Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BREAKING POINT

As you may have guessed by now, I do not have the film finished.

I'm taking a break until after the first of the year.

I will admit, though, I really do need a break.  If you know me personally you know the truth of that statement.

If you know me personally, you also know how hard I resisted fought the very idea.

I spent the spring and summer researching and writing about biblical genealogies and a national radio show.  The amount of detail involved, the complete dissimilarity of subjects and writing styles, combined with creating characters on a level I never before attempted was daunting to say the least.  I was so involved in these projects I got a little stuck in my head.  A mental fog slowly and imperceptibly descended and lingered.  Even after the scripts were finished I pushed ahead into post-production on the film.  

I never really got my head back after those projects until last week, when I finally committed surrendered to a complete break until January.

Once I gained a little clarity and perspective I wondered, WHY have I been pushing so hard to complete this film?

One reason is that I have another writing/directing/acting project that begins after the first of the year, along with Ladies' Day and women's ministry responsibilities kicking into higher gears.  Having the film unfinished means I won't be able to give them as much attention as they need.

Another is that it would be nice to actually finish something and have it STAY FINISHED.  The vast majority of things I do on a daily basis are things that have to be done over and over.  There is always another meal to fix, another load of laundry to wash,another spot to clean, another drop off and pick up, another message to answer.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Ad nauseum.  Once the film is release it is D.O.N.E. -- DONE.

And, quite frankly, I am excited to see what happens when it is finally released.  I'm interested to hear what people say, both good and bad.  I want to see how others are blessed because God is working through the five loaves and two fish He gave me. 

But what it really boils down to is that I want it done because I want it done.  The problem is I never really asked The One Who Commissioned The Film In The First Place when HE wants it done.

I consulted my calendar instead of my Creator. 

Lesson learned.

However, my friends, there is no need to fear.  I still have a zillion other lessons to learn.  I'm sure, if you're still interested by then, I'll share them with you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why You're Reading a Blog Post Instead of Watching a Film

No, you haven't missed anything.

But I have.

I missed my November 1 self-imposed deadline for finishing "Who Does He Think He Is?"

Sometimes things are just simply out of your hands. 

For each step I've completed, three more have surfaced.  Aspects I thought would be fairly quick and easy have turned out to be time-consuming and difficult.

I continue to battle the lighting issue nearly daily.  Each time I figure out a different way to "correct" the problem I then have to go back to the other scenes and try it there.  I KNOW it will NEVER be perfect, but I'm really trying to get it as close as I can so it is not distracting. 

Also, it's not like I have eight hours a day to devote to this.

The silver lining (I'm choosing to call it that) has been that the script I co-wrote for our church's Christmas program has been shelved until next year.  Bummer for me emotionally, but again, it's due to circumstances beyond my control.  I was also part of the cast, so the cancellation means no rehearsals for me.  That has freed up quite a bit of time I wasn't planning on having.

My new goal is to have it finished before Thanksgiving.  I don't know that a "release date" at this time of year is a wise idea, but we'll see.  If I don't finish by then I'll have to shelve it all until after the first of the year.
 
In all of this I continue to pray The Prayer That Never Fails, "God's Will Be Done."  Talk about circumstances beyond my control...God's will is ALWAYS beyond my control.

The only thing I can control about it is my attitude.  Right now I'm on a much needed "forced vacation" and it's doing me a world of good.  I have been ridiculously stressed and aggravated about this missed deadline and about the fact that it will continue to cut into my family's time and preparation for the holidays. 

BELIEVE ME, you WILL know when  "Who Does He Think He Is?" is available to watch, online or on DVD.

Thanks for being patient with me.  :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Six Weeks and Counting

November 1 is my self-imposed deadline to have the film finished.  That is six weeks from yesterday.  IF I can stay focused (and that is a BIG IF these days) that is definitely possible. 

I've been putting off working on the sound and color/lighting.  I need Clinton to fix the sound because I have NO ear for that and he is the resident expert.  Plus, when I did look at the sound controls I started to hyperventilate. The lighting is just as intimidating and there is A LOT of fixing involved there, especially as I had issues with the camera getting dark during filming and I may even have to attempt a frame by frame fix.  NOT exciting.

So, I've been playing with the titles and credits.  I know that if the folks at Pinnacle could have seen how I started out they would cry.   

I worked on the titles in a new document so that I could play around and not mess up the film itself.   I tried to pull a still shot from a video.  Somehow I managed to accomplish this, although now I can't seem to find that part of the software again...  I typed the title and thought I had it set onto the still shot.  I went down to the storyboard, hit playback and watched the video itself, then the title with a black background, then the still shot.  I laughed hysterically, saved what I had and came back to it another day.

The next time I braved this portion of the film I managed to figure out how to get the title onto the picture AND copy and paste it into the film.  Success!  A very small success, but still a success.

