Thursday, May 24, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday was the worst day I've had in a long time. Everything started out okay when I got up. I got up on time and had all my homework done. I even had a chance to have breakfast before I left home. The sun was out. Who could ask for the better start to a perfect day? Well every thing started to go downhill once I got into the NYC Subway system. I usually take the 2 or 3 to Atlantic Avenue from Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum. That connection was fine. I wasn't even going to let the crazy homeless man who is always at the entrance ruin my day. When I got to Atlantic Avenue. The B train (I take this to 42nd Street) was at the station. The time was about 8:15am and by all accounts, I would have been able to make it to my class and sitting in my desk by 9am.

Well an announcement came over the loudspeaker that the train was halted in the station because there was a sick passenger on the train ahead of this B at Dekalb Avenue. Okay, so I figured wait for a few moments. Someone said that they had been sitting there for nearly 20 minutes. So I thought, well I go to the connecting tunnel to Pacific Street and catch the D train. It's just as fast and they didn't seem to have any trouble getting over the bridge. So I walked to that platform and as luck would have it the train was just arriving into the station. So now it's about 8:35 and I'm making okay time. I didn't have a seat this time but that was okay.

So I pulled out my John Amaechi book out and picked up where I left off. As the train is going over the Manhattan Bridge, I'm really into the book and all of a sudden I feel a surge of people move closer around me and then the most foulest smell came over the car. When I tuned around I saw that this elderly man had "lost his lunch" on the floor directly behind me where I was standing reading my book. Some had even "splashed" on the bottom of my khaki pants that I was wearing. Now not only was I going to be late for class, but I was going to arrive to class smelling like "motion sickness".

So now I had the option to either go home and change or go to class smelling the way I did. I reasoned it would cost me more to go back instead of just going forward and getting to class late. As soon as I got off the train I ran to Duane Reade and pick up some of those "Shout Wipes" because, I didn't want the puke to stain my pants. Of course, I decided to forego my daily coffee and bagel with cream cheese. I just did not have the appetite. Can you blame me? Anyway I finally made it to class at 9:30 and got right to work on cleaning up the vomit stains on the pant legs. Everything seem to go pretty smooth until after I finished my next class. I should say that on Wednesdays I have 3 classes back-to-back and it involves some campus travel. I start in 50 West 40th (between 5th and 6th Aves) and then go to 232 West 40th (between 7th and 8th Aves) and then back to 50W40. Technically there are no breaks but the Professors know the deal and usually dismiss the classes at least 10-15 minutes early so that it will give everyone enough time to get to their next class. So after my second class (English Comp - that I had to finish a paper for the night before on "The Worst Day of My Life") Ironic, isn't it? Anyway. I decided that now I could stomach some coffee and I stopped and pick up some from a stand on the way back. As I'm going upstairs to the last class, someone bumps into me on the elevator and coffee spills on my light blue and white shirt. Could this day get any worst?

So now I get to my last class for the day and I'm totally in shock over the day I'm having and start to pull out the Shout Wipes again and go to work. I get through the class and I'm fine. Once class is over I hightail it out of there for the subway for home. The ride goes fine and I get home and take off my smelly clothes and take a nap until about 8pm. I got up and made some dinner and got ready to watch the season finale of "Lost" and I'm set for the night. Except I guess I was still tired because I dozed off just before the ending of "Lost" and missed the ending. AAaaaaahhhhhhhH!!!!!!!!!


Today has been a better day. In Flash class we learned how to make a website in Flash. It was so much more easier than that dreadful Dreamweaver that I used to make my site last quarter. I can't wait to redo my site in Flash now. Fortunately today is the last day of classes for the week and it's a holiday weekend. Now if I only had some plans for the weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Help Send Film Students from NY to Hollywood!

A couple of students in my film program at school have submitted a film spoof to win a student film MTV Movie Award. Calvin and Miguel are really very talented filmmakers and I hope that everyone can go to this link and view the clip and rate it. The more votes they get, the better. The filmmakers of the winning clip will get a trip to Los Angeles to win a Golden Popcorn award [like the one that the lovely Jessica Alba is holding to your left]. If they win, it will also be a big boost for my film school program at Katharine Gibbs School. The school really does produce a lot of talented filmmakers, but because it's not USC or NYU, I don't think we get taken as seriously. We even have an Academy Award winning faculty member, Cady Abarca-Benavides. He won for is film short "El Viaje" . And Every student has studied with Professor Abarca at one time or another at the school. Lets help these guys to win so that Gibbs Digital Film Program can become a leading school (or at least show the digital film industry that that Gibbs Students can ROCK!) in the digital film industry.

