DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce at DVinfo.net

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Old September 9th, 2012, 01:14 PM   #1
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DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Alexis Vidrio

Upon Lorinda's announcement of the “Glass” theme, my mind went into overload constructing a story using glass both as the subject and also making sure that aesthetically, glass was referenced tastefully in the majority of the scenes. I wanted glass to be the central element to the storyline and not just serve as a trigger for another story. Because we live in the digital age of very short attention spans, I knew that I wanted a fast, quick, let-me-hit-you-hard type of film. When editing, I was always trying to cut even closer, making everything a little tighter, a little faster, and wanting to leave you out of breath at the end of the journey.

International Dreams
My artistic and personal dreams always drift toward being international. I love meeting new people, love working with international people, and really feel that my purpose is to get out in the world! This summer, my dreams led me to Paris, France to live, work, and play. The DV Challenge took up most of the playtime and it was during a serendipitous bbq with friends where I was able to cast the film. My best friend, Marie (who plays the first operative I steal from and who in real life is a lawyer), was having a picnic the first weekend we were town. That afternoon, I met a ton of international people and during my conversations I would silently cast them for the roles I had fleshed out in the screenplay. In the original screenplay, the role of Vladimir Cherynyi was supposed to be a German with a different name. I rewrote after meeting Vadim, a 25-year old Moldovan student whose dream is to design cars. The role of Carlito Rico was played by Joaquin, from Ecuador. His arm candy, Candi, was played by a colleague of Marie's, Marisa, from Mexico, who thought it would be fun to only say, “Si, Papi,” whenever she spoke. The three glass-maked pursuers were Mariana, from Argentina (who also works with Marie), Paulina, from Mexico (another Marie colleague), and Ruben, from Spain (who actually works in glass installation). On a lark, I asked Ruben if he owned a scooter, and he did(!), so of course that was added to the chase scene!

Inspiration and Items
Growing up with two brothers, we would always play chase, wrestle, and horse-around. So, it was a natural extension to want to get dirty and play a spy in the film. My brainstorming sessions led to making a Memento/James Bond-inspired film that leaves the viewer with a bit of mystery and a few questions to think about.

I thought it would be cool if the character of Alexis Vidrio was tracking down ancient glass artifacts. Where to find such objects? I researched and window-shopped a few places before finding the occult bookstore, Librairie L'Inconnu. There, I was able to secure the glass for €25 total. The masks were found at a costume shop for €2 apiece.

Filming at the Louvre was just stressful. We definitely wanted this to open the film and it was important to get the shots. In scouting the location, we noticed a lot of security, so when we went to shoot, we decided against bringing a tripod. The day of the shoot, there was no security in sight and we filmed for over an hour during the golden hour. One of my favorite shots is when you see Alexis walking past the Louvre and the tip of the Eiffel Tower shows in the background.

We filmed the chase scene over the course of two nights. Unfortunately, Paulina got into a car accident and was injured, so she couldn't do the second day of filming. So, Marie was the pinch-hitter and helped me out during a few scenes of the chase.

Working with and directing limited English-speaking non-actors proved a little bit challenging. The toughest scene was with Vadim speaking Russian. The outtakes are numerous of me saying, “wait, how do you say this again. Please repeat slowly. Ok, repeat again.”

Limited budget (and I mean Very limited) meant that we really had to be resourceful when filming. My “purse” in the Carlito Rico scene is from the American Airlines flight to Paris. We were the last people out of the plane and on my way out walking past the empty first-class seats, I noticed a lot of the little amenity bags were left behind, so I grabbed one. Initially, I just wanted the free toothpaste, eyemask, and socks that are inside, but then it came in handy when I needed a little handbag for the scene.
All of the actors worked for gratis with the promise of a cast party at the conclusion. That was our biggest singular expense beside the €30 cab ride to get our actors to the steps of the Sacré Cœur for the final chase scene and purchasing the Avenir Font for opening titles for $30. The most unexpectedly awesome purchase was the syringe. I had been brainstorming forever for how to have Alexis get an antidote to counteract the drugs she took with Carlito. While checking out the bookstore at the George Pompidou museum, something caught my eye- fake pen syringes being sold at the register! Truly, it looked so real and I was more than happy to shell out the €5.

