Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My Cucalorus Experience!!!

This was my first year attending Cucalorus in Downtown Wilmington. I did not know what to expect, for I have never been to any film festival. I really enjoyed myself, however! I went to all of my screenings this past Thursday. Although I saw five very different feature length films, I did have a favorite. The first film I watched was Forever Pure. It was a feature length documentary about Beitar Jerusalem, the leading professional soccer team in Jerusalem. I had not read the description before purchasing my ticket, yet I was pleased with the subject matter. I am a soccer fan, and I happen to love documentaries, so the pair was a match made in heaven. At first, I thought this film was going to tackle surface level soccer rivalries, but it extended so much farther than that. The film dealt with societal issues regarding race and religion, going beyond the soccer field. Beitar Jerusalem's owner decided to draft two Chechen transfers. This sparked outrage amongst La Familia, Beitar Jerusalem's fan base. Israel has always been against Arabs, therefore why would sports be any different. The fan base dissipated, thus the team starting losing during the season. I had hope that the film would end on a happy note, and in a way it did for some players. Ariel Harush, the former captain, went on to become a star player for Beitar Jerusalem's top rival. Ofir Kriaf became the new captain. The new transfers played for other teams. But Beitar's new management said they would never sign another Arab, which infuriated me. Stylistically, the film was extremely well made, and all the B-roll completed the subject matter beautifully. This film reminded me of a film we screened in FST 200 about soccer not only being a sport, but a livelihood in other countries. It is a massive part of some country's society and culture, therefore has major influence on the way people interact with one another.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cucalorus Screening Plan

As the week of Cucalorus is approaching, I have started planning out which films/workshops I hope to attend. I want to take advantage of not having class on Thursday, therefore I am going to a few features. The first is a documentary feature titled "Forever Pure" and that screening is from 1:30-3pm in Thalian Main. The next few features are narratives: "Fare" from 4:15-5:45pm in Thalian Black, "Women Who Kill" from 7-9pm, and "She's Allergic to Cats" from 10:15-11:59pm.

I'm trying to decide when to see another event. Dancealorus, which happens on Wednesday night, sounds interesting. I am also considering a few shorts events on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Self Portrait Film Concept

A self portrait film is an artistic work that mirrors its creator. The project can show one aspect of the person, or many aspects, and in order to successfully do so, one must know oneself. Although I feel like I have a strong sense of self, I wanted to get other opinions. I asked my Facebook friends what they think of when they think of me: passions? personality traits? first impressions?

Here were some of the answers:

  • Go-getter
  • Dreamer
  • Bubbly personality
  • Tries everything once
  • Fearless
  • Talented
  • Adventure-seeking
  • Confident
  • Hardworker
  • Sporty
  • Amiable
  • Christ impassioned
Taking all of these into account, along with my own self analysis, I decided to show a change over time. While those around me find it difficult to believe, I was not always the extroverted, talkative, adventurous woman I am today. Before coming to college, I was burdened with insecurities, which ultimately pulled me away from others. I let my insecurities mask themselves as shyness, and as a result I avoided making friends, trying new things, and exploring. 

The old Lauren constantly dealt with an internal battle: I knew what I wanted to do, and that was to try various sports, talk to everyone I came in contact with, join the school choir, explore other areas of interests with my artistic abilities. But my actions spoke differently. I hid amongst my small friend group, did not try any sports, quit dance, went to school and then went home. It was as simple as that, but there was no satisfaction. Often I felt invisible, brought on mostly by myself. I rarely pushed myself to step outside my comfort zone. I liked being just another face one passes in the hallway, or so I thought. Not only did I confine myself, but I felt confine by society. Society told me based on my gender, I had to act a certain way. I had to be "lady like" all the time, meaning I had to wear dresses, cross my legs, refrain from using bad language, and not surround myself with guys. This became problematic. While I have never been a tom boy, I do enjoy participating in activities that society considers "boyish". I enjoy playing sports, video games, and anything outdoors. I like to wear comfortable clothes (although indulge in the occasional dress or skirt). I get along with guys very well, therefore a lot of my time is spent with guy friends. Internally, I wanted to be myself - play sports, go on adventures, push myself. Externally, I stuck with my usual routine.

