Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Failure to Launch

So my movie is now complete, but I have to finish the interview and the slide show. We had our film festival Monday night and everything went wrong for me starting Monday morning, from me getting sick to my mother being admitted into the hospital, to my appointments being canceled after I already arrived to the places I was supposed to be. Then I found out my film didn't make it into the film festival, and that just made things worse. Maybe I'll have better luck somewhere else.

Anyway, I give you the final copy of "Puzzle to My Heart". You might want to turn your volume all the way up. YouTube messed up the sound levels.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Closing In

With the lyrics of my favorite music blasting, I am almost completely done with my movie. I booked editing time Monday after my morning classes to finish this thing once and for all. I only hope someone will be there to help me compress my movie files.

Oh, almost forgot that I have to make a slideshow, too! Oh boy. I'll have to export my movie and then save certain files to another project to make the other video. I think I might do the outtakes with the interview, or do the outtakes separately and only have the slideshow over the interview.

Checklist for Monday: Camera, camera cord, and patience. Let's get this done!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finishing Up

I finished shooting everything else I needed yesterday morning and I am nearly done editing. I just need to finish the ending credits and add some music and I'll be done. I was going to bring the edited version to class but it would've taken nearly an hour to export, and it's not even done yet so I won't bother.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pushing My Luck

I'm hoping to shoot the final shots I need on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. I'll bring the hoodies to have Julia and Jimmy wear and then get a camera from the school, along with a digital camera to take photos with.

I decided that I would lay my old interview over photographs and stills from the footage I already shot and will shoot in the near future. This way I won't have to redo the interview and will have very little work left to do.

I still need to finish editing the footage I already shot, but I'm starting to think that I won't finish in time for the film festival. True, it's about three weeks away, but I'm nervous. I should probably edit tomorrow after my history class until I have to work, and make a list of the things I need to shoot still. That way I'll know for sure what's left to do.

For now, I might as well go out and buy my own Rubik's cube because I won't be able to borrow Jane's before Tuesday. Maybe I'll have the two actors pose in Delaware Park, where we're shooting, with books instead of a Rubik's cube and a book.

And don't get me started on the DVD stuff. I haven't even thought about compression and design or anything. I totally forgot how to do the compression of the movies, and the music I have I haven't even imported yet into Final Cut Pro. Sooo much work. Sooo little time.

And no credits, done, either.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Some Things to Consider

I was hoping I wouldn't need to shoot much for my second day of shooting, but I'm thinking I might do the three shots I need of outside and then do a photoshoot and stage the shots, which means I'll need the uniforms back from the library that I borrowed. I also need to reshoot some of the book footage I originally shot because I'm not happy with it, and I might have to reshoot a few book scenes with Cassandra with better lighting.

I need to shoot my interview because the one I did on the spot while shooting Saturday was terrible and I don't like anything that I said. I should probably interview the cast as well, but I am terrible at asking questions so I'll probably stick to the very basics, such as, "What was your favorite scene to shoot?" and "How did you enjoy acting in this role?"

Julia was really good at interviewing us, and she asked a lot of good questions so maybe I'll ask her to help me come up with a list of interview questions.

I still need to find music for the movie's introduction and conclusion, and I'm running out of time. It seems that all the people I've talked to about making music are either busy or uninterested, which is quite surprising since most people would jump at the opportunity to have their music featured in a movie.

And also, I need to take photos for the background of my DVD menu, the cover of the DVD and DVD case, and some photos for the bio pages and if I decide to make them, other sub-menu pages. My professor showed us how to make DVD menus and whatnot so hopefully I can make something really cool. Obviously my movie has to do with puzzles, love, and books, so I need to come up with something coherent and entertaining that will get the message across. I was already thinking of doing the Rubik's Cube footage as a background for the main menu, unless I get the shot I really want of Cassandra and Simon overlooking a bridge with a Rubik's Cube in Cassandra's hands and a book in Simon's.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Day of Editing

So today I began editing my movie, and after going through all the footage once, thinking it was importing and later discovering it never imported, I managed to secure all my files--all 152 of them. At least, I think that's how many files I had. I could be wrong. There are likely more than that, as I haven't even put in music or pictures.

