So...it's been two weeks since I posted anything about the new "Catma 2011" project. Instead of floating around philosophies about it, we've decided to put our thoughts into action. We are shooting a feature length film in 2011 based on this DIY approach. So, here's the update.
We've chosen an idea for the film's story. Since Catma is supposed to be about utilizing your resources, we've based the characters on actors/people we know, bringing in their own distinct personalities and traits to the characters they will become.
Because we want things to feel more "natural" and spontaneous, instead of writing a script where the dialogue is given to the actors, we are creating a road map of the story, scene by scene, with clear goals and directions for the actors to work with. This will require the actors to be quite capable of collaboration, improvisation, or at least willing to take some risks with improvisation and exploration.
So far, we will be a crew of three or four. An editor to review to footage after shooting and begin an assembly cut. A sound recordist. A director of photography. A director.
Challenges abound however.
As Jorge and I have been bouncing around the approach, we've found ourselves having to be careful about "getting too big." We've found ourselves talking about choosing equipment that goes beyond the budget, or equipment that would require having a larger crew than the current three or four people we have, and simply having to say outloud "STOP. We're going against our motto." We've had to also maintain this "keep it simple, keep it small" approach for the story and cast size.
Locations. To keep things simple, all of the scenes should be able to happen just about anywhere. This has been tricky because naturally, as one tells stories, one sets the story in certain places or chooses specific actions. Every scene must be able to be stripped of any expensive prop, costume, or be shot in a way that suggests it rather than show it. All locations must be flexible.
The camera: We'll be shooting without special lighting equipment, relying on whatever we light we have handy. (It will be okay to utilize any light kits...but only if they are free and don't require a massive crew to move and set up.) I'm currently testing footage on my Canon Vixia HF M31. It's an HD camcorder but captures 24p recording at 60i. I've occasionally noticed some artifacts in the image that appear to be the effects of interlacing the image, especially when there is a great deal of movement. Red Giant software makes a plug in that supposedly gets rid of that interlacing look, but as I ran some tests, it appears that six and a half minutes of footage would take about 22 hours of rendering time. Crazy...so, that's a mark against using the Vixia. I'm going to continue to work with the footage and try some coloration using Magic Bullet.
We might be using an Canon 7D, but more to come on that.
I'm both both nervous and excited to see what will come of this. Movie making can be such a highly-controlled process, and I tend to gravitate towards controlling things because there is so much at stake, that this sort of come-what-may and let's-go-out-and-shoot something approach is definitely a challenge for me. I'm seeing it akin to finding a box full of tubes of paint, grabbing a few colors, squeezing them in a cup, mixing them together to see what weird color results.