Sunday, March 12, 2006

my movie

this weekend in stake conference the theme has been 'the Lord's blueprint for us'. there have been several comments about blueprints and what they are, and one person even brought one for us to see. thinking about how this applies to my own life, i found myself searching through personal experiences to which i might better relate. the blueprints were impressive: there is a lot of work and knowledge that goes into making them and to interpreting them. i don't know much about that, but i have worked with movie scripts some, and have experience in going from script to finish.

the scriptures are like our script [just writing that now, i notice the obviously close entymological relationship]: they are detailed and tell a lot about what to do, yet there is much that is to our choosing. when i was directing, the script called for certain things, including a leading guy, his fiance, a large house, a kennel, hot dog cart, and of course, several dogs. i had to have those things in my movie--the script called for them--but it still left much up to my choosing. while i needed a big house, nothing specified which house or the name of the person who was to play a part.

as i read through the script over and over, i began to see nuances about the characters and the story. it made me wonder which character proposed to the other; i saw why someone said what they did and pondered what they were really thinking. after immersing myself in the script, i started making storyboards. this was much harder than i had initially imagined, because it was all my choice. i could put the camera anywhere i wanted, move it when and wherever i thought wise--how would i know which is the right way? the story said the maid walked into the house and that the cook was preparing the food, but that was it. i had to decide how many shots would be used to show this, what camera angles would be most effective, and what shot would follow.
actually, this part came very easily. from past experiences and places i knew, i could see how i wanted this to play out. the scene where danny and sarah talk was actually the hardest to plan and decide how i wanted it to happen. not surprisingly, i think the opening scene with the cook and the maid is the best part of the movie, and that the conversation in sarah's apartment is lacking.

even though i spent a lot of time planning and blocking and looking through actors and locations [and dogs!] with people who were capable and helpful and good friends, pulling this whole thing off was still an ordeal. i had read the script and knew what i wanted from each scene; i had thought about what shot i wanted and why i wanted it that way; and i had storyboards that looked good.
but when you have spent so much energy to simply secure a location [thank you, meredith bak], pull together a crew who have lives outside of their charitable work on your student film, and keep seven homeless dogs from killing each other, it is easy to throw up your hands and say 'fine, just shoot it.' i had spent so much planning and consideration in deciding how everything would be done for a shot, but when it became difficult to bring everything in how i wanted it, i settled for what i could get, rather than what i wanted. moments in the movie that could have been funny were lost; elements that told the story were muddled, and apart from having a cool steadicam opening, it's mediocre.

but i did learn a lot.

we go through life, planning what we want to do and what is important to us. we learn what is right and what is good and what will bring us happiness, but it is our choice on how we want that to happen. like drawing the storyboards, it often makes no difference where we go to school or what we study so long as our choices are made wisely and in line with the important elements of the script. while there are many choices with a definite right or wrong, there are many others that are important only if we want them to be--i don't think the script called for 'brownie' to be a weiner dog, but i wanted him to be one; it took some work, but we got it and i'm glad we did [thank you, bryce!]. if we give up those decisions that are important to us only because it is easier, the life we are making will lose the themes and ideals that we have planned for and worked for for so long.

there are times when it feels like you have been dragging the production out for weeks, when the dogs have made an escape for freedom and your life-saving a.d. is not there that
day, when it is easy to give up, to not worry about how your choices now will fit with what you have done before. and many times you will feel like your best is not going to be good enough, yet when you see the footage, everything will match. but do not compromise or ignore the motifs and goals that you have planned for. if the scene calls for top-lighting, red napkins, and integrity, make sure those are there. it will keep your gaffer and production designer busy, but this is your movie--you know best.
happiness is when we give up what we want now for what we want most.

i'm glad i was a film major.


Em said...

Hey wait a minute... Bryce got you the shelter dogs... I got you the Dachshund!

And I'm glad you're glad you were a film major. I'm glad I was too.... if only because I think it made me a much better human being in the end.

-->jeff * said...

oops... my apologies. that whole time was a blur and memories are sketchy at best. thank you for the weiner dog.

la_sale_bete said...

did i find you a location? or was i supposed to and then didn't, so your thanks was sarcasm? golly, i wish i could remember.