I got a migraine after working with the footage for only about an hour. It turns out it didn't come out nearly as good as I wanted it to. It looked fine on the camera while I shot it, it looked pretty darn good on the camera when I reviewed it, but when I imported it, it looked all grainy and dark on the computer screen. I''m hoping this is because the computer is darker than the actual footage and that some changes can be made to the screen's light projection, because otherwise, I'll have to reshoot all my footage.

I have already decided that this script will be shot again with serious actors at a much later date, sometime that isn't this semester. Although my actors and actress did a good enough job, I feel like something is missing with their performances, and I want to reshoot the movie with other people when I have dates set, people who aren't quitting without telling me at a reasonable time beforehand, and equipment that actually works the first time I take it out. A budget might be nice, too, but isn't necessary, and having someone who knows how to use the camera better than me would be great, as well.

It turns out I shot about 33 minutes of footage, including outtakes and interviews among the actual footage for the movie itself. From what I shot, two scenes will have to be badly constructed because I shot them incorrectly, or I didn't notice something was in the scene that shouldn't have been. The lighting is off in some shots, or the white balance changed without me noticing it, and the acting isn't as good as I'd hoped in certain scenes but I'd forgotten to mention the mood I wanted the characters to be in and so their moods aren't as consistent as I would have liked.

Also, Simon says one line that's just so funny when it shouldn't be, and another that's really creepy, but I luckily got two takes of that line because that time I did notice that it was creepy. My outtakes may not be hilarious, but they're fairly funny, and I think one of the outtakes will explain my production company name, "Not On a Horse Productions". Some of the funnier outtakes didn't make it because the audio went out, but that's all right.

As of now, I have all the scenes chopped up and almost all of them are put together in the correct order. I think I have three scenes left to finish, one scene to start, and three shots I need to shoot once the weather gets better. I might reshoot some of the messed up scenes and I'm thinking about getting more shots of the books because they're fairly inadequate and there aren't nearly enough of them.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Day of Shooting: A Success!

I just got back from today's shoot and while we ran into several problems (broken tripod, forgotten lines, patron interruptions, accidental pressing of buttons that influence received light), it was overall a major success. We shot about ninety-nine percent of what I had planned in the storyboards.

Due to the weather being crappy, we couldn't shoot outside at Delaware Park because the swings weren't up, and it was fairly dark and cloudy and too many people were outside to shoot the flowers scene.

I also realized that I can't have the guy who plays Simon play the person who pops up in Cassandra's thoughts after each clue, so I'll need to find someone else to go through the motions of the three short scenes.

The quality of the camerawork isn't as good as I'd have liked, but I believe I grew from the experience. Joe, unfortunately, had to work today, which is why I was stuck doing the camerawork, but Ryan (actor who played Nick) and Julia (actress who played Cassandra) alternated with me to get the sound recorded correctly.

We had a few instances where the microphone wasn't turned on and we had to reshoot three scenes due to bad audio and poor lighting. It took me about an hour to figure out how to use the camera in the first place, and we didn't start shooting until about ten, but we finished around two.

The opening credits I shot last night, and they're beautiful. I just hope my other credits and my actual footage isn't awful, 'cause we spent a lot of time working on scenes and I really would be upset if the quality isn't as good onscreen as it was on the camera.

As I see it, I'll rent the equipment for a Monday or Tuesday afternoon in April, when the weather is nicer, and I'll shoot the final scenes then.

As for editing, I booked the editing suite at school for Monday night from four to six, though I'll stay until about nine to see how much I can get edited. I need to download the music from No Time to Think's website (their permission has already been given) and move the songs to either a jump drive or e-mail them to myself. I also need to find some more music to use for the introduction and/or conclusion credits.

