Wednesday, December 10, 2008

tales of woe

I can't say that everything went wrong with the shoot today. At the least, the rain held off until nightfall, and I got at least half of the shots I had indended to get. Plus, at least maybe having horrible luck for this end credits shoot means that I'll have good luck for the shoot in January that constitutes the bulk of my film. But seriously, after today I almost feel like never shooting anything outside of the animation studio.

My turn towards misfortune started yesterday night. At 11pm, Dorian (who I had enlisted as my assitant for the shoot) had a long way to go on his big final essay that was due for a class the next day at 4pm. Since my shoot time overlapped with essential writing time, I suggested I try to find someone else so he didn't have to me with me on the shoot for that long. That proved entirely unfruitful, as not too many people are available on a weekday morning/afternoon with almost no notice. The problem is, it is physically impossible for me to shoot my stopmotion chunk with only one person.

Fast forwarding to the next morning, the first immediate challenge was the lack of snow. As mentioned in the entry below, I had decided the night before that I would use my own, darker-coloured bike rather than the light-coloured bike offered to me by Dawn since the snow looked like it was there to stay. However it rained all night and by the morning the grass was as green as ever. That wasn't a huge setback, it just meant that I would have a darker bike on a dark background, which probably wouldn't be too big a problem. I enlisted Dorian to help me bring everything over (fortuately my shoot site was only a few blocks from my house), and set to work getting ready to start filming. Dorian had to go work on his essay for a bit, so I figured I'd hope that one of the people I had emailed might show up. Unfortunately no one did, so I tried to see if I could set up the shot myself. The wind was ridiculously crazy, and not only kept tipping the bike over, but broke the kite dowel as it crashed into a tree (we were able to fix it with tape). 

The worst result of the whole endeavour was a combination of the wind's strength, me forgetting that the tripod only needs the spacers on pavement, and my foolishly leaving the camera to go over to the bike to try and right it. Just like that, with a huge gust of wind, the tripod toppled over and the camera hit the mud. I ran back and picked it up -- it was a really soft surface so I figured it couldn't have been damaged, but when I looked through the viewfinder it was a bit askew. Figuring that something had just been a bit jostled, I tried to see if it was something I could fix, but I couldn't see what was causing it, so I figured I'd head down to AFCOOP and ask Al if he was around. 

The problem then was that I had too much equipment to carry by myself, and no one else there to watch it for me. I paced around in desperation for half an hour, watched everyone at the CBC building file out for a fire alarm, then back in...Dorian still wasn't back and no one else had showed up. Finally I flagged down a really nice random person walking down the street and asked if I could use their cellphone. The guy's name was Lucas and he thankfully obliged, so I was able to get Dorian to rush over to watch the stuff while I went to AFCOOP. 

I showed the camera to Chris at AFCOOP who informed me that not only was the viewfinder screwed up and would have to be fixed by Al at a later date (though Chris did try), but there was a chip in the prism  at the front, which is not reparable and really bad news, since they'll have to try and find a replacement from a broken down bolex or else have me buy them a whole new camera if that doesn't work. Needless to say, it was an emotional time, and I really appreciated how nice Chris was about it even though I had really screwed up and was taking up a lot of his time (not to mention limiting camera options for all the other OMF participants and AFCOOP members, taking up tons of Al's time as well and generally making things difficult for everyone). Chris got me set up with a new camera and I headed out to shoot -- Ralph came by to do some photo-doc and Dorian helped me out with getting some of the main shots done, but eventually they both had to leave and I was back to square one. I huddled on the hill for an hour or so hoping someone else might show up (since I couldn't do anything at all because of course after the accident I wasn't about to leave the camera for one second), but eventually headed home to send out another round of emails. No one was able to make it, so I headed out again and got a static shot of the bike and some unsuccessful kite shot attempts in before heading back to unload my film and return my equipment. 

So that was my first stopmotion shoot, and I have no idea how the footage will turn out. The exposure is really wonky because during the times I was actually able to shoot the sun kept moving in and out from behind various clouds, I'm afraid the kite shots won't turn out very well at all, and really the main thing is that I may have ruined one of AFCOOP's three Bolex cameras. Suffice it to say, it was pretty horrible. Let's hope the Oxberry shoot next month goes a LOT smoother.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Some character sketches for Kate. I am moving slowly with animation, but I'm confident that I'll have everything drawn by the beginning of February (which is when they're sending the film to the lab to be processed, so I have to have it all shot by then). I haven't been very good at logging my progress here, so I'm doing a bit of catchup.

