Author Archives: moviemakermcneil

About moviemakermcneil

I am a High School film student working for a career in the film industry. I've made and continue to make my own independent films to reach my goal. I've made over 50 short films, music-slideshows, and stop motions animations. I'm making a full length movie right now as well as prepping for a film camp this summer and starting an internship at Davis Media Access. It is hard making movies on a small budget and in a town where it seems like I'm the only one interested in film making. I made this blog just to write down the journey I'm taking to reach my film goals.

Projects Update 8/10/17

These posts are becoming fewer and far apart. Only 3 months though. Of course lots has happened, I have just not found that free time yet where I can write these. But here’s what happened at the end of the school year until now. Lots happened, the three from the festival all have their own posts : The Archer, The eyeFix Commercial,  Ice: a suicide prevention PSA : as well as Eyelight Film Festival itself. Otherwise I started filming my new film about the poor kid and the rich kid (See “Today”). I did some work for DMA (See “Work for DMA”). And I recorded an event all by myself (See “Other Film Jobs”). Then I did projection work for ACME Theater Company (See “ACME Work”).

Enrique Project- The plan at the moment is to end it abruptly (more for comedic effect) but we are leaving it open in case we wish to continue.

The Davis Doc- Moving slow, my friend still sees interest, but I’m not sure it’s going all the way

Today- “Today” is my college app film. It’s more of an experimental film, a bit of a narrative, but not in the traditional way. I think I’ve mentioned the story before. Two high schoolers from different economic statuses go throughout their day and reveal how much most people take for granted, as well as how to make the most of a bad situation. I call it my “critically acclaimed” film. Because it is much more serious and meaningful than the others I have been working on. Anyway I haven’t done a lot, just a few scenes. Actors aren’t super available. It’s not too long I can finish it in like 3 shoots. I haven’t started editing though. I have a few months, I will be fine.

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Classroom shot from “Today” Shot strait of my camera

Equipment- I guess the boom would be new, although it’s really just a light stand with mic attached. I’ve been using it a lot in my camps and my own videos

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Boom Mic that I made, My mic mounted onto a light pole

 

DMA Work- I keep getting roped into volunteering, it’s bad and good at the same time. I like helping out, but I don’t want get taken advantage of. People think they don’t need to pay me because I’m young and “don’t have anything better to do”. Never the less I volunteered again to do some videos for the davis music fest. It was fun I suppose, I got to get into the venues for free, and the groups were cool, and I made some good connections. In fact, I’m meeting up today with someone to talk about more volunteer options. I don’t want to get distracted by volunteer work though. I got to be careful.

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Me taking videos at the Davis Music Festival

ACME work- I have been roped in! I almost was last year, but they ended up dropping the projection. ACME is a local theater company, well known by students throughout the town because it is essentially run by students. All student actors, and all student tech. Anyway the decided this year that they wanted to give projections a shot for the show “The Odyssey”. So they enrolled me. I, as usual, said yes, because it sounded fun, and I like Greek mythology. It started off slow, I wasn’t sure what I should be doing, because I had never done projections before. Luckily the director started helping me with what she wanted me to do. The problem was that a lot of the scenes were very specific, so I couldn’t do live action. So I was left with… animation. DUN DUN DUUUUUN. No I am not an animator, nor interested in becoming one. The process is too long and not rewarding enough. But of course I know how to animate. Unfortunately the only program I had access to was photoshop. And as many may know, Photoshop is the runt of animating software. Luckily I am a photoshop wiz and made it work for me. I found a way to do everything I wanted to do. The director loved the projections, they weren’t super serious and more funny because they were animated. I liked the too. The problem was that she knew nothing about the projector in the theater, besides the fact that there was a projector in the theater. So it was up to me to figure it out and learn how to cue projections. So projections are short videos, someone will hit a button and they turn on or change. The thing is the actors won’t time acting to a video, so all the changes are done by a crew member during the show. For instance, there was a cyclops eye that I animated. When u hit the button it opened up and started blinking. But in order to make it go away and close the eye, you had to change to the video feed of the eye closing. That’s essentially what cueing projections are. Luckily they had this nice program to do this called Qlab. Qlab lines up videos and can change between them on the click of a button. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. It started not doing what it should, and not showing projections that weren’t up yet, and not changing projections. I spent days during tech week trying to figure it out, because no one else knew how. It was daily visits to the theater for like the 5 days leading up, for like 3-6 hours each. This was along with working earlier in the day at the Arts Center, and doing the animation outside of rehearsal. But I met some more people and built up more talents and experiences, so it was worth it. And unbiasedly I can say it was the best student performance that I’ve seen.