Friday, March 11, 2011

DVD Photography

I've been thinking for a while about what I want the picture(s) on my DVD and DVD box cover to be. Some thoughts I had were the following.

  1. Close-Up: Cassandra holding a book over her mouth and nose, smiling with her eyes, looking straight forward. Title of the movie appears on the book cover.
  2. Extreme Close-Up: Cassandra's hands holding a Rubik's Cube. Title of the movie appears on the Rubik's Cube.
  3. Close-Up: Cassandra tipping a book off a shelf full of books. Title of the movie appears on the book cover.
  4. Long Shot: Cassandra and Simon stand back to back on a bridge or field overlooking water. Cassandra holds a Rubik's Cube and Simon holds a book. The title of the movie appears above the two.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Props and Credits Ideas

Tomorrow I pick up two Rubik's Cubes from my friend today to use for Saturday's shoot. I'll probably use the four by four cube at the beginning shot of the movie where Cassandra finishes solving a Rubik's Cube, just to show that it's more complex than the original three by three cube. I am considering having the three by three cube sitting on the table to imply that she has solved the easier of the cubes already and is now finishing the harder of the two.

I also plan to use the cubes to either introduce the movie or to roll behind the closing credits. I will have a puzzle book and several crossword puzzles that will have credits written in them if I can get the wording, spacing, and writing correct. I might find a site and create my own crosswords to ensure a perfect fit. I was thinking I'd use different colored pens to indicate different things, like have a red pen used for the name of the person and a black pen as the job they had.

I have yet to figure out how I'm going to make the Rubik's Cube show the names of people if I switch it up between the Rubik's Cubes and the crossword puzzles. I think I could have the Rubik's Cubes introduce the movie and the crosswords end it. The colors of the Rubik's Cubes against the background I had in mind would be very alluring to the audience (or so I hope).

I came up with an idea of how I want the cubes shot (stacked on top of one another, independent from one another, different angles, etc.) but I can't figure out if I want to put the credits directly over the squares that make up each cube or if I want to just have the cube look really nice against a stark white background and lay the credits over the white. I have a light box at my parents' house I built with my dad and I could use that to shoot the Rubik's Cubes.

I considered shots of the library as a way to introduce the movie but I think those might be too boring or redundant when I consider the fact that I'll be shooting most of the movie in the library anyway.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Prop List

Here is my prop list:
  • Library Student Assistant Uniform T-Shirts (3: S, M, L)
  • Library Student Assistant Uniform Hoodies (2: L)
  • Books (The Shining, The Glass Castle, The Onion Girl, Catching Fire, Fahrenheit 451)
  • Labels for books (5)
  • Glasses with the lens removed
  • Chairs (2)
  • Table
  • Book cart
  • Rubik's Cube
  • Puzzle book
  • Pencil
  • Paper with Patron Request
  • Tape
On Friday I'll pick up the equipment I reserved from the school and the Rubik's Cube that a friend said I could borrow. I packed up most of the props in a bag already, along with a camera for someone to take photos of the shoot with. I will print out some more copies of the script on Friday in case we need extras on Saturday, though all my actors have a final version of the script as it is. I still need to create the labels for the books and tape them onto the books, and I also have to find spots in the library Stacks area to place the books so they look like they belong there. I'll probably go looking for the P section later today, which I can only assume stands for "POP FICTION" because several books I own that the school library also owns have them listed there, and they're popular fictional books.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Production Date

So I am officially filming on Saturday the 12th of March. However, my first actor who wanted to be Simon said he can no longer be in the movie because of his commitment to the school play. I can't reschedule the date so I just recast his character and gave the position to the person who wanted to play Nick, the secondary character, and found a replacement for Nick. The guy I chose to play Nick has a very similar personality to the character so I believe it shouldn't be too difficult for him to remember his lines or physically perform.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Assignment #7: Production Schedule

For this assignment, we just have to turn in a piece of paper listing our shooting schedule. Some people have simple production schedules listing only the dates they plan to film, whereas others have very complex schedules. One student in my class mentioned she would create a list of each scene she would shoot including the names of characters, props she would need, and locations she would shoot at.

