…in which our humble narrator refuses to reflect on the amount of time he can waste online…
The First Waltz
The week before last I shot my first documentary footage. This was a very interesting experience, as it is very dissimilar from the dramatic material that I have concentrated on until now. It was similar somewhat to shooting guerrilla style, but while when shooting guerrilla you have a specific event to capture, whilst in a documentary you are shooting hoping to capture something. From a stylistic perspective, it is interesting to shoot without worrying too much about how the material will cut together, although I do have some trepidation about the enormity of the editing job. Thankfully on this project Sandy and I will have some considerable help in that department.
There was an opportunity to shoot footage at a live show last Friday; I couldn't make it but Dan could. Figuring that Dan ought to start learning how to use it anyway, I dropped the camera off at Dan's apartment on Wednesday and gave him a quick brush-up in the operation of the camera (not too difficult because he has seen it in use on The Early Mixes) and a basic primer on how to frame a shot (keep heads on the top, don't cut off joints because it looks weird, that sort of thing) and left it in his hands.
Despite my brief but intensive instruction, Dan had never before really turned toward the visual arts, and some things can not be learned. A person either has an eye or they don't. I was therefore overjoyed when I learned that not only does Dan have an eye, but it's a damn good one. His footage looked fantastic, and while he was certainly aided by the great lighting at the venue (which really caused the bandmembers to pop out of the background) and careful adherence to my lesson, the quality of what he captured shows great natural talent.
I am really excited about further work on the project on several different levels:
We are producing great footage for the film itself, which ought to be rather engaging when we're done.
Scheduling just became a whole hell of a lot easier because we now have an extra cameraman who would have been at most of the shoots anyway.
The material Dan shot last week was the work of someone with minimal practice and a brief on how to shoot usable footage. I am rather eager to see what he creates with more experience.
My choice of camera is perfect for documentary work. The tiny size and light weight make it quite maneuverable and the hard drive means that I don't have to worry too much about how much space there is on a tape or disc.
I am thinking about making my next dramatic project something that can be done entirely guerrilla style.
"But… but… it's a TALKING DOG!!!"
The Blu-ray of Up features a commentary track in an "Cine-Explore" format that is not too dissimilar from the "Visual Commentary" included on the DVD of Finding Nemo. In addition to the discussion track between directors Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson, which is informative and great fun, visual elements are also incorporated, including artwork from various stages of production. It was a great self-contained overview of the project, and I hope more special features are designed in this manner (I was somewhat disappointed after Finding Nemo when Pixar's follow-up DVD for The Incredibles only had a standard commentary track), as it a good use of the format's capabilities.
I tend to think that these "In Movie" features with video sequences are a great idea, but I feel that the biggest issue with them is that they are often programmed in such a way as so to be frustrating. Both Batman Begins and Children of Men featured supplements that would play over the movie, but they weren't frequent enough, and what invariably happens in these cases is that the supplementary material lulls during dramatic scenes, and just when you're getting back into the movie, the supplements kick back in again. This can be rather annoying. I think that the rule of thumb regarding these supplements should be that if you're watching them, you're shouldn't actually be watching the movie in between (in cases where a commentary track is involved, this is less of a concern).
Seeing the film again has made me appreciate Michael Giacchino's score even more than I did the first time. People may complain about the state of film scoring today, and I would agree with some of what they have to say, but this is as good a score as I've heard from any movie. Damn Disney for making it download-only, meaning that I have to listen to the score in the film to hear it uncompressed. This was the year for Giacchino, though, what with both Star Trek and Up being quite impressive music scores of the old school. And they both have great end credits suites, which is a dying art of its own.
I was planning on waiting until The Incredibles came out before purchasing any Pixar films on Blu-ray, but I was so impressed with Up that I changed my mind. I do not regret this decision as this wonderful movie looks and sounds every bit as fantastic as it should, it is unfortunate that Disney could not have included a 3-D version of the film instead of the standard DVD version. I am normally not too hot on 3-D, but the dimensional effects that the theatrical release had were quite impressive and fitting (shots of the house against the distant landscape were quite impressive on the big screen).
I want Doug for a pet.
"You won't get another chance at this coffee, Admiral."
What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before? Shot documentary footage. Very interesting stuff! (see above)
Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I never really make those resolutions.
Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes.
Did anyone close to you die? Yes, my grandmother.
What countries did you visit? I didn't travel this year.
What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Closure on The Early Mixes.
What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Unfortunately the most memorable moments of the year surround my grandmother's death.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Juggling as many projects as I was working on in various stages of development and involvement.
What was your biggest failure? I was hoping to have completed shooting The Early Mixes, but at least the delays were legitimate and not the result of dawdling.
Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing too terrible.
What was the best thing you bought? My new television kicks ass. Although I have to say that the new iPod is much nicer than the old one, despite being pretty much the same thing.
Whose behavior merited celebration? Mine, damn it.
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? A few people, actually. I would say the most pathetic behavior was my father's attempts to minimize contact as much as possible during the events surrounding my grandmother's death, leading to such comical moments as him trying to adjust curtains around my person. Weird.
Where did most of your money go? For the most part, where it was supposed to, which was working on the projects, keeping me clothed, fed and musically satisfied.
What did you get really, really, really excited about? There have been a lot of really great film score releases this year, including a few that I never thought I'd live to see.
What song(s) will always remind you of 2009? I couldn't really answer that question; music doesn't tie itself to a year for me unless it is to a particular event, and no one piece did that for me this year.
Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? much happier
thinner or fatter? about the same
richer or poorer? about the same
What do you wish you'd done more of? I wish that I had taken advantage of a particular opportunity, but other than that I don't really regret much of what I've done this year.
What do you wish you'd done less of? Dawdling.
How will you be spending Christmas? I expect to see my relatives in Connecticut on the Eve and those upstate on the Day.
How will you be spending New Year's? I haven't made New Year's Eve plans, but will be heading over to Russ and Jess' again on the Day.
Did you fall in love in 2009? No.
How many one-night stands? She was too drunk, I put her in a taxi and sent her home …and a part of me has regretted it since even if it was the right thing to do.
What was your favorite TV program? Mad Men, but I also haven't watched much current television.
Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? No, I pretty much hated them by this time last year.
What was the best book you read? iainh's suggestion of Michael Collins' Carrying the Fire.
What was your greatest musical discovery? Kenyon Hopkins and André Previn.
What did you want and get? The aforementioned television set mostly; there were a lot of "holy grail" film music releases this year.
What was your favorite film of this year? Either Up or Star Trek.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 35 and kept had dinner with my family.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? The same things that would usually have made it immeasurably more satisfying.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Evolving.
What kept you sane? Sane?
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I don't really do that.
What political issue stirred you the most? Health care.
Who did you miss? It's a growing list every year, isn't it?
Who was the best new person you met? I haven't really met many new people this year.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. There are certain opportunities that need to be taken when they are offered.