This film would really be lacking without the amazing talent of Gareth Flowers. Gareth plays trumpet professionally and also loves electronic music. He also played at my wedding! He is wanting to get his music out there, so he accepted the challenge of scoring the film and I couldn't be happier with the final cut. With barely a week to score everything and with me sending him different cuts, it was really an amazing feat that our schedules lined up for this project. I am forever grateful to him for making this movie pull together. Here you can find out more info about Gareth: Gareth Flowers

In Conclusion
This was my first time writing, directing, starring, and editing a movie. It was totally all-encompassing and I really had every creative trigger firing at the same time. My creative dreams are manifesting into a reality and I really have to thank my husband, Andrew Bove, for supporting me throughout the journey. He is not only my number one cameraman, he is my biggest support. I think it takes quite a man to be able to handle a wife giving the orders, looking over the footage, and then saying, “no, I want the camera angle this way” and then executing the vision. I also need to give him credit for the really cool effects on the title. Every time I watch it I get giddy.

Thank you for watching my short film, for reading my synopsis, and for voting. And a big thank you to DV Challenge and my new forum friends for providing a creative outlet! I'm already thinking about an Alexis Vidrio sequel.....

Toni Dolce
New York, New York
Alexis Vidrio - YouTube

Locations: 19
Glass References: 35
Edits: 155
Actors: 8
Hours to Film: 18
Total Budget: €240- roughly $307

Last edited by Lorinda Norton; September 16th, 2012 at 11:37 PM. Reason: Last names removed at Toni's request.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 01:40 PM   #2
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

WOW! Toni! This film is the biggest undertaking I have ever seen in the DV Challenge! It is a very exotic film, and I love all the locations and languages. I am so impressed by the scope. The camera work is top notch, gripping and cinematic. I actually can't compliment the camera work enough (great job Andrew!!) I LOVE the shot where Alexis is running parallel with the camera while being chased by one glass mask person while another comes up the ramp and joins the chase, that is dynamic choreography and the cut to the next angle is also energetic! Really great work, really ambitious and I think you really pulled it off.

I have a few constructive thoughts though:
In the scenes with dialogue, you can hear the edits and the audio tracks coming on and off. For example, in the final heist, when Carlito Rico's girlfriend gets up, you can hear her movement off the couch end abruptly. Also his dialogue coming on and off. I'm not sure if you did this or not, but recording room tone for 30 seconds in each environment can really help blanket over edits like that.

Also, I was a little confused by the people wearing the masks? I'm not sure who they are or what they represent. I might be missing something, but either a clue of who/what they are or that they are her demons would be helpful. I am not sure if they are real or not because I never really saw her escape them, yet there was no reveal that they were never there either.

And my last note, kind of on the mask people, is there are a few (only a few) shots where you can tell the chase isn't as full speed as it is at other times. I know it is hard to film an all-out full speed foot chase in the streets at night over and over again, but I think with a bit more cutting you could have hid it. That's a pretty tiny note though, and overall the chase is incredibly realized and energetic and exciting, but there were a couple shots that weren't up to the high bar you set with the rest of the chase.

That's just a few things I noticed, but I can't stress enough how impressive this film is! Congrats! Really incredible work and I can't believe how high the DV Challenge bar has become over the years.
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Old September 9th, 2012, 05:01 PM   #3
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Extremely well done and engaging. You did a wonderful job with the fast paced edits that you incorporated into all the chase scenes. I felt that if you had been able to hold a time or two within these moments it might have been nice but obviously you were right up to the time limit and had a lot to pack in there.

I too was a bit confused by the people in the masks. They looked cool and added to the suspense of the piece but I wasn't sure who they were. I kind of determined that they were in flashbacks and the whole story wasn't linear but still found it a bit disconcerting when one moment she is being chased with them hot on her tail and the next moment she is safely in a car.

The shot around 2:52 where she goes through the door was awesome, loved the reflection of her walking one way and then she suddenly appears walking the other.

I also felt like the piece lacked a bit of the glass theme. It used glass in great ways (reflections. glasses, masks) but the glass artifacts played more as a maguffin to me -- she could have been on a mission to collect 3 of anything and the story would have been the exact same. So to me it became a wonderfully shot, attention grabbing story that had glass in it but wasn't saying anything about glass or how we define it.

That being said, I'd be damn proud to have shot that myself! Well done!
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Old September 9th, 2012, 11:50 PM   #4
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Extremely high profuction value packed into this film. It sure helps to have feel of Paris in your film. Interesting story. And glass is what gems are called, so I think the theme is covered. A bit confusing about the back and forth in time line, till the end, but I think it all got adequately explained. Nice job Toni, on the acting too !

