Beauty; Beast

Lisa and I are in the middle of shooting our micro-budget feature titled SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS, and we are thinking hard about methodology, tools, and how this approach might simply … change things. Here’s a beauty:

Charles Swanson, our cinematographer … he’s in charge of beauty. The beast? Well, that’s the mountain of a challenge he has in front of him to achieve that beauty with ONE tool, make that two (see camera and Chimera light above) and, er, no crew. Sometimes he just looks at us, like … “really?”

It’s a tough one. If we are going to make these teeny tiny movies, how can the entire field of cinematography adjust?  Charles, who is a professor in Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount, really has the industry at his fingertips as he trains the next generation of customers (DPs) for LA’s mega-industry of rental houses and equipment manufacturers. But now that we have an $1800 camera that requires basically one light to make a pretty decent looking movie … what happens on so many levels? Industry? Artistry? Education?

Charles says, “If you’re going for an industry job, there’s a whole set of skills you’ll have to become aware of – working within the structure you’re given – whereas in the indie world you’ll multiply your role every day. Everyone has to become a producer on the set. Film School usually assumes the student will become a  director – but in many situations today if there’s one cowboy on set, nobody’s gonna get fed.”

While micro budget may not exactly take over, it does set a new low-ball expectation in terms of aesthetics. Hey, I love me some PUFFY CHAIR just like the next guy, but have you seen CYRUS? It’s funny and all, and the performances are solid, but the way the film looks and the way shots are composed signals loud and clear that those elements were not, er, the top priorities. Did micro budget simplicity and its resource-depletion carve a new path to really well written, really crappy looking movies? We are fighting the good fight towards beauty, together with our DP. And our script sure does have a lot of dialogue scenes, exactly what I push my students toward avoiding, but this may be part of the new way …. They help fill up the glass!

THE PUFFY CHAIR trailer is below (it’s a great film), as well as a few stills from our project, shot by Charles Swanson.

Sarah Rafferty (L) and Anna Margaret Hollyman (R)

Here’s our trusty light.

… And this light is even more trustworthy! (Except for clouds … but here, 80 miles from Vegas, it was pretty reliable. Anna Margaret Hollyman in a phone scene.)

Here’s the PUFFY CHAIR trailer: