Fools by Martin Walker

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hey there, gorgeous, yes you, you sexy color corrected scene, you...

Yesterday my friend showed me the first two scenes of Diving Lessons that she "took her pass at" with "less orange".


It looks awesome. One shot almost looks three dimensional.

This makes me rethink my "fix it in post" negativity. I've begun to wonder, is it possible that the orange was planned all along, fully knowing that it would be toned down in color correction, thus creating what now exists AFTER color correction? Is it because of the hard orange that our actors are now able to have dramatic contours and not read as simply flat? Or am I just a lucky jerk with a good colorist?

It's something I want to do some detective work on. I know when I worked in the theater, the lighting designer would put up one colored light here, and a different colored light there, and when the two mixed it was "good for skin tone". Is it the same in film? I guess that all depends on the look you're going for - realism or stylized. As a director, I can say things like "this character's an icy person" or "this scene should feel like a fruity cocktail" and a lighting designer or a dp or a gaffer gets to interpret that on so many different levels. If got to know more about lighting, I'd be able to either shut up or speak up about what's going on before we shoot. Now all I'm capable of saying is, "it looks a little dark over there", but not know what's going to really come out on the other end (meaning AFTER color correction). Folks, that's suddenly not enough for me anymore.

Get me to a lighting for camera class, stat.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Foolishness and Arrogance

It's been a number of months since I've blogged here.  In large part, I've been extremely busy with a full-time legal gig (which ended last Friday) that was an emotional and intellectual drain (but thankfully allowed me to get out of the debt incurred from making this film).  

Recently, a fellow filmmaker noted in his Facebook update that he's spent over 9 years in L.A. trying to make it in the film biz, and still doesn't know what it will take to "make it".   His other FB update stated that he's considering panhandling to get this next meal (I don't think it's that bad, but you get the point).  I mentioned this to another filmmaker friend and she laughed, agreeing that, sadly, it's true: you have no idea how long or what it will take to "make it".   Yet we're doing it anyway.  Either this is pure foolishness or arrogance that our talent will be distinguishable from the rest of the dreamers living on ramen.   Or perhaps it's a mixture of both.  Who knows why.  Does it matter?  

Anyway, I've been working with another editor to get another cut of my piece together.  After not seeing my film for several months, I found myself excited again.  It's like being reunited with a long lost friend, and realizing that you still like this friend--relieved that the original feelings of affinity are still there.   After I saw my rough cut, I looked at Lucy's and Laura's cuts to see the entire 3 stories together.   I don't know what the film festivals are looking for, but I hope they will like this film.  I'm sure it was a mixture of both foolishness and arrogance that made us think we could pull something like this together.  But in between those two extremes, we did pull something together.  We'll just have to see how it plays out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Earthquakes are to a girl's guitar - They're just another good vibration

On Sunday we went to the closing night of Lydia and an earthquake interrupted the 2nd act. It was my first earthquake experience and I was relieved to have my dearest friends with me. Mari, Barbara & Bonnie (my LA mothers), Christine, Laura, James (Mr. Laura) and Matt were there to support my sister as she ended her run on a play that’s been with her for over a year. We filmed Love Song between the Denver & Yale runs of Lydia.

I am starting pre-production on my next project. I will once again collaborate with my sister, Matt, Christine & Laura. I consider myself blessed that I get to work with my friends and my family.

Last night we celebrated Laura’s birthday. We got to meet Suzi’s boyfriend, he’s a musician and generously gave me two cds to use on the film. Mr. Suzi is a known rock star so I’m very excited to use his music. There’s a song I LOVE that I’ll be pitching to Christine.

I am now the Music Supervisor for Diving Lessons & Love 10 to 1. Christine’s piece is currently titled Love 10 to 1. For those of you who don’t know, yes, I’m getting divorced. I try not to go into my personal life here but my soon 2BX was in charge of music. I had a lot of fun picking music for Love Song & he brought in a lot of great songs. We’ve edited so much of the film that a lot of the music he picked ended up on the cutting room floor or more appropriate in the "deleted scenes" hard drive. There’s a great piece of irony in that sentence somewhere!

It will be interesting working on music for Christine’s film, she’s going to want Lilith Fair and I want to give her Judas Priest (kidding).


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Orange is for fruits - Navigating through Color Correction

I thought I would talk a little bit about what's been going on with the Diving Lessons portion of the film. I'm now in a part of production that's probably the least familiar to me - coloring film. When I worked on the short Las Perdidas, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted the color to represent in film - very saturated colors, bright candy tones on the characters all to play against the stark earth tones of the desert. When I talk about the essence of Diving Lessons, the words "pure" and "raw" are what I most connect with. Now what color tone is that? The first thing that comes to my mind is white. Some people suggested that we shoot in black and white, but I just think that doesn't lend itself well to a contemporary romance. Plus since I want to emphasis the complexities of love. black and white is too, well, black and white.

