Friday, December 24, 2004

Twas the night before Xmas...

...and things are just great. The game's on TV, and I'm on beer number eight! HAHAHA! (hic!)

Actually, I'm comfortably ensconced in my home, watching a little Friday NFL action (Vikings/Green Bay; great game!)

Glad the holiday is finally here. I also finished taking my certification tests for work today, so I'm done with studying for a while.

We're in the development stage of our first short. Anthony was supposed to drop by yesterday for a preproduction meeting, but the weather didn't cooperate, so we're going to meet right after Xmas.

I honestly can't figure out why its taking so damned long for the TV studio to send me my certification. I'm starting to think these folks have a bright future in civil service! I've gotten better customer care at the DMV than I'm getting from them. It's frustrating as all hell.

I'm beginning to wonder if I should look into other options for doing the project. There's some significant pros and cons to this idea. To wit:

Pros: Having the equipment to both shoot and edit the project any time I want. Availability for test shoots any time, and having the luxury to learn the camera and it's capabilities at a leisurely pace.

Cons: Expense. Simple expense. At least $700-800 for a 3-CCD camera, another $500-1000 to build a computer with the necessary features to run NLE software; and the editing software itself, which can be anywhere from free to over $1000.

So, I guess I just have to dig up a couple thousand bucks and I'll be in business. Sure. Right. Looks like I'll keep plugging away at Soundview.

I just wish they'd return my damned calls! Time for brewski number nine...meh!

PS - Comments? Anyone? Bueller? Anybody out there, or am I just bloggin myself?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Some new stuff, and Merry Christmas!

I'm sorry, but I have to do this:

(rant mode ON)
Counting down to Xmas...only four more shopping days. Christ, I fucking HATE this time of year! I HATE that I have to be nice to people I would otherwise gladly skewer with a rusty fork; I HATE shopping, and the crowds of slack-jawed microcephalitics that get in my way; and I TOTALLY hate the traffic during the so-called "holiday" season! MY holiday starts AFTER Xmas, when the idiots retreat to their filthy hovels and quietly scheme for next year's Yuletide fun.
(rant mode OFF)

Boy, did THAT feel good! It's been building up for a while now, and I figured that a healthy hate-filled outburst right about now would be better than a horrific booze-fueled bloodbath later at the mall.

I'm fine now...


Merry Christmas!

Besides all this holiday fun, I've been working with Anthony via the phone on the script, and we've been discussing various details of the shoot. I'm also considering taking a class in "Journalism: Writing News and Feature Stories" at Housatonic Community College. It's located right next to Soundview TV, so I can take the class one night a week, then go over to the studio for an hour or two and use their editing stations.

I have to check to see when registration closes...the class runs for 10 weeks, from Feb. through April. By the end of the class Spring will be here so I'll start getting my boat in shape for the sailing season. It'll be nice to have something different to do over the Winter. It's been about 20 years since I went to school, so I'm looking forward to getting back into learning mode.

Today I tested my fog machine. I filled my den with fog in about 45 seconds, then took pictures with my digital camera. I think that the digital will see things a lot like a DV cam will. I also took shots of a flashlight beam in the fog, and a red laser. The laser looks totally cool, especially when the POV is near the line of the beam. Also, I used a mirror to reflect the laser, and the camera picks up the beam quite clearly in the mist. Any time I need to show a light in the dark, I'm gonna spray some mist into the scene first.

It looks like my special FX department is officially established! Cool.

(See? I managed to end this entry on an up note!)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Some more stuff...

I forgot a couple of things in yesterday's entry.

Regarding the bathroom for our project, we're going to shoot a short that features the Grim Reaper terrorizing a mortal in a public restroom. It's a simple script that shouldn't run much longer than 5 minutes or so, and require little in the way of actors and locations. Besides the bathroom, we'll need a couple of hallway shots and one street scene that we can film bandit-style during the morning rush hour. Should be fairly straighforward, although there's a few issues involved in filming inside a restroom and a stall. We'll need a wide angle lens for the camera; they're available for anywhere from $20-90 on the Internet. Not to mention that we're using a fog machine, so we'll want to make sure there aren't electronic smoke detectors in there that might be set off by the fog.

