Friday, June 29, 2007

Smile, the 4th Quarter of Film School is OVER!!!

On Wednesday morning my After Effects professor, Bill Byrne came into class and asked how everyone was doing today and I said fine. He said "you have a big smile on your face?". I told him that it was because I had a good night sleep and was well rested. Which is true but not entirely. The reason for the smile on my face was because as I was walking from my last class to his class (it was down the street), and a really cute guy (okay, he was a HUNK) smiled at me. I smiled back and after I passed, I turned around and he was still smiling. If I wasn't in a rush to get to my next class, I would have went back and said hello. I guess you could say that the real reason why I was smiling was because I can't remember when it was the last time that a really cute guy smiled at me. I read somewhere once that when a gay man turns 30 he is over the hill and when he turns 40 he practically has one foot into the grave. I sometimes believe that being gay and 43 I mostly feel invisible. But that's okay because with age comes wisdom and sometimes I think that having some wisdom goes farther than having buns of steel.

The reason why I'm happy today is because my Flash website is finally up. I just have some minor tweaks to work on, but otherwise, I like it better than the disastrous site I did in Dreamweaver during my 3rd Quarter. As far as my grades go, it's anyone's guess. I know that I will probably get a A in at least one class. The dean's list doesn't look too promising for this quarter but I may at least make the Honors List. At least I was able to complete every assignment and hand them in for all my classes.

The one sad thing that I found out yesterday was that Professor Byrne is leaving the school to move to out of state for personal reasons. I, for one, will miss him extremely. They say that in every person's life there are teachers that will always leave an impression on you. For me, Professor Bill Byrne is one of those teachers. From the day I first met him at the student orientation, I knew that I would like him off the bat. He is crazy cool and very funny. He always has a sunny disposition and is very passionate about his subject matter and always has great stories to share about his experiences working in the industry. Although his reasons for leaving are positive and I wish him and his family much success, I hope he leaves Gibbs knowing that he has made an impression on this student. I will miss him. [Had I known that he was leaving I would have made more of an effort to hand in a EXTRAORDINARY final assignment (a :10 sec. animated Personal Production Company Logo) than the one that I turned it. I went the minimalist route and opted for a "less is more" approach. You can see it on my website if you go there. Just push the "GHF" button and it will take you there. It wasn't my best work, I admit, but I was under a lot of pressure this quarter and didn't give the best for that one particular assignment. Oh well, too late now to do anything about it now.]

Anyway I finally finished my school edit of Daphne's video and it went over very well with my professor, Chris Trice who gave us the assignment in his AVID class. He said looking at it that he could see that I put a lot of time and work into creating it. (I really did.) All of my other Professors that I showed it to liked it as well:

  • Professor Betty Garcia told me that the scale and quality of what I created I could charge at least $10,000 for making it. She should know because she taught me about Pre-production and what it takes to be a good producer.
  • Professor Cady Abarca (who only saw the rough cut) told me that he really liked the lighting. He should know because he taught me proper lighting techniques and how to use the camera.
  • Professor Stephen MacGillivray said he liked the editing and that it was done very well. He should know because he was the first professor who taught me about editing period. Before I stepped into his Final Cut Pro class, I knew NOTHING about editing!
  • Christen Marquez, who is our student coordinator, saw it and like it as well. Her one comment that seem to resonate with mostly everyone (including my classmates) was that I should show some more of the dance footage in it. (I'm working on fixing that)

The next step is to do some additional color correction and put it into After Effects and add some magic to it (that would make Professor Byrne proud of me) and it will be ready for THE WORLD to see!

