Thursday, June 23, 2011

I will be shooting Alison in Wonderland with three cameras for both cost-saving strategy and a unique aesthetic, it will be the first of my films where depth of field will have heavy attention paid to it, I barely knew what it was in my early years and didn't think much of it even during Red Riding Hood and Dream House, I didn't really start experimenting with it until The Magic Forest and the results were mixed. For Alison I will be using my longtime companion the trusty Canon GL2 , the low budget yet impressive Canon EOS Rebel T2i and the high quality HDV Sony HDR-FX7. I just did a shooting test comparing the cameras' quality and depth of field. The subject is a prop made for the Hatter scene, Michelangelo's 'Gayvid'.
The first camera is the Canon GL2 which I've been using for years. It used to belong to Neil and has been used to shoot such varied projects as Dream House, the famous Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise, No Place Like Home, The Magic Forest and both interviews with T.F. Mou. Depth of field is difficult to do with DV but not impossible. WIth the GL2, you can get shallow depth of field with a low f-stop/open iris, long lens and a camera positioned at just the right distance, it's pretty darn spiffy for a DV camera. It will used here to shoot behind the scenes B-roll footage mainly but also a variety "point of view shots" with a very wide lens for the movie proper. It's lower depth of field capability and resolution make it good for a somewhat jarring, low-fi effect like you are suddenly switching to the literal visual perspective of a character under a lot of stress.

Now next up is the Sony HDR-FX7, a nice Sony HDV camera I was able to score second hand for only $1500. It is by the far the most detailed and crystal clear visually of the cameras and its color reproduction beats the GL2 (this shot isn't the best example, the white balance is a little off). However, the depth of field disappoints, it's no better than the GL2's really, though the focus got much shallow as we got more zoomed in. This will be used for the film's moving shots and also some coverage shots.

 Last but by no means least, is the Canon DSLR Rebel. It is by far the most visually pleasing of any of the cameras and its color reproduction is to die for. The colors are accurate and vivid and the focus is soft and lovely. It is a little bit less visually detailed than an HD camcorder, but that isn't entirely bad, it makes the image all the more "film-like". The camera is not good with movement and especially hates zooming, so that's why I bought the HDV camcorder to largely supplant it. It will be used for static close-ups mainly where shallow depth of field is most important and also for some very detailed and picturesque wide shots, you know, any shots I want a "35mm film" look to. Sadly it is also the most expensive of the cameras to shoot on, it records onto SD cards which are fairly costly and don't hold much video. It also needs a "higher class" card to run smoothly which all the more expensive.

And here is the second and newest of my production diaries. I promised one sooner but I have been madly busy. I am even busy than I was during Black Sunshine's post! See things down to the wire, see more of lurid props being hammered out and meet the Cheshire Cat in the magic of HD! This is looking like it could be shaping up into something worthwhile I'd say, It seems poised to follow in Little Red Riding Hood's foot steps but then run an extra lap ahead of it.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A pig's heart and kidney I've been keeping in my refrigerator pickled in hard liquor as a grotesque detail for the Hatter scene.
Long time no update, that's mostly because I have been so busy getting this puppy together. First the casting, it's been an at times frustrating process but I have about half the movie cast and the rest of the actors needed to be cast for the most part are just smaller roles. The toughest part was having several actors who I liked and thought were right for the part basically refuse to commit due sometimes to the film's content and other times to lack of time or whatever. It's been much harder than I anticipated, but I'm still going strong, finding people is easy, finding the right people is a challenge. I'm not going to name names since nothing is finalized yet, but I've found my Alison. In addition to Jake Schwartz as the Hatter, I've cast, as of right now, the roles of Derek, Alison's Father, The March Hare, The Red Queen, a few card guards, Sid the Executioner and the Bush-like President.
The Hatter's collection of dirty, pretty things.
Also, former Gen-Y Films "collaborator" and after that long time nuisance, bitter enemy and beer extortionist Thomas Riggs Hinchey is now in jail. He and Dave Luce love to paint themselves as victims of "my tyranny" but I think it was largely the other way around and their puerile videos speak that for themselves I think. What goes around really does come around.
Meet the Cheshire Cat!
Got the money in May and since then I've been furiously hammering out stuff in the prop department as well to meet July's filming deadline. I've been ordering on Amazon and Ebay and heading to the Goodwill store constantly. I think it's a really good idea for a low budget filmmaker to hit the Goodwill a lot, not only is it dirt cheap, but it all has a nice "lived in" look that is better for realism. Making a new production diary soon to show some off this off, but some of it includes a new piked head in President Obama's likeness (a reference to how despised he is, really), the Cheshire Cat puppet and a myriad of perversions for the Mad Hatter's house including soiled women's undergarments, real pickled organs, severed limbs and a Buchenwald-style human skin lamp shade.
Been using a lot of spray paint lately!
Wardrobe aside as I have to coordinate that with the actors more, the film is about half of the way ready to go prop wise. The "real world" scenes are literally just about all set, I even have most of the posters that will decorate Alison, Derek and Molly's bedroom walls. The Hatter scene is about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way all set to go. I even have the entire tea set all ready to go. Building the Mad Hatter's hellish M.C. Esher-like hatrack right now, which is taking a real long time to build, mount and get nice and sturdy. Did a recent revision of the script that cuts out the Mock Turtle/Myrtle the Turtle character and replaces it with a shorter scene with a unicorn.
Recent sketch of the waking up in the Hatter's house scene.
Also, Alison in Wonderland now has a Tumblr account dedicated entirely to it. Follow me for pictures and more frequent updates.