I started working on the credits which, naturally, will be about 1000 times longer than the title.  I wanted to be able to type all the info in and have it scroll down like, you know, a REAL movie.  It was not happening.  I finally thought, "I'm just going to have to type one page at a time, then cut and paste it into the film.  *sigh*  Bummer."  So I got started.

As I'm adding lines to the credits suddenly I see some little boxes on the left side I'd not noticed before.  I ran my cursor over them to see what they were.  One of them came up with the caption "roll."  

Roll?  ROLL?  Are ya kidding me?  Whoo-hoo! 

So, now I'll have moderately professional looking credits.  Yay me! 

God gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.  "Just enough light for the step I'm on," but not "enough rope to hang myself."  He is always on time, rarely early. 

Now if He could speed up the next six weeks...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Feel Bad About My Nose...

I'm about 97% finished with the rough edit.  Hurray for progress!  This entails having cut and pasted the scenes and clips where I want them.  I have a couple of small scenes to add to the mix but then I will begin serious work on titles, credits, transitions, voice overs, soundtrack, and serious adjustments on lighting and sound. 

I messed around with some of the title stuff the other day.  I'm glad I can exit the program without saving the changes.  Somehow in all my messing I screwed up the first two scenes, but they are fine now.  WHEW!

I have SO MUCH to learn about film making.  Sound.  Lighting.  Better equipment.  I'm a little aggravated in that I may have a dud in my Kodak Zi8 camera.  On several shots it just got dark.  I'll probably be having a conversation with the Kodak people soon. 

One major thing I will need to work on is camera angles.  I truly believe we could not have found a less-flattering angle for my scenes.  (Loooooong story here.  Let it suffice to say that from now on I will trust my instincts and be a little more insistent.)  I mean, I knew my nose was not small, but did I really have to showcase it?  It takes up a full half of the frame, and my hair takes up the other half.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating here.  But not much.

This is part of the reason I didn't want to act in this film. Seeing myself (and hearing myself) on film is on my list of Least Favorite Things.   But, all things considered, it's time for me to get over it and move on.  It is what it is.

Some scenes play back much better on film than they did live, and vice verse.  I was pleasantly surprised at some of the line readings, but some things I thought were terrific fell flat.  Such is the job of the editor to fix all of that. 

Oh.  Wait.  That's me.



(By the way, my title is in homage to Nora Ephron's book, "I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.")  :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lesson Learned

We came.  We set up. We laughed.  We filmed. We drove. We walked.  We sweat.  We laughed.  We yawned (please don't ask me to explain.).  We laughed some more.  We got it DONE!

In two days we shot everything I need.

I hope.

If not, well then, I'll always think we should have.

It's great working with your friends.  You can completely skip the getting-to-know-you-chemistry-building phase and go right to having fun (which, my friend Mike graciously reminded me, is of paramount importance).  Of course, that also means you have to reign it in from time to time, but that's okay.  Fun shows up on film, and even though this film is not about "fun" you'll hopefully still be positively affected by it, if only on a subconscious level.

Someday (hopefully before 2017) you'll be able to judge for yourselves whether or not I was able to memorize my lines.  Towards that end, here's a clue:

I may have actually learned to WRITE this week.

"Well, sheesh, Deb!  It's about stinking time!"

I agree.

Long about Wednesday it really came home to me that written words and spoken words are two very different things.  Just because something sounds good when you read it, even reading it conscious of inflection and blocking and motivation, doesn't mean it's going to sound good when it's spoken.  I know this was already obvious to you, but my light bulb seems to take a little longer to come on than others.

I was rewriting my lines up until late Friday night.  (Move over, Aaron Sorkin)  Good thing, too, because I found a couple of MISTAKES and other things I'd overlooked or not explained well.  The script as shot is a much better script (in my opinion).

I think I need to take a writing class.

But first things first.  I have some serious work to do on my script for the Christmas show.  I'm working on that as soon as I post this.

No rest for the weary.  More coffee, please!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Panic Attack!

Panic was the theme for Tuesday (yesterday).

This is filming week for "Who Does He Think He Is?"  Filming week, like tech week in theatre, is always filled with chaos and tons of last minute preparations and obstacles, many of which you can't plan for.  We start filming Friday and are supposed to (God willing) finish on Sunday.

Added to that normal chaos (and that my regularly scheduled life is still in effect) is the fact that a prop of major importance isn't going to work out.  I've tried (so far) three different ways to get something else together and I'm not there yet.  This is a major project I hadn't planned on having to tackle, especially this week.  And I'm not crafty, so I'm working with a handicap.

Wait for it.  It gets worse.

Late yesterday morning I got a phone call from one of my actors.  He had decided to back out of the film. On Tuesday.  When we film on Friday.  I won't go into detail except to say that there is no blame on either side and I respect his decision.  Our friendship is completely intact now and shall remain that way. 

