Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shorts I liked: Detention

  • Opening dialogue directly relates to what the whole short is about

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Shorts I Digged: Oktapodi

Logline: Two octopus lovers are separated by a seafood salesman in Santorini, Greece.
Concept Statement: True love entails great determination.

Runtime: 2:25

Things  I digged:

1) The set, prop, and vehicle shape languages.
2) The 'button' at the end, with the seagull taking the male octopus. A nice twist, as it's the female's turn to be hero now.
3) The unique camerawork, like the 'pulling out of the tank' shot which almost feels like a fourth wall break until the next shot, as well as the dynamic chase camera shots through Santorini.
4) The man's design: very blocky, sharp, and expressive.
5) How they maintained a sense of movement throughout. Great progression of gags.
6) Fun, light-hearted, yet suspenseful tone.
7) The fantastic visual development.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Shorts I liked: Wild Casting

Logline: A lion chases two workers through a city
Concept Statement: ???

Runtime: 1:00

Things I liked:
  • Clever and specific film festival opener
  • Opening pulls you into the story right away by starting in the middle of the chase.  I just wish there was a little more shift in emotion throughout the short since it stays at a constant of fear
  • Seeing objects fly and dust through the air at 0:14 but not the characters themselves adds texture to the chase

Shorts I liked: Pyrats

Logline: A Pirate is about to be hanged at the gallows, when suddenly, his fellow Pirates arrive to rescue him... or so it seems.
Concept Statement:  ???

Runtime: 1:24

Things I liked:
  • Awesome camera movements
  • Pirates have clear and distinct personalities from one another

Commercials I liked: Heineken Light: The Handlebar Moustache

Logline: An out-of-place man with a handlebar mustache struggles to find a place where he belongs
Concept Statement: There is a time and place for everything

Runtime: 1:00

Things I liked:
  • Fun and silly concept with over-the-top humor
  • Handlebar mustache connects to old-timey bar
  • Whimsical, merry-go-round-like background music
Misc. Film Techniques Observed:
  • Montage
  • Rule of 3: The main character is put into 2 situations that make him feel awkward due to his mustache, but in the third, he finds the place where he belongs

Commercials I liked: Audi 2013 Big Game Commercial - "Prom"

Logline:  A lone, melancholy teen on prom night decides to own his evening by making bold decisions
Concept Statement: Bravery is what defines us

Runtime: 1:02

Misc. Film Techniques Observed:
  • Montage

Shorts I liked: Lights Out

Logline: Light and Shadow battle one another to determine if their city shall be lit or in darkness 
Concept Statement: Light always overcomes the dark

Runtime: 1:08

  • Really cool, high concept idea that's executed in approximately one minute
  • Title of the film helps give exposition to what the film is about
  • Use of buildings to help the viewer realize where the characters are and who is winning the fight

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Shorts I liked: Oh Shit!

Logline: A Young Beetle struggles to learn the art of dung rolling from his Mentor
Concept Statement: With hard work, practice, and being open-minded to odd techniques, we can achieve our goals

Runtime: 1:15

Things I liked:
  • Cultural, tribal feel to story
  • Karate Kid meets poop joke meets culture

Misc. Observed Film Techniques:
  • Sports training-type montage
  • Rule of 3: The Young Dung Beetle observes his mentor's odd techniques 3 times before he starts to embrace them
  • Appears to meet all the requirements of a Ringling film

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Nutshell Analysis: Breaking Bad *SPOILERS*

Personal Note: Although this series didn't resonate with me as a type of story I'd particularly enjoy telling, it has such a great reputation as a well-executed story with excellent cinematography that it seems to be too important for me to not not write about.  Since the scope and content of a TV series is massive, especially compared to a 2-minute short, this will probably be an ongoing article with new content being added even after its published.  

Logline: A financially poor high school chemistry teacher dying from lung cancer reluctantly cooks crystal meth to provide money for his family, but, over the course of time, eventually loses his soul to the work and turns into a ruthless drug kingpin

Concept Statements:
  • Good intentions do not justify terrible actions
  • Giving in to our worst impulses does not make us a badasses - it makes us monsters

Things I liked:
  • Rich cinematography that has great storytelling images
  • Irony, which creates instant conflict
    • Walt commits crimes and lies all in the name of love for family, but he horribly scars them by doing so
    • Jesse Pinkman is a leader who thinks he's a follower
    • Drug Kingpin whose brother-in-law is a DEA Agent
  • Symbolism
    • Chemistry explains Walter White's character arc, which is supported by a quote the Pilot
      • "You see, technically, chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change: Electrons change their energy levels. Molecules change their bonds. Elements combine and change into compounds. But that's all of life, right? It's the constant, it's the cycle. It's solution, dissolution. Just over and over and over. It is growth, then decay, then transformation. It is fascinating, really."
    • In the pilot episode, Walter is on an stairmaster, which represents him "stuck running in place"
  • Jack's Death: Killing him off mid-dialogue really makes an impact on how powerless and dislikable he is