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The Cyclops animation from the Odyssey (it blinks)

Film Camp/Classes- So since last time, there I’ve taught spring session 2 2017 and both summer sessions. It’s becoming more and more strait forward. Session two went nicely in the spring. In summer though I wanted to write a new filming script. So I wrote “The Time Travelers”. I thought it was a good difference from the fairy tale one I have been using (that I also wrote). The new script was more funny, not as serious, better for older groups, and bigger audiences. It was a little difficult at first, figuring out new camera positions and new locations. But there was 2 hours to do it (classes are 1.5, camps 2) and we had and excellent set of enthusiastic students the first time. All of that went really nicely, just finished next week. Prices were raised for the summer and we hit our record enrollment of 17 students (the max was supposed to be 12). So I consider these classes getting more and more successful. And hearing how thankful the parents are and how much fun the kids have makes it all worth it.

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A scene from my student’s group’s stop motion project

Applying for internships and classes-Thanks to the small Davis community and a small failure in the school system, the entire school found out a way to look at their schedule early. And I got all my classes! Taking 5 periods! Orchestra (last year! gotta see it through), British Literature (wanted an easy, fun class) , AP Government/Economics (wanted that weighted grade in AP), AP Stats and AP Photography! Really looking forward to it actually, especially photo. I feel that is going to be really fun

Colleges- Well it’s THAT time right now. And I’m just getting started. Work just ended so now it’s apps for the next few months. At least I know what to do. I have my prioritized list of the 4 LA-area film schools that I’m applying to. In the previous list I gave my reasons, so this time I’m going to tell you what changed after the tours

  1. UCLA school of Theater, Television, and Film- UCLA still hits the top right now because of it’s prestige, location, and affordability. UCLA is one of the best film schools in the world. Industry standard equipment, job connections, and top film professionals teaching classes. It is nearly unbeatable. After touring I really loved the campus. It’s huge, yet the film school is small. This allows me to be part of a large community, and a small one. The area around it is where I grew up when I lived in LA as a child. It’s near family and in a safe community that I’ve known from my years in LA. And the price makes it easy to choose. Of course it’s still ridiculous, but it’s nothing compared to the private schools out there. Screw the 8% acceptance, someone has to make it, and that could be me. These reasons make it my top choice school
  2. LMU: Loyola Marymount University- LMU was the first school I toured. I was nervous looking at college already, I had just started my junior year. When I stepped onto this campus though, I felt relaxed. No it’s not one of the top 3 film schools, but that’s what I like about it. It seems welcoming and more laid back. I feel if I went there I could have more freedom and not get analyzed harshly. I like the area. I have family near there, it’s near the airport, and you can see the ocean from the top of the hill. I looked at the surrounding village, and there were small streets with corner cafes. Places that could feel like the small town that I grew up in. LMU is realistic, over half the applicants are accepted. I can work out the tuition. But I can say I would be thrilled to get accepted there.
  3. USC- Preppy, expensive, bad neighborhood. These are annoying. I don’t want to be with a lot of legacy’s. I don’t want to fight with all the people who think they’re better than me. I don’t wanna get mugged if I step one foot out of campus. But when I showed up to my tour, I was standing between the Steven Spielberg building, and the George Lucas building. Two of the most notable directors of modern cinema. And that’s why everyone wants to go there. Because nothing can beat this school at prestige and fame, for being the number one film school in the world. And nothing can stop any aspiring filmmaker from applying to it. They know they’re the best, they know they only take the best 4%, they know they can charge you 50,000 dollar tuition, because they know that you will go there.
  4. BACK-UP: Cal State Northridge- Northridge is a good school, its incredibly affordable, easy to get into, and still far up there in the top film schools. It’s a great back up. From here I can look at transfers after 2 years, or even grad school after 4. It’s a great choice.

