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Production Journal, Page 2

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16 August 2005-
Yes, yesterday was the "official" start date for this film, even though there were already several scenes shot.
Aniket had informed me that he had the floors in his house redone, meaning that all the interiors taking place inside his house (meaning, all of them, so far) had to be re-shot. However, I take the Zach Braff approach to filmmaking- performance over continuity. Mainly for the final scene of the film, which worked out perfectly- I'm not reshooting that, because I know a reshoot won't do any good.
Hell, even the classics aren't perfect, the ones people consider the greatest films of all time. "The Godfather" had continuity errors, and "Citizen Kane", which if you don't like, the intellectual snobs consider you "unintelligent" and "without taste in films" (I personally consider it an artistic, visual masterpiece, but it's still overrated (not as overrated as "The Godfather", though)), had a major plot hole! (Kane was alone in the room when he whispered his last word, "Rosebud", so how could people know what it was? (the film is about a journalist investigating the meaning of the word) Orson Welles (the director/writer/star), when informed upon this before the film's release, reportedly said "Don't tell anyone.") And I know this film is far from perfect.
While, true, I did have a sort of perfectionist spirit during yesterday's shooting (Richie and Aniket can tell you all about my obsessive-compulsive production design I put into a couple of the scenes yesterday- I wanted to put something besides the person in the frame, even if they are insignificant things such as glasses of water on the table), I almost never do re-shoots. The only time I ever re-shot a scene was for "Fight Movie 3" (notice how one scene in the trailer looks slightly different from the one in the finished product)- the reason behind that was because I couldn't hear diddly-squat in the original take.
We shot all the phone scenes today, as well as the only real gag in this film. (I'm not going to reveal it, but I did like how it came out; it took us 15 minutes to prepare that 5-second gag, so good thing it came out the way I wanted it to!)
During my vacation in Hawaii, I had Kendra look at the script for this film- she had complaints about Scene 44, the longest scene I wrote. Her complaints were that it was cliche and overly cheesy. (she also demanded that I delete Scene 45, but I refuse to) I edited it down, since I did feel that I repeated things twice in there, as well as the corniest of lines. (I can't believe I actually wrote that crap!)
Aniket finished "Leviathan", and he was telling me that his film came out to be 20 minutes (noting that the script for that film was shorter than his script for "Code of 'Con'duct", which had a slightly shorter runtime)... this being a warning to me that this film is NOT going to be 15 minutes or shorter.
Judging by how long some of these scenes are, I don't think so, either. I already know this is going to be the longest film I've ever directed... and when I submit this to Monta Vista Film Festival 2006, some of the cuts I'll have to make to satisfy their 10-minute guideline are really gonna hurt me.
Another thing Kendra said, and I agree with, is that I need to add in more character development between Terrence and Donna. Donna only has two scenes, and I think I could add in more. I'll write these in after what's already written is shot and finished (and after the film has already been released online). The special extended edition will be DVD-exclusive. (apparently, DVDlab PRO ($200) can do seamless branch (this is how they can fit two different cuts of a movie on the same disc without using too much compression), and if that's the case, then there will be three versions present- the version I'll release for online (which is everything in the (finalised) script), the version cut for the MV Film Festival, and the special extended edition)
There's a new shot in the "screenshots" section.
As well, in Hawaii, my mum forced me to get a new ukulele (I feel really guilty about spending too much of my parents' money; I'm in a church choir, and we play ukulele, so for two years, I've had this crappy Costco ukulele, which was fine with me since I don't even play it as a hobby). I took advantage of this opprotunity and got an electric one. This isn't so I can play Megadeth, but rather, so I can plug it up to my camcorder (which hooks to my computer), and I can possibly play a few tunes. I don't know, I might possibly use it in a couple of parts for this film, but I'm still having Aniket play piano for this.
I suck at ukulele.

