Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shot Analysis: Think & Respond

I've been thinking how to best present this blog entry, because I've been looking for more ways to create interactivity within the production diary blog. So, we will be shooting some small scenes or presenting stills for your own responses next week (and hopefully the weeks following), and please tell your friends, family, and anyone else that might be remotely interested.

Critiques might include such topics as camera angles, lighting, characters, movement, etc. Or you can bring anything and everything right at me either through email or in the comments selection below.

Not only can this help me analyze what it is that I'm doing, but it may, just may, bring you closer into the world of Lambent Fuse by showing you some sneak peaks at how it might be filmed, or even parts of the film itself.

David and I have been going over a lot of the characters recently with some of the discoveries I've come across in my readings, and we believe that you may see some of that representation in the following posts.

We'd like to create as open a project as possible, so we'd love for your input.

Above is a taste. It's already a publicly available wallpaper, but go ahead and experiment. Click on the email: mcici@lambentfuse.com or open up a blank page and type all that you see (whether it's just a color or a person doing something) and email/post it to us. Write what you think is going on. Write what you think we're trying to say. If you want to post a video on YouTube (or the video uploading site of your choice) of your response, go ahead; just make sure to cite Lambent Fuse and send us a link. You can even do it on Twitter with an "@lambentfuse"! We'll be sure to feature your response on our page.

Links of Interest:
TV Show: Dexter
After seeing this show featured in Script, the magazine, I had to check it out. Especially since they talked about writing good character, and I have to say they were very true. Pick up Netflix if you don't have cable and/or Showtime, and the first two seasons are streamable (Watch Instantly).

Shot Analysis (to help you out):
1. Shot Analysis in Cinema and Film
2. Yale Film Studies (Analysis)
3. More In Depth Shot Analysis

Until next Tuesday, thanks for reading.

§ Matt
If you have any questions or comments, please write them below, or email them to me at mcici@lambentfuse.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Screenwriting: Collaboration

You are not required to write a screenplay on your own, and in fact you usually aren't going to be the only one who works on your screenplay. I, personally, have never collaborated on a screenplay before 'Lambent Fuse'; David Marketon (co-writer of 'Lambent Fuse') has briefly ventured into the collaboration world. We both pooled ideas of how we wanted to work together during one of our first meetings, and this became a huge part of how we worked together and how the story was written.

Collaboration, if that's your method of choice, requires a great deal of planning (however, most if not all of the following information may also apply to solo writers, which is also important). We needed to plan a schedule for writing meetings. About a year ago, we decided to block out Wednesday evenings for that, every week, for at least two to three hours. That was a pretty small time commitment, but it began to build the more we got into it. Dedication to the project is important as always, so despite many of our conflicts as students and prior commitments, we made it work.

You also need to find a way to write. Most people choose to write on computers these days, although not all. Our program of choice was Celtx; it was a cheap (used to be totally free) and very useful tool, as it allowed us to focus more of our time and efforts towards the story and not the formatting (which, even when known well, becomes cumbersome). Final Draft is the industry standard tool for screenwriters, but as indie filmmakers we choose to minimize our costs wherever we could. There are probably more out there, but these are the ones we knew best. They allow you to upload drafts (PC & Mac), so you don't have to worry about your co-writer looking at an old copy of the script.

But how do you write with two people and one story? Some people choose to split up the acts, characters, and even scenes. In the early drafts of the script, we broke it down into parts and would alternate writing; we did not center it around a concrete object like scenes or acts, because that didn't work for us. Also, each writer has talents and specializes in something you may not; make sure to allow for that.

Collaboration also allows for extra eyes and edits during the drafting of the scripts, rather than afterwards. This can be especially helpful if you get stuck or something isn't working just right. We felt that collaboration would help allow for the best story for 'Lambent Fuse.' And therefore, the topic of collaboration is of huge importance to the creation of 'Lambent Fuse'. It is a part of the writing process: the brainstorming, the outlining, the crafting, and the creating of every piece and every element of description, dialogue, characters, and events that make up the story.

