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Filmmaking Journal

Mise-en-scène 101

I ran across this brilliant article and infographic on Mise-en-scène at ShoHawk. The term has always been a bit confusing to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone. As I digested this, I basically came to understand it as the collection of aesthetic choices between the director and production designer (as informed by the script, of course) that results in how meaning and emotion are visually captured within the frame and communicated to the audience.

I may add more to this post later 😉

Hey Sound Guy!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me, with two different opportunities to crew up as a sound recordist on documentary projects.

I can’t talk about the first one, but last Thursday was an all-day shoot for a documentary on the Morris Trophy, which is a college football trophy awarded annually to the best offensive and defensive linemen, as voted on by the players on opposing teams. The offensive winner for 2017 was UW Husky Vita Vea, which was a bonus for me since I work for UW.

There were 5 or 6 solo interviews, a chat between the two award winners, and the award ceremony itself, so I was really able to work in many different scenarios, which was rewarding. Initial reports from the editor is that the audio was great, which is always nice to hear. 🙂

Next up, I’m starting a screenwriting class with Brian McDonald tomorrow night that runs 6 sessions over the next 3 weeks. I’m really looking forward to gaining some good insights.

First Things First

Tonight was 2018’s first First Tuesday workshop from TheFilmSchool, featuring Brian McDonald speaking about story and clone characters. Brian is the author of Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate (now at the top of my reading list), among many other things.

The main topic of clone characters was demonstrated using clips from some classic films that made great use of the device:

  • The Wizard of Oz
  • A Christmas Carol (the Patrick Stewart version)
  • Marty (1955) written by Patty Chayefsky
  • Tootsie

Here are a few other tidbits from my notes:

  • Story is the telling or retelling of a series of events leading to a conclusion.
  • Why we tell stories – survival. That’s why we need conflict.
  • Theme – or as Brian refers to it, armature – should take the form of a sentence and be provable (or disprovable).
  • As writer or director, always know who wins the scene.
  • Contrast is how we see everything.

One thing I appreciated about Brian’s workshop was his openness about his dyslexia, and how it actually was a positive force for him in some ways. As an Aspie, I could relate, and I think it’s important for voices like Brian to speak about their neurodiversity. It’s very empowering and it helps people find meaning in places they might not expect.

Brian, if you read this, it was a pleasure meeting and learning from you, and I look forward to more opportunities in the future. Check out TheFilmSchool.com for upcoming chances to learn from a master.

Writing Your Life

I read a post by Benjamin P. Hardy this morning that aligned quite well with my current mental state.

The more I study writing, the more I realize how much narrative impacts our daily lives. Almost everything we hear, read, and watch is story. We even speak to ourselves with narrative in our thoughts. History, religion, news… all stories.

Furthermore, as Benjamin’s article points out, we’re all really actors, playing out the scenes of our lives as characters we’ve designed for ourselves. As an Aspie, it’s painfully obvious to me at times how much of life is really just “acting normal”, which helps spectrumfolk like me fit into the neurotypical narratives that surround me every day.

I guess the point is, for me at least, that studying film helps me be a better version of myself, allowing me to purposely structure my goals in a way that moves me forward through my own hero’s journey. That’s pretty powerful stuff.

Establishing Shot

Looking forward to 2018, I plan to put a lot more directed effort into my filmmaking journey, so I’ve decided to put together this site as a repository for all things at the intersection of film and me. If you’ve found your way here, I hope you manage to find something of value, or at least passing interest.