So who got kicked out of the list? Cal Arts and Chapman. Both just don’t seem worth the money. They’re the same tuition as USC and LMU, they’re out side of LA and they don’t seem like they’re for me

Video/Film Jobs- I’m going to have to start writing contacts when I do freelance work from now on. I’ve been cheated on everything I’ve done so far. Still haven’t gotten the field hockey money, it’s been almost a year! City of Davis hasn’t followed up on the work I did, and I didn’t get paid, and this event I just did, I’ve been asked to do a lot of extra projects, and I worked extra time without any additional pay. Ok so the most recent event. I was approached by friend eric that a friend of his was having a a dance event and needed a videographer. So I happily said yes, and worked out the logistics of the event with her. She was an outgoing senior so basically my age, and really easy to talk to. The best part though was working with my friends on the event. Two of them were doing photography, so we were like a crew. The event itself went well, I used a DMA camera (canon XA-25) and my DLSR (Canon T5i). I bought a whole new 32gb SD as well. My DSLR filled up on storage within the first half hour. And the DSLR stopped recording every 15 minutes basically. There was a lot of running back and forth through the hall in order to check on the camera. When I looked at the footage, I had enough for a smooth multi cam edit, so that worked out well. So after the event there were portraits of literally every person who was there, so I helped out the photographers with that. We didn’t get food until the end too, that kinda sucked. Ended up working 6 hours, when I was told it was only 4. That was a little annoying, but it was a good experience. Editing went fine at first, but apparently there was a problem exporting the video, so it froze in a spot on the export. So I had to fix that, then they asked for raws, which didn’t exist because had to delete the event footage from the SD so I made an unedited video (which was 5hrs long and 48 gb after compression) and now they want a short version of the video. Lots of work I didn’t sign on for, but I got to know the family well and it’s not too bad to do all the editing. Anyway, it was fun to do this event… but contracts next time!

Videos for School- It’s summer!

The DMAC- It was a slow start up last year, but were going for it again. We’re doing the things that worked best the previous time. We can’t give money for photo contests, but we want to keep doing those. Then we’re watching short films and critiquing them. We want to do the same with photo accounts as well. I think presentations would be helpful as well.

Film Festivals and Events- You know the Eyelight story and the Directing Change story. NCSFF never came through which was kind of disappointing, but oh well. I’m Planning to submit “Today” into festivals as well. I have high hopes for that one and want to submit it into some national student film festivals.

Photography and Graphic Design- So not a lot of photography, I got really distracted by it last year, and haven’t done a lot of it recently. And nothing has really come up for graphic design. Still waiting to hear back from the City of Davis on the bike flier

Film Review- Alright… now time for my opinions! As usual I will pick one great one and one weak one.

For my my good movie, I will talk about the new Edgar Wright film, Baby Driver. Now I have to preface this by saying I am a huge Edgar Wright fan. Hot Fuzz is my favorite movie and all the films in the Cornetto trilogy are genius. Wright’s intelligent comedy and creative, original plots make his films a spectacle to watch. Baby Driver followed this. It is the most original plot idea that I can really think of. The plot is smart and creative, the characters are likeable/hateable, and the movie continues to drive forward with new surprises down the road. My favorite part was the way that Wright incorporated music. He used music with everything, timing cuts to the beat, everything is guided through the soundtrack. I really thought that was original and impressive.

And for my flop, against the critics, I shall talk about Mad Max. I don’t know why this got such good ratings, it had flat characters, very weak plot, no dramatic moments, and just over all boring. The characters to start had very little development and not even much background. They made me more uncomfortable than interested. The makeup and costume design was a bit over the top, and made all the characters really uncomfortable actually. Then the plot. Not only was it confusing, it was so simple that I couldn’t believe it could possibly be confusing. They were literally racing the ENTIRE time. The whole time was a just a slow car chase. And when the “big” moments happened, no one cared, because no one got attached to the characters, and at the end when the victory happened, no one cared because NO ONE GOT ATTACHED TO THE CHARACTERS. And secondly, no one gave a crap about the boring plot line. Granted the Production design and fight scenes, and production design were impressive. The rest of the movie ruined all those for me.

Other News- Same old, same old. School year ended pretty good, a little disappointed in math, but never the less the year ended. Summer has been great! Just as I wanted it to go. Going out with friends nearly daily, yet still getting work in and vacation. It all went how I wanted it to go. I wish I had more time to film, but everything else went well. I’m almost looking forward to senior year starting, this year is my last, I’m taking fun classes, I have time for stuff after school, and with college and everything, this is when I start my life.