Storytelling Images

Mise-en-scene: Reflections symbolize Walt's duality.  These are shots from right before
"Heisenberg" is about to surface

Things I didn't like:
  • Although Walt's purpose is fulfilled and his story came to a full close, the resolution to a few of the other characters, although works structurally, still felt unsatisfying and flat since they had arcs of their own and had monumental screen time throughout the series.
      • Although this is Walt's story, how do the rest of the main characters view life as a result of his actions by the end of the series?  Having family betrayal of a Walter-White level obviously left everyone cynical and hurt... but is that really it?  We know everyone hates Walter at this point, but I wish the show was more specific as to how everyone has specifically changed with the aftermath of Walt's betrayal instead of just showing them numb and despondent. (Does Walt Junior still hold anything against Skyler?  How does Walt Junior deal with being a   How does Marie deal without Hank in her life anymore?)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Shorts I Liked: Teen Titans Go, "Sidekick"

Logline: Sidekick Robin struggles to keep Batman's belongings in order when the other Titans want to play with the equipment in the Bat Cave

Concept Statement: We are successful when we let go of fear from what others will do to us (It's only when Robin lets go of his fear of Batman that he is able to succeed and save the day)

Runtime: 10:54

Things I liked:
  • Hilarious drawings with specific personality
    • Robin's muscular chest
    • Robin's hand gestures that shoe the Titans away as he says, "C'mon c'mon, you can't be in here!"
  • Moments of over-the top action and drama, but is self-aware, which makes the gags funny
    • Robin feeding the fish and the fish wearing Batman masks
  • Tone of the story felt like a mix between Warner Bros-esque humor and Ferris Bueller's Day Off within a superhero world

Misc. Film Techniques Observed:
  • Warner Bros - esque humor: Gags at a characters' expense
    • This only works because Robin was cocky and flaunting his responsibility at the beginning of the story, deserving to be the butt of the jokes later on

Other Videos I Like: Around the World in 360°

(Not technically a story, but definitely evocative.  Fills me with adventure and wonder - sets a perfect mood to start the summer.)

Things I Liked:
  • Evocative: Beautiful scenery of the world mixed with the adventurous motorbiking
Misc. Film Techniques Observed:
  • Montage
  • Object Transition

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Shorts I Liked: Tired

Logline: A spare tire struggles to find a place where he belongs
Concept Statement:  Everyone has a place we belong, whether we realize it or not

Runetime: Approx 2 min

Things I liked:

  • Simple but appealing animation and characters
  • Combined use of flat, shapey 2D backgrounds in a 3D environment with 3D characters
  • High Concept: Shows the origin of where tire swings come from
  • Ironic Ending: The spare tire finally found the place where he belonged, but it wasn't until after he had given up and died

Misc. Film Techniques Observed:

  • Montage

Commercials I Liked: Expedia "Find Your Storybook"

Logline: A child travels on a far away trip, in which landmarks mirror the wonders found in a bedtime story
Concept Statement: ???

Runtime: 0:30

What I liked:
  • Evocative: Compares the whimsy of a child's imagination / bedtime story to existing places in the world
  • Interesting that it still tells a story, yet doesn't seem to have a conflict...?

Misc. Film Techniques Observed:
  • Montage

Shorts I Liked: In Between

Logline: A citywoman is tormented by an imaginary crocodile (who only she can see) and prevents her from making social interactions
Concept Statement: The art of living comes not from eliminating our problems, but from working and growing with them

Running Time: 3:04

Things I liked:
  • Interesting commentary on shyness / introversion: the crocodile stuns / immobilizes her whenever she's in the midst of social interaction
  • "Slice of Life" -type story that still has a reason to be animated - the crocodile gives the film reason for the story to be told through animation
  • Super-appealing crocodile design
Misc. Observed Film Techniques:
  • Montage

Shorts I liked: A Cloudy Lesson

Logline: A young boy struggles to learn cloud-blowing from his grandfather
Concept Statement:  If you look at things the right way, your mistakes and accidents can still be turned around into something new and beautiful

Running Time: 1:58

Things I liked:
  • Character Design - hair is united via floating rectangles
  • Rich colors - Primary Colors
  • Interesting, high concept: How are clouds in the sky made?   Where do they come from?

Misc. Film Techniques Observed:
  • Rule of 3: The boy tries blowing into the hoop 3 times before it breaks

Friday, May 9, 2014

Shorts I Liked: There's a Man in the Woods

Logline: A loving Teacher gets fired from his job when his mischievous student makes up a story of a monster in the woods
Concept Statement:  What goes around comes around

Running Time: 3:36

Things I liked:
  • Overall, origin story for a murderer / kidnapper
  • Ending directly connects to the beginning (first and last lines uttered: "There's a Man in the Woods.")
  • Irony of a loving teacher turned into a killer of the children he once tried to protect

Observed Techniques Observed:

  • Montage, Parallel Editing

Shorts I Liked: Nuri

Conflict: A local townswoman meets a group of helpless stars, who need to reach an empty night sky
Concept Statement: Beauty shines upon the good samaritan

Running Time: 2:12

Why I like it:
  • Evocative & Whimsical: Feels like a fitting cross between a whimsical Christmas bedtime story and a pop-up book
  • Appealing Environment and characters
  • Interesting, High Concept: Where do stars come from?