Camera used ?
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old September 10th, 2012, 03:30 AM   #5
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

WhoooooW! This Oozes quality, which I can’t find fault with, a true top class production. nice smooth camera, captivated me all the way, Well done. But I must agree with

Originally Posted by Adam Snow View Post
I also felt like the piece lacked a bit of the glass theme. It used glass in great ways (reflections. glasses, masks) but the glass artifacts played more as a maguffin to me -- she could have been on a mission to collect 3 of anything and the story would have been the exact same. So to me it became a wonderfully shot, attention grabbing story that had glass in it but wasn't saying anything about glass or how we define it.
Please could you tell us a bit more about your camera and set-up, plus any other kit used. cheers
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Old September 10th, 2012, 07:48 AM   #6
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

This is really an amazing film. The cinematography is gorgeous, with incredible lighting, even in usually difficult night settings. The actors are all superb, and the setting is of course as well. You captured some nice scenes of the well known and lesser known places in Paris.

I also really have to commend you on your score. Coming from an audio background before getting into film, I find music and sound effects to be of equal importance. This film really put a lot of emphasis on the music matching the action, and was hugely effective.

As far as theme goes, I found it to be a great use of the theme on multiple levels with the masks, the artifacts, the reflections, glasses in the final gem scene- so many subtle levels of glass.

My only constructive comment, coming from audio as I do, would be as Mitchell mentioned, be careful that room tone audio doesn't interfere with audio continuity. For most of my films I record audio after the fact and am sure to include white noise from any environment used to be sure to cover up audio from each scene. If you record audio in camera, be sure to just record plain audio with no noise from each scene and this can be used to cover up any transitions.

This is a really wonderful film- impressive beginning for someone's first time writing, directing, starring, and editing a movie. And your husband is quite good with the camera!
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Old September 10th, 2012, 07:50 AM   #7
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Hi Mitchell, Adam, Chris, Mark, and Ruth!

Thanks for commenting!

What makes the DV Challenge so unique is that the theme is completely open to interpretation. All 17 of the films run the gamut from using glass as a vague reference to having every frame being a pane of glass, or having glass be used as a metaphor to having it be the subject.

What I wanted to accomplish with my spy/chase/adventure movie was to have glass be the subject matter and along the way, include well-thought out shots of glass placement. For example, one of my favorite shots was when we first see Alexis in her sunglasses and the Louvre glass pyramid is perfectly framed in her glasses. Upon repeat viewing, you'll notice the intentional glass placement in every scene.

Your comments reassure me that my movie accomplished what I was going after. Were the glass-masked pursuers part of Alexis' imagination and a remnant of the drugs from Carlito's? Were they actually coming after her for the glass artifacts? How did they know where to find her? Is she being double-crossed by her agency?

The back-and-forth style was an experimentation and I think I definitely learned something about storytelling in my first film.

Mitchell and Ruth, you are totally right about the audio and I will take your advice for my future projects. I really took on a lot with both the film and audio editing and it makes me realize that sometimes it is better to delegate.

This was a bare-bones set up and we used 1 cameraman outfitted with Canon 5D Mark II, 2 Zoom lenses: 70-200mm f2.8, 17-40mm f4.0, Sachtler Ace Tripod, a Gorillapod, Glidecam HD4000, and 2 cheap LED lights I bought on Ebay that we used for the balcony scene at the end.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 08:30 AM   #8
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Very very cool. Shocking really, that you were able to pull this off!

I guessed you were aiming for a Bourne style vibe; memory loss, frenetic chases, international locations; and you certainly nailed this.

One tiny observation is that in the cafe scene the 180 line seems to have been crossed (or else the two characters were not necessarily directly facing each other as they talked in public - as spies are want to do) - not that it mattered though, the scene worked well as it was.

As everyone else has mentioned the chases and lighting were amazing, and its incredible that you managed to fit so much into such a limited time - clearly the mark of a most excellent editor! This short really shows what an incredible camera the 5D2 is still to this day. There are probably few other tools that could have pulled of those natural lit scenes through the streets.

The competition is really going to be difficult to judge; but yours will most certainly be up there in the top.

What about those crazy running shoes with the toes?
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Old September 10th, 2012, 09:56 AM   #9
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Hi Toni

Wow, what a film to try a pull off and pull it off you did. Gorgeous looking material and some fab locations and cast. I can't believe you 'ran' around the streets of Paris filming this... guerrilla shooting in city streets is such a hard task and that's before you've rolled the camera, but you made use of the fab location really well and obvious dodged the coppers well :-) ! I really liked all the French and Russian in this, it really adds a great flavour. There are a number of places where your edit broke down due to various line of action issues. (The cafe seq and the Russian apartment scene) which was a shame when you had such great footy !

