Sunday, July 03, 2011

Moviemaking Updates and Other Miscellany

I claim to be an amateur movie-maker at the top of the blog, but hardly ever seem to post anything about that very subject. Well the truth is that for the last while, I haven't been entirely focused on the movie making part of it.  My last big effort in that direction was completion of the fine tuning for The Stone Unturned edit, the entire project of which has been rumbling on for a couple of years now.  The edit is now, as they say, locked.  All that remains is for the sound mix to be completed, at which point I should theoretically be able to drop it straight into Premiere, render it out and we have a complete movie! Theory is all very well in theory. Dropping the sound mix straight in should perhaps be more of a hypothesis than a theory, until tested against the evidence of having something that works.

Rendering for this half-hour production used to take my machine twenty minutes, until I figured that it could use some fancy colour-grading to give it more of the cinematic feel which all amateurs working in video seem to crave.  Movie-looks were provided by a plugin called - unsurprisingly - Movielooks, a freebie obtained when I bought Premiere in the first place.  Rendering it out no longer takes twenty minutes: it takes thirty hours.  Looks great though.  I'm especially pleased, since the free version is no longer available as a promotional item.  And the reason I'm pleased is because I was able to find it cowering in a corner of one of my old hard drives.  And that reason that pleased me is from having to partially rebuild the computer a few months back, when everything started to fail spectacularly. (An obscure interaction between the ATI graphics card and the rest of the system caused drive cacheing to fail. Not sure I believed the explanation, but only became convinced when the card’s fan physically spun itself right off the board.)  I thought I'd lost the plugin entirely and the full - and only version - now available is a tad outside the range of my budget.

The Stone Unturned is tentatively scheduled for free release sometime before mumble mumble mumble. Potentially before the end of the year, but as we’ve learned these things never go to plan. In any case, I reckon it is the best-looking episode of Intrepid we’ve made so far. (Up to speed section: The Stone Unturned is a Star Trek fan film, the latest in the series.  We're approaching it all quite allegedly professionally you know.)

Mainly, however, I’ve been preoccupied with writing or at least attempting to be preoccupied with it. To this end I've now got a complete short script, around 23 pages, which I've passed both to Nick and T'Other'Alf.  Nick likes it well enough to film as-is and Lesley has assured me that "it's not complete pants".  Which is encouraging!  Executable, as it's now titled, has had an odd history.  When I was writing Bit Patterns as a full-length Intrepid script, I was halfway through when Brian Matthews' script for The Stone Unturned made an appearance.  At the time I didn't think I could complete mine quickly enough to start filming in the following months, and so it got bumped to next in line.  Nick was working on a feature length Intrepid script called Conviction of Demons, of which some scenes have since been shot.  I was concerned about what would amount to trying to make two feature films simultaneously, both of which would require extensive outdoor shooting.  In typical Intrepid fashion, both were written in the large.  A huge effort, then.  Multiplied by two.

This was the point at which I started thinking about a full length original film which would be simpler to make.  Something in a single location and with as few characters as possible.  So I started jotting down notes and thinking about a project which had the working title Bottleneck, potentially our first original film.  Then something odd happened.  As I've written in another post, myself and Nick had a conversation, the outcome of which was to rejig Bit Patterns as an original film.  Nice idea, but it involved way more than merely changing names.  As it happened, it needed almost as much effort as writing it in the first place.  Now that it's in the only-tweaking-required stage of scripting, it's obvious that it would need a serious budget and huge effort.  We reckon we could start on a sizzle reel this year - well, next year - but so far it's just in the speculation stage.
(Of course this means that I still owe Nick an Intepid script...)

So now I wanted to think once again about something which could be achieved with less effort, and with the bonus of being less likely to drive me crazy.  So I turned to the idea for Bottleneck and wondered how it would work not as a full-length script, but as a short one.  And that was the genesis of what is now Executable, the final words of which I wrote just recently.  Since it effectively takes place in a single location, is indoors and requires only three actors, we think it could be filmed in a weekend!  Even better, from my perspective, it gives me a chance to make use of the DSLR for shooting, which I bought for the very good business reason that I really, really wanted one.  DSLRs aren't known for their audio quality, however, but since Nick has just ordered a digital audio recorder...

And that’s where I am at the moment. No doubt everything which happens from now on is subject to change.