Return to Sender: Writing

I’ve been pretty discreet about this, but I have begun working on my next short film.

The concept is an idea that I originally thought of for Project Greenlight back in 2014. I ended up not using the idea at that time, and I started conceptualizing my undergraduate thesis film instead.

Since then, that original concept has definitely changed. The idea for Project Greenlight was extremely short, less than three minutes. That was part of the reason why I didn’t go through with it at the time. I felt it was going to be too similar to my other work, and I wanted to take the time to try to make it a bit different.

The struggle has been letting go of that original idea a bit. I held on to that original concept for so long that now that I’m changing it, and making it better (hopefully), it’s been a bit of a process to change those initial visuals that were in my head. I just got stuck in a rut with that original idea that I held on to for years, and it kept rearing its head, even when I was trying to make changes.

Hence why I’ve been keeping it a secret for so long! In order to get to this final draft, I went through multiple versions and approximately 5 drafts for each version. That’s a lot of changes.

Now that I’ve reached a point where I’m happy, and the associates that have read the final draft are happy, I think I can finally move on to pre-visualization and casting.

Keep an eye out for future updates on this project.

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Lights, Camera, Action Films 2016

I mentioned in a previous post that I was eventually going to put together a compilation of the films that we did through Lights, Camera, Action in 2016.

During the first week, we maintained the original format of the class. We filmed The Secret of the Pirate’s Treasure. We didn’t have a showing on the final day, so we edited the film in the next week before uploading to YouTube.

The kids didn’t get to write this one, but they got to see the production process while we made it during the week.

In the next week of class, we changed the format. The kids came up with their own story, and we helped them film it. We split into two groups. I worked with one. We named our film Truth or Dare. I edited it during the next week.

I’m really excited to share this one because I think the kids learned a lot and had a good time.

Despite the fact that I wasn’t involved in this next film, it was from the recent week of Lights, Camera, Action, so it deserves to be talked about as well! The kids came up with this story too, and they were helped in making it through the class.

Thoughts on Sequels

As far as I can tell, my short film Lights has been a hit with most of the people who’ve seen it. One of the biggest bits of feedback I’ve been getting afterwards are questions about or demands for a sequel.

I’ve always been pretty adamant that there was not going to be a sequel, but that was due to several different things. For one, I’ve never made a sequel to any of my films before. Also, I just really didn’t have any ideas for how to continue the story.

Recently, a friend of mine got me thinking. His ideas were intended to be jokes of course, but those jokes warped themselves in my head and became an idea. Before I knew it, there was potential for a sequel to Lights. I just needed to perfect it.

In all honesty, the idea is doable. It will cover any continuity issues that arise from the amount of time that’s passed since we finished filming the first Lights. It opens the door to provide answers, not only about what happened to Mia, but also why the creature chose to show itself at that exact moment. What is the motive? This is the area that I still would need to perfect.

At that time, I got really excited about the potential for this new film. I talked with the producer who said he’d be game. I checked with the actress who played Mia to see if she’d be willing to star in another film. I started creating story maps to see what direction I’d go in for a script, until I watched The Woman in Black 2 for my 31 Days of Reviews.

While watching that particular movie, I was reminded why I am wary about sequels. I even ended the review by echoing my thoughts that maybe not every film needs a sequel. Does Lights fall into this category? Is it worth the time and effort to produce a sequel to Lights when I could use that time to explore different ideas? I am definitely torn on this decision, and I’m still unsure of what to do moving forward.

If you haven’t seen Lights yet, I will include it in this post. Does it warrant a sequel?

A Light From My Window

Many of my films are based off of things that I’ve actually witnessed or experienced. Occupied is based on a feeling that I had while alone in a public bathroom at night. Lights is based on a phenomenon that occurs more often than we think. ms and me is based on my lived experiences with multiple sclerosis. This means that I’m always looking at my life through a lens. What could I translate into a film that would speak to others?

I often write my dreams down if they are interesting enough to elaborate on. I’m very open about the Strawberry Shortcake notebook I keep on my desk with script ideas I’ve been writing since I was a child. It’s not just dreams and events that can inspire me though, sometimes it can be a single visual.

Recently, I’ve been noticing a view out of a window a lot. Now that the time has changed, so it gets darker earlier, I see it even more often. I updated my Facebook about this a while back, but now is my time to elaborate a little bit more.

Creepy-Light

Every time I see this visual, it feels really creepy. It doesn’t matter if the blinds are down, as they are in this picture, or if they aren’t. My mind always twists this visual to make it seem scarier, which is perfect for my line of work. The light itself is pretty ominous, but just imagine if someone was standing there, looking up at your window.

Now, I don’t know if I will actually write something that will utilize this. I have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head that could potentially use this imagery, but the hard part is just choosing one. I can’t really use the visual for more than one film or else the effect of it is diminished. I may decide to use it at some point, or I may decide against it.

