Author Archives: Ian Robertson

Film #12: The Shoot

For the month of December, I decided to do a holiday movie. Also, a few months ago, my friend Allison had challenged me with the idea of doing one of my short films in one complete take from start to finish. So I decided for this last film to try and do shoot the whole thing in one shot.

So this last Saturday I got together with Blake and Allison (who have been in number of my short films) along with Jenna and Derek, who served as production crew, to shoot it.  We spent around two hours rehearsing  the scene, getting all of the timing and everybody’s placement down so that when it came time to shoot, we wouldn’t have to do multiple takes.  When you watch the film or look at the pictures on Flickr here, you’ll see that multiple full takes were very nearly impossible.  That tree was dry and dropping needles like crazy and I knew that it only had so many drops and falls before it would be unusable.  I knew that the tree could handle a couple falls, but I wasn’t so sure that it would survive being thrown out the door more then once.  So the whole time we rolled, I was ready to call, “cut” at the slightest problem before we got to the point of no return that was the toss out the door.

In the end, both Blake and Allison did fantastic.  We had to stop our first take about halfway through after the tree fell on Blake; but then once we got going on our second take, they played it to the end and that’s the one that you’ll see in the film.

Film #11: The Shoot

For film #11, I decided to do a sci-fi thriller called “Skytalkers”.  The premise for this film is one that my wife, Christina pitched to me a couple years ago (in fact she’s already got Skytalkers 1, 2, & 3 planned out…) based on a story that she and an old roommate came up with.  To give it a big, epic action feel on a very small budget and to break up the style of story-telling and editing that I’d done on my other films, I decided to produce this film in the style of a movie trailer.  That way, I could just concentrate on getting moments of action and drama and not have to tie them into one point-by-point narrative.  I could use a lot more montage to create the story rather then dialogue and continuity editing.

I shot the footage over three different days (shooting a couple hours a day) with different actors on each day.  It started on a Monday, shooting some scenes with Holli Bibler (who was also in Eliza’s Last Day).  I shot a lot of close-ups and dramatic takes.  We had to find covered areas to shoot all of her scenes because it was raining that day, but it worked out and I got some good shots.

The next day, Tuesday, I had a four hour shoot with Chris Davis and Fox Clark.  It was the one day that week that it was not supposed to rain and thankfully, it didn’t.  Fox has been in a number of my other films this year and Chris has been part of them, but always behind the camera, never in front of it.  I thought it might be fun to put him in front of the camera for a change.  We started the shoot in the parking lot of a local church and then went out to UCSD to shoot the majority of the footage.  I chose UCSD because I knew that I could get a large variety of architecture and locations within a small area and therefore be able to give the impression of a much larger movie with more expanssive settings.

Finally, this last Saturday, after shooting film #12, I shot a few extra pick-up shots with my brother, Blake for one scene at the beginning of the film.

I uploaded a few pictures from the shoots to Flickr here.

The Final Film Shoots of the Year

Over the last week I shot my final footage of the year for 12 Films in 12 Months.  Last Monday and Tuesday, I shot footage for film #11 & then this last Saturday I shot film #12.  Now I’m staring down the last 3 days of 2008 and charging straight into the sound design and editing.

Each of the last two films is going to have a very different editing style.  I produced and am editing film #11 in the style of a movie trailer, so it’s full of quick, unrelated shots that make up the story as a whole.  Film #12 is being edited in a much different style, but you’ll have to wait a few days to see what I mean (I don’t necissarily want to give the whole thing away before the film debuts).

Look for them both by year’s end.

Title Sequences

A good title sequence sets the tone for the film you’re about to watch and draws you into its world. At the same time, it seems that the title sequence is one of the few conventionally accepted parts of a film where the filmmaker and producer can be audaciously creative and experimental visually within the film. They can work with animation, motion typography, montage, unconventional filming and editing techniques, stylization of footage, and much more; and not have to worry about continuing that same look throughout the entire film.

I recently came across a great post of 30 Unforgettable Movie Title Sequences .  Take some time and watch a few of them.  There is some amazing work represented.  As different as all the sequences are, the one constant is that they all set a tone with sound, picture, and type that draws you emotionally into the movie you’re about to see.

If you want even more title sequences, check out The Art of the Title Sequence and Forget the Film, Watch the Titles; two great sites with growing catalogues of movie title sequences.