Last week I went and took some location scouting photos on Citadel Hill in preparation for my stopmotion shots, trying to figure out where roughly I could get the best sky and hill without anything else in the background. Here's some random photos from that journey.

Of course, this being Nova Scotia, we got a dump of snow yesterday, so the location will look rather different for the film itself. I had been going to use the bike of Dawn (a fellow OMF'er), which she had generously offered to let me use, but as of today I will be going with my own bike, flat tires and all, since it's a darker colour and will stand out better against the snow.

Another thing that happened recently in regards to the film which is most wonderful news is that in my quest to find a kite to use in the film that was the "classic diamond" shape, I came across, the site of Bill Wilson, a local kite afficianado. Not only did Bill help me find places to look for the kites, when they didn't have exactly what I needed, he custom-made an eddy kite (the name of the diamond kite pattern) for the film. It is completely wonderful and exactly what I needed!
My shoot is tomorrow and I picked up my equipment today -- lugging the old wooden camera stand down the street I started getting really excited -- this is it! I hopefully will post more in regards to how the shoot went later on this week.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

new film / old film

Belatedly I will mention that Warming was in Athens, GA last month at the Eco Focus Film Festival

Kate and Bradbury is off to a good start, and when I have a chance I'll finally post some visuals here! I haven't started any production on the film yet, but we had the animation workshop over the weekend, and it was fantastic! Basically down the street from my house is the animation facility (shared with NSCAD, which is doubly awesome if I end up going to school there), and not only does it have an animation hole punch, but a line testing facility as well! It speaks to how little-versed most of the live action-oriented members of AFCOOP are in animation that no one there (or at NSCAD for that matter) knew that it was around when I was asking. Actually this whole experience has really made me realize the amount of technical knowledge that I learned at Emily Carr. There is the tendency to think of it as a less technical program since it focuses on the experimental and conceptual aspects of animation, but boy did we ever learn a lot compared to what your average live-action filmmaker knows about animation.

Fortunately AFCOOP and CFAT have their share of animators with a large knowledge-base, Heather Harkins being one of them. She showed us all the basic workings of the Oxberry stand, and we got to do a bit of cameraless animation as well (the same sort of markers-on-film thing that I had tried out while learning how to teach the Hands on Animation workshop this past summer). I have a feeling I will definitely be going to her for help in the future. Also I got in touch with my mentor, Jim McSwain. I'll be meeting with him on Thursday and hopefully having an animatic ready at that point, so I'll probably post about that once it happens!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

one minute film

It's official! Workshops have already started for the One 
Minute Film Scholarship program, and our proposal was 
accepted! That means that I'll be writing here from 
time to time about the film's progress and fun stuff 
like that.

The first workshop was all about story, and after a few examples 
and talk about the mechanics of scriptwriting for film, we had a 
roundtable panel going over everyone's project individually. I'm 
the only one doing animation, but it looks like there's going to 
be a lot of great films being made.

Because I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, here's the 
basics on our project:

Kate and Bradbury: A hand-drawn animated short about the 
relationship between a kite and a bicycle.
When Kate, a free-wheeling bicycle, fails to propel herself up a hill, she becomes 
despondent. However, soon afterwards she comes across Bradbury the kite, 
who is having trouble catching a breeze. When the two make a connection, 
they learn that they just might be able to help each other out.

For our submission we sent in a brief summary of the plot and 
then rough storyboards, which I may post here eventually. 
My turn under the microscope at the roundtable was pretty 
painless; the main suggestion that I reveived was that some 
of the random "biking around" scenes could be shortened down 
and get right to the point (the hill), which I definitely agree 
with and will help with the time limit.

Tonight I go in for the first "Intro to 16mm" class, on which I 
will report back later.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I finally got around to fixing my website for the had been misaligned for a long time because I am horrible at coding things, but I figured a different way around it and now it is all good (I hope).

It's pretty neat that warming is still making "the rounds" -- it's been almost a year since I actually submitted to any festivals without being solicited, but thanks to the exposure that it's gotten in festivals such as Short Shorts and Planet in Focus, I've been getting lots of festivals requesting screener copies. I haven't been sending to all of them (since I'm really not focusing on warming any more in terms of getting it "out there"), but there's definitely some interesting ones that I have sent copies to.

