on the sidewalk to pass out. Choreographing that was not easy, although it wasn’t impossible either. I’m still not 100% sure how it will turn out, but it looks good so far, at least in the long takes. I really didn’t want to use cheap tricks to get people to fall on the ground (hard pavement in this case), like cutting from the head bumps to the bodies on the ground. So we had to devise special padding that blends in with the sidewalk for the actors to fall on, which required the ingenuity of Jim Jarosz of Channel Awesome.
This was the third short I’ve directed and I would say 70% of my stress was around the physical humor — would it play well, would it look silly (in a not funny way), would anyone get hurt. 15% of my stress was the weather because we were outside and at the mercy of the rain, which fortunately the film Gods smiled upon us. The other 15% was the usual ever-present suspicion that everything would fall apart at any moment.
Here’s another short film from Portland Comedy Film Fest that I really liked and meant to post earlier and then remembered while watching Wimbledon highlights at my hotel in Baltimore on Sunday:
Two weekends ago I attended the Portland Comedy Film Festival. I only saw shorts there, although there were a couple features that played before I arrived. Here are a few that I both enjoyed and are currently available online.
Cauliflower, directed by Natasha Straley
Groundhog Day for a Black Man, directed by Cynthia Kao
Jihadi Street, directed by Yulia Fomenko
I still don’t know how I feel about this one but it’s so rare to see a comedy this risky and I really want to see what Yulia does next.
I really enjoyed this. Lots of good stuff in here on working with low budgets and getting the most out a little money, production-wise.
A few takeaways:
- He started with black and white to eliminate a lot of variables and work faster.
- He started with a scene where he could control the camera tightly, so that the first scene would be high quality and later shots in uncontrolled environments would register as a choice and not an accident.
- He did the same for sound, getting high quality sound in the first scene so that people weren’t immediately alienated by the quality of the sound.
- By the time people realized how cheap the film was, they were already into the story.
- Working in film noir or a crime film gives you a lot of creative freedom because the audience knows you’re going to get back to that main story, enabling you to take quite a few leaps and experiment without compromising the comprehensibility of the film.
My friend Jae wrote on Letterboxd:
It’s pitiful that this will be marketed as the “iPhone film” or the movie with the the transsexuals – because I believe it offers so much more than this – though both aspects are important for different reasons.
I had the same thought watching it, that people would know or remember it as “the iPhone movie,” which makes me a little sad because I thought it was brilliant filmmaking that didn’t have much to do with what camera they shot it on. I think the budget was around $100,000 and you could easily make a film for a third or less the cost but with a much better camera.
What I loved was the editing, the sense of movement, the music and how it worked with the images, the performances, the writing, and above all the rhythm that makes it feel so alive. That feeling of “aliveness” is hard to define and even harder to create. To me, it’s a combination of playfulness, good camera work, great editing, and not giving a fuck (in a good way).
I shot some test footage with my new camera, a Blackmagic cinema camera. Just playing around with stuff to see how it works and learn DaVinci Resolve. Despite my shaky handheld and focus issues (my issues, not the lens), I think it makes some really beautiful images.