DVC16 - Namian - by Dick Mays at DVinfo.net

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Old May 6th, 2009, 09:01 AM   #1
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DVC16 - Namian - by Dick Mays

Roxzane Mims was director on this one as I moved in front of the camera. Just like Chris, I had trouble with sound. But unlike Chris, I didn't salvage it, and bad sound was my downfall on this piece.

Finally located a bar, but couldn't get in there Friday or Saturday night, and it had to be a weekday after 10:00 pm. Not many people up for shooting all night gig on a workday, so I had minimal crew. Actually NO crew. Just the four actors showed up at the call time, and a desperate call to my brother had him show up two hours later. We enlisted a random friend of Suresh to do a little camera work until my brother showed up, and tried planning what we were going to do.

Terrie Thompson had Laryngitis so bad the day before that we thought we would have to loop all the lines, but she showed up with a little bit of voice so I got my brother to mic her throughout the piece. I normally am loud enough so I thought I could get by with camera audio on me. But we had no crew and worked without a slate, and as Chris said, it is damn hard to match the audio to the video without the slate, so it took many more hours than anticipated to get find Terrie's dialog and get in in sync. Then my camera audio sucked. Two things, bad here. Since Terrie was so soft, and it was 3 am, I got really soft too, and to use camera audio on my voice I had to crank the gain too much so the mic ambience didn't match Terries. Now I was desparately trying to loop my audio as the clock ticks away, and get it about half ass done, and then, oops it is 2:00 am, time only for a final render and upload to youtube. It turns out to be a mix of looped audio, camera audio, and spill over audio from the mic used for Terrie, and totally pulls you out of the piece.

So tired of editing audio on this one I will take a couple of weeks off before I go back to fix it. It might be worth salvaging, and with enough work, I am convinced I can save it.

The script was based on an actual incident at a bar where I doodle and eat lamb. A vegan nazi smoker commented on my eating habits and I made up the Namian philosophy on the spot. It didn't work for me like it did in the short. But's that's okay, because she wasn't nearly as cute as Terrie.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 10:20 AM   #2
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The script was based on an actual incident at a bar where I doodle and eat lamb.
So those were you're actual drawings then? Very nice. I liked the story, it made me chuckle. I think Terrie did an excellent job of playing an eccentric vegan nazi smoker!

I won't comment on the audio as you are well aware of what you got going on there. I thought the lighting was nice, but some of the shots seemed a little off balance. In particular I'm thinking of the over her shoulder where you're talking. She's tucked hard on the right side of the screen, you're more centered and the left side of the screen is dead space fading into the empty bar.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #3
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Dick:

I liked this film a lot. You developed two interesting characters, and actually sound was not that bad. The smoker/health eater conflict in the female character cracked me up...
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Old May 6th, 2009, 02:46 PM   #4
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All right, Dick, I have to ask…what does Namian mean?

For me this one got better and better with each viewing. I guess that’s because my slow mind picks up on a little more each time. Or perhaps I get over the uncomfortable-ness of watching a pickup maneuver in a bar. ;)

Acting by everyone, as usual for your films, is superb. You do a great job in front of the camera, so you need to clone yourself because you do a great job behind it, too.

Love the look of the whole film--lighting is just right. Oh and…love the new look on you, too. :)

By the way, the raspy voice on that poor gal worked perfectly for this piece. I wouldn’t wish that on her again but thought it added a lot to her character.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #5
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nice job

The dialogue was very well written. It sounded like that conversation actually happened. Although I doubt that that pick up line would ever work and he wouldn't get slapped, I loved it when she told him to brush his teeth. Well done.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 06:00 PM   #6
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I was worried back in the progress discussion thread when you said there'd be no nudity or gratuitous violence in your film, but I'm happy to find that you made up for it with the dialogue.

"You don't eat meat?"
"So you like what you eat to have experienced freedom?"
"Well, what do you put in your body?"

Such a smooth operator. I'm sure women would fall over themselves to get to any man who delivered lines like those. Some real gems, very well chosen words!

I almost expected Terrie to start hacking up a lung after her first "that's disgusting", but I suppose that might have been a little cartoonish. The vegetarian/smoker combo still made me laugh. Then, the pause as she says "and ... floss" is perfectly placed. Struck at the last minute by this Namian's chicken breath, she almost looks to be second guessing the choice she's just made.

And if I may, I know you're more interested in the acting, but I still want to touch on a pair of technical items, first that the contrast in this movie is really something else. Nice, deep shadows, most of the shots felt like they had tangible depth. One or two early on were a little dark, but beyond that gorgeously exposed. Second, naturally, is the smoke from Terrie's cigarette. Shows up rather nicely, considering the conditions, and the wisps rising up as she speaks add a lot to the atmosphere of the bar setting. Did you focus on that at all during the shoot? A backlight, maybe, or some other special consideration, or did it just show up that well by happenstance?
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #7
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All right, Dick, I have to ask…what does Namian mean?
Here is where if the audio were a little clearer, you would get the line:

"I'm a Namian. I don't eat food that has been renamed."
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:16 PM   #8
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And if I may, I know you're more interested in the acting, but I still want to touch on a pair of technical items, first that the contrast in this movie is really something else. Nice, deep shadows, most of the shots felt like they had tangible depth. One or two early on were a little dark, but beyond that gorgeously exposed. Second, naturally, is the smoke from Terrie's cigarette. Shows up rather nicely, considering the conditions, and the wisps rising up as she speaks add a lot to the atmosphere of the bar setting. Did you focus on that at all during the shoot? A backlight, maybe, or some other special consideration, or did it just show up that well by happenstance?
Acting is what Rox and I studied together for 10 years before we started making films, so I am always glad to hear when people like the acting. Rox and I also teach an acting class once a week and it is a lot of fun.

