During a recent class discussion on the merits of digital filmmaking, I made the mistake of getting a bit too gassed on the ease with which one can shoot, edit and release a full-fledged short film in a ridiculously short amount of time. The unintentional pep talk was apparently so effective that my aspiring auteurs proposed committing the weekend to such a venture: three days to go out and make a music video or short-form narrative, with the end results to be shared on Monday.
"Great," I chuckled, self-assured in my teacherly charisma. "That's the absolute best kind of spirit to tackle this stuff with... kibosh the torpedos, and just do *something*."
The agreements were immediate. Followed shortly by a half-joking insistence that if the students were going to be saddled with "homework," then it was only fair that I do the assignment, too.
"Oh, you guys. And girls," I responded, voice unintentionally cracking around the edges. "You're funny! That's funny. Use that for your movies, it'll be great."
And with that, the jokey levity of the previous comment promptly croaked. The consensus came back, more excitably: no, you REALLY SHOULD BE DOING THIS ASSIGNMENT WITH US.
It's "for fun," right? A smartphone is basically a mobile studio, right? We kids have it so ridiculously easy, compared to the prehistoric DV and film garbage you were using all of seven years ago, RIGHT?
These are the moments when you realize that you've hoisted yourself on your own petard. And then you wonder what a "petard" is. And then you think of Family Guy, and then you get annoyed at yourself for having done so.
The rules were simple: films need to be shot, cut and effectively uploaded by 10PM on Sunday (It's a school night!). Films could be about anything, but had to capture something that's important to you (My friends), and--finally--had to use either chiptune, dubstep, or a remix of an existing song at some point within their "narrative*."
Now that we're effectively showcasing and sharing these things, I'd like to note two (and a half) minor points of order:
1) This is the first time I've ever used a phone to make a movie. I know: for being such a preachy support of iFlicks, the fact that this was literally the first time that I ever flipped my camera into a "record" mode is a bit contradictory. But if it's any consolation, I made every stupid mistake in the book in trying to capture enough footage while we were tearing up the Puyallup County Fair, which really slugged the point of the assignment home. You guys are still cruel and unusual for making your seventy-eight-year-old instructor make good on his mouth, but I sincerely thank you for it.
2) As noted above, all previous vanities about the shortcuts allowed by today's video production standards have definitely taken a swift kick to the uprights. I not only neglected to notice that dutch-angling a phone shot while favoring a vertical "tilt" pretty much kills your ability to salvage your raw footage, but also succeeded in bleeding my phone's battery a good two hours before the end of our day (Totally blanking glorious views from the Ferris wheel, various hijinks and the great debate over what ride to spend our remaining tickets on). Wringing out a semi-coherent video narrative from that mess proved to be a challenge worthy of first-year filmschool, and I loved every sloppy second that putting this thing together entailed.
3) Watch until the end. You'll appreciate it, I promise.
'til the next lecture,
*Words can't do justice to how proud I was of myself for not having to ask the kids what a "chipstep dub-tune" was. The moments when you actually know terms like these are rare, and precious.
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