Strange but true: the last thing I shot this year was the first thing to go public.
Funny how it works like that. My first short, The First Date, was filmed in the spring and edited in the summer, and a quirk of local film festival scheduling left it waiting for a premiere until October. Its follow-up, Some of My Best Friends, was filmed in the summer and is being edited now, in the fall, with a premiere slated for, oh, I don’t know, winter, probably?
(And just to keep the plates spinning, I’ve got another project warming up to film in the winter.)
But here we have Spin It Like a Coin, filmed in September and released in October. Perhaps not having to wait for festival schedules to align is the trick?
Indeed, our only limitations this time involved working around the promotion schedule for Phratry Records – although being asked to wait a few days is child’s play compared to the patience we’re used to.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Spin It started as an excuse to keep busy during the Best Friends post-production lull. I wanted to work on my editing skills and give a few quirky effects ideas a spin, and why not get a project out of it? Surely a music video would do the trick.
Knowing my regular collaborator Shane had the connections, I asked him to find a band who’d be willing to experiment (and who wouldn’t mind if the experiment failed miserably). He suggested A.M. Nice, a relatively new local trio for whom he just produced a new album.
(Side thought: When making a music video, make sure you like the music part. You’re going to be hearing that song non-stop for weeks, so pick a good one. I picked a good one.)
And hey, while we’re shooting one video, why not make two? I’ll direct the first, Shane will direct the second, both of which we’ll edit ourselves, crafting companion pieces of a sort. A fascinating challenge.1
The shoot was smooth sailing. The band was friendly and game; the set free of distraction; the equipment mostly functional.
Better, it revealed amusing (to me, if not to anyone else) differences in creative method. Shane came ready with specific shots, specific lighting plans, specific everything. I came with nothing, treating it like an ad-lib: use whatever the location provides, shoot whatever catches your eye at the time.
And then, the fun part. Editing came in three stages: first, edit as if cutting a normal music video; second, render every third frame through Photoshop filters, creating a jerky, color-warped look; third, draw on each frame (tablet courtesy my artistic daughter, who owns such things), one at a time, creating squiggly animations when played back at full speed. Time intensive, occasionally brain-meltingly so, but also a fun way to point my excessive mental energy in the right direction.
A confession: Just like the shoot, I had no plan for the animation. I winged it, frame by frame, just to see if winging it was possible. I think it was. Along the way, I abandoned most of the original ideas I originally wanted to try, but that’s part of the winging it process, too.
So, yes. Spin It, at least visually, is a tribute to making it up as you go.
(I’ll spare you the pretention of calling this a “philosophy.” But filmmaking through improvisation? It’s definitely my preferred style.)
And now it’s online, beating my spring movie by a week. Filmmaking is weird.
1Shane’s video, Dust and Ash, is almost complete; Phratry Records, the home of A.M. Nice, plans to release it in a few weeks, their way of staggering the two videos and keeping up the hype leading to the album’s release.
copyright 2015 David Cornelius all rights reserved