However, I am still short an actor.  An actor who has the look I need, can pull off the feel I need AND memorize tons of lines in four days.  I can't find anyone who fits that bill.

I'm going to have to do the unthinkable and act in my own film. 

This is NOT my idea of fun, nor do I think it's best for the film as a whole.  However, I can't reschedule my other actors, locations or supplies without tremendous effort.  It would be significantly less hassle to simply take his place myself.

In the infamous words of Sheriff Woody from the movie Toy Story, "This is the perfect time to panic!"

And panic I did.  Yesterday. 

But I asked my friends to pray for me and obviously they did, apparently with no holds barred.  And God answered them with a huge YES and has shown up.  I'm still in the same predicament, but I have peace.

I'm marking this event down on my list of spiritual growth milestones.  A year ago, or even six months ago, had this happened I would have been completely overwrought with fear and anger.  I was very panicked yesterday but by the evening, when it was finally clear that I would have to play the part, I started to feel better.  "The Peace That Passes Understanding" stepped in to "guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

Hmmm.  Guarding my heart.  If you read my other blog, www.debbielegg.blogspot.com you know that guarding my heart is a major theme in my life overall, not just for Talk Your Legg Off.

So we're continuing that theme, eh God?  I'll take that over panic any day.

But, if you don't mind, continue to pray for us all.  And thank you.   :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

While I'm Waiting...

"While I'm waiting/ I will serve You while I'm waiting/ I will worship while I'm waiting/ I will not faint/ I'll be running the race/ even while I wait."  John Waller.

That's the current theme.  On August 20-22 I'll rehearse and film!  I cannot wait for that time.  That's a little over two weeks away.  Until those incredibly exciting moments I'm doing many little things in preparation -- finalizing locations, making and acquiring props and set pieces, narrowing music selections, and soon I'll be finalizing the shooting schedule.  

I have the Pinnacle software on hand, but I have yet to get it installed.  My Tech Guru is a little afraid of what the ramifications will be to what is currently on the computer.  I'm already having issues with iTunes probably related to other software.  Needless to say we are apprehensive.  

I may need to request a prescription for Valium, for both of us, for Installation Day.  ;)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pinnacle

Writing a script.  No problem.

Finding the perfect accompaniment track.  Totally covered. 

Scouting locations, finding actors, organizing schedules.  Piece of cake.

Choosing camera angles, plotting scenes, planning the filming schedule.  SO not a big deal.

Researching editing software, checking system requirements with my computer, anything the slightest bit technical.  PUSH THE PANIC BUTTON!

Okay, I know that you are already well aware about how I feel about the tech aspect of the film.  I guess that's why most directors have people to do all this for them.  Of course, they also get PAID for making films, unlike yours truly.

I finally purchased some software today.  It's called Studio Ultimate version 14 by Pinnacle.  I chose this software for two basic reasons:

A) Our worship minister, Jeff, uses Pinnacle software and has graciously agreed to let me call him for help.  Of course he has version 10 and the whole interface is different, but still he will be an invaluable resource to me.  At the very least he'll be a sounding board for when I'm bent over the keyboard in body-wracking sobs ready to throw the entire kit and caboodle in the ditch because I can't figure it out.

2) Very often over the last two weeks in my reading I've come across the word pinnacle.  That's not a word that comes up in daily conversation very often, or in most writing.  I'm reading The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy to Matthew.  CS Lewis apparently loved the word pinnacle because it's in there several times.   This is only one example.  I took it as a sign I'm headed in the right direction.

Thomas Carlyle wrote, "Every noble work is at first impossible."  I read that as a Facebook status not long ago. This aspect of the project definitely feels impossible for me. 

Another Facebook status, in fact posted on the same day as the Carlyle one, reads, "God gives us dreams a size too big so we can grow into them."

Isn't it just like God to want you to grow in ways you never thought you could?  I guess we're getting ready to see how that works for me.

If you hear body-wracking sobs any time soon, stop and say a prayer for me, would ya?  Thanks.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hovering

Not flying high, not landing, just hovering for now.

My dear friends will soon be finished editing for me.  I'm hovering excitedly over that one.

Hope to find out next week (after their monthly board meeting) whether or not I can shoot at the location I'd like.  A wee bit of anxious hovering there.  No other place is nearly as well-suited. 

Looking into software and probably have some figured out, but I have to check its specs with my computer and my camera.  Don't know how to do that.   Hovering over My Chief Guru of All Things Techie (aka my husband) very impatiently.

I do, however, have all my actors on board!  Filled my last role earlier this week and I am SO excited.  God definitely has led me to these people.  I would share the story but it would give too much away.

