Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Disparity of Performance



While poking around on the web the other day I stumbled across a banner ad that touted NBC.com showing the old Buck Rogers TV show from the 80's. I was a faithful viewer when I was a kid and just had to check it out for a trip down nostalgia lane. It was just as I remember it, with every episode from the scant two seasons that it ran (the first was way better than the second).

If you have never seen this show, then you'll probably want to pass. I admit it's pretty awful, but also had a sort of goofy charm and optimism that that you don't get from television anymore. The success of Star Wars spun off a lot of copycats, but Buck was more of a remake of the old serials (which also inspired George Lucas) than a direct ripoff. Rogers was played by the likable Gil Gerard and Erin Gray starred as love interest Wilma Deering. Gerard's career would peak here, while Gray would go on to more success with the sitcom Silver Spoons.

When I went to NBC's site to check out some vid, a clip was featured (seen above) from one of the first season's last episodes. It was the excellently titled "Flight of the War Witch" and Buck was about to "leave the universe". It's a farewell scene between Buck and Wilma, which you'd normally expect to see in a train station, but here it's a spacecraft hangar (no trains leaving the known universe, I guess).

What I found interesting here (and something we should all note in our productions) is how both actors play the scene on completely different levels which turns the whole thing comic. Gray tries to hit her emotions out of the park, even getting the waterworks to flow. Gerard, on the other hand, is so wooden here you want to check him for a pulse. These two are supposed to have chemistry, but because of the way the actors are directed (or not) she comes across as cloying and him insensitive. It's all wrong and made me snicker.

There has to be some balance for this scene to play correctly. Either Gerard has to elevate emotionally or Gray has to underplay. The way it is now, you have to laugh. The cornball dialogue doesn't help and is made worse when one of the leads looks like he'd rather be elsewhere. Good chemistry can cover a multitude of sins, but only if you get your actors to connect properly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How This Blog Helped Me Change Jobs

I have posted recently about the viral ads that I was contracted to create for Lunawebs, a local web developer here in Salt Lake City. My last post was the actual ad that I created to help drive traffic to their site, and potentially create more work for me. Well, as it turns out, not only did I get more work, I got a job offer! Yep, I'm now the new Multimedia Director for Lunawebs, which is just a fancy name for "video guy." They are branching out into online video creation and I'll be the in-house person that creates it. I'm pretty excited.

This was not an overnight thing. I've known the business owner for many years (and Film Flap has been up for almost two), and he's followed my work for as long as I've had it online. It helped that I sent him a link every time I had something new to watch, and always asked his opinion. It was also a big help (and here's my point) that I had a blog with lots of stuff to peruse, which acts as an online resume that anyone can access at anytime from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection.

Even if you don't blog, having a singular spot for your video content can lead to good things. I have never been one to talk up my work as much as let the work do the talking. I love hearing honest opinions which have often led me to reevaluate and improve. It would be one thing if this was a difficult process, but the most popular video sharing site it the world is stupid easy to use. Are you using it?

Don't waste time. There are so many great tools at your disposal that can help you tell great stories and get them out there. Who knows, someone may even pay you to make crazy videos that you'd make for free anyway. It happend to me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Viral Ad Number One



Here's the first of hopefully many more "short-shorts" created for Lunawebs. This was shot in about two-and-a-half hours using a Canon Optura Pi SD camera, a Sennheiser ME-66 shotgun mic, and a little Lowel light kit. The actors and the location were local to Salt Lake City and I cut the thing in about two hours using Sony Vegas Pro 8.

Budget: A box of donuts (which I included in the shoot).

Feel free to leave your comments below.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Creating "Short-Shorts"



It's that time again. Time for me to get off my butt and do something creative. Fortunately, there always seems to be something demanding my attention that can be a great exercise in the flexing of the creative filmmaking muscles department.

This time my job is to develop monthly viral ads for a local web firm, Lunawebs.com. The owner is a friend of mine, likes my work and has employed me in the past. He has given me a potentially unending assignment and creative freedom up the wazoo. The goal: create any video I want with their logo attached. That's it. I can literally do whatever I please (okay, nothing obscene), affix their logo and spread the thing all over the web (TubeMogul could be a good way to do that) with the intent of driving traffic to the Lunawebs site.

While I do enjoy the creative freedom this give me, it also presented a conundrum. What the heck do you produce when no parameters of any kind are given? Is too much freedom no freedom at all? I was a bit lost at first, but I've finally focused my efforts and will begin to shoot the first of several "wordplays" in the middle of next week. I don't want to go into any detail yet, but I will say that they will (should) be funny, quirky, very short and utilize the microbudget mentality that I'm very fond of. This last part is very important because while my budgets will be micro, I do plan on paying everyone. Even if it ain't much.

So stay tuned. Every new "short-short" will appear here first, then get blasted all over the web soon thereafter. It will be a monthly experiment that should prove beneficial to all involved. Not to mention new things to write about!