I forgot to mention a highlight of my flight home from St. Louis. I was on a jet that had a stop in Baltimore, where I was to remain on the plane. The stewardess made this announcement as we arrived at the gate:

"Please remain in your seats if you're going on to Hartford. We need to get an accurate count after all the other passengers deplane. Once we complete the count, feel free to spread your legs...(embarrassed pause)...uh, I mean STRETCH your legs!"

We had a good snicker at that one!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Yet again with the waiting.

I'm finally over a brutal, totally-kicked-my-ass-but-good cold, which enhanced my first week at the new job. Things are going really well, though. This job rocks!

Here we go again...still waiting for my certification from SoundviewTV. Anthony finally turned in his PSA and Ashley told him that both our certifications will be mailed this week.


Sorry 'bout that. Anyway, Ant and me have discussed our project, and I guess we're officially in pre-production. First thing we need to do is get permission to film in studio's bathroom, then schedule a practice shoot to work out lighting, audio, and camera placement. Since the restroom is shared by the entire floor, we might have trouble getting the OK, but we'll most likely be shooting outside of normal work hours.

I've been putting together a po'-boy's lighting kit. So far I have a couple of scoop fixtures and a Home Depot twin 6' halogen light stand, which throws anything from 250 to 1000 watts.

That's it for now. More soon...not that anyone's actually READING this rambling series of textually incontinent verbosity. But it makes me feel good to write it all the same. Who cares if nobody's reading it?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Back from St. Lou-ee

Flew in last night from St. Louis, where I was training for my new job all week. I'm incubating a cold I think; when I woke up this morning I had a wicked sinus headache and a stuffy nose. Bummer. But it's nice to be home. Did I mention that I hate flying? No? 'Cause it does suck. Although with the proper application of alcohol it can be made somewhat bearable.

This new job is gonna ROCK! I'm so fucking happy that I managed to hook up with an organization this cool! Everyone I met was totally into being there, and I can see it's a well run place. I'm looking forward to starting on Monday!

Today I polished the script I've been working on, tentatively called DEATH KNOCKS. I think it's pretty much done; I just need to work out a few shots and it'll be ready to shoot. Then I'll storyboard it and start getting into pre-production.

I called Anthony today, and told him I'm going to fax him a copy on Monday. The script is structured fairly simply, with only two actors needed, and we have locations available. If Soundview EVER SENDS ME MY CERTIFICATION, I'll have cameras to shoot with and editing stations to do post upon. Gee, I wonder if their computers are still down? I left a message for Ash today letting her know I still haven't gotten it; she'll probably finally get something done about it next week. I hope.

Oh, and someone at Soundview deleted Anthony's PSA project off the Casablanca without backing it up. He lost about 12 hours of work, so he's a bit upset. Can't blame him, really, but I made sure to finish my PSA quickly and get it on tape because I was worried about something similar happening to me. This time around he's going to recut it, add voiceover, and finish it within a week or so. Then he'll have his certification and we'll be able to borrow two cameras at once for our flicks. Should be fun.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Writing gives me an appetite!

And since today's Thanksgiving, I'm ready to chow down! Happy Thanksgiving; and if you happen to be a Native American...uh, I feel really bad about what happened to you folks. If it'll make you feel any better, my wife supports the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos every chance she gets!

Worked on a script for a short movie this morning, based on an idea from Anthony. We spoke yesterday, and he described a funny story about Death he was thinking about. I fleshed it out and wrote it down, and I'll get a copy to him as soon as I can. Who knew the Grim Reaper had a sense of humor?

It's funny, but I can go through long periods of frustration when trying to write, and then I'll happen to sit at my computer with the seed of an idea and the words will just flow out of me onto the screen. That's when writing is fun, when it sort of simply "happens". Maybe someday I'll be skilled enough to force the words out when they resist, but I'm doubtful about that!

No word yet about my friggin' video certification, but no rush now...I'm heading out for St. Louis for next week to train for a new job, and after I get back I'll worry about it. In the interim, I'll have my notebook PC with me and I'm planning on using the nights to write. It's a golden opportunity, since I shouldn't have any distractions. Well, other than my own attention deficient mind that's easily distracted by TV or shiny objects. Maybe I'll ask the hotel to remove the TV from the room...

Friday, November 19, 2004

Just when I thought....

