So were almost there. With a week to go before the school year starts I thought i'd check in with some updates and try and get you guys as pumped up as I am to start the new year. There are a lot of new things on the horizon I don't quite know where to start.
I guess I'll start with what I'm sure will be the biggest change this year, and that's the move to block scheduling. We've prepared, and planned, and modified, and worked our lessons to fit the schedule and I believe you're not going to skip a beat. Plus when the time comes to work on projects, 80 minutes is a dream. I know you will all utilize that time to the fullest. It doesn't mean things will be less hectic, maybe more so. But we'll make it work. Heck if I had two-hour long classes, we'd probably still be pressed for time. So don't curb back on that creativity. Lets push ourselves and make the best projects we can make. There is one small hiccup in that however...
So with addition of a new computer lab for me (yay!) it means we updated our software suite. While this sounds like the end of the world, its only a matter of comfort. I have been using Final Cut Pro for over a decade, and honestly, was nervous to change gears. The fact of the matter is that I was only hesitant because I was moving outside my comfort zone. For those that had a handle on FCP last year and prior, you're going to transition. It may be rough at first (things will be different) and it may take longer for some, but trust me you're going to get it. Just come in with an open mind on day one. That's all I ask. I'll take you the rest of the way. For those that are new to the journey of TV Production, you picked a hellagood time to jump in. So block scheduling, and a new software....why that's going to put a strain on....
Our morning show. It's going to change. Drastically. And we have to do a little more catching up factoring in we need to learn new software. Years prior we had a 5 minute show, and more often than not, we had to trim back a little bit. Once Mr. Sherman and I started adding in sports segments, we had to trim back more. Then Mrs. Harak added weekly segments. Bam. Trim some more. This year we are moving to a 13 minute daily show. This is big. Honestly you may be hard pressed to find a high school that does a 13 minute show once a week, let alone daily. It's going to be fun and challenging, and we are going to come out swinging. This is not simply making segments longer (although that will happen). This is about creating original content on a weekly basis and doing so in a professional way. We're talking anchors wearing dress clothes, real world and local news. Featurettes, and features in the school and community. Dedicated sports and weather segments. Original programing, and short stories. Contests and more. It's going to be a blast but we need you to help make it a reality.
For my Television Production classes the new software is just the beginning. TV 2 is entering it's second year and there are a ton of revamps that are going into effect to help make it a much more involved class. We are going to focus on media literacy, as well as industry related technical information. The way I'm trying to look at it is, if I need to know how to do something or what something does, then you should too. Whether thats the difference between f/stops and t/stops, or what 3:2 pulldown is, I'm going to try and tackle it. We are also going to finally move into the world of manual camera settings. So in addition to having a top notch story, well framed shots and camera movement, we are going to look at how to properly set aperture settings, shutter speed, and ISO. TV 1 is going to have a stronger emphasis on the basics of shot composition and framing, to better prepare them for the the rigors of TV2.
Then we have Global...oh Global...are you ready? This is going to be a big year, and I couldn't be more excited for it. Of course we are going to keep with the tradition of meeting weekly, to discuss upcoming events and have fun times and good laughs. This year there are a couple of things I wanted to do as side projects, just to allow for a little more creative freedom than in the past. Simple things like maybe a monthly shooting challenge, or creating new openings for the morning show. I know we'll get recruited for a lot stuff this year, and I know we won't disappoint with anything we do together. The one upgrade I want to make this year is with sports, and to be blunt it is me asking for your help. With the schedule change it will allow more time in the Global class to put together sports segments. We may just need to shoot them. I'll explain more in our first meeting, but this will have a two pronged effect, and thats because of our new endeavor we're going to tackle this year. I have to leave some surprises so you'll just have to wait to find out next week.
The times Mrs. Harak, Mr. Sherman and I have sat down this summer have been positive. There seems to be a general sense of excitement, anticipation, and fun. Seriously the energy has been great, and it's refreshing to work with such great people who care so much. We are looking forward to a great year. I hope you are too.
