15 April 2017

On writing, drawing, and filming.

Gearing up, literally.
Right now, I have three short form films in development: two narratives and a minidoc.

The two short films will only be about 2-3 minutes long. The first one is called TOE TAG, a thriller with a twist starring Joey Sanchez and Geoff Richards. We’ve done location scouting and the script is in place. I’m in the process of looking into permits. Since there are some action shots, I've ordered the Fotodiox Freeflight 3-axis gimbal stabilizer. I'm excited to get that.

The second film’s working title is The Letter. It’s a road trip drama featuring Joey Sanchez and Jenny Aguilar. This one is in development. The gimbal stabilizer will also be useful here since there’s a number of traveling shots.

My mini-documentary will be about my neighbor, Craig Collings, who is the hard-working owner of Collings Awning. I’m looking forward to this because I find what he does fascinating, and the fact he and his wife Kathy have been able to sustain their own business for nearly 30 years is inspiring.

The workload at my day job has increased significantly, but I am settling into doing more video work instead of illustration and animation. While I have the skill to do many of these things, being a jack-of-all-trades has a tendency to pull you into too many directions at once. It’s extremely difficult to switch gears. Our team has been growing and many of those responsibilities will fall onto others. I’m happy that I’ll be able to focus on one job, and to do it well.

Compelling Stories
I have a slew of short films I'd like to make, but I haven't really written anything in a while except for The Letter. I was working on a feature length drama, but the story was beginning to meander because I haven't solidified many of the character's weaknesses. Drama is about confronting weakness and finding strength- at least it has been in my stories. I'm trying very hard to avoid cliches... and that's what's slowing me down.

My Illustration Dilemma
The hard truth is that Illustration, as a vocation, is all-consuming. All of the greats spend long, long hours at a desk focused on the work. You need to be dedicated and obsessed with it. \It was my first love—it's difficult since I also love filmmaking.

That said, I like to illustrate my own stories. I have many waiting on the shelf. I’ll go back and play with them when I’m ready. But, after some recent attempts, I know now for a fact that working in the comics realm collaboratively is a very separate path than filmmaking.  I have a choice to make.

07 April 2017

Leaving The Nest

Test Shots and Location Scouting
A few days ago, I went to old Midvale with my friend Joey Sanchez to do some location scouting and video tests my next film TOE TAG. The Vincent’s Pharmacy, featured in these shots, was in The Sandlot.







Joey Sanchez sneaking around back alleys in old Midvale.

Yesterday, my friend Geoff Richards and I used our lunch to get some more test shots in and around the business complex we work at. This test was primarily more for me to get used to the Chung Dha-style monopod rig (which I’ll get to further down).










Geoff Richards lurking around in underground tunnels and parking garages in Salt Lake City.

These shots aren’t bad considering I shot them on an iPhone 6. I’ll likely be using this old phone for TOE TAG and possibly the 48 Hour Film Project unless I can manage an upgrade to the 7 before then… though unlikely.

Chung Dha-style Monopod Rig
I don’t have much money to spend on equipment, so I often try to figure out the best way to get the most out of what I have by using technique to steady and light my shots. I’ve adopted a modified Cinema Verite method- using available lighting and augmenting it with inexpensive portable lights. I also try to figure out the best way to grip my camera with what I already own using very unconventional means.

I like DIY, but there are too many things- like making stuff out of pvc pipe, is just a waste of time and looks ghetto trashy. I mean, come on, use your time to plan movies, not making shitty gear.

I had come up with this method on my own, but it turns out I wasn’t the first to think of using a monopod this way. In 2010, Chung Dha came up with a fantastic method and setup using a collapsed monopod with a ballhead camera mount as a shoulder rig.

Chung Dha’s 2010 demo of his monopod shoulder rig.

Using a speedlight extension bar to extend handling is clever, though I am using an ALM mCAMLITE iPhone case, which has a similar set up on the bottom. I also use the small handle from my Zoom H4N kit for additional handling.

Photos coming soon!
My ALM mCAMLITE Quick Rig: transforms from a shoulder-rig to a monopod set up in 5 seconds.

I already owned the monopod, but I decided to take some birthday money to buy a better support for the heavy mCAMLITE case, for which I bought a fluid-filled tripod head from Anovor, using a Desmond 1/4” to 3/8” adapter.
It works pretty good, though it will take practice to get more fluid shots.

To be honest, I like the challenge of using an iPhone. It limits me in many ways, forcing me to become creative with my shots.
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