I have a generous friend who has offered to color the piece for me, and so we've been slowly working our way through the film, trying to figure how what this color tone is supposed to be. This is where a good pre-pro conversation would have come in handy. I think this film is the last one I'll ever do without thorough discussions with all the departments. Every film I learn something new. Clear story, check. Good actors, check. Color correction, oops! What happened in production is some of the shots have an orange tone to them, and some have a blue tone. And my guess is that's a setting on a camera that created it. ("Don't worry you can fix it in post!") Personally I like the blue tone look better and when I told the colorist that and sent along some photographs to demonstrate, she said, "Oh you want it to look like the seventies." Oh. No. Isn't that interesting that each decade not only has certain iconic fashion styles, they also have iconic color correction style? Back to the drawing board of concise communication and clear concept.

I've never been so indecisive as a director as I have been with the color for this film. It's actually embarrassing, if you want to know the truth. And perhaps that's because it shows to me how inexperienced I am with this part of the process. I do know what I hate about the color as it is now - there is too much orange in one of the actor's most important (and most used) shots in the pool scene when they're standing on the diving board. There's this big hot orange light hitting the actor's back and it makes me cringe because it looks so unnatural, and it's a totally different look than the other actor's shot. So I asked the colorist to take the orange out, and then it didn't have that raw, natural look I wanted. It was too desaturated (which I didn't like), because the walls of the pool have a brick colored tone to them, and that's got guess what? Orange tones. Now that I think about it, she could just spot color the actor and tone down that hot light, right? See? I'm totally clueless.

Do you think it means that we can't manipulate what's set in stone, aka "filmed", as much as I thought we could? If the one light is too harsh, then the one light is too harsh. Nothing you can do to help.

There's another section where we shot with two cameras and one camera's setting I assume was blue and the other's was orange, and so cutting back and forth you've got warm and cold tones. Not, not an artistic choice. Is that going to be able to be fixed? I could just use only the blue toned shots, but then that means I lose the excellent camera movement, and the best performance - not worth it.

At this point, we've decided to make a pass at the whole thing, and just "smooth it all out". I'm very curious to see what that means. My final direction? "Less orange." Maybe once I stop fixating on that we can move forward.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Almost Done

I'm going to edit w/Matt on Thursday. Hopefully this will be the last edit before picture lock.

Christine got a new editor and he's been posting clips to our site. I can't wait to see it.

We are hoping to have the film done by the end of the summer.

Sometimes it feels like it's taken us forever to get here, I am grateful and amazed that we have gotten as far as we have. We made this film with little resources, miniscule financing, a lot of heart, blood, sweat & tears.

I'm looking forward to seeing this project through. I start pre-production on The Big Deal sometime in June.


About The Three Shorts

Christine Le wrote and directed the 1st story Love 10 to 1.
The first story explores the life of a 29-year-old virgin, Jenny, who desperately wants to lose her virginity before her 30th birthday. As she encounters one loser after another on dates, Jenny pines after her boss, Dustin. While at her grandmother’s retirement home, Jenny learns a powerful lesson from her grandmother about sex and the meaning of life.

Christine Le (right) directs Shireen Nomura Mui (Jenny) & Justin Klosky (Jim).

Lucy Rodriguez wrote and directed Love Song.
The second story revolves around Shane, the lead singer of the L.A. rock band, Dirty Virgin. Shane has her pick of admirers but it’s her roommate Dustin she wants to be with. Shane confesses her feelings on Jackie and Jared’s show but when Dustin meets Cali, Shane’s shot at love starts to dwindle. With Dirty Virgin about to embark on a world tour, will Dustin realize that he’s the object of Shane’s affections? Will they risk their friendship to give this Love Song a chance?

Lucy Rodriguez & David Villar (Dustin)

Laura Somers wrote and directed Diving Lessons.
The final story picks up where Love 10 to 1 left off, but from the perspective of Jim, the guitarist of Dirty Virgin. Jim sees Jenny at a swimming pool, trying desperately to overcome her fear of diving. In fact, he finds out that she’s making a list of everything that she’s afraid of and trying to overcome them, one by one. He is instantly smitten and tries to convince her that he’s not just a rock star who ‘loves ‘em and leaves ‘em’. Can a rock star find love with a virgin?

Shireen Nomura-Mui, Laura Somers & Justin Klosky

Leah Anova is the Director of Photography for Love 10 to 1 & Diving Lessons.

Additional Cinematography on Diving Lessons by Erik Forsell

Matthew Boyd is the Director of Photography for Love Song.