Aright, the updates are complete. Next time I post I will be in school and far along with my applications (hopefully), or maybe already applied. I will also be done with my next film

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The eyeFix Commercial

Fake commercials are so much fun to make. That’s where I started in film.

About: pre-production: Well… there wasn’t much pre-production. It was about a year ago and I wrote down ideas for a fake commercial about glasses that can fix life problems. It all started when Evan came over to film the Enrique Project, but Lev cancelled, so we couldn’t film. Me, Evan, and Ryan were still keen on filming something though, so Ryan had the idea of a fake commercial. I went through fake commercial ideas I had written down, and we figured the best one was the eyeFix.

production:  So we started filming, almost everything was on the spot, rehearsed, but written on that day. I set up the green screen, put up lighting and brought out my camera. We were ready. The scenarios were the best part. All those we came up with on the day, they were really fun to film. we had to get those done while Evan was there, after he left, I did the rest in front of the green screen. So why did I act? Well, I wrote the script, so I knew the lines, and I was willing to do the announcer voice. In total, production took about 6 hours or so, not too bad for a 5 minute movie.

post: So post actually took a while. there was a lot of video effects and green screens, and picture in picture. It was really fun editing it all though. The effects worked really well for the “eyeFix view” and the green screen was well lit, so it chroma keyed nicely. Then came the music, the classic, “Life of Riley”. I am so reliant on incompetech.com for non copyrighted music, and if I had money I would donate a ton to them, because I really appreciate that site. So “Life of Riley” is a score from there that everyone uses, so it’s funny because it’s so well known. It worked really well for our movie though. Anyway, this was my favorite movie I have made so far I’d say. Its clean (looks snazzy) and it’s intelligently funny. I’m very happy with it.

Contribution: Well the story was my idea, but a lot of the scenes and almost all the dialogue was decided on by all of us. Ryan and Evan helped with the lines, the camera, and acted a bit. The rest was up to me. I acted, did camera and lighting, and then edited everything with all VSFX.

Eyelight 2017

Swept! The! Festival! 3 films, 6 awards, Outstanding Personal Achievement Award, $100 check! It was a good night.

The Archer

The eyeFix Commercial

Ice: A Suicide Prevention PSA

Before: So it started out rough, I heard about the festival about a week before submissions were due. I was very behind on editing. That made me rush the Archer at first. Then like the day before the submissions deadline, I get an email saying that it has been extended. I was very thankful, because that gave me a good amount of time to edit. I was really excited to submit, because the festival was so much fun the year before. It was fancy enough, but still not stressful, I really liked that. So my goal this year was to beat my two awards last year. And I wanted to submit all 3 of the films I worked on throughout the year, The Archer, the eyeFix Commercial, and Ice. A few weeks before the festival I get an email from ms. Larsen (old film teacher) and she said that the festival was now on a Thursday night at the community college gym in Vacaville, 20 mins from davis. Apparently the theater from last year was not available. I wasn’t sure how they’d pull it off, but it was about seeing the films, not the location.

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The festival: I went with Evan, my family, and my brother. The location wasn’t bad. It wasn’t a gymnasium, it was more like an event room. Granted they only had roller chairs to sit it, it wasn’t all too bad. My films went by well, people laughed at the eyefix. Other people’s films weren’t up to my expectation. Vacaville valley Christian always submits films, last year they weren’t half bad, but this year they were just bad. Some worse than others, but still. Then the last few were by college students and were really good. So it was an interesting mix of films.

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Awards: Anyway, all my films came up and each one like 2 awards each. I actually forget which one for which, but I got a nice spread of minor awards. They were video editing, best commercial, best sound, best producer,

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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)

Ice: a suicide prevention PSA

Ice was made to be entered into directing change, but has become much more. 

About: pre-production: So I wanted to go for directing change year 2, and I wanted to make film that topped my one last year. I got Eric, he’s a great photographer and writer, and I asked if he wanted to work with me (and the writing and cinematography was the best in the film). He set out to write the script, and he wanted to use the symbolism of ice, because it is needs to be watched so it doesn’t melt or shatter. Anyway, I thought the idea was good, so we set out to film.