On the topic of another video I did, I was going to submit my documentary (called "Measure of Life") to "POV" (that show on PBS that's been on for like 20 years now) but I misread the deadline. The deadline for it to arrive at it's offices was TODAY! I mistakenly read the guidelines and thought that today was the deadline for when it should be post marked by. In any event, now I am packaging my documentary to submit to another film festival whose deadline guidelines I read and reread with a fine tooth comb last night coming home on the subway. I won't mention it yet, because I don't want to jinx myself.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Okay, I'm Satisfied

The epic journey that I've been embarking on over the quarter has finally come to somewhat of an end. I just handed over my final edit of Daphne's music video titled, "Satisfied". Presentations begin at 3pm and it's 2:34pm as I write this entry. I'm pleased with the outcome. I'm pleased with the shoot(s) and I guess you could say "I'm Satisfied." The dance shoot didn't go exactly as smoothly as I had anticipated. The location wasn't ready when we reached the set on Sunday. But that was about it. The other major problem, I don't want to mention, but HE knows what I mean about. Right C.R.? Anyway it was a great day and we finished ahead of schedule. The dancers were all very professional and Candice did a great job with the costumes too. I can't wait until the song is released so that everyone can see what I've been working so diligently on over the past 11 weeks while here in my 4th Quarter at school. [That picture is of me checking with Kidane if his camera is ready I'm just about to slate the take were Daphne does a routine with all the dancers. ]

Right now as I write this, I'm going on about an hour of sleep because when I left here last night it was midnight and I had to get home to finish a paper and study for a final in my Critical Thinking class that I had this morning. I liked that class but I'm kinda glad that it's over because many of the students in the class weren't really into the class as I was and it made an engaging conversation sometimes hard to do. But I did hand in all my assignments and I got my holistic test score back today. I scored 97% on that one. My professor, who doesn't grade that (those holistic exams are graded by other professors in the department) but she was impressed with my grade for that test.

Right now it's about 80 degrees outside and even though the AC is on in this lab where I write this it feels like it's about 85 in here. Every terminal is occupied because every one is trying to get his or her work done in all the classes that use the AVID system. To be honest, it's just putting me to sleep and if I don't get up and walk around a bit, I may fall asleep at my monitors.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Directing with PRIDE!!

This weekend in the big Gay Pride March and Festival on Sunday here in the city. I unfortunately will not be able to go and march like I did last year (that's me in the middle of the GMHC banner with my black HRC cap on - we were at the front of the parade) because I will be directing a sequence for Daphne's music video. It was the only day we could get the location and this is a crucial scene for me to finish the video for my class because it is due next Tuesday. I submitted a rough cut for class this week and although Professor Trice liked the elements that I incorporated into it, he agreed with me that incorporating the dance scene would make it perfect. Plus, on certain sections on the rough cut, I had to superimposed place holders that read "Dance Sequence Goes Here". But with the exception of the vocal track being out of sync with the video track for a frame or two, everything looked pretty professional. Professor T was pleased thus far. I was also please with the work too. If I do say so myself, I think I'm turning out to be one helluva director and editor!

I'm really looking forward to the shoot this weekend because my choreographer, Candice, is working really hard to create some fantastic steps and she has enlisted some top-notch Broadway dancers to work in the video. I have to pinch myself to realize that this really isn't a dream; that I have one of the best choreographers in the business working on a video that I am directing! The Gods must be looking down on me! There is a dance rehearsal tomorrow and Saturday and I may pop my head in to check on the progression, but I'm certain that everything will come off swimmingly well. Candice is aces! I am so lucky that she has agreed to believe in my vision is working with me on this project. Daphne is really psyched as well to be completing the video and I think Kidane is too. [That's me in the hat directing Daphne and Almando on location. - I don't know what I said to make Daph laugh like she's doing. But it's important to have a happy set, I believe.] The good thing is that we will have an additional camera on Sunday because one of my classmates, Christopher Reid, is going to shoot some tracking shot with his camera and dolly. He is taking time out of his busy, busy schedule and has agreed to work with me. Yes, I am blessed!

Unfortunately, Kidane's camera is in the shop so we will be using 2 cameras after all instead of 3 as I had originally hoped. Kidane will just use my camera. I'll be too busy directing anyway so it works out good for both of us. It's too late to enlist anymore camera people in the shoot because everybody else is busy shooting the finishing touches on their video or they are just don't want to help out a brotha in need. That's cool though. I'm not bitter. People have to do what they got to do and if means going to the beach, well who am I to judge?

