DVC17 Fear and Loathing on Parliament Hill at DVinfo.net

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Old October 14th, 2009, 09:51 AM   #1
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DVC17 Fear and Loathing on Parliament Hill

Hi Everyone,

This trailer is the first DV Challenge for me. The trailer is based on a script that my 16 year old grandson (Alec) and his pal (Karel Cespiva) wrote during the summer. It is based on the teachings of the philosopher/economist John Locke who claimed there is an unspoken social contract between governments and their people. Alec's script proposes to check out the Canadian government to see if the government is living up to its end of the bargain. He happened to show me the script in late August -- I found the story hilarious.

When the challenge was presented, I thought it would be great to do a trailer of the script. The video was all done on one evening in a pal's suite of offices (after everyone had left for the day). Props were basically whatever the kids brought with them and whatever we found in the offices. The trailer traces part of Alec's journey through the labyrinth of a definitely weird government. Regardless of how insane this seemed during the filming, attempting to get a permit to film old City Hall in Toronto was remarkably and distressingly similar to the script. Ultimately we failed to get the permit, so the title scene is a still image.

The actors are all 16 year olds and we had a great time together doing the video. Alec's Dad (my son Tim) and my wife (Grannie Francie) helped out with the logistics. Ana-Maria had a tight schedule as her curfew was 8:00PM and she had a key role to play. Jovanny, the Gunman and evolving bureaucrat and Karel the Desk Worker/Beatnik got right into the craziness of the script.

With limited time, our lighting was primarily the available overhead heavy duty fluorescent lights. I learned that overhead fluorescents may be bright but they are difficult to work with! We had two cameras so I ran the A camera and the kids (mostly Karel) did the B camera in each take. I did the post production work.

I do hope you enjoy it and I know the kids and I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.


Last edited by Alan Emery; October 14th, 2009 at 09:53 AM. Reason: Error in text
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Old October 14th, 2009, 12:51 PM   #2
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I definitely dug and appreciated the concept!!

shots looked good and the lighting as well. I'm amazed it actually turned out that well with only over head lighting?

My suggestions...

It felt more like a short film and not a trailer. cut alot of the narrative and just show funny jokes or cool shots. Obviously this is just for a trailer though :)

I shy away from kids in adult rolls. It just kills the realism for me. Nothing takes me out of the feel and the "world" of a movie quicker than a kid playing an adult roll. Even as a kid I cast adults as my actors, because it just bothered me to no end watching my 12 year old buddy beat up a bunch of ninjas? :)

This is just my pet peeve though. Others may disagree.

Congrats on your first entry!! Keep em coming!

Good luck my friend,
I like movies.....
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Old October 14th, 2009, 02:58 PM   #3
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Hi Jesse,

It was primarly but not entirely overhead fluorescent lights. I did have a couple of CFL flood bulbs (16 watts) from Home Depot in small clip-on lamps that I used to soften the shadows from the overheads when it was possible. You can see a bit of shadow from them in a couple of shots.

Using the kids as actors was of course because this was their script and they all want to be in the industry so it was a natural for them to do the acting even though kids would not be in these roles in real life. They had a blast doing it.

Many thanks for your comment on the trailer vs short film aspect. Once you point it out, I have to agree. That also highlights the need to ensure there are lots of cool shots and funny jokes in the finished piece.

I will certainly look forward to the next challenge.

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Old October 14th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #4
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I really like this idea. I'm always fascinated when people take their jobs way too seriously and follow arbitrary rules without question. I HATE bureaucracy, and I think it's perfect ground for an interesting movie.

I also think it's so cool that your grandson + friends wrote this, and even cooler that they have a grandpa encouraging them to make stuff and is helping them produce it. I wish my grandpa made movies with me! Great work, I'm glad to hear everyone had so much fun.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 05:37 PM   #5
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It felt a little bit more like a short movie than a trailer and I was a little lost at times, but some of the scenes really made me laugh hard. I actually love seeing kids playing more adult roles and I think they did a great job.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 06:25 PM   #6
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My grand kids ( 4 girls age 7 to 15) have been bugging me to do a script they wrote. Your film here gives me the feeling I should go ahead and do it. They have such good ideas and they have been veterens of many of my shoots.

Looks like a lot of fun.

I agree with prior comment about the need to cut it in this contest as a trailer.
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old October 14th, 2009, 10:01 PM   #7
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I guess I'll just echo some of the previous thoughts, in that, it felt more like a short than a trailer.

I love that you did this with your Grandkids. It's awesome family fun. I hope as my kids get older that they'll come up with fascinating ideas that we'll be able to make together.