As I'm not completely positive of my first shooting date, I can't do this assignment as thoroughly as I would prefer.

I know I want to shoot this Saturday the 12th from around nine in the morning to about one or two in the afternoon. I don't know how long it will take to do each scene, or if I'm going to shoot in order of the script (for easier editing) or group scenes together based on location (for a quicker work day). At some point I'll make a prop list and go to pick up the uniforms I need from the library.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Scouting Locations

When I wrote my script, I didn't want to have complex locations and multiple places that I would have to film, so I was lucky when I received permission to shoot at the library on campus. Here are some pictures of the areas within the library that I will be filming.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The First Problematic Encounter

So I ran into my first real problem for this project. My artist friend and I had a falling out after she completed the first sketch of the storyboard. What I learned after we fought was that her cat had passed away, but that still doesn't excuse the way she spoke to me and treated me when I didn't know what had taken place. Before I knew of the death, I asked her when she thought she would be done with the final version of the storyboard and she freaked out because she had been skipping her other classes due to depression at the loss of her cat.

Therefore, I will be finishing the storyboard myself. I will cut out each frame, place six of them together on a page, and copy them. Now, she drew the initial sketches on tracing paper so I'll need to lay a thicker page or a solid white piece of paper over the back of each sketch so each frame comes out when I'm done copying it.

With roughly seventy to eighty frames, I have my work cut out for me. But I will do my best to get this storyboard completed. I will still give her credit for doing the storyboard but because she didn't finish it or put in specific details, I'll probably have to add my name to the credits as well for the work that I'll do. Hopefully the next post will contain some pictures of the storyboard, or segments of it. Her work truly is amazing. It's just too bad she won't be a part of the team anymore because we share a similar aesthetic preference and she would have been an incredible, helpful co-director.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Storyboarding: The Final Cut

Today my friend and I finished working on the storyboard as she didn't have time to finish on her own over the weekend. She said she'll scan the pages she has so she can edit them on her computer and print out a copy of the final storyboard for me to turn in Wednesday. Let me tell you, it looks fan-freaking-tastic!

My only concern is that because there are so many frames (I believe about 75 to 100 frames total) I'll have a stack of papers larger than my script and organizing them is going to be a pain in terms of figuring out what to shoot each day of filming, which I've yet to decide since I don't have all my actors yet. She mentioned being able to fit only four to six frames per page, and of course she has to scan all of these into her computer to edit them and organize them. I hope she remembers to number them.

I don't know if it will be worth it to post the entire storyboard here, so maybe I'll only post the first few pages or link to a Flickr gallery with everything posted there.

Depending on how I turn this production journal in, I may just wait to export this blog, print everything out, and then turn in a additional copy of the storyboard as a standalone post.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Storyboarding: Take 2

I finally heard back from my artist friend today and we met up to discuss the storyboard. It turns out her storyboarding class is a lot more thorough than I am and she didn't need any help from me at all with terminology or templates. She got straight to work on designing the template herself, no word from me to include a directional box below each frame.

I went over what happened in the script, told her what I envisioned, and with the skills I only wish I had, she sketched Rubik's cubes, people, desks, bookshelves, and so much more with the ease of a trained artist.

We made it about a third of the way through the script before I only had to read her the scene from the script and she knew me well enough to draw the shots I envisioned without me saying a word as to what I wanted drawn. At two-thirds of the way through the script, I had to leave and I gave her the script to keep to finish up on her own.

We'll meet up Monday after class to go over her rough draft of the storyboard and make any adjustments that need to be made for the Wednesday deadline. She's an amazing artist and I'll hopefully remember to upload all the storyboard pages to a picture account (Flickr, PhotoBucket, etc.) and link them in a separate post.