To all my SGL brothers and sisters: HAPPY PRIDE!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Music Video Chronicles

I was finally able to shoot another day of exterior shots for Daphne's music video over the weekend. We used locations in Central Park and in Battery Park and on the Staten Island Ferry. It was a fun but exhausting day but everything looks good with the footage we got. Kidane (the Director of Photography for this shoot) and I went with Daphne and our male lead, Almando Rodney, to shoot in romantic settings around the city as part of the "B roll" footage that will be intercut into the video. This was our first day shooting with Almando and I have to say that it was a pleasure to work with a model who has no huge ego whatsoever. He was a joy to work with and I'm so glad that him and Daphne had such great chemistry on film. I can't wait for you all to see the video.

I'm getting a wee bit nervous because although I'm happy with the production thus far, I have to hand in a rough cut next Tuesday to my professor and I still am missing an interior scene with Daphne and Almando in the apartment. The reason why I'm missing this footage is because, I have yet to find that particular location to shoot it. If anyone has any leads or ideas, please shoot me an email (which at the moment is the only way to reach me since the phone is still out of service).

Yesterday Kidane and I went and looked another location in which to shoot the fantasy dance sequence of the piece. I thought it was a nice place and my D.P. thought the girl who showed us the space was nice. It's funny but looking over the footage that we shot on the first weekend of Daphne's performance, you can tell who shot what just by the amount of cleavage in the shoot. Gay guys will capture the face and eyes while straight guys will capture the area above the waist and sometimes the face too. But I guess it's good that I'm working with a straight D.P. because he see things from a different perspective that will only enhance the overall piece once it is edited. I have to admit, even though I've heard the song (it's called "Satisfied") about 500 times now, I'm not the least bit sick of it. I guess that the true mark of a hit.

On another film I completed, the original score for "Measure of Life" is complete and got it on Friday. My bud, Donald did an excellent job creating this score and I know that once my documentary hits the festival circuit, not only will people recognize my filmmaking ability but his exceptional music production skills as well. Also included on the score is an original song by Michael Ashanti called "Hold On" and I know it's going to be a big hit. It is available now on his new CD (check link). [BTW, Michael is on tour promoting his CD. If he comes to your town, RUN, don't walk to go see him. He is a PHENOMENAL singer!]

Today in class we learned how to create a 3D World using Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop. For my next project for this class I have to create a 3D world and place a character that we filmed last week on "green screen" into this digital world. I'm glad that I learned how to do green screen because the way the film industry is heading, it will play an important role in helping me get employment in the digital film world once I get out of school.

Well I better get back to work.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Music Video-and so it Begins

I haven't posted in a over a week because I've been working on my new final project for the 4th Quarter: the Daphne Shawn Music Video Project. We held a casting call on May 20 for the male lead in the video and I am happy to report we have cast a model whom, I'm sure, he will become a star just like Gary Dourdan, Djimon Hounsou, or Antonio Sabato Jr. They all got a big boost in their careers after appearing in Janet Jackson videos. We also were able to find a top-notch choreographer who will be choreographing a hot dance routine that will be part of the many sequences that will go in the shoot.

Yesterday we shot the solo performance sequence for close-ups in the studio at school. Again, like my last shoot (the PSA) it was a great shoot. The only crew that was there was the talent: Daphne Shawn, my Director of Photography: Kidane Yimer, and Ms. Shawn's Make-up/Hair Stylist: Brooke. We wrapped ahead of schedule because I had storyboarded the shots that I wanted to get for that day. Also working with 2 cameras eliminated the need for numerous shoots for multiple angles. I only wish I could have had a couple of extra Production Assistants because I had to do a lot of running around before we actually started rolling. This weekend we will be shooting some exterior shots in NYC. If you happen to see us, stop by and say hello.

I am still looking for additional crew (location manager, production manager, grips) and in a few weeks from now, we will have a call for dancers for the dance sequence of the video. If you know of any people who might be interested in helping me with my student film project. Please forward them the link to my blog.