Making TV is a whole more fun than watching it and it's a good thing for kids to learn.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 11:15 PM   #8
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Letís see here....it set up the premise but left lots of questions; it made me wonder just what itís all about and wish I knew more...Yep, must be a trailer! :) (Actually, I understand what is being said regarding the trailer versus a short--I'm afraid I did the same thing with mine.)

Leave it to a bunch of kids to know just how to skewer bureaucracies. And the lead character--some of his reactions just cracked me up. Timing and delivery can make a relatively ordinary line very funny.

Alan, you and your team did a great job on this, especially for a first effort. Congratulations all around!
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Old October 14th, 2009, 11:51 PM   #9
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I'm impressed! This concept is quite sophisticated for 16 year olds. Your actors did a great job- the main actor is so cute!
Some laugh out loud lines in here:
"Oh my authorization form- for a pen!"
"How will I ever play the harmonica!"
"You need an LSD25."
I like when he plays the drums on the box afterwards.
I think the 2nd half was dragging a bit in comparison to the 1st half which was totally snappy and funny.
Overall this was great! Fantastic first entry- can't wait to see more.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 11:52 PM   #10
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Oh, one thing I didn't get was the title. Any connection to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas the movie about Hunter S. Thompson?
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Old October 15th, 2009, 01:12 PM   #11
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Hi All

Many thanks for your comments and suggestions. I have shared them with the team.

Kid are surprisingly sophisticated at any age, but at 16 they can be formidable if only you can get them to share their thoughts. I have to admit that I was wowed by the non-childish development of a theory that has been so central to our current ideals but whose author died in the early 1700's. The kids built a number of threads into the script that we didn't touch in the trailer, some a lot more subtle than the sameness/weirdness/ladder status, etc. of bureaucrats or the endless form-filling required to deal with government. I felt it was appropriate to have bright kids portraying somewhat less bright adults dulled by bureaucracy.

The comments about short movie vs trailer made me think about my understanding of a trailer. A quick search suggested it might be my age: up until 1960 trailers were mostly created by the National Screen Service and consisted of various key scenes from the film being advertised -- a reflection of my youthful indoctrination. It was in the 1960s and beyond that quick editing and montage techniques came into vogue (by then I was caught up in a science graduate career with little time to watch movies). Now, I gather it is normal to shoot a trailer as a separate work, often with scenes that do not appear in the actual movie.

Another lesson I learned in this quick but belated Wikipedia search was that most trailers are in three acts: Act 1 - lays out the story premise, Act 2 - drives the story forward with a dramatic climax, and Act 3 - features a strong piece of signature music complete with a visual montage of powerful and emotional moments of the film.

Perhaps the "William Tell Tricycle" doesn't really qualify as a powerful and sweeping signature piece of music to act as a climax for our trailer!

Alec has been great at self-created jokes and one-liners since he was a little boy. And he has great presence on stage although in "real life" he is quite shy.

As soon as he gets home from school I will ask him about the title.

Once again many thanks for your interesting and helpful comments.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 03:43 PM   #12
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Well, harumph. I happen to like filling out forms, thank you very much, and I'm going to submit a C6-4811-N to apply for authorization to file a formal complaint about your unfair depiction of bureaucrats in this film. Just as soon as I'm granted permission to use one of the stamps I have here on my desk.

I was confused at first, like some others, and thought this was a short instead of a trailer. Looking at it again it's easier to see that it's a collection of scenes from a larger film, but I do think you'd benefit from a clearer separation of clips. The way it's arranged now it looks like they're supposed to follow one after the other, and I got tripped up by that.

Nonetheless, Canadian Chong makes up for any editing problems from where I'm standing; "Oh, that bird's a loon, man" is a priceless line with a priceless delivery. I'm still laughing at him. Great first contest entry, hope to see more from your team!
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Old October 16th, 2009, 12:27 AM   #13
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Just echoing some other comments, nice concept, but it feels like a short not a trailer. Great job shooting a film with teens though, its really hard to get them not to feel self conscious.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 07:22 AM   #14
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Hi Julia,

Alec says the title was one of a number of contenders. He comments:

"I suppose the most probable reason I went with Fear and Loathing on Parliament Hill was because I had just finished patching up the beatnik scene, which is probably one of my favourite scenes in the script. I always imagined the beatnik's speech with a peculiar sort of drawl, much like that of Hunter S. Thompson, so this probably influenced my decision."

Robert, looks like Alec agrees with you on the beatnik scene!

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