DVC16 - "Food is the Way to a Man's Heart" - Joseph Tran at DVinfo.net

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Old May 6th, 2009, 02:17 PM   #1
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DVC16 - "Food is the Way to a Man's Heart" - Joseph Tran

So we shot this before and after work hours, with crew rotating in and out of the house at different times to setup. Most of us were on some long work schedules, so it was quite interesting balancing the logistics for the shoot! Still, I had an agreement with Lorinda, and wanted to fulfill my end of the agreement :) I'm certainly glad I did, as I got to subject my leading man (and best friend) to a wide variety of mishaps, all of which were hilarious for us [the crew] to witness and shoot.

The idea for "Food is the Way to a Man's Heart" came to us after about two and a half weeks of struggling with a story. Then Andy, my DP, suggested, "You've been learning fancy dishes to cook for your girl... why not write something on that?" The entire idea suddenly and inexplicably came to me moments after.

There are other tidbits, inside jokes, and trivia within this short, but I'll let that unfold as the discussion progresses.

Until then, I present to you, my colleagues, "Food is the Way to a Man's Heart".
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Old May 6th, 2009, 02:45 PM   #2
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This was actually my favorite film of yours to date in these competitions. I'm not saying three-peat just yet, but very good. I laughed, a lot. The back and forth of the buddies critiquing was wonderful. I like the way you played out the stereotypical tastes like dog joke and then end joke of showing her the door had me laughing out loud.

I liked all the camera movement, really smooth. I though all the shots were quite good.

I guess the only thing that got to me was the montage as he progressed seemed to get a little long for me. But the camera shots were excellent during that part so it would be hard for me to tell you to cut any of the shots, maybe just trim 15 frames from each.

Overall another excellent entry!
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Old May 6th, 2009, 02:53 PM   #3
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I echo Jeremies review. Great job once again. One thing that did telegraph the ending was the fact he fixed the meat plates even before she arrived, normally I would mix a hot meal plate bofore a guest arrive, so that told me she would have an objection to what he eventually brought out.

Good fun !
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Old May 6th, 2009, 03:07 PM   #4
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I thought it was great, except for the ending. The vegetarian angle was predictable, and common in this type of setup. What I hoped would be, once he started reading the book about understanding women, he'd come up with a new angle on how to win her without cooking. For example, he cookes two plates full of what he knows will be terrible, and then "accidentally" trips, dropping both plates, ruining the meal, but earning much more of her favor in the form of compassion, than he would have by simply cooking for her (I did this once with a home made birthday cake that I spent hours on, dropped it on the floor in front of all her friends, though not on purpose, it made me a legend and I was blinded by sypathy hugs and kisses from every girl there.) Anyway, that's the ending I was hoping you'd take it to.

However, I did laugh out loud at the awsomely racist "tastes like dog/this one isn't bad" comment. :)
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Old May 6th, 2009, 03:09 PM   #5
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The lead deserves an award for that last scene alone. Finding his feminine side in order to become a better cook culminating in that crestfallen reaction at the end? Absolutely brilliant!

I got a kick out of your character in this romp. When the part about the dog came up I thought, “No, Joseph…don’t go there…” But you did and I cracked up.

The book covers had me smiling. You guys are getting really good at creating whatever you need for your films--at least it’s my assumption that you faked all those. By coincidence I was thinking that when the lyrics of the song went to “I can’t fake it half the time,” so now I’m not sure if they were all fake or only half…

Cooking with butter…Mmmm….the food at the end looked delicious.

I’m sure glad you made good on your promise, Joseph. We’d have missed a GREAT film if you hadn’t! Thanks so much!! Can't wait to hear more from behind-the-scenes.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 03:32 PM   #6
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tastes like dog

I thought the montage part was very well shot, but it was maybe a little too long. I thought the parts with the friends critiquing his food was hilarious. Overall, it was great piece. One of my favorites.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #7
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The best....

Ok I'm no one to comment about the script BUT I'll say I really liked this one... A whole lot... I thought the grocery store scene or that section was just a bit long.... but other then that... Again I Loved it...

PS: do you have credits for the music?

Nice work...
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Old May 6th, 2009, 06:32 PM   #8
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I'm glad you had that deal set up with Lorinda, this is a fun movie! I do have to agree the vegetarian thing was a little predictable. To be fair, I didn't see it coming, but I was a smidge disappointed when she revealed the fact. After "this looks so special" I was looking forward to maybe an "I'm sure it'll be delicious", then a cut to the guy standing outside of a closed bathroom door, the sounds of what I'll call 'illness' coming from beyond. Just as predictable, perhaps, but my child-like mind enjoys things like that.

I am a terrible racist for laughing, but damn it, I cannot deny rolling at "actually, this is not too bad". That accent got me, too. "The chee the govement give me", I'm amazed you got any straight-faced takes at all.

