Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Contentment" selected in France

Contentment has been selected for the 32nd Villeurbanne Short Film Festival! Villeurbanne is a suburb, part of the greater Lyon metropolitan area, so I'm excited to attend and check out the scene. I love film festivals.

The only (hilarious?) caveat is the more I correspond with the festival folk, the more they keep mentioning that I was selected for the "First Short Film" section. I have a sneaking suspicion this means the first short film you ever made. Well, it's not exactly the first I've ever made...more like the 25th. I wonder how that confusion happened. Hopefully I won't be publicly assaulted on the subject.

I also have to do subtitles in French. Now Contentment can be as pretentious as possible! What's more pretentious than French subtitles, amirite?

Huzzah to movies!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Boa and Jenny Do France - and 3 new projects

Glory upon glories, my great friends and cinema collaborators Boa Simon and Jenny Hou actually flew from LA to Lyon, France, where I'm currently living, to stay with me for two full goddamn weeks.

Well, we didn't waste the opportunity - we made it a working vacation! And out of it we got three pieces. All of these were shot with the three of us as cast and crew, on the Rebel T2i with a set of lenses, a tripod, and a handmade shoulder mount.

The first two are spec ads. One is for Velo'v, a bike service in Lyon where you can pick up a bicycle, ride around, and drop it off in another part of the city. All automated, very convenient. My storyboards looked something like this:

The idea is that it stays at the POV of the biker, changing backgrounds as he travels throughout his day. Boa, genius that he is, built a rig out of a steadicam vest:

The hat is my protection
Using this clever thing, we got exactly the angle I drew in the board. Then we rode all around Lyon, filming in various picturesque locations with Jenny:

In order to get the right angle, one must bike with
their ass out and chest up, like a moron

Passers-by were surprisingly unimpressed.

The cool part about this spot is it required very little, and I think the effect will be visually very interesting. It looks like we got a bicycle handle rig, when all we needed was me riding like a fool and a 12mm lens.

After Lyon, we took a five-day trip to Paris, up north. There we stayed with a friend of mine, and filmed a spec spot for Coke - a kind of spontaneous travelogue. We tried to capture little moments and hints of narrative as we simultaneously toured the city's sights.

Shooting out the train window
In Versailles

In a Parisian cafe
Getting up at 6am is worth it
We found this one conceptually very difficult to shoot. There are plenty of commercials out there that are abstract and "moody" rather than narrative (see previous post), but to actually execute it, when you're trained to shoot for narrative content, is tricky. We tried to grab small glances, smiles, gestures, and light, and we're hoping the free form can be crafted into something emotional.

The end result is that we have a ton of footage - which I'm handing off to Billy Peake, an editor and Chapman alum, who will make signal of the noise.

Our final project is - yes, you guessed it - the 5th episode of our famous and influential web show, Danger! Relax, Please! : "Baguette Brawl." It's French themed. In a way.

I play the villain. There's a knife in the bread.
That's a real brain. A brain is involved.
This one was actually the most challenging to shoot. It was rainy and cloudy, so we fought that, and also in the winter it doesn't stay light for very long during the day. The final challenge was the brain - it smelled awful. I still can't get brainstink out of my kitchen.

But my philosophy with DRP has always been to try to get the most out of the least - find interesting locations, props, and costumes, and make it just pop like a cartoon.

Watch "Baguette Brawl" right this minute! The other two, the ads, are forthcoming...