After you vote, make sure you send the link to as many friends a possible and you remind them to send to as many friends as possible, and so on and so on. It's a short clip (4min 23sec) based on the film "Saw 3". Although I'm not a big fan of that genre of film, I am a fan of comedy spoofs as many of you know already. I think that clip that Calvin and Miguel have created for this contest is VERY FUNNY.

The clip is called "Saw 3: The Wrath of Jiggy". When you finishing rating the clip, why don't you leave a comment on the site for the guys and let them know what you think about it. After all, who doesn't like a little praise or CONSTRUCTIVE criticism? Right?

Also if you have any problem connecting with any of the 3 cleverly placed links to the clip that I place in my post today, COPY and PASTE the FOLLOWING link into your web browser and I'm sure you will be connected right away to the funny clip:


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Step Aside Hype Williams*, There's a New Director in Town (well, sort of)

I haven't had much time post in the past few days because I was busy with school. In particular, doing all my pre-production work for the music video that I working on. Its exhausting but at the same time its really a rush of excitement knowing that I'm in the process of making a visual record of a song that hopefully many people will talk about for years to come. (Or at least will say, "wasn't that directed by Billy Marshall Thompson?")

One of the things that we are required to do by our professors whenever we are in this stage is to create a "Director's Book". This basically has all the paper work: Scripts, Shot lists, shooting schedule, floor plans, budgets, prop lists, storyboards, etc. I never knew going into film school that so much pre-production work had to be done. But in the end it's best because when it's well planned out, the production will go smoother and hopefully under budget and on time. In this case, since it's a student production budget really isn't an issue. It's more like no-budget. Except for finding some money to feed the cast and crew, that's the extend of the budget. In my case those funds will be courtesy of my food stamps. That's another story for another time.

Anyway I'm really looking forward to working on this project. I'm a little nervous because we (the production companies - this time it's my production company "Group Hug Films" and the Daphne's company "Sultry Siren Productions" are doing it as a joint venture) are waiting for approval of a club to film a dance sequence. Cross your fingers that that doesn't fall through. Also this time I'm looking for some new crew people. Everybody is my class is so busy with their own projects. Come to think of it, none of them even asked me to work on their projects. Hmm...

Anyway, the only one who I am working with again is my colleague and fellow classmate, Kidane Yimer. He will be my DP (Director of Photography) . He has a great eye for lighting and his camera work is probably some of the best in my class. This will be the second time we will be working together on a project. He even suggested that we use multiple cameras for some of the filming. Something that I hadn't really given much thought to before. But I have to say I also have been listening to a lot of director commentaries on DVDs lately (why else buy a DVD?) and a lot of modern directors use the multi-camera format for capturing scenes that really can't be recreated numerous times (i.e. stunts, jumping in water, etc.)

I have been very comfortable with the 3 and 4 camera set up from years of working on the daytime dramas. But since we have been in school most of the work we have been doing has been single camera work. But in the end, it's all about the editing. I'm getting a lot more comfortable with AVID Xpress Pro and can't wait to get my footage done so I can begin the editing and motion graphics part of it (otherwise known as "post-production").

Anyway today I also did something that I never done before. I read one of my poems at a school sponsored Poetry Reading. I was kind of nervous at first, because it was very personal and here I was opening myself up to group of strangers. It came out pretty nice.

While I'm writing this, I have "Oprah" on and she has the cast of the new film version of the Broadway musical, "Hairspray". She has John Travolta, Michelle Pheiffer and Queen Latifah on who star in this movie. I saw the original show on Broadway for my 40th birthday a few years ago. I treated myself, because I didn't have anyone to go with. None of my friends had any interest in seeing it. I wasn't going to wait for someone to go and see it. Besides I got the chance to see it with Harvey Fierstein (as Edna Turnblad) in it before he left the show. I even got him to autograph my original cast CD. He has no idea how he MADE my 40th so special. I loved the original John Water's film and I LOVED the musical and I can't wait until July 20th to go and see the new film version. They just showed a scene and I have to say John Travolta is BACK in his game! Nothing against Harvey, but John has a way better singing voice and we all know the man can dance. I think a lot of people will be surprised. I also think this summer's Jennifer Hudson may be young Nikki Blonsky who plays the role that Ricki Lake originated in the original film of Tracy Turnblad.

