Weekly Review: Solo – A Star Wars Story (2018)

Young Han Solo joins a group of smugglers to pay off a debt owed to the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn.

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Xcelerate 2018

Depending on how long you’ve been following me, you may know that since 2013, I’ve been working at the summer camp programs at my local community college.

When my journey began with these summer camps, I was an assistant instructor for the Lights, Camera, Action! camp, and I taught children between the ages of 7-14 how to make movies. That camp went through several changes through the years, and I’ve been there through most of them.

In the last couple years, my work with the summer camps expanded. I began helping with other camps in areas that I wasn’t as familiar with. This could be very challenging at times, but I got through it, and it gave me a more detailed idea of how the Xcelerate camps ran as a whole.

This year, I was given an opportunity. The program developer for Xcelerate asked me if I wanted to take on the role of program coordinator. I accepted her offer.

Making the change was a bit difficult for me. I’m not a huge fan of change. I’ve been an assistant instructor for so long. It’s really become a staple of my summer over the years. The worst part about making the switch was that I would not be able to be a part of Lights, Camera, Action. I’m still feeling the sting from that as I type this. It was hard to let go of.

Taking this position was probably a good thing for me to do. It gives me the opportunity to bring my producing skills to an office environment. It gives me more responsibility over the camps that have become such a large part of my life as of late. It also delivered a decent pay raise, which I was in desperate need of after financing my latest short film.

Upon publishing this post, I have been working in this position for three weeks. It’s been entirely prep work up to this point. The camps are just now about to start.

It’s going to be a big adjustment for me to not have the same role I have had for years. I’m hoping this isn’t too hard of an adjustment. There are definitely a lot of positives about this new position. They far outweigh the negatives.

Since I’m doing a lot more logistical work with the camps this summer, I won’t be making regular posts about it. I will probably reflect on the experience once it’s all said and done though, so look out for that!

I’m just really going to miss Lights, Camera, Action.

Return to Sender: Post Production

While I haven’t written much about it on this platform, we’ve been working on the edit for Return to Sender for a while. We were actually so excited about it that we had rough edits of the first and second shoot days within a week of them being shot!

Post production can tend to be a long (and to many, boring) process. When I make routine updates about it, it can often feel like I’m reiterating the same thing over, and over again. “The edit is underway! We’re making progress!”

For this reason, I decided to wait to post about the post production process until it was on the verge of being completed. It’s just easier to talk about that way.

So, we had the rough edit taken care of pretty quickly. It was really nice to see the footage come together to bring my story to life. I can’t thank my cast and crew enough for helping this become reality.

The biggest issue we had to tackle with the basic edit was getting the pacing just right. There was one scene in particular that involved the lead actress where this was very important. The pacing of this scene could make or break the film overall. It was very important for me to get it right.

This took a good chunk of time. We even had to take a step away for a bit in order to come back with fresh eyes. I felt it was necessary to break away from the fond memories of the shoot day in order to focus on what would be best for the edit. There may have been shots that I absolutely loved on the day of the shoot that just wouldn’t help in the big picture.

I needed the pacing to be able to tell the story on its own. I wanted the emotions to carry through, even if the film were to be watched with no sound. It was a big hurdle to cross, but I think we got there.

Once we finally got the basic edit the way we wanted it, the film was sent for color grading, sound design, and original music.

This portion took a good chunk of time as well, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as the pacing. I really handed this portion off to my post production team here, and they did a fantastic job. I just had to approve things.

Ryan Cwiklik stepped in to provide original music once again. He has also done original music for my films Lights and ms and me in the past. This time around, he also took on the sound design. I really have to commend him for this because I’m not the best at translating my thoughts about audio work.

He understood all of my weird lingo. There needs to be more of the “ting ting” and less of the “groan groan” here. I’m a fan of this but when we get to this point, “it’s too much ouch.” Oh, I was a joy to work with. There were a lot of laughs at my expense.

Erik Leal took on the foley with a lot of my help. I always enjoy foley. It’s fun stuff. We recreated sounds that movie goers really don’t think twice about, but it all comes together to make a better viewing experience.

After that, it all came down to color grading and a small bit of visual effect. At this point, we’ve finished that up, and we’re doing final checks and creating credits.

It’s time! It’s almost here!