Friday, August 12, 2016

Blog #4 Of Teenagers and Goats

The script stars two girls, one 12 the other 14. The actors playing them are 13 and 15 respectively.

At first we were under the impression that we all needed Working with Children's Cards, which seemed simple enough at the time.

The process is quite simple, you fill out the details on the website, print our the form, take it to the local post office with some ID to prove it's you, they spend it off, do a police check and then bang you get it.

At least that is provided the Post Office likes your photo, they didn't like mine. See I got my photo taken at the Kodak shop because they get better photos than the Post Office does, the lady at the photo shop has a bit of plastic which shows how big the photo is meant to be in the frame for the ID, the exact same big of plastic is in the post-office. The problem was the two different ladies each had their own interpretation of the SAME government-issued guide. So that was a thing, thankfully they did finally spend it off.
Being that I have no criminal history, I got approved quite quickly and got my card.

But other members of my group not so lucky, oh don't worry none of them done anything bad. Just that they took a very long time process their cards for some reason.
Although while we were stressing out about the other crew members outside our core group (i.e. audio), Child Services told us that only one personal actually needs it to be a supervisor... and that person can be the parent who doesn't even need a card. That would have saved us a lot of trouble!
Still I have the card for 5 years, so I cannot complain, might come in handy if I ever decide to become a Lifeguard or something.

Child Services themselves are interesting, while we all know why they exist, they can get a bit strung up about certain things.
See I don't really care about someones age, I am very much of the opinion that one shouldn't be judged for their age and that many age-based laws are nanny-state nonsense (I have a lot of opinions about things), but the things they talked about just confused me.

At first we couldn't have our youngest (who let me remind you is 13, a teenager, not a young kid), couldn't be near a goat because apparently goats a wild beasts who cannot be unleashed.
Although now they say it's cool as long as she isn't holding it.

Oh and the themes might be too spooky for her or whatever. Let me tell you, I hope child services never goes to read the type of fan-fiction actual tweens/teens write themselves, they'll need to really re-think how they view that age-group.

Blog #3 - Location, Location, Location

Attempting to find locations for the film proved quite hard.

We looked at a place called Kirth Kilm, however being a public area it meant that other members of the public could be camping there or just walk though, with no way to stop them or close the area off.
Not to mention having to go through Parks Victoria would be a nightmare, submitting the files our producer never really got an answer back from them and aspects like the goat could never work.

Also there would be a lack of power, toilets and not really any real way to feed or keep warm our crew and more importantly our cast. Child services would not be pleased.

I was personally sent to inquire about Treetops scout park, however as we thought we found a location I was asked to not bother going after it, in hindsight maybe that was a mistake as we could have used the location and it might have been quite ideal with power and shelter. Not to mention perfect for me as I am very close to it, while every other location is like a three hour drive for me and I hate driving, along with the fact I am made to carry the gear because I have the SUV.

Regardless after much faffing around looking at locations, we settled on two places.
The first being the house of the family friends of our Production Manager, the house was perfect visually and some of front areas proved quite useful.

The second location is the neighbor property of our director, quite handy and there's a goat nearby.
But the drive for me personally is utter hell. The one thing I will be glad once this shoot is over is that I don't have to drive for a long time. Because SAE lacks a proper car-park of sorts, parking in Melbourne is hell and attempting to pick-up/drop-off gear becomes more of headache than it really should.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Blog #2 - Cinematography Workshop

We spent a day working in a cinematography workshop with an expert named Michael in the soundstage.
While Michael got familiar with the script, the director (Logan) showed us his directors brief including examples of how he wishes the film to end up looking. Which is important to me as now I am doing the colour grade so I have something specific to aim for now which is handy, it very much has an old-70s looking vibe as if the film has been exposed to the sun too much.
It also clarified something for me in terms of the story, but I won’t go into details for spoiler reasons.