Let me bug you real quick with a question, the guy in the Atari t-shirt, have I seen him somewhere before? Commercials, maybe? He looks familiar.

To close, I hate to be one of 'those guys' (actually to be honest, no, I don't), but technically speaking that book should be "Cooking for Dum-Dums". You never use an apostrophe to pluralize a word. U deed naht punk-choo-wait gud. Tisk tisk. Bob the Angry Flower would be very disappointed.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:33 PM   #9
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LOL, "tastes like dog, this one not too bad." Too damn funny. Joseph can get away with it. I'm Joseph Tran's number one fan. The only thing we will ever be able to critique in a Joseph Tran film is the story. Maybe the vegetarian angle was predictable. But Joseph knows HOW to tell a story. Think it must be the magician training. He knows how to control the audience's eye. His timing, lighting, camera movement, framing are examples to all of us. My favorite DVC film of all time was Joseph's first entry, but they are all a pleasure to watch. Well done.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 08:45 PM   #10
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Many thanks!

Thanks, everyone for watching! This was a fun piece to produce, and I'm glad you're all enjoying it!

I'm amazed that no one has mentioned the part where our lead is set on fire. When we screened it for our friends the other day, the same thing happened, haha. People liked the camera movements, thought the food setups were beautiful, but no one batted an eye over James' arm on fire or flour launching in his face.

For the record, we launched the flour from the oven with an air compressor connected to a tube with holes cut out at the end. The hardest part was the crew trying not to laugh when that happened. The fire was a carefully rehearsed piece of choreography -- we did several dry runs, then camera rehearsals before the real take. We then had James wear a flame-retardant undershirt, coated his open hand with an aloe vera gel, then sprayed the flammable liquid on this arm. I actually set the pan on fire, allowing James to ignite himself during filming. It was, easily, our most difficult and time consuming shot, but I'm glad we got it AND I'm glad we didn't have to use our fire extinguishers (which were, of course, standing by and ready to go).

I can see where the montage might drag on a bit -- perhaps if I cut one of the supermarket segments and "trim a bit of fat" on the others, I can get a shorter feeling result. I'm gonna give that a try.

The girl's vegan revelation may be a bit predictable, but I'm not sure I agree with the ending then being predictable. The ending is not about the girl being a vegetarian -- once she walks through the door, we already know she's trouble. Perhaps the casting was too perfect -- we look at this girl's face with her high-maintenance smile, and we know she's gonna screw things up. Rather, I think the ending is about what the guy chooses to do about it that is the kicker, the real ending. I think Lorinda is right -- the moment is entirely about him at that point, and it was up to James to nail that reaction. Even Robert admits that he didn't see it coming until it happened --then, it becomes predictable because we knew the girl was trouble. I'm glad this came up, because I did struggle a bit with that part -- but I think that since we've made the assumptions about the girl (which is where I think where the predictability part really comes in), any kind of solution to the story can be deemed predictable. I'm kinda backed into a corner in this respect. Even Robert deemed his alternative ending predictable. Even Dylan's example for an ending can be deemed predictable because we as the audience have already predicted that something is gonna go wrong when the girl walks through the door!

In fact, I did play with an ending very similar to Dylan's suggestion where the guy does mess up the dishes and gets his friends to help him. Ultimately, it didn't work for several reasons: I believe it generated an ending that was not as satisfying to the audience. Even if, say, he trips up and the girl comes to him with compassion, it's not an ending that we would like because we haven't sided with the girl yet (in fact, again, we've already judged her when she walked through the door). Another reason is that there simply wasn't enough time. The alternate ending would have made the script considerably longer.

A good example of this interesting topic would be Craig Bellaire's piece, "Life". Consider this: Craig didn't do what is perhaps the most predictable thing -- turn the cracker into a real butterfly. That left people yearning for that resolution, and some even commented that they wanted it. Now if he went through with the ending that many people expected, would the comments mention that the story was predictable, instead? Quite a fascinating conumdrum, in my opinion, but I think that's why so many basic stories of boy meets girl, or man versus nature, or good versus evil have stood the test of time in so many different variations.

Again, I welcome all of your comments -- I think it generates some fascinating dialougue between everyone, and you've certainly challenged me to think about my choices in a much more critical thinking point of view.

Moving on, Robert, I think the Angry Flower is the best cliff-note on punctuations I've ever seen, and I'm glad you picked up on the error, haha. That was a purposely generated error -- perhaps a bit too subtle for my tastes now that I think about it, but I shrugged it off while designing it and the cover made it in, regardless. And yes, Lorinda, I did design all the covers -- there were four covers in total, but only three made it into the film: "Cooking for Dum-Dum's" (with the bad apostrophe, indeed), "Cooking for Complete Imbeciles", and "Understanding Women". The third book has Kim Kardashian on it, and for my own amusement, I thickened her eyebrows threefold. The fourth book, the one that didn't make it, was "Men are from Mars, I have Herpes - by Paris Hilton". Hehe... sorry, I have a bit of a disdain for stupid people who are famous for no good reason.