I started doing short films to learn camera, lighting and audio, and am also pleased when people notice that I have improved in my lighting.

Writing is another passion of mine, and am glad you enjoyed the dialogue.

I can't remember if Rox planned the smoke or not. I did notice the kicker catching it rather nicely but I think it was at least half luck. I was D.P., Rox coached the performers.

I ate three plates of lamb during the shoot and thanks goes to Suresh for making it yummie.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:23 PM   #9
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The dialogue was very well written. It sounded like that conversation actually happened. Although I doubt that that pick up line would ever work and he wouldn't get slapped, I loved it when she told him to brush his teeth. Well done.

It doesn't matter what the line is. Like Johnny Carson, a good pickup artist works best when the line bombs. It's what you do AFTER the slap that counts, LOL.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:39 PM   #10
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Dick... I think my favorite line was "I drink for a living.".. Fun piece... nicely lit... the sound wasn't as bad as you think...

The dialogue was interesting... the female character was a sweet delicious dichotomy of gawd knows what philosophies... I fully expected at the end she would express interest and be rebuffed. Hoped in fact.

Nice job.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 08:55 PM   #11
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I'm gonna get the technical stuff out of the way -- some great, dramatic lighting there. I'd love to know how much ambient light vs. how much equipment light you used. Although you had some sound issues, you handled it well -- the ADR was very good!

When I have sound issues, I like to put some sound effects and/or "walla-walla" underneath. I especially like to use it to overlap between two cuts. That way, there's a constant sound between the cuts. With a constant sound going, the difference in sound between two cuts is lessened. That usually does the trick for me.

But here's the real reason why I always enjoy your films, Dick: they're always about people. I'm always a big fan of stories about people, humans in general. You always have very engaging characters which, in turn, always bring us deeper into the storyline. I've noticed this ever since, "Grits". It comes as no surprise that you have a background in acting. A wonderful performance by all of your actors.

Oh, and I had to laugh when I found out there was another vegetarian in the dvc ;)
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Old May 8th, 2009, 09:39 AM   #12
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I'm gonna get the technical stuff out of the way -- some great, dramatic lighting there. I'd love to know how much ambient light vs. how much equipment light you used.
Joseph,

The bar had very dim lighting so practically all the lighting came from my little britek three light kit. A soft box as a key light, a fill light (usually bounced) and a kicker spot to highlight the hairline and separate it from the background. Basic three point lighting with some good web sites providing me lessons. The one thing I have learned from experience is to give women a softer contrast. Key and fill light 80 degrees apart versus 150 for the guys. Rox is tough to light so I made a strong light from the bar to highlight her.

Audio is a bitch. This is not the final audio, I will not rest until I fix it up a little.

Thanks for kind words on the acting. I want to someday make a feature and I strive for the authentic acting that is needed to carry a longer work. I prefer to illustrate the character relationship, which is difficult in a short film, if you also want to have a story with a beginning, middle and end. So my shorts play more like scenes from a movie rather than entertaining complete works.

I think you have a fabulous directorial eye, and look forward to the day when we can all claim to have known you before your directorial fame. I have friends in L.A. If I ever get out there, I'd love to come see your magic act.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 11:58 AM   #13
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"The bar had very dim lighting so practically all the lighting came from my little britek three light kit"

Looks like Britek rules in this competition. My lighting also from a 3 piece Britek set. I have had a set with two soft boxes for about 3 years now, and though an inexpensive lighting set up, they do pretty nice job. Recently, there was a feature film crew in town, and one of my friends was in the shoot, and they needed a portable lighting set up. We leant them various lights and stands, but all that was use was the Britek kit.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 02:48 PM   #14
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Hey Dick- the acting in this is good. Way to go! That's one of the hardest things I think.
In terms of shooting, I'd like to see more Xtreme close ups on eyes/eyebrows and facial expressions but also on other parts of the body. You never really stray from the face or head and shoulders and I think ther's a lot to be told in a hand tapping on the table or stroking a wine glass or ashing a cigarette. Plus those cut-aways are your bread and butter when you are editing out bad takes or covering up so-so cuts in action.
This piece is very quiet and thoughtful- so i think those extremem CUs and other stuff can really help to suck the audience into the tiny details of the two people's interactions/flirtation.
Also- just a question: Is the 3 piece Britek set a good starter kit? I have a smith and victor crapptastic photo light set and have wanted to upgrade for a while. Have you had good luck with your britek?
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Old May 8th, 2009, 10:21 PM   #15
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This piece is very quiet and thoughtful- so i think those extremem CUs and other stuff can really help to suck the audience into the tiny details of the two people's interactions/flirtation.
Also- just a question: Is the 3 piece Britek set a good starter kit? I have a smith and victor crapptastic photo light set and have wanted to upgrade for a while. Have you had good luck with your britek?

Jullia,

Yeah, it would be nice to have some close up cut aways. We planned a few, opening the wine bottle, pouring a glass. But when 5:00 a.m. came, we just said, hey, think we got it!

I've been real happy with my three light britek $400 on Ebay. When I have $2000 I will buy an ARRI fresnel light kit.
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