Director’s Commentary 2015

OK, this is new. I’ve started making more short films for fun, instead of the incentive of a film contest trophy, and I’ve put all of my short films (well, all the short short ones) up on a new site devoted entirely to them. I’m adding links back to here for the “director’s commentary” posts I’ve done in 2013 and 2014, so I guess I should continue the trend…

Zombies Are Dicks

Wow, that top is not flattering. I realised at the last minute that if I was going to have a fake hand stump, I’d probably need to be wearing long sleeves, and that was the long-sleeved top I had with me (for a different short – watch this space).

Still, at least it showed that my piece of crap camera is at least able to function nicely outside in direct sunlight. I don’t really have much else to say about this one. Zombies are dicks. Fucking zombies.

Knock Knock

At the last minute, the film fest deadline got extended from Friday night to Monday morning – “what the hell,” I thought, “just one more,” and spent 30 seconds messing about with a velociraptor hand puppet and the shitty selfie camera on my mobile phone. Add a few left over sound effects from the Jurassic World one, and there’s a 10-second film. I actually like this one the best out of this year’s competition entries – I guess I admire its simplicity.

(I didn’t win anything this year, either – success now seems to depend on appealing to the exact senses of humour of a panel of management types in another country, which I don’t appear able to do. I even had another entry that I haven’t included here because it was just pure pandering. Not pandering enough, I guess.)

Jurassic World (to the best of my recollection)

An entry into this year’s company short film fest. I didn’t stick to the theme last year, and my entries (some of the best I’ve done, I thought) were disqualified. (Even though plenty of the winning entries had bugger all do to with the theme. It’s hard not to feel singled out, seeing as I’d won the previous two years in a row. Bah – it’s all politics, but it was a year ago and I’m not bitter. I’M NOT FUCKING BITTER.) Anyway, this year the theme was “fun”, so I figured I better not give them an excuse. You want fun? I’ll give you fun? Cute children? My children are so cute you’ll shit.

Actually, this one started as me messing around with the boys in their sandpit, and morphed into a parody territory afterwards when I was trying to think what I could do with the footage. It feels like I could start a series of these, but I don’t know – this one came from a bit of unrehearsed messing around, and I can’t imagine how I could recreate it.

Forgetful

A string of ideas for shots I could do (Under the bed! In a fridge!) that I slapped together before realising I didn’t have a decent punchline. I considered having the Post-It just say “DRE”, but going for a pop culture reference felt a bit cheap. Instead I went for the option that let me try out another shot (Walking down a hallway and disappearing!) Probably should have gone with “DRE”.

Like most of these movies, I shot this all by myself, which was probably a mistake – it really needs to be a single shot of me closing the cupboard door and then zooming in to the Post-It, but I had no-one to work the camera. Also, my tripod is so wobbly that the zoom would’ve been shaking all over the place anyway.

Think Fast

This came from seeing a guy at work actually do the “think fast” thing to someone else, which got me thinking “Heh, what if you just held up the ball, all like ‘that fast enough?’ Yeah, and then you could hold up something he was wearing, all like ‘is THAT fast enough?’ Yeah, and then you could hold up his bloody heart – wow, that went somewhere dark. I like it.”

Looking back, I should have gone with more fake blood running up my arm, but there you go. I particularly like the camera wobble when RSJS goes down, although I acknowledge that’s not so much camera work as the laws of physics.

Awkward

“Ideas for short movies,” I thought. “Hmm, I’ve written funny tweets, and tweets are short – maybe some of them would work as a movie. That’d save me having to think up a new idea.” So I had a trawl through my Twitter archive and found this one:

And now it’s a movie. Magic.

The decision of when to cut the final shot basically boiled down to “find the point at which it becomes obvious he’s not swinging directly at my head; cut one frame before that.”

New Glasses

And RSJS actually gets to appear in front of the camera at last. Not much to say about this, really – I got new glasses and I thought of a gag to do with having new glasses.

T.F.U,R?

My ego is too fragile to actually look online and find out precisely how many people have made this exact same observation, but fuck it, it filled 15 seconds.

Today’s Horoscope

Largely an excuse to experiment with lighting, this one. What I learned: more light makes things lighter. Also, red light just goes pink unless there’s a lot of it – way more than I could produce. Ah well. In my mind, the shot of my face would have had a sharp line of red light spreading across to show red light spilling in as I opened the door – turns out you can’t do that with one halogen lamp and a bit of red cellophane.

Also, why the fuck does Google have a home page with a search box in the middle of the screen if, as soon as you try to type something into it, it disappears and goes to the screen with a box in the top left? Makes for a much crappier “typing search terms into Google” shot than you used to be able to get.

Not This Time

Another idea I thought of ages ago, but never got around to using. Once I found the music track to go behind it, it all came together. It’s a bit of a mess – 80s action movie music, Matrix aesthetic and a Jurassic Park gag for the punchline – but fuck it, it was fun.

Again, RSJS was drafted in, this time not as a costumer, but as a person who actually knows how to work a camera. He generally managed to come up with better shots and angles than I was thinking of – the only time I went with my first thought was for the “not this time” shot; his ideas for the shot of me drawing the gun were much cooler-looking than my idea (I used one of them for the thumbnail image), but I figured from a story-telling perspective it made more sense to draw the gun in front of my face to make it clear I was pointing the gun at the thing I had been looking at in the previous shot. It also meant that I could record the line later and not have to worry about lip-syncing. Not sure if that makes me more or less lazy.

Hmm. and Hmm. (Extended Remix)

Another one not suitable for company contests, for two reasons. Obviously, wanking gags probably wouldn’t be considered appropriate, but also because this one is pretty much a word-for-word recreation of a conversation I had about the company Christmas do one year, whose theme was, indeed, “Come as something you love”.

I turned once again to RSJS for a bit of costuming and we spent an hour or so trying on different outfits in front of my bathroom mirror. My original idea was to just have the three outfits (actually, I was thinking of Cthulhu instead of an evil clown, but Cthulhu costumes are harder to put together), but RSJS had a bunch more ideas, so once I’d edited together the version I had in mind, I figured it was only fair to make the “extended remix” to show off everything. I think the Jason costume was my favourite.

Ha(t)ppiness

Just a dumb joke that’s been stuck in my head for years, but one that wasn’t suitable for a company film contest, for obvious reasons. Seriously, though, they really lean on the last two syllables of “happiness” – based on this 1994 hit and the success of Cece Peniston a couple of years earlier, I have to assume we were pretending that penises didn’t exit in the early 90s, although I don’t remember ever getting that memo.

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