College. Things began to change. This acceptance letter was my one way ticket to freedom. Freedom from the constraints tied so tightly around my body and mind. I knew college would provide an avenue for finding my true self, and I came at it with full force. Immediately, I became a social butterfly. I made many friends, both guys and girls, joined a worship team to expand my talents, declared a film major, and have been loving life ever since. Slowly I began to stand out from the crowd, a feeling I thought I might never experience. I have reached a point in my life where I am perfectly content with myself and have the confidence to express who I am. 

With all of this in mind, I wanted to use this project to show the drastic change in my personality from high school to college. For the first half of the video, I wanted to keep everything in black and white, then slowly introduce color to further hint at a transition from old to new. To pull in aspects o my artistic side, I wanted to layer shots of my arms or leg against a background, and using body paint to blend my body into the frame through camouflage - this point is to show my desire to be invisible. But slowly I wanted to fade and expose myself. I plan on doing a voiceover narration, and filming on my GoPro. Basically, I am going to take everyone on an adventure through my day to day life, with POV shots. I still have a lot more to think about conceptually, but this is my basic idea. It's a starting point.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How To Produce A Music Video

When I received news that I was the producer for the experimental music video, I felt a mix of emotions. Mostly excitement, but part of me was concerned because there is no simple answer to the question 'what does a producer do?'. From the little that I do know about producing, I understand one must be extremely organized, work well with others, and be on their A game 24/7. I would say I am a timely, organized individual who loves people, therefore I knew producing could be something I excel at. When it comes to producing a music video, the producer is in charge of location scouting, talent, budget, and logistics when it comes to pre-production.

After talking with the director, Parker, we both agreed on filming locations. We want to film at a house in downtown Wilmington, and then transition to a rooftop showdown on top of Betsy's, the restaurant Parker works at. I contributed ideas for the artists and song, so we decided to go with a few musicians I have played with before. We are having them perform a cover of the Killers "Mr. Brightside". I am the primary contact between the artists and the crew, therefore I have been in constant communication with Grey, Noah, and Bradley (our musicians), giving them information about the audio recording schedule, the shooting schedule, costumes, etc.

Not only am I the producer for this project, but I am in charge of set design, costumes, and makeup - a crucial component for this music video. Since the project is experimental, much of the aesthetic appeal comes from set design. For our video, we decided to follow a somewhat narrative structure by having a "battle" between a rockstar and his crew, with the devil. Parker and I thought we could play with lightness and darkness. We are going to set up the house scene with a large black tarp, puncture holes through it, and stream light through to create a really eerie and jarring effect. To highlight the devil character, we are going to have red lights fastened onto the top of his costume to create under lighting. The costumes for the rockers are going to appear punk rock in style, with lots of leather, fur, and dark colors. I already bought a few vests and some grunge pants, as well as a fur vest for the lead singer. The devil character will be wearing more of a "mariachi band"style, with a burgundy velvet sports jacket, gold shoulder pads, sombrero, while carrying an all metal guitar. For makeup, I decided to go with the guy liner for the rockers, eccentric hairstyles that spike up, and possibly dye the hair to a more vibrant blue to add a pop of color and contrast against the background. Our group really aims to sell this "showdown" concept, and I believe we can accomplish it through contrasting costumes amongst the characters, and the extreme lighting set up.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Composing with Light