....I'd get my certification, it turns out the entire network crashed at Soundview and they can't print it up until after this weekend at the earliest. Their IT guy is scheduled for SATURDAY! Who the hell makes a business wait until the weekend to fix their system? Maybe they should hire me to come in and get things working...I'm cheap (but not easy)!

So anyway, last night (Thurs.) I did some test shooting with the Panasonic to become more familiar with it, and I also practiced editing on the Casablanca, while Anthony Rodriguez (my classmate) was working on completing his PSA so he can be certified. I offered a couple suggestions for his edit, and it's looking like he'll be done soon. We're talking about working together on a project, and if we're both certified, we can borrow two camera kits for our shoot.

I'm thinking about what I want to do for the first project...I may put my glass working short on hold because it's not too exciting a subject and I'd rather do something more along the lines of a comidic or dramatic short first. When I'm in St. Louis for the week after Thanksgiving I'll have time to write at night...maybe I'll come up with something that'll be a good first subject.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Scots making noise Posted by Hello

YAY! I got a new job!

Just found out the company I sent a resume to is going to hire me. Yeah Baby! It's a great job, doing field IT service for a chain of investment offices. They're going to give me a van, tools, expense account, great benefits, and best of all, I'll be working out of my home. That way, I'll still have time (hopefully) to work on my scripts and stuff.

Still no certification from Soundview, but they promise it's in the mail (yeah, sure!) I'm going down there Monday or Tuesday night; I'll know then.

The talk at the Yacht Club with Gary Jobson went great. He spoke about his America's Cup racing experiences, his commentary for ESPN on later Cup races, and some adventure cruising he's done; accompanied by great videos. It's awesome what you can do with the ESPN production studios and thousands of hours of footage to work with! The picture above is the bagpipers who opened and closed the show. I don't really know why they were there, but it was cool drinking a Bass ale while listening to the auld pipes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Soundview TV Posted by Hello

Still waiting for my certification

Today I checked the mail and wasn't surprised to not see the certification letter from Soundview TV. I'm going to have to go down there tomorrow night and see the training coordinator personally to hopefully get the paperwork done. I mean, I hauled ass to finish my PSA (the final exam, so to speak) and then I find out that they have to send me a letter and I have to fill out some forms before I get fully certified.

So, tomorrow I'll head down to the studio, since my classmate from the video course Anthony is going to be editing his PSA and I'm going to give him a hand. While I'm there I'll see good ol' "Double-A" about my cert. I'm hoping that we'll get this finished so I can use one of the cameras for one of my projects.

I also dug out my old Sony Handycam 8mm analog camera and worked on it. It was having a problem with the tape jamming so I stopped using it. I took it apart, tinkered with it, got it sort of working, and put it back together. I was able to transfer some of my old 8mm videos to VHS, which included family occasions and sailboat racing. Maybe I'll use the Handycam for a 2nd camera, although I'm worried about the difference between the way it'll look compared to a 3-CCD mini-DV camera. I guess I'll do a test shoot.

Anyway, we'll see. Tonight I'm going to see America's Cup sailor and ESPN sailing commentator Gary Jobson speak at the Milford Yacht Club. Gary's a world class sailor and I'm looking forward to hearing him talk about his experiences and sailing in general.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Yeesh, it's too early to be this cold!

Tonight I went to a meeting at the library. Damn, but it's cold out tonight! Just hit 27 degrees and falling...I only wore a fleece sweatshirt, and the cold got right through it. Of course, maybe if I didn't walk two blocks from the meeting to the 7-Seas bar for a quick pint 'o stout, I wouldn't have gotten so cold. Walking back, it didn't seem as cold.

Everything's relative, I guess.

Of course, I was a moron at the meeting and volunteered to help a cause that has almost nothing to do with me. I just hate it when people are agressively stupid, so I couldn't keep quiet. Maybe I can make a documentary about it; local politics are boring though...probably I'll just do the minimum I need to do to help, and get back to working on a real project.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Scriptwriting Posted by Hello

The Joy of Scriptwriting

Occasionally, and it's rare, there are times when I'm writing a script that the words just pour out of my mind and end up on the page. They flow like water tumbling through a raging river valley. Sometimes, yes, sometimes I can't keep up with the words forming in my brain when I'm typing. It's like my characters are just talking and I'm taking notes as fast as I can. There may be no more joyful a state of creating that an artist can experience.

When it's going good, there's nothing better in the world. It's great in fact.