Anyway I posted a casting notice on for models and dancers. We have scheduled a audition for the models for this Sunday. in a room full of tall, dark and handsome male models... It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it. :-)

*Seriously, Hype Williams has nothing to worry about. I'm doing my 3rd music video. But the first one since I started film school.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Home Sick!

Greetings Measure of Life readers! I'm at home today sick with a cold and I can honestly say it's been miserable. Yesterday I was fine, but I guess the change in the weather has really done a number on me. Just when I thought I was getting better, I'm sneezing like crazy. Anyway I found something on the web [click image at right or here] that made me laugh years ago and forgot to bookmark it. Somehow it found it's way back to me again and I wanted to share it with ya'll.*

I also wanted to share some good news with everyone. Last Thursday at school there was an event called "The Freshman Connection" held. It was basically a talent showcase to show the incoming freshmen some of the work that the upper classes have been producing. It was sponsored by the Fashion Department. Anyway, before the fashion show, some people in my department (Digital Film) presented some of our work. I was asked by our student coordinator, the very lovely Christen, if I wouldn't mind showing a sample of my work. I was flattered so I showed my documentary amply titled "Measure of Life". Long story short, I think I may have gotten job out of it. I won't elaborate, because I don't want to jinx it, but I will keep you posted! It couldn't come a better time because I really need to get one of my telephones turned back on. It really sucks not having a telephone. I don't know how people could have survived without one, but I guess I'm finding out now. Anyway keep your fingers crossed that something pans out for me.

*[That's sounds so "country" of me to say "ya'll" doesn't it? But I guess it sounds better than it's Noo Yawk cousin: "Yous" (I've lived here in the New York City area all my life and have NEVER heard that word leave these full lips of mine.)]

Anyway Enjoy!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Spider-Man is Back in Town!

Over the weekend I had the pleasure to see the highly anticipated film "Spider-Man 3". Was it worth the wait? You bet! I'm a big sucker for any film that has great character development and a dynamic story. Director Sam Raimi has not only include all of this but spectacular SFX that I haven't seen since The Wachowski Brothers introduced the world to "The Matrix" in 1999.

I have to admit, I have always been a fan of Spider-Man since he is one of the few "local area" superheros. In the original comic strip, Peter Parker (a/k/a Spider-Man) hails from Queens, NY. When the first film came out I was amazed at the marriage of live action with computer generated effects. The second film blew me away as well. This third installment took it to another level! Even the few minor plot "coincidences" could be overlooked because it really gave me my $11 worth!

I've been a big Sam Raimi fan ever since "The Evil Dead" films. I admire his work because he started out making low-budget films that eventually make millions. I had read somewhere that he made "The Evil Dead" for $350,000 and it grossed over 10 times that. He always has a way of mixing the very dark side with humor. He didn't disappoint this time either with Spider-Man 3. He often likes to work with the same people which says a lot about a filmmaker. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! It's been reported that "Spider-Man 3" is the most expensive film EVER made at over $400 million. I'm sure that the investors won't have any problem getting their money back. The theater was packed when I saw it and ever screening at the multiplex where I saw it was sold out.

At first I was skeptical when I heard that this installment would include 3 villains instead of dealing with only one foe as the previous films had done. But after having seen this film, it totally worked. This time, Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) battles The Sandman (played by Thomas Haden Church - who was brilliant in Alexander Payne's "Sideways"), Venom (played by former "That 70's Show" alum, Topher Grace) and the new Goblin (James Franco). All the other characters are back as well including Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), Aunt May (Rosemary Harris), and J. Jonah Jameson (J. K. Simmons) to mention a few. But why did they wait until this third chapter to introduce one of the original comic book characters, Gwen Stacy (played by Ron Howard's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard)? For whatever the reason for this late introduction, it still works well in the plot.

As a film student I tend to look at films with a different eye than the average movie goer. I tend to break up a film and over analyze the plot, characters, and all the technical flaws. That's not to say that I didn't do that with this film this time, but for what it was worth, I thoroughly was entertained by it and I would go see it again if I had the money and free time. My only disappointment with my theater going experience on Saturday night didn't have anything to do with the film itself, but the previews. It's funny how you can remember what previews you view when you see some films. Years ago I remember going to the theater to see "Jurassic Park 3" and the first preview of "Spider-Man 1" was shown. I remember it because it depicted a bank robbery by helicopter that was foiled by being caught in a web created by Spider-Man as they tried to elude capture. As the camera pulls out to reveal the helicopter caught in a web that was spun between the two towers of the World Trade Center. I remember people cheering in the theater at the end of this trailer. This trailer was pulled shortly thereafter due to the tragic events of 9/11. But I digress...

