Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hot Pink Shorts - Day 2 (Directing + Mentoring)

Our second day in our Hot Pink Shorts learning journey--it's more of a kick ass filmmaker's boot camp--was very exciting and jam-packed. The other winner, the amazing Kevin Kostal (picture here with Aerlyn and I), was also there with me this time. We were separated last week, but it was more fun this way, as we could talk about our projects, help each other, in-between the various documentary set ups.

I met with director extraordinaire, Aerlyn Weissman. She was an unbelievable well of information and I wanted to keep on dipping my bucket, but we only had an hour. Here are some of the major points I learned from Aerlyn:
-- I need to find a central metaphor in my film that inspires
-- I need to be deliberate about framing
-- I shouldn't focus on trying to get artistic shots, as most of the time, those end up on the cutting room floor and take a ton of time to capture
-- There are many "tools" for a director, one being the color palette
-- Different shots: 1 or 2 frame, master shot
-- I need to get close to my characters, need to find their beating hearts
-- Script breakdown: create a storyboard which is the essential communication tool between my DP and I
-- I need to inspire my actors, give them a backstory for each character and let them know it's okay to fail
-- The importance of wardrobe and set dressing

There was SO much more I learned, but I didn't want to go overboard here. Like all the mentors, Aerlyn has graciously left her door open for me to ask addition questions as the process moves along.

Next up: powerhouse producer Morris Chapdelaine. Coincidentally, I met Morris two weeks prior by chance. We have a mutual friend, Ken Coolen, and both sat at his table for the Out in School breakfast. I loved him immediately. Beyond producing, Morris also co-hosted a compelling show for OUTtv during the Olympics called "Pride at the Podium." It was a successful, quirky LGBT look at the Olympics. You can watch one of his latest episodes HERE.

Morris, too, was full of extremely important information. I joked he was like a lemon I wanted to keep squeezing. He answered so many of my questions that you can't find in books and really broke down the "illusive" producer role. Here are some nuggets I learned from Morris:
-- A successful movie is 90% business, %10 show.
-- "The Line" in filmmaking (who is below the line, who is above the line)
-- Dealing with the budget (We have $2500 to spend)
-- I need to create a "production binder" (done, see "Toby Book" below)
-- If I know what's good for me, I ought not skimp on camera and sound because at the end of the day, that is the movie
-- What to expect when casting
-- Insurance, releases and all that good stuff
-- How to fund-raise for a feature film

Morris rocked! And we're going to have a follow up meeting soon with my better half, Patty, who will be the Assistant Director and Script Supervisor for Til Death Do Us Toby.

Where I'm at with the script: I completely rewrote it and took the story in a whole new direction. The feedback I got from my mentors: they liked the direction of the first script better, so now I'm just reworking draft1 and am feeling good about how it's coming together. I need to lock it by Thursday, so wish me luck!

As the script takes shape, I've been drawing inspiration from a place my scripting mentor, SB Edwards, sent me online. It's called "Shorts Bay" and it's a platform where some of the best short films can be seen. My two favorites: Gridlock and The Parlor. Amazing work!

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