Driving with Geoffrey Gilmore [Part 3 of 5]

This is part three of a five part adventure that involves driving Geoffrey Gilmore (the Director of the Sundance Film Festival) around Tallahassee, Diet Cokes, private jets, The Visitor, tea, a 4 am flight, and of course, coffee. Part one and Part two.

Geoffrey, the Dean, Paul and I went to Urbane downtown to meet Steve McQueen (I know, awesome name), Director of Seven Days of Opening Nights, for lunch. Urbane is definitely for the politicians and not poor college kids, but they had the most amazing butternut squash ravioli.

As for the lunch conversation, I didn’t take much of an active roll. Everyone had already seen the mystery movie, so it was fun to try to piece together what it was. Richard Jenkins was mentioned, and how the director turned down financing because he had to have him as the lead. And everyone agreed that he was perfect for the roll.

After lunch we took a tour of the Film School. The entire week leading up to the visit, the school went into clean-up mode with the carpets washed, walls painted, furniture fixed, posters displayed, and emails telling everyone to keep everything neat and organized. Walking into the school with Geoffrey, I’ve never seen it so nice. The Dean gave a tour of the school as I followed along and took a few pictures.

We then went over to Gadsden Studios. Gadsden is still a mysterious place to me. It used to be a studio where The Allman Brothers recorded ((Supposedly. They were formed in Jacksonville, which is about two and a half hours away, so it’s plausible.)). Somehow the Film School bought it, and my first year we used it for crew drills to practice filming. Some thesis films even shot there.

Then we stopped going there. There were rumors it was sold or condemned, but neither seemed to be true. Instead it’s being converted into the offices for Torchlight, another Film School venture. I’m still trying to grasp what exactly Torchlight will do ((Through numerous conversations with the Dean, I’ve gathered it’s a program to connect students with projects faculty and alumni are working on.)). Hopefully I’ll figure it out before I graduate, since I’m interning with it in the fall.

But the Dean wanted to show Geoffrey what they were planning, so this was the first time I had been back in more than a year. It looked about the same as I remember, besides some new carpet and cleaned up offices. It’s no surprise I have a thing for offices, and seeing these empty ones gave me a rush of potential.

After taking the entourage to a lunch meeting, I drove Geoffrey back to his hotel to get ready for the Seven Days event that night. After sneaking a peak at a rough cut of my F3 and grabbing three Diet Cokes for Geoffrey, I returned to the hotel.

This time it was just Geoffrey and I in the car, a scenario where I was wondering what would happen. What do we talk about? “So…you like movies?”

We talked a bit about the campus layout. I asked if he’d seen Helvetica. He hadn’t. We arrived at the theater, where I dropped him off.

I met up with some friends, had an overpriced on-campus dinner, then wasted some time again. I didn’t want to go home so they wouldn’t have to wait when ready, so I parked in a nearby lot, put the seat back, and took a nap.

Some time later in the middle of deep sleep, I got the call. They were ready. Since I was right around the corner, I didn’t have much time to mentally awake.

When I picked them up they were talking about going to an after party. Fortunately, the Dean saw I was not fully present and rescued me by offering to drive Geoffrey for the rest of the night. One of Paul’s signature Iced Venti Americanos probably would have done the trick, but I didn’t argue. Another day done.

Adventures with Geoffrey Gilmore [Part 2 of 5]

This is part two of a five part adventure that involves Geoffrey Gilmore, the Director of the Sundance Film Festival, driving around Tallahassee, Diet Cokes, private jets, The Visitor, tea, a 4 am flight, and of course, coffee. Part one.

For the mode of transportation, the school decided to rent an SUV. This proved to be a bit of a problem, as I’m only 20, meaning I can’t drink, gamble, or rent cars. Since this was a government contract, there’s more leeway with age, but not enough to let me drive a luxury class SUV (even though I can drive a semi-large grip truck). We settled on a Dodge Grand Caravan, slapped a Film School tag on the front, and headed off to the airport.

While driving, I gave Paul my phone number. He fell in love with it’s simplicity. It’s a 1000 number, and with the area code included, there’s only four different digits. It kind of rolls of your tongue. ((I doubt there’s any 1000 numbers left. Though it might be a good idea to get an LA number if you move there, this number is staying with me for life. The only downside is it’s extremely similar to the Miami-Dade County Public School’s number, so I do get a lot of wrong calls. I’ve yet to use this to my amusement.))

With me to meet Geoffrey was the Dean, Paul, and their wives. To me, meeting Geoffrey didn’t go off as well as I hoped. I waited by arrivals as everyone went inside. I decided I would get out and help with the bags when they came out the door, and do the meet and greet curbside.

This plan was foiled when they came out another door and had to wave me down to pull the car forward. I didn’t get out, Geoffrey got in the back and our introduction was one of those awkward wave over the shoulder, “Hey, I’m a film student,” things.

I drove everyone to Mozaik, a posh restaurant for Tallahassee, as you can tell by its spelling. Yet it still manages to find itself in a strip mall. To occupy myself, I went to the Starbucks in an opposing strip mall, but again, since this is Tallahassee, they closed within ten minutes of my arrival. I went back to the Mozaik parking lot and caught up with the Sunday NY Times (I also had a copy or two of Cubicles in my bag, you know, just in case).

