When we last left off, Christina and I were re-working the beats. We still are doing that. Plus, we are preparing an application for the Sundance Institute/Asian American Feature Film Fellowship. It would be a great honor to be selected for that. More importantly, it would be a great resource.
Regardless of whether we get in or not it has served a purpose to help us with deadlines on getting our script in better shape.
Also, I thought of a new opening scene. I will chat with Christina about it this afternoon but I thought it might be good to see Ian and possibly with the help of Rodney, steal the artificial leaf from the laboratory. Ian would almost get caught by Oscar and would play it off. The audience sees right away who the good guy is and the bad guys are. Maybe it would be a mini-heist film at the beginning.
I have been using the Pixar Story Tweets as a basis to improve our story. Here are the latest entries:
#9 When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up. Oscar wouldn’t go to bed. Oscar wouldn’t take a vacation. Ian wouldn’t feel guilty. Ian wouldn’t stop trying to take the company.
#10 – Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it. The stories I keep coming back to are: Pi, The Social Network, and House of Cards. I like the drive of Max in Pi. I like the maneuvering and cunning of Frank in House of Cards. Frank is an amazing bad guy. I like how Social Network took something pretty geeky and made it interesting.
Sometimes having limits are a great creative device. When you have a completely blank canvas or blank page, it can be overwhelming. Or sometimes, having to fit within certain limitations forces you to get creative and find a more pleasing solution than you could have come up without the limits.
I know Christina is just exploring with the story in her recent post and I think that is awesome but I want to offer some suggestions. Very strong suggestions. My suggestions come from the standpoint of making the production something we can handle and actually execute.
- Please keep the locations limited. Fewer is better. One location for the whole movie is the best.
- Keep the location at our studio/laboratory/office
- Please do not add new characters. If anything, combine characters or eliminate characters.
- No special effects. No 3d monsters, explosions, guns, knives, blood, etc. I know we have it now but I want to limit it as much as possible.
- Use suspense where possible. Suspense like when the audience knows something our hero doesn’t and we are on the edge of our seat yelling at the hero not to open that door. That’s the best.
Following these limitations will allow us to make this movie ourselves. Once we deviate from these limitations it will require more resources: time, money, people, etc. Then it makes it more difficult to make.
What are your thoughts on this?
This is very low resolution and just as reference. This will help you see the progression of the script. Please do not judge any of this. The actors are seeing this draft for the first time with no direction. I wanted to see their initial off the cuff response. I thought they did amazing for a cold read.
This is from my daily writing journal.
Also, I suggested that if the stakes were heightened in the business that they are out of money and that it was a struggle to pay the bills it could be a way for Othello to take more action. Some ways to illustrate the struggle: laying off people at the beginning, they create a kickstarter, Cassio reports that the kickstarter failed, creditors are calling Emilia, Othello is dodging the calls or takes them and assures them that they will be paid back, Iago suggests big oil purchase them, people are sacrificing and living off their savings. Othello and Cassio are living off their savings. Iago weaseled his way to get some money. Roderigo works there for free because Iago told him he could get closer to Desdemona this way.
Othello could get a bill in the mail for the electric bill. A final notice printed in Red. A pile of bills on his desk. What else? Othello works on selling the project but refuses to get big oil involved. He is launching a kickstarter maybe it is a kickstarter that is about to fail.
They are just too far away from a final product. Plus, the perks are not that great. T-shirts and old cells.
What else can Othello do? He could ask his family for money. They could be tapped out. He could ask friends but they are tapped out as well. He could try a bank loan. He could try microfinancing. He could try crowdfunding. He could try selling blood. He could try selling his stuff on ebay. He could try to cut costs. He could lay people off. He could recyle old chemicals and materials. He could try to branch off in other businesses.
How do we make Othello more likeable? I am reminded of the Pixar tweets, we admire someone for trying. It’s like Frank Underwood in House of Cards Season 3 is starting to become likeable because he was no longer manipulating so much and murdering but instead was trying really hard.