16 August 2005 (late entry)-
Aniket held his screening party for "Leviathan" (and a prior screening of my 16:9 matted edition of "Code of 'Con'duct", which he approved of (the film itself doesn't suffer too much from cropping as other films would, though some parts it's noticeable; it seems to work either way, with the 16:9 version having a more cinematic feel to it)), and my opinion of it stands:
In terms of suspense, it was somewhat disappointing, and some of the plot twists were predictable. (though nothing suffers more than the film's final lines, which have a huge "no duh" factor to it) The film itself moves slow in parts, and definitely does not have pacing as fast as his previous film, "Code of 'Con'duct".
On the flipside of the coin, however, it was still a good film that was nicely made, with a great, haunting musical score.
Overall, I give this **1/2 out of four.
Before the screening, he said that he wanted a pan-and-scan version of the film. Now, as much as I utterly detest that (and I get really pissed off when I find out a version of a film that we just bought is in pan-and-scan (named "fullscreen")), he's the director, and it's his choice if he wants it.
Over at his house, I demonstrated the technique on the first few shots of the film. (and it is, indeed, a painstaking process; this isn't simple cropping, this is reframing shots, seeing which information in the frame is most vital (the opinions differ amongst pan-and-scan operators; for films old enough (and shot in widescreen) and with enough video re-issues, what they show in the various transfers might differ))) He still said he wanted to continue with it, as he wanted his viewers to have a choice, if they didn't like widescreen.
This was a promise made when the DVD format was started. Only difference is, certain stores (*cough*WalMart*cough*) want to force pan-and-scan on their customers, so the widescreen and pan-and-scan (whoops, I mean "fullscreen") are issued on separate discs nowadays, not in the same package. (just about every single DVD from Warner and other affiliate companies (such as New Line), Sony and MGM were "flipper" discs, with widescreen on one side, and pan-and-scan on the other, when the format first started. (Fox will do that occasionally even today) Never mind the fact that the quality of the transfers on these discs is crap by today's standards...)
After the screening, though, he said "no".
Good thing, too- at the beginning of the project, he specifically stated that he wanted the film in 16:9 widescreen. That right there is an artistic decision.
So, for those of you rednecks who hate them dreaded, awful black bars, too bad- you ain't gettin' no foo-screen version of "Leviathan" when it comes on DVD.
As for my films? Original aspect ratio only. If it was framed for 1.66:1, it stays in 1.66:1. If it was framed for 2.20:1, it stays in 2.20:1. If it was framed for 1.33:1... it stays in 1.33:1. (this film is 1.66:1)