She said she would do this for free, which I'm very grateful for as I'm a poor college student with no budget for this movie. Though she has a slight obsession with Mountain Dew (being the gamer that she is), so I think I can afford to indulge her there.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Assignment #6: Storyboard

Our storyboards are due next week Wednesday and I haven't heard back from my artist friend yet. If I have to resort to stick figure drawings, then so be it. I was kind of hoping I would be able to get some friends together for a few hours and head to the library to do a photoshoot so I could make a photo storyboard. I think that would be a ton of fun, but I'll give my friend until tomorrow to get back to me before I start offering up an afternoon of dressing up, photos, and free food.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Singling Them Out

So I just listened to several albums by the local band No Time to Think, who I mentioned before. I found a few songs I like, and two songs I really think could work. They're called "Fantasy" and "Closing Time" ( There are a few songs which have great introductions that I could cut to loop, but I feel a bit bad for getting rid of lyrics. My only supporting factor in that sense is that the lyrics would interfere with the words being spoken by my actors and actresses. I'll take another listen and find some of the release forms I'll need in order to use their music. Here's hoping I can find just one or two more songs that will fit.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Storyboarding: A Tale of No Artists

As in, I officially have no artists to draw my storyboard for me. I asked my friend who is an art major to storyboard since she's taking an advertising class in which storyboarding is something they're learning at the moment. However, she's a busy person and I'd have to sit down with her and go over what I want drawn, give her a list of specific examples of shots and camera angles, and possibly provide a link to a more extensive list of film terminology.

And this is all assuming I make no further changes to my script, which has yet to be graded and has only received feedback from one person.

My friend is difficult to find, even though she lives on campus, so I'm hoping to snag her on a weekend and entice her with a homecooked meal in exchange for her services. Not to mention the fact that she can keep a copy of the storyboard as a part of her list of experiences (and get her name in the credits list, which I think is way cooler).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Musical Potential

For me, music plays a large role in the quality of a movie. When the perfect song is timed just right, it can make a significant moment just click for the audience and leave them with a different feeling than they would have if there was no music playing. I'm a huge fan of the indie genre and therefore many songs I like have a catchy yet unique sound, which translates very well onto the screen, especially when timed correctly.

Therefore, it's understandable that this semester is going to be difficult for me because I can't use any of the songs I like. I either have to find someone to play a different version of what music I'm listening to or find someone who has a band and have them play the score/soundtrack for my movie.

Luckily enough, there is a peer in my screenwriting class who has a band. Now, I have yet to listen to his music but I did check out the band's website ( and the lyrics are pretty interesting. I also have my classmate, John, helping me with piano music. He's played one song already for me which I'll probably upload later.

Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until I have footage cut together before I can accurately use the music or not. I might use it for credits, but the scene I envisioned it to while I was writing has been edited so much that the music no longer fits the situation. I might consider going to the music department on campus and seeing if I can find anybody who is willing to provide samples or compose music for me based on a compilation of notes from several other songs.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Assignment #5: Script, Draft One

This assignment is fairly self-explanatory. I'd already had my finished script before the semester started but I had a friend go through my first draft and edit it just this past Thursday. Nothing major changed. He just got rid of a lot of excess direction and awkward wording so now the script will hopefully read more smoothly.

I think it's quite amusing that it's going to be twelve pages long no matter what I do to it. It was twelve pages long when I first wrote it, then when I added more stuff it was twelve pages long, and now that it's edited it's still twelve pages long. Hopefully it won't be twelve minutes long because that's way too long for this movie and since I have a montage that's two pages long, it should probably only be about nine to ten minutes long. Or so I'm hoping.

And I just found a new song that I'm crazy about, and I can't use it because it's copyrighted. Let's hope I can find something similar I can alter later on, 'cause it's a damn good song.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Assignment #4: Budget Plan

I've been working on this budget plan for a few days now and I'm having tremendous difficulty with it. Sure, it seems easy, just finding out how much things will cost, but I have to look up wages for specific occupations and positions that I won't even be using. I'm not getting an actual budget for this project. If I need items, the money is coming out of my own pocket. I understand the importance of doing a budget plan, but there are so many factors that don't apply to this particular production.

