In which I am a fucking genius

OK, so that was quite the hiatus. I don’t feel any need to apologise, but by way of an explanation:

  • This article by Charlie Brooker. One columnist kickstarted my enthusiasm for writing here; it’s probably fitting that another would euthenise it.
  • I started on a big documentation project at work, which meant that I had little desire to do more writing when I got home, and much less idle time to work on posts at my desk when no-one was looking. Not that I ever did that.
  • The main thing, though, was my old friend Lack of Sleep. Being kept awake by Baby #1 waking up at night was draining enough; being kept awake by Baby #2 and then hauled out of bed at 6AM by the now four-year-old #1 is enough to keep me in a permanent state of mental fuzziness, which is far from conducive to creative writing.

But I’m breaking silence now, because the company I work for just had their annual short film competition, and I got a few entries in for the 10 Second category.* Might as well show them off here, with a little director’s commentary added.

Writer’s Block

Semi-autobiographical. This was the first one I submitted – just a simple idea I thought of that would be easy to do. The only real reason it’s there was to motivate me to do more (see: lacking creativity). I thought the shot of me was nicely composed, even though it was only like that because I had the camera sitting on the edge of the table and couldn’t move it any further back to get a wider shot.

One Wacky Summer

This was inspired by a Twitter conversation I had a few weeks earlier on cliched endings. My interlocutor is, frankly, funnier than I am, so it ended up being one of his ideas that I most closely ripped off (competition rules against copyrighted music prevented me from actually using “California” so I went with something generically feel-good). I had a hard time deciding on what the line of dialogue should be – I wanted it to be a total non sequitir, with no relation to the bloodshed at all, but anything I could think of just came off as ironic (or didn’t make sense as the final line of a film). If you’re familiar with the work of RSJS, you won’t be surprised to learn that he supplied the blood spurt. We did a couple of takes, and while the one I used wasn’t the most successful (the timing’s not quite right and you can see that the spurt comes from a different location than where I stabbed), it was the prettiest to freeze on.

The Making Of

I was surprised how well that pan worked. If you go frame by frame, it’s very obvious where one shot ends and the next begins, but in motion it all flows together – largely a result of shooting it handheld in front of an indistinct backdrop that already had a bit of movement in it. I didn’t make either of those decisions with the pan in mind, but I’ll take credit for them anyway. Of course, the decision to shoot it outside meant that the sound was terrible (and worse, inconsistently terrible), but fuck it – look at that pan! RSJS on the camera once again.

Josh’s Time Phone

I don’t know if this one really works. It’s meant to be a little time loop gag – the reason I get hit by the ball is that I’m distracted by the call from myself warning me about the ball, which prompts me to make the call, etc. etc. Not sure if that comes across, but still, it won the 10 Second category – either everyone got it or they just like seeing me take a ball to the face. I also forgot to put my jacket back on for filming the last shot – how cute: Baby’s First Continuity Mistake. Again, I thought the last shot was nicely composed, even though I just jumped in front of the camera and had no idea how it was going to come out.

And finally, before the judging took place, the organisers sent out an email asking all of the entrants to record an acceptance speech that could be played in the other offices if we won. This is what happens when I’m given the brief “Pretend you have won and go crazy…cue lots of gushing, over the top Oscars style acceptances”:

Powerful stuff. In defence of the awful image and sound quality, we were given one day’s notice, so I had to film it that evening in crappy light. The whole thing is edited together from a single shot – I was afraid that I might move the camera if I stopped and started it, and it needed to stay completely still for the split screen to work. I ended up sitting down, doing a few takes of that bit, then jumping up, changing clothes and doing a few takes of the other bit all in one go. The split screen worked OK – Josh 1 managed to stay on one side of the split and Josh 2 on the other, although the shadow Josh 1 casts on the wall went across the split – I had to do a bit of a pseudo green screen effect to soften it. Not bad for about 20 minutes’ work. The hardest thing was getting the boy to stay quiet while I was filming.

*In typing the first seven words of that sentence, I made four typos. Just saying: tired.

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2 thoughts on “In which I am a fucking genius

  1. Pingback: My Personal Set of Mistakes | Fishbowl Toaster Fishbowl Fishbowl

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Blog | Fishbowl Toaster Fishbowl Fishbowl

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