17 August 2005-
Another day went by without filming something. School registration.
Since my parents left off with my sister to drop her off to college (damn, to think I'll be goin' in two years!), I took this opprotunity to watch one of the few items in my DVD collection that I'm really skeptical about watching with my parents in the same house-
That's right. "Pulp Fiction", now hailed as a masterpiece of cinema, with its Oscar-winning screenplay. (possibly, the most F-words in an Academy Award winning script- 272) I've actually recommended this film to plenty of my friends (including Richie... whose parents couldn't stand the film), and watching it again...
Well, I certainly caught a lot more things that I didn't in the first two times I saw the film. In terms of being considered an absolute masterpiece, of course, I'm one who begs to differ from what everyone else thinks. What can I consider an "absolute masterpiece", then, if not "Pulp Fiction"?
I only need look as far as Quentin Tarantino's other works, and he already got it with his debut film, "Reservoir Dogs", which is an hour shorter and doesn't contain any disturbing rape scenes. (in turn, however, it does contain a disturbing toture scene (though the worst of it is offscreen))
Really different opinion from what I had a year ago- I thought "Pulp" was better, that "Dogs" was that first step towards something great. But, "Dogs" had better performances, faster pace, and a lot more character development, and was just an overall superior film.
What this had me thinking was, this film was made just 11 years ago, and it's already being hailed as a film classic, a necessary staple to cinema. Plenty of recent films have the critics hailing all over on how excellent, even using vocabulary such as "perfect".
So, I decided to grab up and examine a few films made ten years after the contemporary classic "Pulp Fiction", which were highly acclaimed by nearly every single critic on the planet-
* * *
-Sideways- Cited in ads as the most critically acclaimed film of the year, you'll be pretty disappointed upon viewing it. I did pop up recommendations for it, though I never thought it was a film masterpiece. It's an amusing little film to watch, but not an explosive comedy. You'll wonder how this won Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical. (as you can guess, I think "The Phantom of the Opera" should have won that award, but I'm not letting my biases get in the way of this)
After it was released on DVD in April (on the week of my birthday, so as you can guess, the DVD of this film was one of my birthday presents), having taken home a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, it was quickly forgotten. It just wasn't that memorable of a film.
-Garden State- Okay, I lied about not being biased. However, unlike "Sideways", this film has a fanbase. Not a "Napoleon Dynamite" fanbase (...what is all the buzz behind that film?!), but a fanbase nonetheless. (actually, I'm quite relieved there isn't "Garden State" merchandise in Hot Topic... there's a whole section for "Napoleon", and that scares me) The film has an excellent soundtrack filled with non-original music- after you see this film, you just might feel the urge to go to the store to buy it, so get it at Target while it's still available. (they're putting discounts on it, just like on the DVD)
Unlike "Sideways", this film isn't one you're bound to forget soon after you watch it.
It's too weird to forget. Anytime soon, anyways.
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- Art-house cinema released to the mainstream. When I first saw this, I absolutely loved it. When it came out on DVD, I watched it again, and still absolutely loved it.
However, a few months later, I don't remember exactly why, and I really don't feel like pulling this film out again... for some odd reason...
Supposedly intelligent cinema, this is really just plain bizzare, and is far less confusing than you would think. Watch it a second time, and I'm sure you'll get the whole film. I could actually summarise it for you, but I don't want to give out spoilers.
Overrated, but not as overrated as "Sideways". This isn't a bad film, just not as good as all the praise makes it out to be. It's actually very well-made, but forgettable.
Quite ironic for a film about memory-erasing.
-Spider-Man 2- Yes, this one as well, had almost no bad reviews for it. Out of all the films I listed here, I think this will be most remembered in the history of cinema. "Garden State" is, of course, my favourite out of these four, but this is the only one I see most people still talking about, still referring to. Nobody's forgotten a thing about this one.
Or, if they have, I haven't noticed.
It helps that this belongs to a mainstream sub-genre of the superhero film, which had been killed in the 90's by who-knows-what, and grandly revived in 2000 by "X-Men". Ever since, we've been hit with two kinds of superhero flicks-
The horrible ones, and the great ones.
Whenever I talk to people about superhero movies, this is one that the most people refer to as the best. Me, I personally preferred the first one (must have something to do with the taking-out of the main villain), but this one was still great.
My favourite recent superhero film? "Batman Begins".
-Million Dollar Baby- Clint Eastwood took an over-used cliche, and raised it to new emotional heights.
More than that.
He made the old cliche seem new again.
The only problem is, the story he picked is just far too depressing (it was an adaptation of a short story of the same title within F.X. Toole's book "Rope Burns" (re-titled and re-published as "Million Dollar Baby" after the film's release), so I can't say it's the story he wrote), and I don't think would make people subject to multiple viewings. This seems to be Eastwood's flaw. I love his films, but they're just far too depressing to make you want to purchase them and watch them over and over again. Except, possibly, his previous Best Picture winner, "Unforgiven". (which isn't half as depressing, but it's not a happy film, either)
Deserving of its Best Picture award, if only for the fact that it is the most memorable film of the five nominated. (I do believe the Academy did favour this one because it was the most depressing one nominated, but out of the five, I think this was of the more deserving) Why?
I'm not going to give any spoilers, but at a point, it did reflect somewhat on current events (and caused some controversy due to one of its plot twists (which had been given away to me prior to viewing the film- I don't believe it affected the impact one bit... in fact, it seemed that knowing what happened made it all that more powerful when I finally saw it)). When you hear about the subject matter present in this film's conclusion, you will think about this film. If you are looking for a good cry, but don't want to watch films with war atrocities, this is the film to watch.
I recommend all of you to rent this film, now that it's out on DVD. Just rent a comedy with it. I made the dangerous decision of not doing so, and I spent the rest of the day, sitting there depressed and doing nothing.
* * *
I know I didn't mention several other films from 2004, but I only picked films hailed as absolute masterpieces, and by nearly every single critic on the planet. (my criteria was over 90% recommendations on "Spider-Man 2" and "Million Dollar Baby" are the only two films I see most people talking or even thinking about within the next year. "Garden State" has a fanbase, but that's about it.
Why did I do this? I don't know, I guess because I felt it was kind of interesting at the time, but now...
...I think it's kind of forgettable.

24 August 2005-
A lot has happened within the past week. First off, school's started. Second, filming sessions are slowed down now. Weekend-filming only, and I don't think it'll be every weekend we can film for this movie. I expect it to be finished late-September/early-October. Third, if you can, do see "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", which is probably the funniest film of the year (and funniest of several)- if you think it's trash, don't walk out- the ending has not only the cleanest part, but the funniest of the entire film. And if you have objections to what the film's possible viewpoint might be on virgins, the film's point is that there's nothing wrong with being a virgin. (also, this film requires its R rating- a PG-13 version of the story would be so watered-down and unfunny (I'd hate to see a TV version of the film))
As well, I have posted some of my black-and-white photos online. Be kind- don't copy without permission, and I would prefer you to direct link. (if you can't direct link, at least give me credit!) Also, don't sell these- I plan to sell (autographed) blow-ups of some of these photos (not all of them) to fund movies. (I feel it's less moocher-like and just a better method of raising money than putting the PayPal and asking for donations)