Links of Interest:
Books: Chinatown: Script to Screen

Screenwriting Software:
Final Draft

Magazine: Script
A very good magazine on screenwriting (how-to and how-done); it's hosted by the makers of Final Draft.

Website: Scriptologist.com
"The Portal For Screenwriters, Filmmakers, & Actors"
Find information, tools, tips, message boards for discussions on industry topics, and even create a free blog, and much more. It's kind of a cool site!

Until next Tuesday, thanks for reading.

§ Matt
If you have any questions or comments, please write them below, or email them to me at mcici@lambentfuse.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Screenplay: Story & Structure

As I continued my readings in the book: 'Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting" by Syd Field, I came across some more interesting and helpful information when planning the writing process. Obviously time is required and lots of it, but what else do you have to do besides sticking to a schedule? In his book, Field stresses the importance of knowing your story; now this may seem obvious at first and very easy for most screenwriters, but as he's addressed, you can start writing and get stuck at page 60. Everything was going well and you thought you had it all planned out, and then you hit a stop. It could be writer's block or it could just be poor design in setting everything up.

In my last blog entry I talked about character and this is incredibly important when moving on to the next part: story and structure. You will need to know your ending; not every detail of the last scene but the basic resolution (as he calls it) of the story, and then the beginning. You have 10 pages to impress the reader and make them want to keep going. And following that, your Plot Point 1 & 2 (the transitions from Act 1 to Act 2, and Act 2 to Act 3). The character information can help you move the story forward if you get stuck or if you need extra material to make the story more fluid. But, I don't want to totally regurgitate what he was saying, so I'll adapt this to our work (once again).

10 pages isn't a lot of room to impress the reader. So, what should we put in there? We've sent one of our early drafts out to be read, and received very good criticism for our first scene. What it should do is introduce the story; we dropped them into the film with Keith and Becker; although they are not the main characters, they bring the audience into the story at one of its peak moments, and present one of the running messages in the film (we won't give away too much just yet).

However, one of the challenges we do face is making sure that our non-chronological time frame doesn't lose the audience. Many films have successfully kept the audience's suspension of disbelief; 'Memento' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' are just two of them. The key to this is making sure you transition properly to the current, past, or even future time (along with presenting those good character parts).

When I saw the film 'White Night Wedding,' I walked out feeling very grateful for the way they transitioned between the two storylines; without that dip to white (white flash) they used, I would have been a goner for a large chunk of time during the film. However, they used it so well, that it flowed nicely and kept the audience in prime attention.

I did want to talk a little bit about collaboration screenwriting (as I am), but this entry is getting somewhat long, so we'll save that for next time.

Links of Interest:
Movie: 'White Night Wedding'
-A great example of good storytelling when dealing with multiple storylines.

Email Newsletter: Writers Guild Foundation
-I have subscribed to a few of their others (WGA), but this one deals with screenwriting events, screenings, and exclusive invitations (which I'm really excited to hear about).

Book: 'The Independent Filmmaker's Law and Business Guide'
'The Independent Filmmaker's Law and Business Guide: Financing, Shooting, and Distributing Independent and Digital Films' by Jon Garon is a book I just recently bought and will be reading soon; it's getting some fantastic reviews and is probably something as an independent filmmaker you may want to read (that is, if you are one (aspiring counts!)).

Until next Tuesday, thanks for reading.

§ Matt
If you have any questions or comments, please write them below, or email them to me at mcici@lambentfuse.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Character - Developing & Building

I've started out reading the book 'Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting" by Syd Field, which is a great book and one I've had for quite some time, but just haven't had the opportunity to read. So far, I've taken great interest to his chapters on developing and building characters and how that combines and possibly creates, at times, plot points. As most film students, amateurs, and professionals know, there are three main plot points: Act 1, 2, and 3. On a feature length screenplay, these usually occur around pages 1-30, 30-90, 90-120.

