For Christmas this last year, my wife Christina surprised me with an incredible gift: she had full-size movie posters for all 12 films designed, printed, and framed for me. Needless to say, they turned out incredible. They were designed by our friend Daniel Benitez, and he did a fantastic job of giving each one its own unique style and look.
For the ninth film, I made a film noir mashed with some kung fu elements. The shoot itself happened nearly two months ago at the end of September (which is when this film was originally slated to be produced and released). But of course, here we are, closing in on the end of November, and the film is finally nearing completion.
One of the main things I focused on during planning and production was lighting. Film noir is known for being full of shadows and all sorts of contrast between light and darkness (both visually as well as thematically). So I knew going into the production that I couldn’t just turn on all the lights in the room, light everything evenly, and still get the right look for the genre. I also knew that I would be turning all the footage to black and white in post-production so as I shot I was more concerned with exposure and shadows then I was with color.
We got together in the early evening and shot everything that night. I was able to run a single light through the ceiling panels in the storage room we were shooting in so that when I turned it on and combined it with some fill lighting in the background, I got a lot of great hard shadows and silhouettes. The main scene in the film is something of an interogation scene, so having the single overhead light fit the mood I wanted to create.
Fox Clark (who’s been in couple of my other films this year) played the lead, with Will Dick playing the main villain and Allison Welch playing the character of a femme fatale. I’ve uploaded some pictures (wonderfully shot by Chris Davis) from the shoot on Flickr here.
It’s been quite a busy Fall so far. I got back from working the second National Youth Workers Convention for YS two weeks ago and now, as I write this, I’m on my way to Nashville for the third. Although the busyness has slowed the release of my monthly films, it hasn’t stopped production.
In regards to Film #9, I’m close to picture-lock and I’m getting started on the sound design and soundtrack. I’m still trying to balance the blending of film noir and kung-fu. The sequence that’s been giving me the most trouble has been a fist-fight that we shot. As it stands in editing, it doesn’t have the right rhythm and pacing yet. It lacks momentum. Other then that, the other main challenge is to find/create a soundtrack that can evoke both genres.
At the same time, I’ve also been working on Film #10. I have wanted to do a horror movie and more specifically, a zombie movie since I started this project and I decided that October would be the perfect month to dive into the horror genre (October being the month that this film was originally slated to be produced). Well, we shot it this last weekend and I’m seriously excited to get it put together and share it with you.
Finally, I’m starting into pre-production on Film #11. This month’s film is a sci-fi thriller based on story by my wife, Christina. It’s a story idea she passed by me before I even started 12 Films in 12 Months and I’m stoked to include it in the project.
Well, there you have it. That’s the current state of the remaining films for the year. I have six weeks exactly until the project is completed and I’m ready to kick into high gear and finish it well.
As I’ve mentioned, this month I’m working in the genre of film noir. Film Noir, french for “black film” is a cinematic term used to describe films that are characterized by violence, moral ambiguity, shadowy lighting and shadowy characters. The majority of the classic Hollywood film noir films were produced in the 1940’s and 1950’s, were often shot in black and white, and filled with hard shadows and light to create mood.
Roger Ebert wrote a fantastic, short guide to film noir here. I love his last point. He describes film noir as:
The most American film genre, because no society could have created a world so filled with doom, fate, fear and betrayal, unless it were essentially naive and optimistic.
Just under a month ago I posted about shooting Film #9 and since then, nothing. So I’m back after a bit of a hiatus to fill you in on all that’s been going on and where the film is at and what’s coming up for the next film.
Well we did indeed shoot Film #9 on Sept. 30 and the shoot went well. It went longer then expected, but everyone involved was very gracious and stuck it out. Everyone did a fantastic job and I got some great footage. The next day I shifted gears and put the editing of the film on hold. My wife and I were in the process of buying a house and escrow closed at the end of that week. So I spent the next few days after the shoot working like crazy at my job at YS (prepping media for our conventions this fall) and joining my wife in packing up our apartment.
We moved into the new house that weekend and then three days later we were both on a plane on our way to Sacramento for the first National Youth Workers Convention. For the next week, I was working non-stop at the convention creating, modifying, and running media for the general sessions (which is what I do at YS in terms of our events). I shot and edited a couple of short videos that we showed over the weekend and after we wrap the third convention in November, I’ll put them up here as well.
Since getting back to San Diego, we got a little more settled into our house, I’ve been prepping for the next YS convention in Pittsburgh next week, and now I’m diving back into finishing these 12 films before the year’s end.
I’m in the middle of editing Film #9 as well as planning the shoot for Film #10. #9 is coming together well and I think the Film Noir and Kung Fu are going to play nice together. I can’t wait to play with the sound design on this one as it has a good amount of voice over and sound effects and I think it could be really fun.
#10 is going to be a zombie movie! I’ve been looking forward to this one since I started this project. We’re planning on shooting it in two weeks and I want to make sure everything gets set for it because I think that it could be great. Stay tuned for more.
Sorry for the blog silence as of late. It has been a very busy month in my life personally and professionally and I haven’t been able to carve out as much time to post as I would have liked. With the Film Festival last weekend and a high volume of work at my full-time job, not to mention the excitement and anticipation of buying a new house, this month has rushed by.
As far as Film #9 goes, I’m still moving forward and in fact, I’m shooting it tonight. So, it should be no big surprise that since I’m only shooting the film tonight, it won’t be completed by the end of September (since today happens to be the end of September). But, my goal is to have it finished and completed within a week or so. I’ll definitely post updates and a more exact release date as I get into editing the film.
I’m very excited for this month’s film. I’m trying to make a film that fits into the genre of Film Noir while playing with it a bit and mashing in some elements from other genres, namely Kung Fu. I’m still somewhat aprehensive about how well they’ll combine and whether they can play well with each other. But, making it work is part of the fun of trying it in the first place. I’ll let you know how the shoot goes tonight!