Lets do this thaanng,
Picture this is how you start your school day: You wake up, you get dressed, you have breakfast. You're packing your bag when the bus comes. You go to grab your shoes but they are not were you left them. You search everywhere and still can't find them. Your dad moved them the day before when he was vacuuming the carpet. You yell at him that you missed the bus. He drives you to school. The end.
But what if the bus crashed on the way to school? You'd love your dad then right? If he didn't move your shoes, then you'd be a goner. But maybe...maybe he's only vacuuming because your brother or sister tracked dirt through the house. And maybe they only got dirt on their shoes because they were stuck outside when you forgot your key to the front door. And maybe you forgot your key to the front door because you left it in your science notebook. And maybe you didn't take home your science notebook because your teacher moved the test back until next week, and you didn't need to study. And maybe they moved the test back because...
This could go on and on and on...
Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? The butterfly effect relates to chaos theory, and is the dependency on a set of conditions where a small change to those conditions will disrupt the very being of their existence. This is a very common trope in science-fiction films involving time travel. If you go back to the past, anything you change could alter the future. We've heard that before I'm sure. This film tells a simple story which takes this concept to the extreme, all while keeping you on the edge of your seat.
I said things were going to get a little weird for my next selection, and this will be a nice change of pace from previous films. Remember, the idea is to get exposure to things that you normally wouldn't watch, and to learn as much as you can from those films. A common trend among filmmakers is that they spent a lot of their time as children and students watching as many movies as possible. I bet this one makes their list.
Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt)
Director: Tom Tykwer
Written by: Tom Tykwer
Staring: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu
Released: August 20th 1998 (Germany)
June 18th 1998 (USA)
The first you'll notice is that as soon as Lola leaves her apartment, the scene becomes animated. Just for a minute or so as she runs down the stairs, and leaves her building. Odd choice but it works. It disrupts your notion of normalcy, and prepares you for anything. In fact there is a nice mix of media here. One scene is animated. The scenes with Lola and Manni are shot on film. And scenes with anybody other than Lola and Manni were shot on tape. So each scene has it's own feel based on the method in which it was shot. Here, the director was trying to isolate Lola and Manni in their own universe, where outsiders had their own artificial universe. A very forward way of thinking back then, as the industry has shifted and rarely (minus a few exceptions) uses film anymore.
I could go on and on. Color is everywhere. Red being the dominant one as there is red in almost every shot, and excluding her hair even, almost ALL the shots with Lola in them. Yellow follows Manni, in the phone both, the store he wants to rob, even his hair has a yellowish blondish streak in it. Then the music. The music is literally the pulse. A steady beat of techno, and drum and bass that play constantly, and keep the film moving. It's only jarring when it stops, and it only does so for brief intimate moments.
This film may be a bit harder to find, so I'll happily lend out my copy if anybody is interested. That being said, if you want a real tense suspense film. This is it. The story is simple but the execution is unique and well done. It's a film that doesn't lay it all out right in the beginning. You need to watch to understand. It's a smarter ride, and one that you won't regret if you buy a ticket.
I have been eyeing three films for my next review. Well four technically, and while I have several on the docket these three are part of a trilogy. The fourth, well it's not, but it comes from the same director and is a fantastic film in it's own right.
Trilogies are tough. I mean, its a hard business to take part in. It seems that nowadays trilogies are being planned way out in advance. This seems to have changed a bit since things were done in the early 80's and 90's. If a film was popular, studios would try and find a way to create a story for a second installment, with varying levels of success. Films like "Weekend at Bernie's" certainly did not need a sequel, but there was money to made. The sequel to "Mannequin" was so bad they stopped moving forward on a third one. Or you'd have the odd case of an unexpected hit like "Back to the Future" where it took off in popularity after the original, that they negotiated a way to shoot the sequel and third installment at the same time. Nobody cared about "The Hangover 3", yet "Iron Man 3" saved the franchise after an abysmal second putting. Like I said, trilogies are tough.
