Tuesday 21 August 2012

52 It´s a Wrap

One of the toughest tasks making docs is seeing a project through the first idea, development, production, post-production and then the hard part - getting it out there to the public. Eki and I are good at it. Very few of our projects have fallen into the black hole of Bright (un-realized) Ideas. But still, I´m surprised we stuck with this blog for a year, It started on a whim and then we got into it.

image by bluegum / sxc.hu
The life of a small film company is a cliff-hanger. There´s never enough funding, commissioning editors disappoint and people who would make great subjects back out. But we´ve been at it for 19 years and have made productions that we´re really proud of. For me the series 10 Finnish Architects comes out on top. It was our first big, BIG project. One of our CEs made the off-hand remark: "But Maggy that´s 100 minutes of film." I pooh-poohed her with:  "No, no it´s 10 ten minute movies."  That long, long project (it took almost two years from start to finish) was fun, traumatic, exhausting and a crash course from Eki to me about making movies

"marihuanaland" is next on my list of favorites. Eki and I financed it ourselves because we both believe that pot, especially medical marihuana, should be legalized. End of story. We also plan to edit and publish online littlemargiedocblag under the title: Diary of a Mom & Pop Film Company (99 cents).  Making movies is so much fun you just don´t want to, maybe can´t, stop. "Action!"

Lesson 52:  Once you get the itch just scratch, scratch, scratch.

littlemargiedoc-blog will take a three month break while on the road.

Monday 13 August 2012

51 A Tiny Ton of Troubl

image by kovik / sxc.hu
Bought a cardboard shack on a plot of land and decided to write a song (country western, of course) about it. Have been filming since the start and even Eki seemed excited about the idea. The renovation was damn hard and discouraging at times but writing a song is really daunting. I listen all the time to DAC (David Allen Coe), Merle (Haggard), Willie (Nelson) and it seems so easy. But no, not.

I´m also including shots of the town, which has John Ford scenery (one of his main locations isn´t far from here in Ridgeway). And twelve churches and seven saloons. The saloons get all the business. One is right across the road - it´s a great place to drink beer, meet locals and hear music.

The climax of the music video is a Wild West party. It´ll be in a couple of weeks. My guitar teacher, Sharon, and her uke group will be the entertainment. She insists we do a duet - play and sing. And chose "Home on the Range."  I groaned. But found out that simple old-fashioned tune is hard to learn. For the last five weeks I´ve tried to nail it. There are five chord changes and they come up fast. If my mind wanders for even a second I make a mistake. But at least she has me singing in tune. Not like when Eki, Era and I recorded "The Old Gray Mare" and I was hopelessly off-key. When we edit A Tiny Ton of Troubl we´ll put it on youtube. DAC, Merle, Willie watch out.

Lesson 51:  Bite off more than you can chew. Always.

Next week:  52 It´s a Wrap

Monday 6 August 2012

50 10 Words Every Doc Filmmaker Should Know

  • 01 Ambient Sound: background sound to add atmosphere to the sound track (also known as "atmos" and "wildtrack. Eki is a musician and is great at enhancing the audio.
  •  02 Animation: one of the things I love in the edit is when Eki animates something. He´ll add a person or object. Or show how a building changes. It might take two hours of work and be on-screen for a few seconds so he rations me.
  • 03 Boom:  the pole that holds the microphone out of the shot but near enough so that it picks up the audio.
  • 04  Color Correction: after the edit Eki goes through and balances all the colors so they are the same tone throughout. We choose what  color direction we want: bright, shady, blueish, etc.
  • 05 Copyright: the artist´s legal right to the use of his/her work. Copyrights can be a minefield. Any doc filmmaker, however small, should be au courant when using someone´s music, art, books, etc.
  • 06 NLE (non-linear editing): allows you to insert footage anywhere in the edit without having to remove what was there before.
  • 07  Rough cut:  first edit of the un-finished film. You might have one, two or more rough cuts.
  • 08 Steadicam: a stabilizing device attached to the camera and worn by the photographer. It allows him to walk through the scene and creates a long fluid shot. Very effective. Our steadicam man is Antti Hacklin.
  • 09  Time Code: the seconds, minutes, hours on the top of the film that lets you synchronize the audio and the video. Also a big help in the pre-edit when you want to pick out the best shots.  
  • 10  Zebra Striping: lines seen through the camera´s viewfinder that tells you when a shot is over-exposed. 

Edit by Eki: I'd probably define NLE:s by it's difference to old school tape to tape editing. In the stone age (when i used to ski to old school both winter AND summer), the program was cut together in a linear fashion by copying one shot at a time from the source tapes to a master tape, starting from the first opening shot and ending to the last bit of credits. If you then needed to change something in the middle... you were screwed, as the timing of the shots was fixed - the tape doesn't magically stretch or compress to fit the new material you want to put in the middle. With a NLE, making such a changes is trivial, one can easily shuffle shots around in any order. In practice, all current computer based editing systems are NLE:s, so the "NL" part of the abbreviation is unnecessary baggage really.

Other than that, you mostly got it close enough  ;-)

Lesson 50:  Learn the lingo

Next week: 51 A Tiny Ton of Troubl