For assignment 1C, we were required to shoot on film. This experience was very different from those in my other film classes, for in previous shoots, we used video cameras and everything was digital. With digital equipment, it is easier to manipulate the amount of light, the white balance, the focus, and depth of field, but using an old school camera is another monster. One thing I had to learn was how to use a light meter. Basically, light meters are used to determine the appropriate shutter speed and f-stop based on the amount of light entering the camera. The light meter takes into account natural light, adjusting the levels as light fluctuates. This helps us determine where to set our camera's f-stop. Another thing we had to learn when doing this project was the importance of bracketing. With digital cameras, it is not necessary to take photos at different exposure levels, because we can quickly adjust the settings. With cameras that use film, it is uncertain whether the photo will turn out like planned after it is developed, therefore we must take three different photos: one underexposed, one overexposed, and one normal. This ensures that at least one of the photos will look like we intended it to look. Although we live in a digital age, I enjoyed using older equipment. It gave me a new appreciation for photography, showing that a lot of thought and time goes into lighting and camera placement.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Light Observations (3)

In part 1C of the FST 302 Project, the groups had to go out and take photos, using three different exposures. My group decided to go to the Wildflower Preserve on campus to take some nature shots. The first shot I took was a closeup of moss on the bark of a tree. The forest we photographed in was very dense, therefore the lighting was not as bright as we wanted it to be. Plus, it had recently rained, and the sky was still gloomy. With this in mind, we had to use a smaller F-stop, to let more light in. The lighting was hitting the moss from the back, but I thought it created a nice highlight around the exterior of the moss.

My group took a few more photos in the Wildflower Preserve where there was more light, and less canopy coverage on top. We got a few long shots of grass and flowers. The F-stops were a little bigger (in number) than the one of the moss, because the lighting was a tad brighter in those areas.

The last place we decided to go to take photographs was the south end of Wrightsville Beach. We went at nighttime, a nice change from the other photos we took. We went to the beach around 11pm - there was practically no ambient light, only artificial from street lights and our phones. I took a close up of a palm tree, and since lighting was sparce, we created our own through phone lights. I placed one phone at the back, and one to the side, casting a nice shadow to the right of the tree. Obviously, our F-stop was on the smallest number, due to the limited lighting.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What I Learned About Sound Design?

The sound design project was designed to make us rely more on our ears than our eyes. In film, obviously the eyes dominate the five senses, and sound is often put on the back burner, but this project challenged me to realize the importance of sound. Listening to each soundscape in the dark was a neat experience - I was able to completely block off my sight sense and just listen to the sounds for what they were; the layers, the movement, the construction, the pictures created in my head.

The first soundscape we listened to was David, Kendall, and Miko's group. Initially, I pictured a graveyard scene in my head. The sounds of heavy breathing established a consistent tempo, along with the bell toll and rain. There was a shift halfway through that changed to a calmer, mysterious ambient sound. After class discussion, we agreed the soundscape symbolized waking up from a nightmare.

The second soundscape was created by Paul, Walt, and Danet. Immediately, I realized there was more of a narrative feel to the layered sounds. The conversation with Parker's mom that was used, paired with the car door, revealed this "person" was driving somewhere. There were sounds of metal clanging, chattering, and abrupt noises, indicating a public setting. Interestingly enough, the title the group chose was "Marriage Temple", and that proved to me how sound can be interpreted in various ways when a visual stimuli is not present.

I really enjoyed the soundscape created by Porshia, Ashley, Nick, and Joshua. They had a lot of dynamic transitions between loud and soft sounds - very crowded, busy, on-the-go. Throughout the soundscape, there was a constant ticking noise that indicated passage of time. The class as a whole agreed it was self reflexive, drawing attention to the medium, but I viewed the soundscape as "a day on a movie set". I talked with Ashley after, and she said that is exactly what the group was going for. Despite some people not interpreting the soundscape correctly, I liked how various sounds paired together can create different pictures in everyone's mind.

All in all, I believe that was ultimately the point of this assignment. To learn how to manipulate and pair sounds together without visual stimuli, in order to create a new art form. This project definitely allowed a lot of artistic freedom to flow, and truly reveals the power sound has in media.