October 13, 2007

I Will Be the Next Michael Moore

Above is the first text I've written in the script that actually has a decent chance of making it into the movie, although I'm sure I'll re-write it.

The good news is that I have the angle from which I want to tell the story, and I have the introduction, first, second, and third acts roughly outlined. So that's good. You have to have a really good story. My feeling is, if you don't have a good story, you shouldn't even start, because if you don't have a good story, nothing can save you.

Making films, at least the short films I've made (five so far), convinces me how little I know my way around story writing, and why I've never even started a novel. I have a strange intuitive knowledge and confidence about making films that I just don't have when it comes to stories. I'll try to write a story, and it won't work, and I'll tackle it a second time, convinced I know where it went wrong, and the result will merely be a different kind of failure. A dead lump of a different shape, but still a dead lump.

But with films I seem to have a clear idea of what I'm doing from square one, and each step feels natural. Like someone has given me clear instructions on what to do, and in what order.

Which is strange because, of course, no one ever has.

It could all be a delusion. I worry about that, too. That I'll get halfway into it and realize I've gotten completely lost down some path and have no way to find my way back to the main road.

At least I have the tools I think I'll need. I already had the camera (see earlier post) and the years' old version of Adobe Premiere, purchased on Ebay for about $50 (limited special effects and it tends to crash).

In the past few weeks I've picked up a Zoom H4, for ambient sound and, who knows, maybe I'll try to find some sort of marker so I can link up the audio from the Zoom with the video track.

I also got a Sony microphone for the camera. I discovered, in making my classic debut, "Incident at Swamp Gas Lane" that, predictably to anyone who would have known what he was doing, the camera's built-in microphone produces horrible, unusable, sound.

I've also downloaded RealPlayer 11, which lets you capture video from the web, and I downloaded a decent video converter (you need to convert web video clips from flash to mpg before you can plug them into the Premiere timeline).

I also downloaded a screenshot program (hence my ability to quote the working script above).

I wrote a model release, based on a form I got off the web, and I also ordered a 10-watt light for the Sony camera, which may or may not arrive this week.

I ordered two extra batteries and a second battery charger, which should arrive this week and hopefully will give me about six hours of shooting time each day.

Which, I hope is enough. I'll have to be careful about what I decide to shoot. I can't just leave the camera running all day.

Finally, I picked up a 2gb external hard drive (Toshiba) and today I bought about 24 Fuji DV tapes, which I hope is enough for my first trip to Portland, this coming weekend, when I'll spend three days on the trail with Steve and his campaign manager Jake.

I have a plane ticket and a room at the Ace Hotel the first night.

Portland here I come!

October 6, 2007

From These Humble Beginnings

A few years ago I purchased a Sony dv video camera. I had it delivered to my office, and after work I shot some footage of myself driving through the University of Washington campus on my way home. Over the next month I made the footage into a short film using a trial subscription to Adobe Premiere.

"Quimby Explodes" sat around for years, but recently I purchased a copy of Premiere and learned how to put films on YouTube. I added some new titles to the film, and so I guess it's finally finished.

I'm posting it here as a way of changing gears. I'm embarking on a project to make a documentary film of my friend Steve Novick's run for the United States Senate. Since making Quimby Explodes I've made a few short films for work, and I think I've sort of gotten the hang of it. Enough to attempt something real, anyway.

So I think I'll turn this blog into a kind of diary of the experience of trying to make a feature documentary. So watch this space, for either a triumph of independent film-making, a spectacular failure, or (curse the thought) another in a series of abandoned projects.

More soon on my new project. In the meantime . . .