Production: He brought his dlsr and I had mine, so we were well prepared. The best part of filming was the ice scene. We got a big block of ice, and put it on the table, we then turned off the lights and shined a flashlight over only the ice. Then slowly pushed off the table. The other scenes were pretty strait forward. There were some intermittent cinematographic shots that Eric and I took. Those were fun and also a really good part

Post: Editing is when I noticed our achievements. All the footage came out beautifully. I couldn’t have been happier. I used picture in picture to parallel the ice and me falling, it worked really nicely. The cinematographic shots were really nice as well. I wish I could’ve used more of them. Getting it to one minute wasn’t too much of a struggle either. At the end I was actually really proud of how it turned out.

Contribution: It was me and Eric’s film. He wrote it, planned it, and did a lot of the camerawork/cinematography. I did the rest. I did the acting majorly, and all the editing. As well as helping out on set with the technical side of things

Publication: Entered into Directing Change 2017. Did not win any awards though. Did win in Eyelight for best set design and editing. And it contributed to my to my Outstanding Individual Achievement award.

AP Photo Portfolio Application

As I mentioned in my Projects Update, I got into AP photo. I wasn’t sure I’d make it, because I hadn’t taken the preliminary photography class. I thought I could do it though, because I had really gotten to know about photography with my new camera and I have been using photoshop since before I even touched a camera. Eric also helped me a lot, taking me on photo shoots and helping me work the camera. I take my DSLR everywhere now, and snap any picture I think worth while. I use it in film, and always take cinematic shots when I can. This camera has been my thing for the last few months. Anyway, here are the 10 photos I chose for my application. My goal was to show that I am as experienced as someone in regular photo is. So to do this, I wanted to show a variety of shots, and flaunt my photoshop skills. So here you will see a big variation of pictures, with some heavily photoshopped.

Houdini 1

This was an early picture of mine. I think it was the first day I went out and took pictures. And of course, my first model had to be my cat Houdini. I really like this picture, because he has sort of a static wondering in his eyes. In order to highlight his eyes, I actually took them to a new layer completely so that I could enhance them. It really brings them out.IMG_0452

This is agin one of my earliest pictures. I took it on my first real shoot going around the neighborhood. I found this tree in an orchard that was perfectly lit to an almost gold, and I became obsessed. Every part of the leaves glowed, and the whole tree was beautiful with the Lanternslevetation 2sunset solarizedduck splash 2Evan 1Eric 2Hillel landscapeWalker Woods

Projects Update 4/1/17

I got caught up in film festival season. So had to skip on my last couple months. Not much new happened though at first… until I had to cram to submit into festivals. I also got caught up in photography as well. Now I’ve finished with all my films, and have plans to start more!

Enrique Project- Probably not continuing

Other film projects- Finally finished editing the archer. The footage wasn’t as good as I had hoped, so I made up for it in other ways. I couldn’t find the perfect soundtrack for the project, so wrote my own. In only a few days too! it turned out really good, I forgot how much fun it is to write music. Its a classical piece with piano with the main rhythm, and violin and electric bass as a counter rhythm. Then I included cello to give it some body, and flute to bring out that mysterious part. Also for the first time in my films I did CGI. Well… not CGI I superimposed an animation on my films. I had an arrow fly past the camera. I had to create the animation on photoshop. It worked quite well actually, it took forever to keyframe it though. Anyway, I just entered it into NCSSF yesterday. Hope it does well, and at least gets accepted. Its going to Eyelight today.

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A few pages of “The Archer Theme”

So I got another idea, it parallels the lives of 2 different classes of high school students. One who has a wealthy family and everything comes easy for him, and the other who has a very poor family and has to work just to support his family. It starts when the rich one complains that times have been hard even though all his problems are very “first world” , he continues to say that the day was “horrible” even though his problems are very minor. Then we see the poor kid, he says that times have been hard, but he has real life problems, but he continues to say his day was great. We see him go through his day where small good things happen that we all take for granted and he ends up happier at the end of the day than the other kid. So that’s my idea, please don’t steal it. I’m pushing off The Long Run until summer. Those two will probably be my college portfolio films, so I want to do them well.

The Davis Doc- I live in the small Nor Cal town of Davis California. Known only for UC Davis and our turkey infestation (no joke). Anyway the town is 100 years old this year, so my friend Pavan (did stud. Gov. Projects for him, he has a small part in The Enrique Project), he had an idea. He wants to do a documentary on the history of Davis complete with interviews and primary sources. So we started 2 saturdays ago, going around Davis to get stock footage, and visiting the small local history museum. We found people to interview and gathered resources. Later that week we went to the library and did some more research. The project is starting out slow, but I hope it goes well. I’m counting on Pavan to do most of the research. I’m gunna do the editing and filming.

