Yes, another stillmotion contest entry. It seems as though we face more challenges each and every time we enter one of these. To come up with new ideas, new approaches, direction, and style is a a challenge to say the least. On top of all of that, we met Patrick and Joyce in New Orleans (with a brief scolding from Tatjana) and what we took with us, from that meeting, has since changed our perspective on our goals and direction as studio.
The question, about this contest, is why. Why enter? Especially after so many entries (of which we’ve won and lost).. We do wedding films and how is a short film going to do anything for us? Firstly, it gets us out of our comfort zones. It pushes us to try something new. All of this directly impacts us and our skills as filmmakers (who do weddings). It’s a completely different headspace when creating content, outside of events, with zero restrictions (aside from acting talent and cost). The only thing holding us back is ourselves. It’s frightening and exciting all at the same time. So here is our take on the theme ‘discover’:
Check out all of the amazing entries on stillmotion‘s edu blog here and vote for your favourite. Planet5D, as a partner in this contest, is hosting a dedicated forum for anyone to go and post their thoughts, start topic discussions, and just about anything else up here.
We wanted to share a some of the process we went through to get to this point. Below is a breakdown of our thoughts on the cinematography, editing choices, grading, and audio design.
We shot the film fulling intending to crop it to a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This decision was driven by the fact that this is a scripted narrative and we had very specific elements for the viewers to focus on. Also our desire to create the most cinematic finish possible. Most of the shots were medium to tight with plenty of negative space in front of the character. We had the protagonist looking into the negative space to illustrate the idea of his optimism and grandiose ideas. We used many tight shots so you would feel as if you were in his headspace with him, feeling the isolation that he has come to endure.
With the help of our friend, Murray, we spent a few short hours finalizing the concept, writing out the story structure, and starting production. Inspired by many great films, we decided to take a linear story and break it up to help keep the interest of viewers. In sequential order, an idea sparks into the protagonist’s mind as he’s researching in the library (abstractly by shapes of desks and people four floors below). Frantically, he runs home to write down his thoughts. Once home, he spends time going through a few revisions of his concept before what’s on his paper matches what was in his mind a few hours before. We presented this story backwards, to the audience. The first shot you see is the finished idea on paper. Then he’s jotting down ideas and equations, broken up by scenes of him running home. Finally, the end reveals why he had started running in the first place, and his first moment of inspiration. The non-linear editing allows the audience to discover, with the protagonist, the story as it unfolds.
We chose black & white for this film for vairous reasons. Our protagonist, being an innovative thinker, generally sees the world differently – in patterns and equations. We incorporated this idea into the editing and took it a step further by extending it to the final look. Having cut the story in a non-linear way, being that it’s already a bit hard to follow, by putting the film in black & white we, in a sense, simplified what was being presented in each frame. I also increased the grain in moments where the protagonist seems to be slipping away from reality to amplify the idea of moments of a low grasp on the world around.
We found, this time around, we were not finding the tone of music on what was available by means of royalty-free sites. I decided to write original tracks along side of a Nine Inch Nail’s track under the creative common license. With a Nord Stage EX keyboard and Roland TD-9 set, we had the means of writing and working with our own material to match the sound we were looking for. It was a lot of fun! Finally, with everything together, we layered in traffic detail (at different times of day), lower and medium pitched synthesizer pads, bass-drops, and computer hums at different areas throughout the film. This whole film was as much work, creatively, on the audio side as it was on the filming side of the production.
On set, we love to have fun. This entire process was half work and play. One thing that remains common, after we finish a short film, is that we quickly become extremely unsure of ourselves and our work. Every film we’ve ever posted we’ve ended up not liking (after it’s finished and live). This is why it’s both exciting and frightening every time we enter one of these. And thus, the transparent look into the process.