To correct myself from my last post, Next Floor is actually a Canadian film, and a very good one at that. Also at the AFF I ended up seeing two other feature-length animations, Waltz with Bashir (an astoundingly animated and hard-hitting film about the casual terror of war as told by a former soldier) and Sita Sings the Blues (a mish-mash of styles brought together to tell the story of Sita, accompanied by blues songs and a storyline about the filmmaker getting dumped--  which wasn't always successful --  but was a charming and funny film nontheless). 

Also I was luckily able to see all the animated shorts program -- kudos to Mark Flindall for programming the excellent FrameXFrame programs. The new Docs section this year of FrameXFrame was especially enjoyable, and featured the world premiere of i am so proud of you, Don Hertzfeld's latest piece. There were definitely some people in the audience who were expecting it to be another Rejected (did they somehow miss everything will be OK?), and guffawed loudly at everything until it became evident that the tone of the piece was a lot more sad and serious than they had expected. The Canadian animation Passage (not to be confused with Passages, which was also a remarkable film) was a somber black and white rotoscoped piece about the filmmaker's trials at the hospital during the birth of her daughter. From the regular FrameXFrame screenings my top pick was Procrastination, a hilariously true and expertly told RCA grad film that I think most people can relate to (or I can, at least). Plus if you click on that link I think you can actually watch it!

It definitely feels weird to be using this as an actul blog versus a "remind myself where my film has screened so I can look it up later" notepad to myself, which is kind of what it has been for the past year. So yeah, these winds of change that are blowing? They are totally called "next film". Today I dropped off my submission to the One Minute Film Scholarship at AFCOOP. More on that later.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

hello india!

warming will be playing on Saturday, Sept 14 at the Voices from the Waters film fest in Bangalore, India.

In other filmish news, I'm currently working for the Atlantic Film Festival here in Halifax, which means that I've been able to see some pretty amazing films, such as Passage (a docu-drama about the search for the Franklin expedition), Idiots and Angels (an indepandantly animated feature-length film, probably my favourite of Bill Plympton's films to date), and Next Floor (a bizarre and visually astounding film from, I believe, France).

Also, warming will be playing on Air Canada flights on the Movieola On Air TV Channel, if you happen to be flying around any time in the next few months.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

short shorts

Just wanted to note that as of today, warming is in the middle of its run in Tokyo at Short Shorts.
You can go here to see the full list of films in the Stop! Global Warming competition, and also to see a 1 minute web-preview of warming (about halfway down the page).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Warming and The Unforeseen

Warming will be screening twice daily from May 30-June 3rd (excluding Monday) at Metro Cinema in Edmonton along with the feature-length film 'The Unforeseen', which I haven't had a chance to check out but which looks awesome. Here's some more info on the screening and the feature film.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Warming will be in Spain at the beginning of June at the Catalonia Environmental International Film Festival, which takes place in Barcelona.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Warming has been invited to be a part of the DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver in late May/early June. Additionally, it will be screening some time in the near future at the Ontario Science Centre as part of some Earth Week presentations.

Both of these screenings are thanks to Planet in Focus, which really is quite an incredible organization.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More news: 'Warming' will screen April 18-20 in the Lake Forest Film Fest, just outside of Chicago in Lake Forest, IL.

As well, it was accepted to the Short Shorts film festival in Tokyo, Japan, in the 'stop global warming' competition and the DerHumALC Human Rights film festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I haven't updated the actual website in a long time, since somehow I accidentally sabotaged Netscape Composer, which I had been using for easy editing. Hopefully I'll be able to fix that problem soon.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


at the end of April, warming will be in Halifax again for the Viewfinders International Film Festival for Youth. It'll be showing on April 22nd as part of the 'Quest for Adventure' screening, alongside such amazing (incredibly amazing) films as 'Zhiharka', a Russian animated short adapted from a folktale.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just got news that Warming won 'Honourable Mention for Most Inspirational Short Film (for ages 13 and up)' at the 2008 Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Warming will be screening on Feb 9 in the Siskiyou Film Fest in Grants Pass, OR, as part of their "Teen Festival" program.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2008, off to a start

Warming will be playing in Vancouver at the end of February, at the Reel to Real International Film Festival for Youth.
I don't remember ever actually applying for the festival, but somehow I am in it, so hooray!

Also, Warming will be in Toronto once again, this time at the end of April during the Green Living Show, as a special screening put together through the Planet in Focus festival.