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A plaque about the history of Davis I’m going to use in the documentary

Equipment- no new, thinking of getting a boom and mic wire extension

DMA Work- Not much work really, in May I will do a ton though. I’ve been going there really only to edit some projects.

Film Camp/Classes- Session 1 went great! did all the same stuff as over the summer, just split the days into classes. I was worried that we weren’t going to have enough time with only an hour and a half, but that was not a problem at all. we did it easily, IDK how we used 2 hours over the summer. First day we did green screen, introductions, and talked about the lego movies. Then we did the lego stop motion the next day. My Star Wars group did really well with ours. They all took forever to edit, but that’s normal. On Wednesday we did the visual effects short. That’s always fun, but we couldn’t start the movie, because the student who played the king wasn’t there. Turns out the kid left the class, so my brother had to play the king haha. The movie filming went good, so that worked well. The movie took forever to edit, but in the end turned out pretty good. Got another class in a few weeks, it has some older kids, so that’s always stressful, I’m sure it will go fine though. I don’t plan on changing the movie script until the summer.

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Me helping a student in the film class

Applying for internships and classes- Classes are in for next year. Taking 5 periods! Orchestra (last year! gotta see it through), British Literature (wanted an easy, fun class) , AP Government/Economics (wanted that weighted grade in AP), AP Stats (easy AP class) and AP Photography! That’s right, I got in to AP photography without taking the preliminary basic photo class. I was pretty happy about that, I scored well on my portfolio as well! I’ll post the pics from it on my VSCO. Anyway with 5 classes I can get a job to pay for college, and take a class at Sac City. So that’s the senior year plan.

Colleges- It’s getting that time, that time for touring, applying, and picking my film school. After doing research on good film schools, I have narrowed down a list. All are top film schools in the LA area only. I will tour all these by the end of the summer.

  1. UCLA school of Theater, Television, and Film- UCLA hits the top right now because of it’s prestige, location, and affordability. UCLA hits #3 on most top film school sites. After looking into it, it seems to be a very good school for film. Location-wise UCLA seems to be strong. I have family in that area of LA, and it is very good location in genaral. It’s not too industrial, and a lot like Davis, which is nice. Then UCLA can’t be beat on affordability. Being a public school, it is a fraction of the price of private schools. That is what attracts me a lot… not having to pay ridiculous tuition. Then come the CONS- 8%… 8% acceptance rate… only 30 new students a year. The classes will be very small, and there is a very small chance that I can make it. That’s what worries me. The other thing to note about UCLA is that it only offers specific degrees rather than a general degree. That means I have to decide what I want to do in the industry while still in college, I can’t just get a degree that covers all areas. I still don’t know what I want to do, so hopefully I’ll figure that out.
  2. USC- USC score high because of its pure prestige and accountability of a good school. USC is the best film school in the world. There is no way that I can pass up applying to it. It is the best. With a degree from this school, it will be a piece of cake to get a job in the industry. That is why this school is high. USC also offers a general degree, so that is nice. CONS- $50,000… that is what tuition is. That is ridiculous. I’d have to spend all of my money, get a job, apply for every scholarship, and take out loans just to get close to that tuition. That is what scares me. And then location is the other issue. I hear the campus is nice, but the location is in one of the crappiest parts of LA. So that means I am isolated on campus, which I’m sure is fine, but still a little scary. It will be harder to get a job off campus or an internship with a studio. I have to go to the school to see the campus for myself.
  3. LMU: Loyola Marymount University- LMU is one of the top schools in the area, behind UCLA and USC. This hits my list because of location, and probability of acceptance. This is the only school I’ve actually toured, and I loved the campus! It is right in middle of LA, the campus is new, clean, and looks over part of the city and the beach. The facilities are great, with industry level equipment and a great film studio. It’s a smaller school, but not as small as UCLA. Also you get the rights to all your films that you make there, so that is good for entering into festivals and stuff. It’s not as prestigious as USC and UCLA, so the acceptance is naturally higher. Therefore there is a very good chance that I could be accepted. And I would still be thrilled to go there. CONS- its $40,000 which is really high still, and its not as good of a school as USC, so I have to think if it’s worth that much. Otherwise no other really big cons.