The guy with the Atari t-shirt is the newest addition to our team. Neil just returned from serving our country overseas, and was eager to jump onto a project. We are very glad to have him, but aside from acting classes, this is his first public, on-camera acting debut. On that note, James is the guy who is usually behind the camera and/or making cameo appearances when I have the lead on-camera role. I knew he was perfect for the part based on this facial expressions and silly mannerisms. We needed an 'everyman' that everyone could cheer for, and he was definitely it. Crystal is a gal I've known since high school, who in most recent years became a vegan. In fact, we dated for a time, in recent years, throughout her vegan-transition. I hate to say it, but she really IS her character -- a high maintenance vegan, lol. Again, too perfect typecasting perhaps? Shhh... don't tell her I told you this. As for me, the accent just naturally came about through interacting with Neil. I played it straight the first couple of times, but suddenly started doing the voice just for the hell of it. Don't worry -- it's OKAY to laugh at it... I'm purposefully playing with stereotypes here.

P.S. Don't knock it 'til you try it. P.S.S. I've never eaten dog, no.

The old meat stew was from a Campbells can of chunky soup mixed with bananas. Believe me when I say it was disgusting to eat. It was worse because we never heated it -- it was eaten right out of the can. Can you just imagine eating canned, sirloin flavored banana? The charred meat was actually a piece of steak that sat out in the open for about a week -- it was truly a disgusting pile of 'you know what' by the time we used it, and boy was it rancid! We didn't eat that, though... the piece that went into our mouths was actually beef jerky (again, it wasn't dog).

To be honest, we got more bloopers than straight-faced takes. It became a competition between Neil and I on who can make the other person laugh more. I, of course, won by a landslide ;) If you want to see some of the other takes, I can make a blooper reel for everyone. Anyone interested?

Again, thanks everyone for a wonderful conversation and very thought-provoking comments. Keep 'em rollin' on in now, ya hear?
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Old May 6th, 2009, 09:07 PM   #11
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Joseph... your films are always a lesson in themselves. The cuts are always near perfect, the photography (I for one refuse to call the capure of any image thru a lens anything else) was well done, and the story was well executed.

The story this time was excellent... but maybe I might grade earlier ones higher. I laughed at..but at the same was out off by the flour puff shot...stretched my limits of "willing suspension of disbelief" mayhaps. I am probably naive but the ending did not catch me expectant and I liked it... especially when HE left HER. How many times do men look back and think, I should have bailed when...? (Apologies to Lorinda and other women for a male to male comment here.)

I certainly hope you plan to pursue a future in film making.....until you do guys like me never have a chance here <g>. Thanks for the fun.

Chris S.

I half expected a book cover that said "101 Ways to Wok your Dog"
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Old May 6th, 2009, 09:13 PM   #12
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Just to be clear, I didn't mean to disparage the ending; the "I'm a vegetarian" line is all I was talking about. The ending itself was something I never would have imagined. I thought the guy was just going to burst into tears after working so hard and having his meal rejected, but then he goes to the door, tells her to get out, and you slam to black? I am a huge supporter of that ending choice, I only meant to offer thoughts on the one particular moment.

As for the fire, well, I figured you're a professional stage performer, you of all people would be able to pull off something like that safely. Great to hear all the details of the stunt, and good work not setting anything or anyone else on fire! I didn't have to use the fire extinguisher on my set either, so here's to not burning down any houses during the challenge.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 10:06 PM   #13
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Yeah I forgot the arm on fire shot.....that was waaayyy perfect,.

I was shopping for a film makers liability policy the other day one one of the questions was -" any pyro(technics) or fire"?

I never saw a lick of fire...<g> and loved every one. Thanks. And thanks for the explanation. absolutely loved that clip !!!!

CS
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Old May 7th, 2009, 07:39 AM   #14
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Do you have credits for the music?

Please have credits and rights for this music.......
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Old May 7th, 2009, 08:58 AM   #15
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Hi Craig,

Because it could be awhile before Joseph heads back here I hope he doesn’t mind if I step in and ease your mind about the music. The reason I feel I can answer for him is that it has come up occasionally with his other films.

He lists the titles and credits the authors on his Vimeo page. As for the rights, these are unsigned/inde artists Joseph knows. In his line of work he gets to meet a lot of people.

My friend is an audio engineer so his library of unsigned artists is fairly extensive. I’ve asked some of them if I could use their stuff in the past, though usually I don’t give myself enough time.
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