The Archer

About: I mentioned a lot about this film in my last Projects Update.

Pre-production: So I got this idea in England, and wrote the script then. I liked the action sequence idea, and wanted to have a twist at the end. I really loved the idea. I had always planned to film at night, so I waited until the sun sets earlier, later in the year. I needed lighting, which I had, but I needed it outside. I looked up portable lighting systems, then realized that they are basically flashlights. So I bought high beam flashlights and attached them to the lighting tripods. The reason I liked having an Archer, is because I have done a lot of archery myself. And I had a bow, arrows and quivver. It seemed to fit well.

Production: So we went out on a winter night to a bus stop near my house. I read ahead to make sure the busses wouldn’t constantly inturrept us (I read it wrong and they did, but it wasn’t too bad). We brought out the equipment: DSLR, Tripod, lights, costumes, and props. And we got filming. It was dark. The lights weren’t as bright as I had hoped. I had to put the camera at its brightest settings: 1/30 speed, 4.5 aperture, and 12,600 ISO. This is the recipe for grainy pictures, but it was all I could do. Filming went on, but the night was cold, and we had only about 3 hours. We changed a few things in the script, but got the footage that we could.

Post-Production:  So the footage was dark, and not as good as I had hoped. But I made the most. My first thing was to import all the footage, then lighten the scenes so I could see better what was going on. FCPX is actually quite good at lightening scenes. I found a good formula: shadows up 10% mid-tones down 10% highlights up 30%. And that seemed to make it brighter, without have a lot of grain (I hate grain). I then went on to write the theme song. So I have written music in the past, since I play 3 instruments, I know a lot about music theory. So of course for the theme I picked instruments I knew. I wanted the main part to be on piano, because that’s where my idea came from. After figuring out the 4 main chords I could add the other parts. Flute became the mysterious part of it, with a very simple, but important part. Then violin and cello became the body, and eventually violin became the counter theme (I play violin, I gotta give it a star role). And then I took a risk and threw in an electric base. It was risky, because it broke the classical instrument theme. I needed that power from the base though, and that dark eerie feel. I didn’t regret my choice. From there on the piece really wrote itself. It consists 3 variations on the theme: one for calm mystery, one for big moments, and one for action sequences. I’m starting to learn more about film scoring. Anyway I threw the piece on the film, and it fit together beatifully. I couldn’t have been more happy. The other part I liked is how I included VSFX. First was with the poster, I whipped it up quickly on photoshop and threw it into the movie. It fit well. The second was the arrow… that was harder. I had to make the animation myself. I went through lots of ways I could do it, and I decided to film it dropping onto a green screen. I then opened the footage in Photoshop, where it imported as frames. I had to take a few filler picks, but it pretty much worked out well and complete. Keframing was the annoying part. It’s strait forward, but time consuming (this is why I don’t like editing/animation).  But all in all it wasn’t bad how it turned out. A little fake, but it’s high school film.

Contribution: this was my project. Every part done by me (minus acting) all writing, pre production, filming, costume, editing, composing, and visual effects done by me. This film was my baby for the last few months. I wish it turned out a bit better, but I’m still happy with it.
Publication: Vimeo and YouTube. Winner at Eyelight for best sound and a contributed to my outstanding individual achievement award. Entered to NCSFF (status undecided)

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2 thoughts on “The Archer

  1. Pingback: Eyelight 2017 | moviemakermcneil

  2. Pingback: Projects Update 8/10/17 | moviemakermcneil

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