Unfortunately, the reality of writing most of the time (for me, anyway) is that it's a torturous process, filled with agonizing rewrites, horrible self-doubt, and excruciating second-guessing. I've struggled for twenty minutes trying to find the absolute perfect word for a sentence...usually at the cost of three or four inelegant phrases that I could have better spent the time editing. Then I'll end up cutting the entire paragraph from the final draft 'cause it just doesn't "work".

But I'll keep at it, and continue to learn, and write and rewrite and re-rewrite, because once something is done right, and it DOES work, it's very satisfying. More than that, it's perfect!

So I'm going to write, and strive for that elusive perfection. Because, when it works, it's worth the effort.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Video Production Course

About two weeks ago I completed the Video Production training at a cable access TV studio in Bridgeport CT called Soundview Community Television. Like many cable TV systems, Cablevision in Connecticut is mandated to spend a certain amount of it's revenues on providing free training and facilities for public access.

So I checked into it and signed up for the course. They use Panasonic GS70 3-CCD cameras and Casablanca editing stations. The four week course stressed video editing, with only one night given to camera instruction and techniques. For the final exam, we were given a 50 question test and tasked with making a 30-45 second public service announcement (PSA) for future broadcast on cable access (channel 77 in the Bridgeport area).

I chose to make my PSA about voting, and it took me a couple of weeks to shoot it, edit it, and add music. It came out OK, but more importantly I learned many things about editing during the process that will help in future projects. The only drawback is that by the time I finished my PSA, it was only a few days before the election which was too late to put it in the schedule for broadcast. Oh well, I think I'd prefer a more polished work to be broadcast anyway.

Sometime next week I should get my certification from the studio, which gives me access to their editing systems and use of the camera. Then I can start on some projects I've been planned. Details to come.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The poster I pinched from "An Evening with Kevin Smith" 22Oct04 Posted by Hello

"I prefer the Punisher!"

The Friday before last I was lucky enough to go see one of my heroes, Kevin Smith, speak in person at University of Hartford. It's a very entertaining few hours (try 5!) for both film students and fans of his films alike.

Kevin took the stage promptly at 7PM, which may seem early for a Friday night show, but trust me, he can talk for a LOOOONG time! Wearing his trademark hockey shirt and his famous "Silent Bob" overcoat, he said hello and started taking questions from the audience.

The college crowd was enthusiastic, asking him questions about past and future films, comic book heroes (Kevin's a HUGE comic book guy!), and of course, actors he's worked with (can anybody say Bennifer?)

Kevin obviously is in his element onstage, and he delighted in taking jabs at some of his famous friends...Ben Affleck being his favorite target for ribbing. He also did his cell phone bit, where he calls someone and holds the phone up to the mic so everyone can hear who's talking. He called Jason Mewes ("Jay" of Jay & Silent Bob) who's working on a film in CA. Jason's voice mail message is "Whassup BEEEEE-OTCH?" and Kevin left him a message to call back, which he did about 30 minutes later.

Smith loves to take a question and turn it into a twenty minute discussion. Several students asked about "Clerks II" and other projects, and the comic book crowd was represented by someone asking the question, "Who do you prefer, Batman or Superman?" The high point of the evening happened a little later when a kid asked a question and went on to state "Between Batman and Superman, I prefer the Punisher!" Kevin laughed loudly at that, and for the rest of the evening, every time someone asked him anything he began his answer with "I prefer the Punisher".

After nearly four hours the questions became a little redundant and increasingly inane, and I decided to call it a night when Kevin did a 20 minute lecture on the finer points of Spongebob Squarepants. Oh, and be sure to see "Degrassi High:The Next Generation" which starts soon in syndication...Kevin guest stars as himself for several episodes. I don't know what it's aboot, but I'm sure it's going to be funny!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Blog Of Destiny!

Not really, it just sounded like a cool title for my first entry.

My handle is B.A. (aka Bob) and this blog will document my efforts in the world of digital video. I chose this historic occasion to begin a's the day we found out that we'll have GW Bush to kick around for another four years, giving Jon Stewart and his writers unlimited fodder for "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central, 11PM).

Anyway, I'm a stuggling filmmaker and I hope to share my experiences here.

OK, apparently this works...there will be more to come shortly...

Yup, it's me Posted by Hello