Once dinner was done, I drove Geoffrey to the Governors Inn, one of the nice downtown hotels geared more towards Senators than parents, where the likes of Burt Reynolds have stayed.

I gave Geoffrey one of my Moo cards. They always seem to be a hit, except in this case he said it was a bit too small for him to read. Paul asked if I had Geoffrey’s number. I didn’t. “Joey D, you always have to get the big guy’s number.” So I did.

It’s Dailies, Not Weeklies

he took her to a movie

In a perfect film set world (real world), you shoot for the day, send the film to the lab that night to be processed, return the next day, shoot some more, and then during lunch (or beginning/end of the day), you watch what you shot the previous day. These are called dailies, because you do it everyday.

If you didn’t catch my tone, there’s an element of the Film School’s system that bothers me. There are many reasons to watch your footage everyday – to make sure it looks like you want, the film was processed successfully, equipment isn’t ruining shots, you’re getting all the coverage. It’s common sense to check what you’re shooting instead of being in the dark, especially when millions of dollars are riding on it. The idea is that if some thing’s wrong, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to re-shoot it when you’re on location with an entire crew instead of bringing everyone back.

However, at the Film School, things are a little different. First off, dailies aren’t possible, and I understand that. The film has to be shipped off to Miami and it’s usually sent in batches at the end of a show (instead of the end of each day), so there’s no way to check what you’ve shot until long after you’ve wrapped. About a week later, once the film has returned and the Assistant Editor has synced picture and sound, everyone that worked on that movie goes to the Film School theater and watches the ‘dailies’ – about an hour of raw, unedited footage.

Having everyone watch dailies isn’t normal practice, but from a a learning perspective, it’s useful to connect how the set was lit to how that comes out on film. It’s also handy to see how the editor assembles the footage.

So I’m understanding that we can’t see what we shot each day. What I don’t understand is why such extreme measures are taken to ensure we don’t see the footage before the official ‘dailies’ screening.

We’ve always been warned about not watching footage before the dailies screening (though never given a reason), but when it’s your film or you shot it, there’s a great personal investment involved and a lot of anxiety, wondering if those elaborate shots worked or if the film even exposed (of course it did).

The footage from the thesis I was cinematographer on returned. I went to the post-hallway to pull it up, but to my un-enjoyment the folder was locked. In fact, all the folders from the films that just returned were locked. This was never done before. I would very much like to know if the 91 set-ups look good, and that I didn’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

The official dailies screening is this Friday, about two weeks after we shot it. Like the title says, it’s dailies, not weeklies. Kind of ridiculous, right?

Photo by entro_py

The Perfect Storm

The storm has calmed. Last week really was the perfect storm, as my friend Justin and I described it ((I wanted to post the clip from The Office when Pam needs Michael to sign three forms that fall on the same day every few months, thus creating her perfect storm. Apparently this was not worthy enough for YouTube)). I had always heard stories of film schoolers getting loaded with a ton of work and scrambling to meet deadlines. I thought that was a myth. I was proven wrong.

As usual, a new draft of my thesis script was due.

And I sound mixed, the last step of my film. This meant finalizing the music, record some sound effects, and throw it all into the project before I went to the mixing room.

Then the delivery books for both of the films I produced were due. These are thick binders (as you can see above) that have all the releases, scripts, publicity material, backups, and any other paperwork relating to the production. It was a bit of a last minute scramble to find papers that were stored away for months.

And, for a little extra fun, Editor’s Notebooks were due for the film I edited. Plus some side projects like telling someone I can make a logo when I have no Illustrator experience and running two TV channels (I should probably write about that).

But this is all over now. F3s are done, thesis is nearly here and can finally get my full the majority of my attention ((As well as this blog, with some Full Frame reviews to come.)).

F3 Explained

A Death Down South-19

In looking at past posts, I realized I never laid out what exactly an F3 is, the project that has and will be taking my attention and life for the next few months.

The F stands for Filmmaking. The F1 was our little digital short, the F2 the half day film exercise, and now the F3. Here’s a basic rundown:

  • 6 Page Script
  • 6:30 Minute Runtime plus 1 for Credits
  • 2 Production Days of 12 hours plus 1 for lunch
  • 2 Hours Overtime
  • 1600 ft of film (about 44 minutes)

We have a full crew composing of first and second years. (1 is a first year position, 2 second year. Bold is what the Film School considers ATL)

For me, it’s three sets down, four to go.

Crew Drills – A Practice Run

For the past three days at The Film School we’ve been having Crew Drills. Crew Drills are basically a two hour run through of an F3 set. That’s enough time to set up, get a shot or two, and then take everything down for the next show.

It accomplishes a few things. The entire crew gets to meet and work together. But more importantly, first years get to learn how a set runs and get mentored by second years on how do to things, such as set up a dolly track, file paper work, load a magazine, etc.

It was a lot of fun and was nice to be back on set. It also makes you realize that things are happening. Someone put it quite well – this is the beginning of the rest of our college experience. Good-bye sleep.

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