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    LMU School of Film and Television, picture from when I toured

  4. Cal Arts- again one of the top film schools, but I like this school because it is an art school, so it is an all art community. That makes it really cool to me. Otherwise I really don’t know that much about it. I’ll have to visit over the summer. CONS- the tuition is just as high as USC so I have to really like the school if I want to got there. Also its apart from the studio area, it’s only an hour or so, but its still the farthest out of all the schools by far.
  5. BACK-UP: Cal State Northridge- Northridge I know because my mom graduated from there, but it actually made it on of the top 25 film schools in the US. It’s right next to all the studios, so that’s nice, and its VERY affordable under $10,000 a year. I call this my felony school, because it would be my best option if I committed a felony and couldn’t get into anywhere else. Of course I’m not going to commit a felony, and if I did I still might not be allowed to go, but you get the point, It’s my back-up.
  6. BACK-UP: Chapman University- One of the top film schools, near Cal Arts and LMU on the prestige list. I actually know of Chapman University from orchestra, we went there on our disneyland trip, and they came to talk to us at the beginning of the year. They were talking about music performance double majors. Now I’m not interested in music performance, but I am interested in music composition for filmi, so I could minor in that and major in film production. Chapman is private though, and very expensive, and very far away from all the studios and middle of L.A.

Video/Film Jobs- Still waiting on field Hockey money. But I went to do a few more games for them the other day, and talked to the coach. I made $30 in like 2 hours, which was awesome, and I’m waiting on an $80 check from the coach from the previous games. Otherwise more editing this week, I’ve only been to DMA once in the last few months, and that was to finish editing the bike meeting, which has missing footage… so I don’t know how I’m going to pull that one off. But I will figure it out. I may or may not do the bike video, but I’m going to do a flier for them none the less. So that’s cool. It’s a flier for the city police to give to people who run stop signs on bikes. It’s an easy project and I get like $50 for it. So, deal! Otherwise just film classes, thinking about starting a business next year to do highlight videos for students, I’ll see about that

Videos for School- So I haven’t done any PR vids for orchestra, but I have already done 2 for student government. My friend had me make them to promote events coming up. They were simple projects, but still fun. So that was cool working for the school in that way. That is why I changed this category to “videos for school”

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Quick mock up I made on my phone for Student Government

The DMAC- THERE IS NO FILM COMMUNITY AT THIS SCHOOL. Photography has a huge community, but the film community is almost non-existent. So we can’t really do film things. I prepared almost the entire film festival, but it looks like it’s not going to be a big thing. So we might just do it in a meeting. But what has become popular at meetings is watching short films. Short of the week is a website eric watches short films on, and all those films are really good and fun to watch. So at the end of meetings a group of us just stay to watch some shorts. It’s really cool actually. Anyway, the contests are going well, and nothing big has really happened. The club is bearing along.

Film Festivals and Events- Directing Change, NCSFF, and Eyelight updates! Submitted to Directing Change a while ago. The results are coming this week! I’m crossing my fingers that we at least win something. That would be amazing. I’ll do a post about it when results are in. Just submitted into NCSFF the other day! It was really easy through filmfreeway.com. I’m really liking that site. I submitted the Archer that I was rushing to finish, and it let me submit the eyeFix as well which was cool. I know that video is very comedic, but I really love how it turned out. Then I also had Eric submit Ice. Eyelight is a great festival, but also pretty low budget and unorganized. Anyway, I got an email that the submission deadline was the Friday before spring break. I got that email a week before that deadline. I freaked out because I wasn’t done editing at all. Then that day, I hear that they’ve pushed your back 2 weeks. That is good! But it was stressful trying to cram editing. That extra time allowed me to write the soundtrack and do the visual effects for the film. And those are the two best parts about the movie. But anyway, I finished the film for NCSFFthe other day, and just got to submit it to eyelight this Friday. Ice is already in.