The first major part of the day was spent talking about lighting, the use of defusing to get a soft light, inspired by the works of famous painters.
He commented that Light is Truth, the idea being that if at all possible go for one light source, the main example for us being windows.
How the lighting could be used to light the characters is also touched on, with our villain being in the dark/shadows while our hero being in the light. Surfaces on tables can be used to bounce light as well.
We worked on the idea of tricking fire by using light, at a part of our film requires the use of fire. However due to Child Services, what should be a rather simple thing has turned into a nightmare. Naturally not wanting to break any laws one possible outcome is to use light, by using a bounce board, placing a plot-plant in front can create the image if a hand is placed over the light to create a flicker. It’s a neat trick, for water it looks great, for fire I am yet to be personally convinced.
The other solution, of course is to find actors who don’t need child permits, easier said than done if you need a character who is twelve.
There has been talk of also finding a safety officer, which seems to be the likely route if we can get one.

After a break two actors were brought in to play one scene, the object of this was less about lighting and all about the camera itself. What lenses to use, movements, angles and the like. It seems to be that the 50’ lenses is a winner. I think I have now pretty much mastered the art of changing (or “pulling”) lenses.
It was pretty nifty seeing two actors play out a scene I had imagined in my head for a while. We placed down a table, placed a few props (With a “holy book” which was my notebook which I did some designs in). Curtains were pulled in order to create a door for our hero to come through.

However the main thing I could take from it all was pot plants, pot plants can be used for everything.
For background dressing, for foreground dressing and in order to push light through to have an effect.
So thank you pot plants, you’re the real MVP.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blog #1

Up to only recently have I had any real experience in partaking in the practical side of film-making.
For my childhood and teenage years I acquired a growing understanding of the film-making process, however this was only ever at a distance from what I gathered from online and behind-the-scenes.
The media program at my high-school did little to incorporate much of this, as it was mainly have an idea and go out doing it. Of course there a level of pre-production, however in high-school I didn’t often see the point as I already had ‘the vision’ inside my head, for me the real work was in the production and post-production.

My first real experience with pre-production wasn’t in film at all, it was in Games, previous to studying Film I was studying Games at SAE. In games it was as like film, critical to nail down the plan of action before production could begin.

Once in Film, the pre-production for our first project (Keyhole) was limited, the story changed around a lot and roles were pretty much locked in place of being shared around.
The second and third projects (Medley’s “Do you Feel Safe” and Derroman) were the first real film process sections, going through months of pre-production. This mainly applied to our music video, working with the client, working out the locations (although in the end we just filmed inside the Sound Stage with some set-dressing).
The production itself felt easy by compassion to the pre-production, I myself was not much involved with the Post Production.

That is going to change with our current project Ritual, for I am going to be the editor and colour grader. My key is to have all the elements which I can setup beforehand setup in place, ready to go.
This is setting out the assembly line and starting to cut it together as soon as I can get my hands on the footage, not waiting until I have it all.

I am relevantly confident in the cutting of the film, my largest focus of learning right now is on the colour grade. The director has made his vision quite clear, that the images should all be de-saturated, the Director of Photogopghy has helpfully told me a good starting point is “Lumetri Color”, getting in as much practice before hand will be critical.
But right now I am go work on the titles/credits.

I am working on an animated logo before the first scene, after the first scene will be the title and of course after the film will be the credits.
I have already gone through the script (which is now scene-locked) to figure out the order of appearance of characters and where they appear, if I can write up the credits as much as I can now with leaving spaces for placeholders when the final information comes through (i.e casting).

Along with the main project is my own personal script, titled Local Council, I have written it to be somewhat in the vain of the ABC show Utopia.
At time of writing I have yet to review the feedback, however I will need to download software such as Celtx when I go for my second draft to re-do the script.
The first draft was written using Microsoft Word (which I am using right now actually), however as scripts are very set in the way of the formatting I have been advised to go against the free-form word processing software in favour of a dedicated software suite.

Due to personal reason and my own failures I have fallen behind a bit, however I endeavour to step up and get into a better system of getting things done.
My main motivating force behind this is the shared score with the team, the idea that my own failure would bring down the mark of my team, my friends, is frankly terrifying to me. That is a prospect I do not wish to face, ever, so that is my major driving force as of now.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

