Morgan Taylor's Suicide

Archive for the ‘Directing’ Category

Tracking Shots Are Hard

In Directing, Eric on February 6, 2009 at 12:12 am


I’ve done tracking shots with Dollies and Jibs in the past but never was one as hard as this. We flew through a pillar and picked up the actors on the other side, then while they had a slight argument the boom had to flip from below them to above them, all while hiding from the camera. From here things got complicated and I’m not even going to try explaining. Next time I’m allowing 3 hours min. for any potential tracking shot. Anyway I’m tired now.





In Alorah, Directing on January 28, 2009 at 9:53 am

Let’s all stop and think how cool it would feel to ride backwards on a wheelchair through a curvaceous dorm hall and shoot a film scene with a wicked cool fig rig and the constant possbility of falling to your death or, worse yet, catching the boom in the frame.

I’m exaggerating the death fall, but the boom-frame certainly was a low point of the night that ruined a perfectly sweet single-shot scene. I feel bad, but at the same time, there’s something inspiring the way we can know that everyone is committed to getting the right shot, the best scene, the work done. We all know that many people on this project, myself included are sacrificing time and other opportunities for this film. The best we can get is the best we should get. No settling for crumbs here. No excuses. Also, I will never make the boom mistake again.

And about line memorization, since it was an issue tonight, I understand why it’s usually not a problem. usually, the takes are short and you can film them as many times as you like and nobody need frett over a botched tongue-twister. This night, if it can serve as an example, was actually a brilliant opportunity to dispel the nonsense about “getting away with it.” In a long, cumbersome, delicately-timed shot, line memorization is the last thing anyone wants to stop for. But far more importantly is the fact that lines, or lack thereof, will affect any actor’s performance in the worst and most avoidable way. An actor barely acts if he or she is thinking about words. And also, I’m sure our friend Michael Caine said something sometime about being performance ready everytime you arrive on set. Smart cookie, that Michael Caine.

Anywho, the end result still looked great. The actors definitely stepped it up, and I’m looking forward to Muffin’s side-project. I think it’ll be loads of fun for the actors and keep them engaged with the project… I wish we had more material and more time to devote to these talented people, but at least they can make jokes on the side.

K, Pau Hana.


The Stranger Test

In Directing, Eric on January 26, 2009 at 1:49 am


We have shot one scene and test shot another (best plan ever ps). As I see it, we could now schedule all the shoots and go to them with a smile and shot the rest of the film, but how do we ensure that we make a film that other people want to see? Sure we like what we are doing. We cold make a decently bad movie with some funny scenes and people would crowd an auditorium next semester and laugh at our jokes, but would they like the movie? More importantly would the film pass the “stanger test?”

The stranger test, in my book, is when someone comepletely unrealted to anything with the movie watches the film. If the stranger likes the movie then you made a decent flick. If they didn’t then you made something not so decent. Simple enough. Everytime we go to movies we perform the stranger test…unless you’re connected to the industry somehow. Point is a decent movie has to be captivating when you don’t know the inside jokes and you don’t know how long it took to get the perfect jib shot. Right now I fear our film would not pass the stranger test…

Then again. Who cares if we pass the stranger test. I’m just doing this project to learn how to do it. Most people have similar reasons. If we complete the film and my friends like it then what more is there to ask for? We don’t have any money to spend on the project so we don’t have to worry about paying people back. In fact this is probably one of the only times in my life when I could safely make a flop and not have to worry about paying the heating bill. I anything I should embrace making a flop. There’s just one problem.

If anyone knows me, they know. I don’t do flops. I don’t plan of failing, and if I do then i wil figure out a way to make it a success. Sure we’re just students with no money to make this film, but we have a terrific and talented cast, a great and willing crew, a strong and creative executive team, and a very witty writer. We have all the components to make a success, but like they say in LA LA Land, “Nobody sets out to make a bad movie.”

Our film will pass the stranger test. Like the men’s warehous guy says, “I garuntee it.”


Couples Therapy

In Alorah, Directing on January 25, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Project #1 of last week: brain-picking.

Over the break I read a piece of casting wisdom that described the concept of an actor “having what it takes to play the character.” This, as the book says, is not a physical trait or measure of skill or experience but an organic sympathy for the character. However, I had little or no concept of who the characters were at the time of casting nor any clue about how to sniff out sympathy in a ten-minute time slot, so I appreciated these meetings very much.

For the most part, the actors seemed to engage well and energetically with the exercise in which I would interview them in character. Who doesn’t love to have someone listen to their problems? People pay for such services. The most profound insights are already planted anyway, just a little sunshine and… anyway, back to acting.

What I wanted out of these meetings was a chance to align my view of the characters with the views of the actors. And then to encourage the actors to try and fill in the blanks themselves. Not all of the blanks of course, but at least they would put something out there and I could respond to their self-generated material rather than trying to inject them with my own perfect (not) vision.

All in all, I felt it was a very productive week in terms of highlighting areas that need work and areas of strength. There is much to work on from my side- I need to be more mindful of how I communicate ideas to the actors with an eye on the process, not the result. I also need to condense just about everything I say. Smaller, more potent chili peppers if you will. But one other thing of large importance was the fact that I establish a relationship with these people, some of whom I had never really met until this week.

Yes, good meetings. Good therapy. Same time next week. Pau.

Day One!

In Eric on January 24, 2009 at 1:30 am

Day One: Shooting was a great success! It gave us an opportunity to work in a controlled environment, and figure out what it is we are actually doing on this movie. Spirits were high (contrary to the image above) and everyone was ready to begin. Unfortunately we spent an hour and a half setting up, an hour shooting, and thirty minutes cleaning up for a scene that will only be on film for a minute tops. Well here’s hoping the next shoots run quicker!


Jennifer Taylor forgot about The Meeting

In Directing, Eric on January 16, 2009 at 9:29 pm

I wonder how many names this film will have?

Hey anyone, Eric here. I’m the director of this masterfully written story about young people and the night. I hope The Times will someday write the same.

We had our first production meeting last night and everything seemed to go okay. Many new faces, some old. On a whole the meeting was a success, because most everyone showed up. Showing up, for a college film, is a big deal. Unfortunately the room was silent for most the meeting. This was similar to one mistake we made with mouthwash. Only the lead mouthwash actors, and a few crew members, truly had a vested interest in the show’s success. Jennifer Taylor- or rather Morgan Taylor’s Suicide (now)- is going to have to inspire people on the cast and crew more. Every single cast and crew role is important to the success of this project. It’s going to be difficult explaining that, but I’m confident it can be done.

On a happy note, we officially have over 75 people involved in the project, and many more unofficially helping out!


I’m doing this just because I can, but I’m like 75% sure that the above comment about how this movie has to “inspire” the people working on it is a dig at me. Well, fine. The game is on: Who can inspire the most people? My plan is to rewrite the script from scratch to be about a single mother whose kid has Down’s Syndrome and they are both captured by the Holocaust once the mom loses her job at the Bridge Factory, which also means the town’s main livelihood (bridges/streams) dries up (NO PUN INTENDED THIS IS DRAMA) and everyone becomes out of work/in the Holocaust. Your move, Eric.