28 August 2005-
Leviathan is released now. Due to the hosting service, however, the download will be unusually slow (unusually slow for a 32MB file), so do set an hour-and-a-half aside.
The events of yesterday made me think of an alternate version of Scene 44- which means, I might film two versions of it, or film this alternate version, because I like both of them. (if I film both, I'll include the unused one as a DVD supplement. If I don't, the script for the unused one can be read as a DVD supplement) I really should start resuming filming on this. I want to get this done by end-of-September at the latest, though I don't see that happening. Whatever it is, I want this film released sometime in this fall season.
Yesterday, I checked out three films- Apocalypse Now, My Life as a Dog, and Boogie Nights.
"Apocalypse Now" has to be the most disturbing and most bizzare war film ever- for reasons other than showing civilian casualties (though it does show them, and some parts, quite brutally). Unlike the most of them, you can't really tack a two-word message on this one (like "war bad", to quote Tarantino). What it feels like is more a literary classic than an actual war film- no coincidence, since it's a loose adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "Hearts of Darkness". Well-made, but I don't see myself watching this more than once. I'm also very glad that I saw the shorter version (which runs 147 minutes- all of which is filled, more on that later), and not the recent Redux edition (which runs 197 minutes, minus credits).
How the original shorter version was presented was this- it begins and ends with 10 seconds of black screen. There's no opening OR end credits whatsoever. No company logos, not even the title (which is only seen as graffiti late in the film). It ended with a mere copyright notice.
This was only how the limited engagements were presented. Programs were handed out that listed all the credits. When put into wide distribution, end credits were put into a series of explosions, but the explosions were quickly excised after audiences got the wrong idea. (the explosions sequence is available as a DVD supplement, and is as the director says on his commentary for it- it's truly a work of its own, and just as bizzare as the film itself) The replaced version of the end credits are also available on the DVD as a supplement.
This got me thinking- I've always wanted to do the "program" approach, but wasn't sure if it worked. Seeing that it was, indeed, done before, I plan to do that with this film. Getting just the movie itself with no credits at all was a unique experience- it was like waking up, having a really strange day, and falling back to sleep.
Since online encoders can't really get legible credits, this shouldn't be too much of a problem. The only sort of title I'm putting in this film is, yes, a one-line copyright notice at the end. No opening titles, not even my legendary "___Fin" card. (the MV Film Festival version (and the version submitted to any other film festival) will be somewhat different- that will have opening titles, and the "___Fin" card- unlike online presentation or DVD, I can't do that program option in a Film Festival (they'd only allow so much room as the film's title))

7 September 2005-
No further progress on this film- I tried getting the first mini-movie filmed on Monday, but not everybody could show up. I had the intentions to film it this Saturday, but I was informed ahead of time (and yes, I appreciated that) that Timothy and Philipe would not be available this weekend.
As such, I hope to have all the clubhouse scenes finished this Saturday. This would also include a couple of scenes with Jessica that I'll have to write up pretty quickly (I don't think those will be big scenes; just a couple of shots to introduce her character more towards the beginning of the film than in the last third). I need to get finished with labelling all those videotapes- I got several more from the storage locker, and I don't think I'll have time to purchase more. So I won't be able to have the cabinet look as massive as I want it to be, fine, but it'll still look like plenty.
As for the length of the film... it'll probably be 23 minutes for everything I still have in the script itself, and for my "extended cut" that has additional scenes with Terrence and Donna (still have to write those), that will probably be 29 minutes. (both these versions are creditless) Obviously, this won't fit on this Tripod account (in reasonable quality, anyway), so I'll probably just post a trailer here. The actual film, I'll have sent to, which has good-quality Quicktime encodings for films submitted. It does have a fee for $1/minute (good for a year, $10 minimum), but it does have its own sort of advantage- better chance of more people seeing my film.
As well, I've been fooling around with sound mixing- specifically, for "another walk in the park". I've assigned certain sounds to certain channels, in the hope that I can use these for a possible 5.1 mix (and yes, there are subwoofer effects).
Until I get that sort of software to compile 5.1 soundtracks for DVD, though, I'll be thankful that I'm mixing this film in mono (for two reasons- 1. it's dialogue-driven and doesn't really warrant a stereo track, and 2. I was upset by the presentation of "another walk in the park" at the MV Film Festival- not all of the stereo effects went through (the left speaker had problems).).

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