Of course, I've run into some problems. For example, sites that make DVDs and DVD cases aren't any help when it comes to needing a quote on burning copies of DVDs, and though this one site I found says they'll burn the DVDs for me, they don't list an option to send them the DVD information I need burned. So how do they expect to burn the DVDs when they don't have the information to burn on to them? I have no idea.

And we needed to look up the wages for producers, directors, and SAG actors, but naturally I couldn't find specific information, even searching the SAG and WGA websites directly. I had to Google questions about how much producers and directors make, but only found salaries per year and not wages per hour or per movie.

This budget business is very frustrating. I fear that I'm doing this wrong and that I won't have the correct information when I turn the assignment in. Good thing this isn't a real budget plan because some of the numbers I've discovered in the researching process are insanely high, and I can't imagine ever being able to afford the production costs of my video if it were a legit thing (and not some silly zero-budget student project).

Did you know there are programs out there that use money from students' tuitions to create an actual budget for film students that they can access and legitimately fund their movies with? Yeah. Guess where I'm going for graduate school.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Puzzle to My Heart, Described

So I mentioned yesterday that I would probably do a post that described the script's scenes in a general fashion. Well this would be the post for that. Be warned, it might be long, and there is a spoiler.

"Puzzle to My Heart" -- After the opening credits roll over a montage of Rubik's cubes and other such fun puzzles, we meet our hero and heroine, Simon and Cassandra, respectively (whose names are subject to change). After Simon sends Cassandra off to fulfill a patron request, we meet Nick, Simon's closest male friend who lays down the first clue to solving the code creator's identity (not that it will be terribly difficult to figure out anyway). Later on, Simon discovers the first book with the first code written inside and presents it to Cassandra to solve. This leads Cassandra on the hunt to discover the next clues in the next series of books which leads her to the  final book which can't be found as it has been taken out. Cassandra talks to a coworker about finding the person but due to library policy the name cannot be revealed. So Cassandra waits for the opportune moment to discover the person's name who took the book out and this leads her to find that the identity of (SPOILER) the creator of the code is actually Simon (I did mention it wouldn't be terribly difficult to figure out, didn't I?). After a short fight between the two, Cassandra quits her job. The next day, Nick gives Simon a letter from Cassandra and leaves before Cassandra appears and apologizes. She explains the reason why she quit and he forgives her (the ending is hopefully as funny out loud as it sounds in my head). The end. Ending credits have yet to be decided, but will likely mimic the opening credits.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Script Complete

Although the finished script isn't due until next week, I finished all the editing I had to do to it and am now ready to print off copies to be read in class so I can work on draft two. Hopefully my classmates won't ask me to write any more clues in because I think the four that I have are too much as it is, and although they reveal just enough, I don't want to go overboard and have a whole bunch of silly clues that really don't do anything.

I also finished going through all the books and finding the words to make the coded messages. I cheated a bit and used Google's search engine with the title of the book to find some of the words I needed. Thank you, Google, for shaving off days of skimming I would have spent holed up in my room with a stack of books, swearing profusely at a page containing words similar to what I was looking for. Which actually happened in The Shining. I couldn't find all the words I needed through Google so I'll either cheat again and, with the camera, focus on the "know" part of "knowing" or find "know" in another book and hope the audience can't tell the difference between the fonts. Of course you'll know because I revealed it, but that's beside the point.