All in all though a great top notch effort. Your Black Magic camera will work even better on the feature length version ;-) !

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Old September 10th, 2012, 11:35 AM   #10
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Hey Toni,

I was going to commend you on finding a really talented lead actress, until I realized that actress was you, hehe! Your talent really does show -- both in front of as well as behind the camera. LOVED the fact that the piece is multilingual, and dang, you've got some language skills! Also, I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say how envious I am of those gorgeous Paris shots.

I, too, found the story to be a bit jarring at times; but that's always one of our biggest challenges as storytellers when there's a time constraint. I still was able to follow the story. What I really enjoyed was how big you dreamed when you created this short film -- and that makes your vision, your performance, and your product stand out. I think if you had more time to let the story unfold and breathe a little, you would have the chance to the elements together a bit more. Again, a great piece, and I'd love to see the Director's Cut!

Btw... Tu Espanol... no es Espanol de Mexico... es Espanol de Espana, verdad? Castellano, possible?
Joseph Tran, student of DVinfo by day, touring entertainer by night: josephtran.com

Last edited by Joseph Tran; September 10th, 2012 at 11:44 AM. Reason: pushed 'Enter' too early...
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Old September 10th, 2012, 01:10 PM   #11
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Simon and Mat,

Thanks for the critiques!

Since you two were the ones to mention the 180 line, I have to admit that I had no idea what you were talking about and had to google it. I have never gone to film school and never really studied the technical side of making a movie. I just had a vision and ran with it. That's why I am so glad to know how found this forum- I love learning! Now, I know a few basic technical things and can add that to my arsenal! Thanks for the honest assessment.

ps. The shoes are Vibrams and are my favorite running shoe!


Aunque he estudiado español en la escuela, gran parte de mi acento se ha perdido. Creo que lo que estamos oyendo es un acento francés-infundido españoles. Gracias por los elogios. Creo que se puede decir que pasamos un montón de tiempo y energía en este proyecto y me alegro de que usted aprecia el esfuerzo.
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Old September 10th, 2012, 02:03 PM   #12
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce


This was beautifully filmed. I suppose your D.P. shares the credit, but the lighting, both day and night is professional quality. Your camera angles, the high point of view of the chase, and her out of focus POV as she is running, the close up of the upside down shoe, makes it feel like a big budget film. A lot of attention went into storyboarding I bet. Don't let hat 180 rule bug you too much, in a lot of action or fight sequences, many directors throw it out the window.

You are a filmmaker. Can't wait to see your next film.

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Old September 11th, 2012, 02:03 AM   #13
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Well let me say what everyone else is saying I am sure even not reading anything above WOW!

Great Film, Great Titles, Great Effects, Great Locations, Great Lighting, Great Cinematography, Great Music, Great ETC.........

I do have a question "What are you doing here? You should be doing this for real make a movie your great! - Maybe you already are? Great work!

Thank you for sharing this exciting film with us

Frank Moody
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Old September 11th, 2012, 10:33 AM   #14
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

I'm really impressed with how you handled all the actors, first getting each of them excited about participating, and then helping them all bring their cool characters to life. I have no idea how you did it.

Well done.

I can't wait for the sequel!
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Old September 11th, 2012, 02:19 PM   #15
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Re: DV 22: Alexis Vidrio by Toni Dolce

Thanks for the comments! I like the fact that you are using one of the shots for inspiration! With that shot, we chose to have it focus on the shoe while I was changing in the background...leave a little bit of mystery...

Thanks for the filmmaking compliment. In real life I work on a lot of different creative things, but this challenge brought a lot of those talents and gifts together in one package. I loved every second of it. The thrill of working with other actors, checking out the scenes while filming and working out different camera angles on the spot, editing (oh...the editing.....) and overall creating something really cool was a great artistic experience.

You know how sometimes you define yourself, like, "Hi, my name is Toni and I am doctor," or "Hi, I'm Jack, I'm a teacher." I've struggled a lot trying to define what I do. Am I a singer? A voiceover artist? A production company owner? A director? At the end of the day, I am all of those things. I think that this challenge showed me that I can simply trust in my creative energy and focus and something will come of it in the end. I don't have to try and define myself, the work will define it for me.

Thanks for following the journey and believing in my talent!

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