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My projects on FilmFreeway

Photography and Graphic Design- So photography, yeah I made into AP photo. That was cool. I wasn’t even going to apply, because I hadn’t taken the regular photo class, and I was worried they wouldn’t look at my application. But I talked to the teacher, and Eric convinced me. So to prepare for the portfolio I had to go out and take some portraits, because I had never done that before. Anyway I went with Eric and Evan. Eric borrowed a 50mm lens, the king of portraits with a 1.8 aperture. Anyway, we went to all the photo spots in Davis. Including this cool concrete building on UCD campus called the Death Star. It’s where all photographers go, even pros, to take pics. Anyway I finished my portfolio there. The 10 photos in my portfolio are on my VSCO. I actually scored pretty high. I got all 4 out of 5 for creativity and technique. If I had taken the class and got a teacher recommendation from it, then I would’ve scored 18 out of 20. Which is pretty good. Anyway, I’m in, so that means I get to rent out lenses and get AP credit. As well as get to be in that photography community.

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My portraits from my AP portfolio, Evan on left,  Eric on right

Graphic Art/Design wise, I did a few things. Most recently I did a poster for The Archer, that is actually seen in the film. And I did the animation on photoshop. I did that using my own footage and then photoshop to do basic animation. Another project I did was for my mom’s etsy company. I antiqued like 80 tarot cards. It took a while, but I’m getting paid, so that’s nice. I’m going to get a percent of sales too, so that’s more of a steady income. And then finally I’m doing that project for the city. I think, I’ll see what my weekend’s like.

Film Review- New category, I’m going to pick a film or two that I watched in the past month, and tell you what I think. Because I know everyone cares about my opinion (sarcasm). Ok so there’s 2 I wanna talk about this time, 1 good, 1 boring. Let’s start good.

I recently watched Ordinary People. I liked it. It touches on a serious theme, but stays enjoyable to watch. Slow at sometimes, but it carried me along. I liked the characters a lot. They were really realistic people with personalities. Like the kid’s love interest was realistic and not glorified like “Hollywood” does with high school relationships. I found that the characters really transfered that feeling that the director wanted you to get, but in a subtle way. Meaning that their prrsonalities weren’t displayed blatantly early on, but you had to watch the movie in order to get an opinion on them. From this movie I learned that a well written character doesn’t have to be  likeable. I hated the mother in the film, because just the way she acted in the scenes painted her as a horrible person. And she was the unlikely antagonist at the end. I didn’t like the movie that much because of my dislike of her. But I realized that’s how the writer, director, and actor wanted you to feel about the character. And I definitely felt that way, so that’s why I liked the film in the end a lot more.

Then one I didn’t like as much was Arrival. I really wanted to like it, and heard great things about it from people who watched it in the theater, but I really didn’t enjoy it that much. I had high hopes for it and was let down. My first problem is the main character, I didn’t find her enjoyable at all. She was dull, depressing, and just boring. She almost mirrored the dull and boring plot as well. I found the plot un realistic (assuming that aliens exist), unexplainable, and all round dull. There was little explanation into how they decipher the alien language, and from what I got from the explanation, no one would ever be able to learn a language as fast as that. And then the “climax” was in fact very un climactic. Oh no! A bunch of people blow up the alien for no reason… it wasn’t exciting, and had no build up what so ever. The idea was there, I liked the message and meaning from the film, it was just displayed poorly with dull characters and dull plot. Technical Aspects on the other hand were done very well. Production design was done well in how it transferred that eerie feeling: visual effects were done pretty well and the aliens were animated excellently: and sound was pretty good of course with the aliens talking, although I’d say it was over exaggerated at times with other sound effects. I’d put this in the Interstellar and Gravity category (don’t get me started on those). If you loved those, then this is your movie.

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My favorite photo from my portfolio

Other News- Same old, life is good. Going out with friends a lot and busy most weekends. Orchestra is going well, I’m second chair now, so that means concert master next year, hopefully. And then the Wennberg concert is this weekend. That concert is at the Mondavi Center here in Davis. It’s a world class performance hall. All the other musicians who play there are world renown. The stage and back stage are amazing, it’s always a joy to play there. The quintet is slow, but we might pick it back up in a bit. Nothing else really. I got my bike stolen, then bought another one, then the cops found my bike. That all happened within a month haha. But otherwise I’ve said everything.

Ok I know I said monthly, but nothing that much happened in February and early March. So if it’s a busy month, I’ll go monthly, if not, I’ll just post at least every few months. So Eyelight and Directibg Change results will be out by next time, so that’s exciting, I’ll do a post about those.