In that case, it would just remain as a still frame. Does it entice your imagination as it did mine?

Script from the Past

Almost 10 years ago, I started writing a script. For about 6 months, at age 15 I believe, I wrote every day, and I ended up with about 60 pages worth. One day, the laptop died, and I was unable to regain access to that script. My family and I didn’t know much about computers at the time, so I kept hold of that old thing with no way to retrieve any of my work.

I forgot about the script for the most part, until recently. Someone special was able to remove the hard drive from that laptop and give me access to my old work. I was pretty excited to see my old script again. I knew I had been working on it for a long time back in the day, but I wasn’t aware of just how much work I had completed on it. The amount that I had completed so long ago left me pleasantly surprised.

I won’t go into much detail about what the script is about, but I will divulge that it’s a horror script. That tends to be my genre of choice. Based on what I’ve read, I will undoubtedly have to go back and change some stuff. My skill in writing dialogue was pretty terrible, and I like to think it has slightly improved over the years. There are also a lot of prominent influences within the script that I’ll have to tone down.

Nonetheless, I’m really happy to have retrieved the script. I’m looking forward to spending time in the future finishing up something that I spent quite some time working on in the past. It has been added to my list of things to do, along with several other ideas.

Padido?

For the last month now, I’ve been trying to put together a short film. I’m talking something less than 5 minutes.. maybe even 3 minutes tops.

The writing is done. The storyboard is done. Is the final product done? No.

Why? You may ask. B-roll. I would answer.

The whole point of the story is to highlight a game that my boyfriend and I play in the car. It explains the rules of the game and then shows the viewer how it is played, and the student far surpasses the skill of the teacher. It’s a pretty simple format, and theoretically shouldn’t take too long to complete, but the b-roll is a killer.

We need shots of the cars that fit the criteria for the game, and you really can’t plan that. If I could plan it, the project would have been done weeks ago. Unfortunately, in order to get the necessary b-roll shots, this requires us to drive around with a camera every night just hoping to catch some cars that would make us win a game of padido.

It’s not going well. It’s not practical to bring an expensive camera in the car every night, nor is it easy to attach a GoPro to the car every night. Sometimes we grab one on our phones if we see it. The project is turning into a bit of a nightmare if I must say so myself.

To be continued.

Long Time Coming

I’ve been a part of a film project since late 2011. Here it is mid-2014 and the project still isn’t completed. We are getting closer to being done, and most of us are really excited to see it finalized, but there are many others involved who gave up a long time ago. I can’t say I blame them for not being excited for it anymore. Everyone was helping on a volunteer basis, and after a while, it’s easy to get burned out when you aren’t seeing the fruits of your labor. The project has definitely been a long winding road.

In the beginning, I was brought into the project for a really small job. The crew was creating a music video teaser, and I just happened to stop by at the right place at the right time. They put me in charge of queuing the music and keeping track of time. I guess I impressed in that position because I only moved up from there.

The project didn’t start out on a very high note. The problems started very early on. The writers were intending on creating a 45 minute pilot episode, seeing that they wanted the whole idea to be seen as a television series rather than a short film. They took a couple of weeks to work together on writing the project, and when they came back, we were all surprised to find that instead of a pilot episode they had written six episodes.

Almost everyone was pretty excited to start filming for the six episodes that were written. They had definitely provided an interesting story, although some areas were way beyond our budget and resources. This was most of ours’ first project, so we had no idea how long filming actually took. Within the first couple of shoots, it was apparent that we weren’t going to be able to film all six episodes with a cast and crew made entirely of volunteers.

In response, the writers started taking large chunks away from the script. Characters were eliminated and story arcs were condensed. In the end, this has left us with a 45 minute pilot. This would seem fine, but really this leaves the final project with a lot of unfixable plot holes that we are hoping no one really sees.

Before the story was cut down, we had almost entirely filmed episode one of the six-episode story arc. For the final product, this leaves us with a whole lot of scenes that hold no real importance to the overall message. It’s a whole lot of unnecessary fluff. Characters were introduced with no real significance since they were cut after their first appearance. Important information is forced in and seems too rushed. In reality, the story doesn’t make too much sense, and nothing really happens until the last 10 minutes when the ball really starts rolling.

Editing the final product has not been an easy task. This was really where we had to make all of this footage that didn’t run cohesively appear to be cohesive. It’s taken months. We’ve been in post-production for a year now, and the edit is just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s just a basic edit too. This isn’t including our best attempts at special effects, color correction, sound editing and music composition. We can only hope that the hardest parts will be over once the basic edit is out of the way.

I won’t completely knock this project as a failure though. We were all beginners when it started, and we’ve all learned a great deal through all of the mistakes that we made. I don’t think we’d all be where we were now if not for this project. I’m still looking forward to seeing it all finished.