So now, movie studios want to ensure a films success down the line before they start the first one. "Harry Potter" was a sure fire hit after book sales exploded, and with 7 books to make movies from they cashed in! The Hunger games could have been a gamble and after a shaky start (that was overlooked mainly because of the books popularity) the sequel righted the ship, and we have two more films to look forward to. "Divergent" and the upcoming movie "The Maze Runner" are trying to cash in on similar success and have had luke-warm reactions.
My personal favorite, is the "it's been a long time since the second film in a series, here is a third one wayyyy tooooo laaaaate" scenario. Do we really need a THIRD "Night at the Museum" movie FIVE years after the forced sequel?
The answer to that by the way, was no. We don't. The answer is no.
So this trilogy I was speaking of, isn't a trilogy in the traditional sense. Same actors. Same director. Same brand of Ice Cream. Different movies.
I of course am referring to what is referred to as "The Cornetto" Trilogy. Films that are totally different, yet very similar in style. Each is a take on a very specific genre of film. Not a mock mind you, but a very loved acknowledgement. For my next review, I'll start where all stories start. At the "Beginning".
Shaun of the Dead
Director: Edgar Wright
Written by: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Staring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Bill Nighy
Released: September 24th, 2004
Genre bending isn't a term that's used lightly in Hollywood. If it bends a genre it means one of two things. It's going to be hard to market/advertise a movie if they can't clearly describe it in one word. Action, drama, romance, horror, musical, period-peice, comedy, etc. Or two, if it's not clearly defined as a specific genre the odds of it being a successful film are low (John Carter, Cowboys and Aliens being two quick examples. There are others). Obviously there have been bent genre's like romantic comedy, that have become a genre of it's own. You might even argue movies like "The Avengers" is kind of an Action-comedy. Shaun of the Dead tries to infuse its comedy with an unlikely pairing: Zombies.
See what I mean? This style is used frequently and keeps the film moving at such a brisk pace, that it feels like it's over before it even started. The intent in this example, is to make the mundane tasks we do daily, like brushing our teeth, getting dressed, making breakfast, look and sound more interesting. The style is very action oriented even though the actions aren't that dramatic. He makes them seem more intense than they really are. And as filmmakers, aren't we supposed to try and entertain in every frame we shoot?
He also uses a technique called object wipes. Object wipes combine two shots in what feels like one, by dollying the camera from a subject until the shot is obstructed by a physical object, then making a cut in post production at a frame in the second shot that is similarly obstructed. As long as the dolly is in the same direction, and the object you are using as an obstruction are the same, (or similar) then you will be fine. I will try to cover this in TV2 classes this year.
There are also a lot of recurring images and set pieces in the film. Shaun's walk to the store pre zombie break out and post zombie break out are shot exactly the same, except for the obvious difference being the zombies. The second one makes for one heck of a long take too!
Over the summer, several students had an opportunity to work in an intense 4-day film workshop. In just four days students wrote a screenplay, casted actors, scouted locations, brought in multiple costume changes, shot, acted, and worked their butts off to put together a short film.
As with all things media-creative, time was our enemy.
Let me tell you. The script was fantastic. Far and away the best thing I have read from a group of students. The effort that went into character design, and plot, and setting. It was great. And from what they have shot so far, it aims to be an well made emotional ride. Below, is the first trailer, and sneak peek of the their final short film.
With the school year starting soon, and many students finding less and less time to work on projects outside of everyday schoolwork, jobs, sports teams, clubs, and free time it gets harder and harder to find the time to make things work out. I know that, and understand exactly where they are. Regardless if this ever gets finished, I am very proud of all their work. Maybe this trailer will inspire you to at the very least, keep this wonderful story that you created together, in the back of your mind.
It's Mr. Leonard. Teacher, Videomaker, Professional Goofball