"Living the Dream", short made on XH A1 at DVinfo.net

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Old April 12th, 2007, 03:45 AM   #1
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"Living the Dream", short made on XH A1

It's been a LONG time since I've done anything creative--nose to the grindstone as it were, and I'm no longer affiliated with Instant Films which essentially forced me to produce shorts several times a year. It took the impetus of a friend of ours, actor Wayne Wilderson who hosts a backyard film festival designed to inspire his friends to get out there and make something short and fun. My girlfriend Amy and I decided to take him up on it. We had 8 weeks notice, so of course we started on this less than a week before the screening...!

It's about a lonely woman who dreams of being the characters in her favorite movies and TV shows. It was a fun opportunity for Amy to play lots of great roles, and for me to duplicate the looks of classic or well-known films.

I shot on the A1 in 16:9 DV mode, because my current computer isn't fast enough to handle HDV and we have no intention of taking this to festivals (let's just say there MIGHT be a slight issue with rights!). A bit of diffusion here and there as needed, mostly clean and with a custom preset that I designed. Color correction and editing in Final Cut Pro. I could have gone deeper with the looks, adding grain and tweaking filters until the cows came home but I let it go at a certain point since this was just for fun.

We shot for 3 days; I had a single helper for 2 of the days and a basic lighting package. Two days to edit.

The screening was a lot of fun. All of the films will be up on the Waymos site (linked via the clip's page) in a few days. Reception to this film was enthusiastic--you couldn't hear the soundtrack over the cheering at certain points!

Here is the clip.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 10:02 AM   #2
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Charles, that was a wonderful short. It looked like a lot of fun to work on. The actress had the parts down 100%. Great job, I really enjoyed it.

Regards,
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Old April 12th, 2007, 01:38 PM   #3
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Awesome production..
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Old April 12th, 2007, 10:48 PM   #4
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Very nice.
Keep up the good work
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Old April 12th, 2007, 10:58 PM   #5
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Charles-- love that retrospective piece. Great job. and you can tell that was a hell o lot of work.
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Old April 12th, 2007, 11:06 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone! Glad you liked.
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Old April 13th, 2007, 11:53 AM   #7
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Absolutely fabulous! Only piece of criticism is that the opening shots seamed a little shaky, i.e. the zoom on her talking to "mom". She did an excellent job in all the roles and you did an excellent job on executing the entire production! Editing was great. Fabulous, just fabulous!
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Old April 13th, 2007, 12:55 PM   #8
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Bravo!

Charles,

Absolutely loved it! Thanks for posting it.

Nearly seamless integration of the original footage. I was wondering about the rights, then re-read your post. I suppose if you really wanted you could re-shoot with actors playing Woody and Billy etc. Most of those are such famous scenes that you don't need the actual footage for context. Great concept...
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Old April 13th, 2007, 03:31 PM   #9
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Ken:

I figured the music rights alone would be a major pain and there was no way I was going to go after this without the original tracks. So putting in the actual footage from the film seemed irrelevant on top of that. As I said, we just made this for fun, at some point it will just retire into the archives.

Ryan:

Well, I thought that was a good catch until you referred to the zoom--that was actually a dolly shot! There are two, the first time you see her is a slow wide dolly in and then there is another longer lens at her last line while on the phone. That one is indeed a bit shaky, but I didn't realize it at the time and probably could have just as easily zoomed. I hate the fact that it is very hard if not impossible to feather out of a zoom on these types of cameras without it looking a bit abrupt, hence the dolly (that's the way I'm used to doing it in the "real" world anyway). I was using a Losmandy dolly with the Flextrack, but not in the rideable configuration which tends to make long lens shots a bit dicier as you have to walk along with it.

The second shot of the film (low wide angle of the laundromat) needed to be lower than my sticks could go so I just plopped it on a bag or something--there's just a touch of extra movement to it which always bugs me if its not intentional. Having to shoot the supermarket shot of the Mary Tyler Moore sequence unlit and handheld REALLY bugged me but since it was stolen, I had no choice!
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Old April 14th, 2007, 12:03 AM   #10
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Any hint of shakiness was negated by the overall quality of composition and the great acting- I didn't even notice the movement until I read that post.

You NAILED the looks- thanks for sharing.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 03:53 AM   #11
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That's how I felt too Benjamin...in that I made certain choices based on performance and compromises based on time and the scope of the project. It was an interesting exercise in how much I should or shouldn't "let go"--the perfectionist in me wanted to get everything note-perfect (Amy was the same way with her performances) but we only had so much time, so I had to develop a sense of how much we needed to get just so to properly sell the recreations. Generally it was somewhere between suggesting and duplicating, if it is possible to qualify in words!
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Old April 14th, 2007, 04:16 AM   #12
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Charles, that was fantastic. What a wonderful showreel piece for your girlfriend.

All the best,

Liam.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 10:18 AM   #13
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Wow

I had to watch the YOU TUBE version but holy smokes! You matched the commercial footage darned well! I really paid attention to your lighting and although it looked natural and effortless, I can imagine how hard you worked to achieve that look. Fantastic. Thank you for this.
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Old April 14th, 2007, 08:49 PM   #14
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Awesome !

This is one of the more pleasing things I have watched in awhile Charles ! You always have such a tongue and cheek about your work; you don't take yourself that seriously it seems (in a good way) and it shows.

I loved this piece. I was laughing throughout and the trip down memory lane was great ! Simple but very effective. Perhaps a few too many gags, but nevertheless, awesome job !

Edit

I know you said a 5 day shoot; how many days in Pre ?
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Old April 14th, 2007, 09:51 PM   #15
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Thanks John!

Preproduction was largely Amy running around town trying to find all of the wardrobe and wigs etc...much of it was located at thrift stores but she also got a few pieces from friends who work in the biz in wardrobe department. Took her about a week to find everything.

My pre-pro was entirely about collecting the reference clips and making a DVD that we could take on location with us, so it wasn't all that long. Figuring out the various locations took a bit of thought. I didn't make any lighting or camera plans ahead of time, mostly winged it on shoot days.
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