FLM110 Topic 10: Film and Audiences

I typically watch movies in a cinema if I watch them away from a television. If in a cinema generally speaking I do not interact, I prefer to be a good little boy and keep my mouth shut (surprising I know to anybody who has spent time around me).
I also tend to refrain from laughing out loud or making any comments even if I desperately want to go “ooh I get it now”.
When watching films with friends or family, I am happier to talk and give a running commentary during the commercials before the film and the credits after, but never when the actual film itself is running.
I tend to get annoyed by deliberate sound from other cinema goers. While a laugh at a joke is fine, there is a point where a laugh can be so obnoxious that I want to cover my ears and cringe. People chatting or making loud comments as well annoy me. Babies or very young children crying also gives me a case of the wanna-punch-someone-syndrome. Mind you this crying isn’t a reaction to the film itself either, it’s just because that’s what babies do.
It’s true that I am a heartless bastard, I won’t really cry in films. Maybe misty-eyed at most, but even then that tends to be a reaction to when the film wants me to cry. The engineered action of music, story and cinematography which causes tear-jerking on demand.
I know some people are more emotional than myself and can get triggered by almost anything, but I am far too cynical.

I don’t think I have ever gotten an change of moral mind from watching a film, my morals and view of the world is already baked into me and so far no film, game or book has been able to truly sway my opinion one way or the other. Not that isn’t to say that I don’t ‘understand’ what the film is trying to get across or conveying.
I perfectly understand when films like Children of Men or Zootopia are trying to make a statement on social issues. I think in the case of Zootopia it’s quite evident that the core social message is a response to global terrorism and the people’s reaction to it. Racism, Faith and Gender all are represented in an interesting way.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Subtext: Pokémon The First Movie

 Film: Pokémon: The First Movie
Year: 1998 (1999 English Dub)
Director: Kunihiko Yuyama

Pokémon is massive, although that cannot quite describe it. It truly is an iconic franchise of modern pop-culture.
At its core Pokémon is a video game series, although has spun off in many different directions in many different mediums, the anime (which started off as semi-direct adaption of the game) is among the most famous. It was here where Pikachu was established as the most iconic Pokémon.
This leads to the humbly titled Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (Yuyama, 1998), the western release (of which I will be looking at, which is important to note as there are plot differences in the two versions) is simply just Pokemon: The First Movie.

The film is about an artificially born Pokémon (Mewtwo) who goes rouge and seeks to rule the world with his “superior race” of cloned Pokémon.

The films core moral is “fighting is bad”, although I think the deeper message about how we view and respect each other.
Generally speaking there is a very clear hierarchy in the world of Pokémon (and our own as a parallel), we as humans are the top. We are the most important species on this planet, we control this planets future and we tame or killed other species for our needs, resources or entertainment.
In the Pokémon world, Pokémon are caught as trophies (“Gotta catch em’ all”), then trained for combat for the financial and ego benefits of the Pokémon Trainer (often refereed too as “master”).

Mewtwo at the start feels betrayed by humanity because of this, he was born by humans and not shown any respect.
He was simply to be used as an excrement for knowledge by the scientists and to be used as a weapon/tool by the criminal organization Team Rocket. Both lied to him about “Being equal”.
Mewtwo’s reaction to this was to destroy the place where he was born and to kill all those who made him.

Cursing humanity he made his own race of cloned Pokémon (using DNA) of which he declares to be better the original.

This is very clearly a case of “superior race” syndrome, of which he feels that his non-loving and mechanical approach to raising Pokémon is better.
This draws parallels with many historical moments, the most obvious being Germany under the reign of Adolf Hitler.
The idea of the “machine man”, while not literally machine, but of the concept of being built like a machine, part by part, unloving, though a rigidly controlled upbringing and life of education, society, roles, all of which are to be pre-determined. To make the best off the best. In order to create the most superior possible person.

However in the process of making the strongest, fastest and most efficient, you lose the emotion, the choice and the “core” of what makes life worth living.

The Pokémon themselves display this. The “cloned” Pokémon look identical to the organic ones, par slight visual changes (more black stripes on them). They walk in a rigid marching formation with each other, never stepping out of line. They obey Mewtwo’s command without question and they’re willing to fight to the brutal, bitter end.

They become machine Pokémon, blinded of logic or emotion. Unable (or unwilling) to think for themselves.
In the real world, this is not just seen under fascist regimes, but in cults. Specifically religious cults.
Where there’s a leader and the followers take the leaders word at face value, to build a better world.
As such is Mewtwo’s intentions as he outright wishes to destroy all humans and even kill off all the organic Pokemon as despite being innocent, Mewtwo considers them “weak” for obeying the humans.
This idea of natural selection, will of the strength is seen in fascism as well.