He piqued my interest when he mentioned how one goes about building characters. Now, there are many ways to do this, and coming from an acting background, I am familiar with the technique he explains: starting from birth and working your way towards the present time of the character and script, including major facts such as family lifestyle to minute yet still important information like a character's favorite color. One of the reasons this is important is that you can pull this information out not only in a character's actions and the events that take place, but that you are able to create scenes that propel the story forward even more. Characters that are built 'from the ground up' are more relatable and therefore more believable — all things a filmmaker wants.

Now most of this information you can get from the book itself, or even other books, so I'd like to tie this in a bit more with Lambent Fuse. First and foremost, these findings come at a perfect time, since we will be shooting some more poster ideas for early promotion of the film to be launched in the near future. Lambent Fuse has always been a film built around an ensemble cast, and it's important for us to illustrate and represent each separate character in the best possible way. Picking out scenes (locations), attire (style, color), bodily features (hair, makeup), etc. are all factors that need considering. Each character brings their own set of these factors and by doing the analysis as a filmmaker simplifies this process and is something we have done for each character (even more in depth than we had originally done).

This was definitely a great discovery, and the adaptation towards film will become a much more simplified process with this information. I've also came across a few interesting pieces, which I think I'll try to do every week:

Links of Interest:
Movie: Oldboy
-The technique used in the filming, along with coloring was simply stunning. Check out a fluid, one-shot fight scene HERE. The direction, choreography, along with acting required for this scene was quite impressive.

Magazine: Film Comment
-I read a few articles so far, including a back issue of one of my favorite films 2046 (a film shot without a script and one that apparently took very long to create) and 'No Country for Old Men', another Coen Brother film. The magazine is more of a review for films than one that looks at film techniques, but that is still important for filmmakers to engage in, since it is their audience who develop explanations for the images presented to them.

Until next Tuesday, thanks for reading.

§ Matt
If you have any questions or comments, please write them below, or email them to me at mcici@lambentfuse.com

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Production Diary Begins!

Hello all,

This is Matt Cici, director and co-creator of Lambent Fuse. I'd like to present the Lambent Fuse Production Diary. This diary will be used for the recent grant we've received, entitled: 'Lambent Fuse: Moving Ideas Into Words And Then Into Action,' for work on the screenplay,

I will be posting weekly discoveries and creations on this blog. These postings will occur every Tuesday during the time frame June 9 - July 28. I'd first like to introduce to you what it is that I am doing, so here we go.

The research is divided into three parts, all overlapping each other to enhance and develop a more representative screenplay. It contains three components: researching elements of screenwriting, planning a visual screenplay, and testing the screenplay adapted to film.

First, I will investigate case studies and scholarly articles, along with recognized and respected books carrying information on the tools of screenwriting, and some of the best noted screenplays in the industry. In case you're interested, the films are: 'Pulp Fiction,' 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' and 'Fargo.'

Second, I will use this newly gained knowledge to adapt the parts of the screenplay into a storyboard. I will be looking at the film's screenplays mentioned above and matching them to their final products, noting the differences and similarities and overall representation of the screenplay's parts in relation to the film.

Lastly, I will take my research and apply it to the filmmaking process, testing the project visually. In addition to recognizing measures of representation, and looking at the different cinematic aspects of filmmaking (angles, lighting, etc.), I will also focus on condensing total footage for the feature to help save time and money for this project.

So, again, I will be posting every Tuesday from now until July 28th specifically for this grant. Make sure to check out the production diary, featuring text and some vidcasts, for the grant research project entitled: 'Lambent Fuse: Moving Ideas Into Words And Then Into Action.'

Until next Tuesday, thanks for reading.

§ Matt
If you have any questions or comments, please write them below, or email them to me at mcici@lambentfuse.com