I also won't be posting the script here for safety purposes and for the consideration of length. I can give general descriptions of the scenes and then explain how I altered them later, but we'll see. It's a bit of a tricky subject.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Assignment #3: Checklist

For this assignment, we have to create a checklist of things we will need to do or provide for our production. Here is my checklist:

___ Release Forms
___ Crew/Cast List with Phone Numbers and E-mail addresses
___ Shooting Schedule
___ Prop List/Props
___ Food/Drink for Cast/Crew
___ Location Permits
___ Location Stills
___ Wardrobe
___ Equipment
___ Tapes
___ Copies of Script for Cast and Director with Contact Information
___ Storyboard
___ Call/E-mail All Participants to Confirm Times/Places
___ Notify Talent What to Wear
___ Credits List

I still have to create a credits list, prop list, and crew/cast list, among many other things, but all will be posted over the next several weeks, including a estimated budget plan.

Friday, February 4, 2011

After Some Consideration

I've spent the last few days speaking with friends and acquaintances about my movie idea. I asked males to put themselves in the position of one of "Puzzle to My Heart"s heroes, Simon. Simon is a geeky gamer sort of guy with a secret love of urban fantasy and popular literature. And for our heroine, Cassandra.

I figured out what clues I'm going to use (topics include: Charles de Lint, swings, flowers, and unknown knowledge of the code creator's identity) and what books I own that fit each clue. I'm tempted to use a graphic novel but I think that would be a bit more difficult considering it's read right side of the page to left side of the page but the words are read left to right, which may cause considerable confusion.

All I'll need to do is write and print up some convincing labels and put the books on the shelves. Although I checked some of the titles I owned and saw that the campus library, where we'll be filming, has some of the books in their stacks department so I can write in my copies and do less printing of the labels since I'll need fewer than I thought originally.

I have some editing to do as far as the opening, montage, and closing of the script. The opening needs more clues about the heroine's likes so she can relate more to the revealed messages the codes disguise, less dialogue between the hero and his friend, and a smoother segue into the first code. The montage needs to include more falsified flashbacks and clues leading to the identity of the code's creator. And finally, the closing needs to be happy, as I had originally written a sad ending but my classmates voted for a happy one, saying that if the characters are going to go through all this effort, they might as well end up together. Otherwise the audience will feel unsatisfied.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Assignment #2: Logline

I've decided that, after some discussions with more friends about the complexity of my story idea and the suggestions from classmates during my pitch this past Monday, I am going to stick with "Puzzle to My Heart" as the script I produce this semester. The logline is as follows (and of course is subject to change):

A series of codes leads a puzzle-obsessed librarian on a hunt to find her one true love.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Assignment #1: Movie Idea and Basic Description

Due today is a short paragraph describing the movie we want to make. After some consideration and discussion with a few friends, I decided to go with "Puzzle to My Heart". Although my dream ideas sound more professional, experimental, and fun, I think for now I'll stick with "Puzzle to My Heart" as it has a smaller cast, one location, and is already written. Should my muse decide to get her rear in gear and inspire me to write one of the other scripts I have in mind, then perhaps I'll switch to one of those. I still have time. Here is the assignment:

“Puzzle to My Heart” is the story of a puzzle-obsessed Stacks librarian who discovers a code in a book and follows it to a series of books, each with a coded clue inside. You see, she never met a puzzle she didn’t love. The code takes her on a journey of more codes in order to learn the identity of the person who created the greatest puzzle she would ever solve. Little does she know that the creator is someone she overlooks on a daily basis. This is an intellectual love story with a surprising twist.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The First Set of Auditions

So this past Saturday I went to the theater department's play auditions. I stayed for the first group of students. What ended up happening was they got about an hour ahead of schedule since the students didn't take the full time to audition that they had. They ran out of students to have audition and had to make calls to students to come in sooner than their scheduled times. Of the first thirteen I saw, I picked two males that I thought could fit roles in my movie (Lee Becker and David Wettle) and two females that could fit roles in my movie (Carmella Losi and Brianna Kowitzkiss). I am a little worried because Brianna is a bit older and may create imbalance if I get David to act, who looks younger. This is assuming I go with the "Puzzle to My Heart" script which will be set in the library at school.

I came up with another idea inspired by a dream I had last night and a discussion I had with a friend of mine about "nightwalk" which is a type of storytelling that takes place in a daydream and then reveals something significant about the character (his definition, not mine).