Misc. Filmmaking Techniques Observed:
  • Montage - when hanging up the stars across town

List of Storytelling Modes, Conventions, Styles, and Genres

List of different genres / styles of storytelling with their bullet-pointed attributes and conventions.  Remember, all good storytelling typically has irony...

John Huston (Director)
  • A group that goes on a journey
  • In the end, the journey was not worth it (the group was better off before they had embarked on their journey)
  • The group is defeated by a woman
  • Reluctant protagonist
Examples: The Man Who Would be King, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Key Largo

"Ringling (Computer Animation)"
  • A character will try 3-4 times to get something - will fail the first few times but will succeed on the final try (OR vice-versa OR something different will happen)
Examples: The Final Straw (happens at intervals throughout the film), The Emperor of Ice Cream

The Final Straw

The Hero's Journey (Joseph Campbell)

1.  THE ORDINARY WORLD.  The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma.  The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history.  Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.
2.        THE CALL TO ADVENTURE.  Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change. 
3.        REFUSAL OF THE CALL.  The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly.  Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.
4.        MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.  The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey.  Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.
5.        CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.  At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values. 
6.        TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES.  The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.
7.        APPROACH.  The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.
8.        THE ORDEAL.  Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear.  Out of the moment of death comes a new life. 
9.        THE REWARD.  The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death.  There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.
10.      THE ROAD BACK.  About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.  Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.
11.     THE RESURRECTION.  At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level.  By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.
12.       RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR.  The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.

Examples: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Matrix (This mode is more suited for more epic adventures)

Classic Horror
  • Romanticism
    • Setting takes place in more fantastical settings - castles
    • Has a happy ending
    • 5 Character archetypes
      • The Innocent
      • The Monster
      • The Scientist
      • The Leading Man
      • The Spiritual

Modern Horror
  • Unhappy ending
  • Takes place in more familiar, mundane settings - Subdivision Neighborhoods, schools
  • Character Archetypes from Classic Horror are still present, but they are all given a twist

Movies I Liked: Amazing Spider-Man 2

Logline: Superhero Spider-Man fights against the mysterious Oscorp, whom all of his enemies are connected to.

Concept Statement: No matter what price we pay to do good, the world needs people that are greater than what we suffer.

Themes:  Abandonment, Time

Running Time: 142 min

  • Spider-Man and the main villains connected to each other through the theme of abandonment
    • Electro and Harry join forces because of this theme, not just because they hate Spider-Man
    • Electro represents the type of unconfident man Peter would have become if he never had Aunt May and Uncle Ben after being abandoned by his parents.  As a result, the virtue of responsibility and power was never learned
    • Electro is a tragic villain, a man who turned bad because he fell victim to the worst of himself of just wanting to belong and be noticed.  Found him to have a lot of pathos because I think we've all felt like Max Dillon at one point in our lives - being angry, confused, and lonely, and as a result, irrartional
  • Theme of time
    • Gwen's death happens at a clock tower
    • Spider-Man puts his foot jamming the cogs, literally trying to stop time (and being unsuccessful)
    • First shot of the film is a watch
    • First line of the film, "I wish I had more time"
  • Gwen's death gives meaning for Peter to carry on as Spider-Man, even after he's paid such a personal expense, through her graduation speech
    • "It's easy to feel hopeful on a beautiful day like today, but there will be dark days ahead of us too, and they'll be days where you feel all alone, and that's when hope is needed most, no matter how buried it gets, or how lost you feel, you must promise me, that you will hold on to hope. Keep it alive, we have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you, is to become hope, people need that, and even if we fail, what better way is there to live. As we look around here today, and all the people who helped make us who we are, I know it feels like we're saying goodbye, but we will carry a piece of each other, into everything we do next, to remind us of who we are, and if we're meant to be. I've had a great four years with you, I'll miss you very much."
  • Part of the film's concept statement was stated in the trailer
    • "You wanted to be the hero... now you've gotta pay the price!"

Mise-en-Scene: Fire blazes behind Electro's Head.  The shot creates a a visual tangent
that symbolizes his burning anger.

  • Scene where the airplanes about to crash into one another: they don't directly connect to any of the characters so the audience doesn't really care about them (same logic as to why Brad Bird cut the character, Snug, out of Incredibles)
    • Conversely, still understand why they probably put the scene in - to show the audience that there are innocent lives at stake
  • Cringe-worthy superhero lines - "A God named Sparkles?"