In response to this, the organic Pokemon fight back, one on one against their clone counter-part, but despite the physical and idealogical difference between them. They both do the same thing, resort to violence.
One doesn't become much better than the other as they both become the same thing.
As is the case with the human race in our own world. Our lust for revenge is constant, whenever someone attacks us we as a society feel the urge to attack back. To the point where it doesn't even matter who started it.
Did Mewtwo start the conflict or did humanity? Does it matter? The result is the same, death and brutality.

Two forces refuses to fight, Ash (the main character of the anime) and his partner Pikachu.
Pikachu refuses to fight back, letting his cloned self beat him up.

According to the English Bible (1611, Various), Jesus apparently said this "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also"
This is also known as "turn the other cheek", the idea being that you should "love your enemy".

In the film, this is exactly what Ash's Pikachu does. Despite being constantly beaten (literately on the cheek), Ash's Pikachu refuses to fight back, even in pure self-defence.

Every problem in the film goes back to humans trying to be gods, creating life, attempting to "perfect" life by the way of experiments and control. Demanding animals submit.

The film asks the viewer if it's all worth it, if that's what they desire. The film also dares to question who the viewer is more like. Is the viewer the kind of person who is willing to seek revenge no matter the cost, or are they the kind of person who refuses to lower themselves to the brutality of their opponents.

The film also has a message about prejudice, hating someone purely due to the nature of their birth.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tails the Fox

Artwork by FireRai

When people think video game side kick, the first thing when tends to pop into people’s minds is Luigi.
However, I think Luigi isn’t that great.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no beef with Luigi, I like him more than Mario (as Mario has zero personality), but I think he is just a gloried re-colouring with Mario not just in terms of visuals but also mechanics and story.
They’re brothers, so they basically look the same and thus practically play the same and really are the same.

But Tails, now Tails is a proper side kick.
Miles “Tails” Prower is the side kick of Sonic, but you already knew that.
So what’s so special about Tails? Well in that era of gaming, side kicks or second-player characters tended to either be a literal or glorified carbon-copy of the protagonist.
On the base functioning level, Tails is more advanced than Sonic. He can’t run as fast (although he can get pretty close as he’s always behind), but he can fly.
Tails being able to fly almost alone justifies his existence, being able to sick up and move Sonic around the level, to greater heights or to save him from falling to the bottom of the screen, his flight makes him different and gives the two of them an instant dynamic.
His flight doesn’t just end at his own personal two-tail’d ability, he also has a plane which serves the narrative throughout the entire franchise.

Personality wise, Sonic and Tails also have a dynamic which I don’t think has been topped by any other video game duo.

The 2003 Sonic anime got super-dark towards the end.
While I dig Master Chief and Cortana/Arbiter, it can feel a little bit wooden at times.
But the connection between Sonic and Tails just fits so well.
They’re not blood-brothers (clearly not, they’re two entirely different species), but the relationship between them often is pitched more as one of brotherhood than just simply best friends.
Tails feeds off Sonic's confidence and Sonic feeds off Tails intellect. Tails is taken from his pathetic wimpy form to one with self-confidence thanks to Sonic.  Sonic is humbled and is allowed to feel emotions when he is with Tails. While not seen in the game mechanics, story wise Sonic can’t swim (because someone at SEGA Japan thought Hedgehogs couldn't swim and didn't bother to research into it), but Tails can.

Sonic is often shown as either coolcynical or even at times rather cold when it comes to how he deals with other characters, good or evil, but rarely has he ever seen to get angry or frustrated at Tails, even when Tails screwed up (like in Adventure when he basically gave Eggman a chaos emerald by accident).

There is a deeper sense of care and love between the two, even when Sonic games are at their most awful (and they can be awful *cough* Rise of Lyric *cough*), the writing of those two stays about the same.
The comics of course take a lot deeper, but I am not here to talk about comics as it would take forever (although they’re awesome).
When game characters so often have the chemistry of a dusty wooden spoon, it’s always nice to know, that a fox and a hedgehog will always remain true.

Oh and he's super cute.