Sunday, 24 November 2013

Website Development for Rojak

Normally, Marrie - our executive producer - oversees the various tasks relating to all our film project. But since website development requires a working knowledge of IT, she requested somebody with an IT background to drive this task. As I'm not into anything that's resembling a managerial role, I declined. I'm more of a creative type. Ask me to do acting, singing, dancing, writing script, directing, photographing, film editing, designing logo, designing website, etc. I'm all for it. Managing? Not my cup of cha. Since nobody put their hands up (they were tied up), and this role needed to be filled, I grudgingly volunteer myself for it.

I wasn't asked to do the design of logo for ReelFrenz, but I decided to have a browse online for various logo design tools. Like I said, I like to do creative things.

The next thing I knew, I was sucked into the whole process, playing with some designs just for fun. Below come from my mucking around.

This one is playing with the idea of a reel. Perhaps too obvious.

Reel Freez logo

The small triangles represent members with their variety of backgrounds of ethnicity, professions, talents, and personalities. At first, stars came to mind, but I thought it's too tacky.
Reel Freez logo with triangles
While the look of film strip isn't quite what I have in mind, but I like the dynamism that the wavy and 45 degree slant it gives, which animates the logo. When all the logo designs were shown to the members in the group, this one is the most popular in terms of the FaceBook likes and comments it received.

The entry won Marrie over came from Suhaimi, which I find is quite sleek and with modern simplicity. The shadow is a metaphor for film projection. I also had this idea, but my design wasn't as sleek.

While his other entry didn't get accepted, I find it quite nice.

But then later on, this was decided to be our logo. You could see it in our Rojak film website.

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Saturday, 16 November 2013

My 1st Film Directing

clapperboardThe day finally here. The first day when I got to yell, "Lights, sound, camera, slate, action!" in a movie set.

Can't say I was excited as I should be. Perhaps because film directing had started awhile ago in pre-production, and so when it comes to the day of shooting, I was already immersed in this process for weeks.

Perhaps more accurately, at my age, I'm not so easily get excited. It's good and bad. I don't get the buzz. Excitement - like alcohol - makes you feel high, but lower your performance on the job. It gives you a false sense of competence. Good to stay sober on my 1st time in film directing. And another thing, this is a way our body protects us. Your body only get as excited as our body allows. Any more than it should be, it could be fatal.

As soon as we pointed the camera at the wall on my very 1st shot, I detected moiré pattern appeared on the grilles of the air-cond on the wall just below the ceiling. No problem just tighten the shot, and made the air-cond disappear.

And then we started to film. On playback, I noticed more Moiré pattern on the actress' shirt. Moiré moiré everywhere.

So I shouted to my DoP across the room, "Look! There're moiré on Shilpa's shoulder". Shilpa, the female lead in my film, jumped out of her couch, brushing off a moiré from her shirt, yelling "what is it?". Of course, that's physically impossible to do. It was a pretty hilarious situation. Well, you had to be there.

When she asked me what a "moiré" is, I started to sing the 1st line from Dean Martin's famous song, "Where the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie, it's amore". Well, it's funnier if you know that this very line is also being sung by the male lead in this movie that we're filming. That confused her even more, but got a laugh out of her.

Movie making - moire patern
Looking at this pink vest of our beautiful leading lady, you
would never suspect moire pattern would appear

No, she wasn't being naughty and didn't heed our advice of avoiding wearing a pinstriped shirt. Her shirt is monochromatic pink. No pinstripe. But her shirt's fabric has narrow ridges. Under the certain angle, the shadows created by the ridges formed dark pinstripes. So you don't need pinstriped shirt to get pinstripes.

Seems like for the 1st hour of my experience as indie director, I paid more attention to moiré than I ever had in my entire life.

Let me assure you, there're more to directing than detecting moiré. That's probably part of a cinematographer's job, but it doesn't mean that the director isn't going to point it out if he's detecting a moire, or an insect crawling on the actor's shoulder, or a crew sleeping on the job too loudly.

green screen and continuity
We didn't know yet what TV program to show, with green screen, we can
decide it in post-production. The digital clock is very troublesome from
a continuity issue when more than several shots of the same scenes
are to be combined later. Just get rid of it.
I had no problem that one of my crew slept on the job because he came straight from his professional shoot after pulling an all nighter. He's here to lend us his professional equipment. What a trooper. So I wouldn't point a finger at him while he slept on the job. Although I had to poke him to wake him up because his snoring was picked up by our shot gun. Ok, I didn't poke him, I asked my AD (assistant director) to do that. I said, "Ask him nicely for a 10 minutes snoring break so that we can shoot the scene, After the scene he can resume his nap". Sure enough, he did. Poor guy must be exhausted.

Ok, let me assure you that there's more to directing than asking your AD to poke his crew when they snore. There's more, much more.

movie set of Heart Flutters
My direction for the very 1st shoot of Heart Flutters
A director is essentially an artist, a technician, and a manager all roll into one role. I'm quite confident in the first 2 areas. They're right up my alley. As for last skill, I make no secret that I'm not as competent as the 1st two. But with all modesty, I'm doing ok as a communicator, and followed by leadership skill, with time management, organisation skill, delegation of tasks a distant third. Fortunately, I have 2 ADs to help me in this last weak area of management.

And then there're interpersonal skill, which I thought I'm quite ok. I'm people person in general, getting along with most people just fine. These specific area requires even higher skill level in an amateur group than a professional body. This is because in a professional outfit people don't have to like what they do as long as they get paid. This is true with many people in all walks of life. But with an amateur group where members are doing this for the purpose of personal satisfaction, they wouldn't take orders as well. People can quit any time. Only the most committed will act professionally. In a film studio, the people in important roles will have to sign contracts so that you can't simply leave your roles without incurring heavy penalties. This is where interpersonal skills have to take up a notch. In more ways than one, working in an amateur environment demands more skills than a film studio. Many more ways than one.

So what do you need to do if you want to prepare yourself as a director? I've dreamt of growing up to be many things. But director isn't one of them. Not even remotely. The longest of my dream is becoming a well known scientist. Except for a penchant for science, logical deduction and analysis, I learnt little vigorous and specific scientific disciplines to further my dream of becoming a scientist.

But I have been preparing myself for - without a clue that I have been doing it - is becoming a director. My passion in fashion, arts, photography, movie, music, dancing, image processing, psychology (inter-personal and intra-personal), communication, people watching, etc all in fact groomed me for the role of a director. Of course, I didn't know that because I have many other interests too. The point is that a huge variety of interests is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition, to be a good director. It's like fitness is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition, to be a good athlete.

And Marrie - our executive director - is quite right about that the script writer should also be the director because the director should familiar with the script back to front, inside out. The director needs to know and tell the actor the psychological/emotional states of the characters, what they wear, what motivate them, the mood of a scene, what's the theme/message of the story, how to realise that in the movie, etc, etc, etc. Director needs to know all that. In Cantonese, we call him One-Foot-Kick. In English, Master-Of-All-Trades. But the novice director like me probably starts as Jack, and graduates to Master, eventually, if ever.

Also, someone in our group - who shall remain nameless - said that script writer is he most under-rated while director is the most over-rated person in film production (maybe he said actor as I couldn't hear it very well). If he did say director, then having a writer-director would balance out this least and most appreciated roles.

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