"The Goners"
And even in dreams, there's no such thing as safety.

It would be about a girl who gets kidnapped in her dreams and can't tell whether she was kidnapped in real life or if she had died.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Taglines and Ideas

Three movie ideas and their taglines.

"The Reason"
Everything happens for a reason. She was his.

"Puzzle to My Heart"
She never met a puzzle she didn't love.

They say dreams can't hurt you. Said dreams beg to differ.

Expectations and Ideas

As of this moment, I know that the following are requirements for this semester's production:

  • Marketing plan
  • DVD of the final video
  • Professional DVD case with cover art, synopsis, movie stills
  • Trailer
  • Production stills
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Interview with the director (me)
  • Press release
  • Budget plan
  • Production Journal/Blog
I should provide a little more information about this project. We are supposed to work individually to produce a video between ten and fifteen minutes in length. Having graduated from the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts high school, I was used to working by myself on videos and films, doing all the writing, casting, directing, cinematography, editing, and producing by myself. Over the last two years of college, I got into the habit of working in small groups of four wherein each person was assigned a duty (editor, writer, director, producer).

Working in a group has given me great insight into the phenomenon known as "delegating responsibility". Now that we're back to doing independent work again, I feel more in the zone because I learned which students in my class were best at certain aspects of production that I am capable of doing but not the best at. Therefore I can ask specific students if they would be willing to take a certain position within my production group.

So far I've asked Joe W. to be my cinematographer and he agreed. John S. also agreed to work with me on writing and playing piano music, as we aren't allowed to use copyrighted music for this project. I may ask Gabe S., John D., or Travis C. to assist me with editing since all three know how to use Final Cut Pro more effectively that I do.

I admit that I'm a bit nervous about making a professional DVD and treating this project like I'm preparing to submit it into a film festival. You see, over the winter break, I wrote a nine-page screenplay titled "Puzzle to My Heart". It's the tale of a puzzle-obsessed girl who works in a library, the co-worker boy who admires her from afar, and the puzzle she met and then fell in love with. Not that interesting of a story, is it? So with all the expectations of this project, you can see why I'm hesitant to use that script. I have several other ideas, you see. One involves a twist of dreams and reality, another a fabulous female indie character, and the last telling the story of a mime's dreadful curse.

With so many ideas competing for one slot, it's tempting to go with the idea I already wrote to save myself work, but then I feel like I might miss out on an opportunity to create a truly great movie from one of the other ideas. Due Monday is a paragraph about my movie concept, including a logline (definition: a movie's description in thirty words or less). I can scrap the idea after I pitch it and choose another concept, but I can't pitch all my ideas and then work on the one that receives the most feedback.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Brief Introduction

If you're reading this blog, then you are doing so because of one of the following:

  1. You are interested in seeing all the work and thought put into a movie from start to finish.
  2. You are my professor.
  3. You obviously have nothing better to do with your time. 
Now that we've discovered your motives for reading, hello! Welcome to the most fabulous, wondrous, amazingly entertaining blog known to mankind. Okay, that's an exaggeration. Welcome to what will likely be the least glamorous portrayal of a non-Hollywood production ever found on the vast reaches of the internet. I am not responsible for the very good chance that I may destroy, stomp on, mutilate, or any other way, shape, or form cause destruction to your ideas that film-making is at all glamorous and/or game-like. This is a serious business we're running here, folks. 

That being said, my name is Alyssa Ricigliano, I'm 19 years old, a sophomore in college, and a Television and Film Arts major focusing on the writing and directing of films. The class you will be observing through my eyes is called TFA 420: Producing Short Films II. Through this blog, I plan to show you the ins and outs of film-making from a student's perspective. This documentation will be the most thorough example of student production, working from A to Z to provide you with as much information as possible so you can truly see how a movie is produced, from conception to culmination.

Don't be afraid to enjoy it. It's not like you had to write any of this.