Not to worry, though.  I still have other projects (and blogs) to work on, not to mention the tyranny of everyday household chores.  Plus, it's summer.  We wanna have some fun, right?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sloooooowly we roll along

The rough draft for the film is being edited by two wonderfully talented friends of mine.  I'm so excited to read all of their red ink, because it will help me learn and it will make the film better.  I only hope the ridiculous formatting isn't too much of a distraction for them.  That is a long, long story I won't subject you to at this time.

I FINALLY found a location that would work!  I only hope I can jump through the hoops and get approval to do it there.  I live in a very small (population 5500) town, so I'm limited on places that have the look, feel, lighting etc that I need.  If I was filming something involving farms I would be set.  :)

I'm still quite nervous about the technical aspects of the filming and editing.  I keep planning to sit down and play around with the editing software some more but so far life conspires against me.  Today the problem was that I had to clean out my kitchen cabinets and make them, um, shall we say, less rodent friendly.  One of the "perks" of living in the country -- wildlife!

Friday, June 4, 2010

PROGRESS!

The rough draft for the script is done!  Hurray!  Time to celebrate!  

Pizza and my favorite Mediterranean Chicken Salad will be delivered shortly.  We'll even leave some pizza for Clinton for when he gets home tonight, as he's had a rough day of planting with lots of equipment breakdowns. He'll be finished soon, we hope.

It feels good to have that part accomplished.  Now the editing begins, along with continued work on props, locations to shoot, finding actors, etc.  I do have an excellent lead on music (thanks, Dave!), and I'm completely psyched about that.  In my mind's eye I can see the shots with the music and it's going to ROCK!  Exactly the effect I'm looking for.

The details will all fall into place in their own time.  Right now it's time to relax and switch off my brain for a while.
 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Learning, research, learning

I'm in the process of writing the script for my first film.  I had hoped to be nearly finished with it by now but I've run into some snags that require more research. 

I thought the material would be fairly straightforward to present.  However, nothing is ever quite as cut and dried as you think.  As seems to be the case with scripture, just when I think I understand something I discover a new angle or insight and then, all bets are off.  

But I am learning so much, and being as I love to learn, this is not a problem.  I'm asking questions and getting guidance from those who know SO much more than I do.  

That is very rarely a bad thing.    
 
:)

 

Friday, May 7, 2010

What You Need To Know Before Watching "Swiss Peace"

Swiss Peace is an experiment of sorts for me in my new-found identity as a filmmaker-in-training.  Future films will be actual films, not simply videos of stage productions as this is.  I thought that producing this for Talk Your Legg Off (TYLO) might be a good way to cut my teeth with the new camera, software and all the computer technology that is so foreign to my little brain.
 
I am NOT an actress.  Let's make that perfectly clear from the beginning.  What I've always heard about people hating to see themselves on film holds true for me...eeeewwww!  At least now I know that when I do this again I need to be "bigger" and work on my timing.  Side note to all my theatrical friends:  tips and tibits that would improve my acting would be greatly appreciated.  Critiques on the writing, directing, filming etc are ALWAYS welcome as well.   :)

Since filming this I have upgraded the mic, so future sound quality should be better.  I'm also learning the editing software, YouTube and Vimeo, etc. 

The skit was written in two parts, for the morning and afternoon sessions of Ladies' Day at Oil Belt Christian Service Camp in Flora Illinois.  I tried to download it as a whole to Vimeo but couldn't get that to work.  YouTube has a 10 minute time limit and this comes in at 11.5, so my best option for now was to present it in two parts as two separate videos.  

Writing is beginning on my first "official" TYLO film, and I will try to keep you updated as I hit milestones.  Of course, I still have all of the other responsibilities in my life PLUS co-writing our church's Christmas show, so don't expect anything, you know, next week.  Or next month.  But hopefully soon. 

My hope for all of this is that God is glorified and you enjoy what you see. 
Thank you both for reading, and watching!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Welcome! :)

One of the many hats I wear in this life is that of a motivational speaker.  

To date, my very full life prevents me from following the course of most  speakers -- knock on doors, travel to events, write books, market yourself for all the world to see.  

Then again, doing things the way others do them has never really been my style.  

Some time back I asked God if I was doing all I was supposed to with this calling.   Then the words "YouTube" flashed in my mind.  (Hmmmm... I guess technically YouTube is one word?  Whatever.)  

This was the genesis of Talk Your Legg Off Productions.  I'm filming, with the help of some friends, the speeches, skits, etc that I'm being given.  

Of course it takes time to daydream, write, rehearse, film and edit.  Not to mention the fact that I'm learning the technology as I go.  (Can someone PLEASE explain the difference between  .MOV  and .WMV files?  And how do you get from one to the other?  And do I need to?)

Please be patient.  I hope to have something to show in the next few months. 

-- Debbie