The trailer that I was shocked to see wasn't so much the film itself but, as to whom was in it. It was a trailer for the third installment of "Rush Hour 3". Was really it necessary to go and make yet another one? One of my favorite filmmakers was in it: Roman Polanski. Up until now I have always respected Mr. Polanski as a great filmmaker. Although he is only acting in this and not directed it, it makes me wonder how bad he needed the money? Did the man who gave us such classics as "Rosemary's Baby", "Chinatown" and "The Pianist" really have to take a role in a "buddy movie" that has been considered by some members of both the African-American and Asian-American communities to be the "Amos and Andy" of the new millennium?

Despite seeing this trailer, I still didn’t let it spoil my viewing of “Spider-Man 3”! I can't wait until Spider-Man 4 comes out!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The After Effects of Motion Graphics

Film school has been really great but I never knew going into it just how busy it would really be. At the moment I have 3 projects that are in stages of re-editing or pre-production. Ironically, I thrive on this kind of excitement when it comes to the creative process. The good thing is that for every new skill I acquire, it only helps me when it comes to re-editing. For instance, this week I learned some really cool tricks that I can apply to title graphics that will help me with my re-edit of my PSA that I did for last quarter's project. Moving graphics can be quite awesome in opening and closing title credits. I originally was going to do a straight title credit for the actors who performed in the piece. Now I can actually make it more dynamic and eye catching.

On another piece, a documentary that I did for 2nd Quarter (the one I'm probably the most proudest of at the moment) I'm getting an original score created and I learned that there is a program called "Sound Soap" that can minimize the ambient noise that sometimes can be produced in recording. At one point in the doc, I am interviewing a doctor in his office and although it is a great interview, it's slightly marred by the buzzing noise of the fluorescent lights above us in the office. I was told that this software program can "clean it up" where I will have a better sounding interview. Isn't technology grand?

The piece that I'm in pre-production for now is the music video which I spoke about in earlier posts. This one I want to be my opus! Using AVID Xpress Pro, I made a mock music video that sort of encompasses some of techniques that I plan to use in the music video. I never knew until now just how important transitions and proper sound syncing can make or break a music video. The only difference with the music video I will do is that I will have more locations to splice into the piece that will only enhance the beauty of the film. Also with the use of some tricks in After Effects, I'm almost certain that I can turn the music video into something spectacular.

At the present time I'm in my morning After Effects class writing this post. I just completed a project that I have to hand in at the end of class today of a image that I found on the web and cut up and made it appear to walk across a moving image. It's so cool the things that I've learned in this class. If I had known this stuff last year, I probably would still have a job. However, I would be doing boring moving images for a boring corporate fat cat! On second thought, maybe it was fate that I lost my job and found myself sitting in this class. For the first time I feel ALIVE!!!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

3rd Week of 4th Quarter of Film School

I haven't had a chance to post in a couple of days because school has been keeping me really busy. I will say that I'm really enjoying this quarters' courses. I find all of them really fascinating and have really gotten into it. Yesterday for my Editing II class (Avid) I had to do a lip syncing project with me lip syncing a song. I chose a song by the late, great Luther Vandross called "Dance With My Father". Luther never got to make a video for this song because he had a massive stork right before the release of this album. His music friends did do one instead I remember. Anyway, I'm thinking it will might make a nice Mother's Day present for Mom. She always complains that she doesn't get to see me much, now all she will have to do it pop in a DVD and there my mug will be.

I'm also in the final stages of getting my original score done by my good friend Donald for my documentary that I did during second quarter called "Measure of Life". I'm really, REALLY, happy with the progress of that. Hopefully it will be making the film festival circuit soon. My 2 general education courses, English Composition and Critical Thinking have really been an eye opener to me. I think the EngComp will help me become a better writer and Critical Thinking has already open my eyes to new ideas that I already see happening in my school work. Well it's time to get back to doing my homework. I have a paper to do for EngComp and I have yet to finish my outline for it. I'm still doing my research for it, I think I will probably spend all day Friday between the Library and home working on it. It is due next Wed. Also I signed up to read one of my poems for a poetry reading at school. I've never read any of my poetry in front of a large audience. This should be a challenge. Oh, I saw "The Secret". Now I'm sending positive messages into the universe: JOB, MONEY, JOHN AMAECHI, EMPLOYMENT, PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT, GIFTS, YANKEES WIN ONE, BOOK DEAL!

Birthday Shout out: Happy Birthday Kimberly Peters! Hope you have a FABULOUS Day!!