How can Othello try more? He would be working super hard. He would never leave the office. Desdemona has to drag him away. He can refuse because he has to get stuff done. Maybe in the office it’s not a big announcement but smaller.
From the Pixar story tweets, what is interesting to the audience? For Pi, I liked the idea of Max trying to unlock the secrets of the stock market. It would lead to riches.
A different voice over for Othello could be like Max from Pi. It could journal entries on his frustrations and discoveries. 3:28am I am still at the lab. Or at least what we call the lab. We have tried the dichlorine hexabromide solution but to no avail. I’m at an impasse. What am I missing? On top of it all, Ian and Michael are arguing again. I know everyone is tired but we must press on or this project will die on the vine.
What is the theme of Othello? The theme of Othello is jealousy and revenge. There is also appearance versus reality.
How do we show this? He actually gets pulled over for being brown. He sees Desdemona doing her job then getting jealous.
I have been referring to the Pixar story tweets. I think I will cycle through all of them. Once upon a time there was a Filipino-American Scientist and Entrepreneur. Every day, he worked on creating affordable artificial photosynthesis to replace fossil fuels. One day his engineer, Iago, became jealous. Because of that, Iago set out to trick Othello and steal the technology for himself. Because of that, Othello became jealous of his best friend and fought with his girlfriend. Until finally he fires his best friend and murders his girlfriend.
Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
This is interesting. The first thing that comes to my mind is what if Ludovico and Brabantio were combined? What would that look like? Would that raise the stakes? Would Desdemona still work at the bar? Does Ludovico own the bar? Maybe Ludovico buys the bar from Brabantio. When Brabantio is chewing out Othello in the beginning. Ludovico talks to them. He asks Brabantio what his involvement is. Brabantio tells him he is the investor and owns the bar downstairs. Brabantio also says this chink is see his daughter behind his back.
Ludovico calms him down a little bit. Then asks how much is in invested in Ingenhousz. He tells him. Ludovico asks how much return did you expect and if that would make him happy if he got it. Brabantio tells him. Then Ludovico offers that amount to him to buy out Brabantio. Brabantio hesitates. Ludovico explains, look our firm is in this for the long haul. We’ll be able to ride the bumps. You have the bar to take care. What if I add 10%? Ludovico sticks his hand out to shake on it. Brabantio shakes his hand. They strike the deal. Does Ludovico buy the bar? Maybe Brabantio makes an offhand remark like, “Wanna buy a bar?” Ludovico, “I have always wanted my own bar.” They strike up a conversation about that too.
What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
What is Othello good at? He is great at ideas. He is great at technology. He is great at inventing. He is not great at finishing. He is not great at relationships with people. I am not sure but I think this is true.
Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front. I know the ending but is there a way to make it better? I don’t know. What are ways to make it better? It could have more of a surprise. Maybe we really think that Cassio is dead and that Iago is going to get away with it.
Then Cassio saves the day. What else? I thought of that already. What are other ways to make it better? Maybe Othello takes his time to kill himself. It is long-ish and drawn out as he realizes everything that has happened. He killed his own love. He is delirious from the sleep deprivation. Finally he kills himself and sleeps.
Othello suffers from chronic sleep deprivation.
Christina and I had a great Skype call yesterday. We chatted about the table read we did last week. We agreed that the next call we do, we’ll record and post here, that way others can benefit from the process. We feel it would be useful to some people to see how we hash out an idea.
Also, our deadline of being done with the movie by April 8, 2015 is not looking very realistic at this point. The script is shaping up to be really great. But of course, it is not perfect yet. I want to be the best I know we can make it but at the same time, I don’t want to tweak it forever. There comes a point where we have to move forward with it. Though, I know there are some tweaks that must be made now in order to tell the story better.
A few thoughts are going through my head right now. First, deadlines are useful and help us get stuff done. Otherwise, things just get pushed off and pushed off. I still think we need to push for a deadline. Maybe we still push for the April 8, 2015 deadline. And let’s see how close we come to it.
In terms of shooting, originally I thought we could rehearse like a play and shoot it in a weekend. Now, I am thinking we do it more like every rehearsal is a dress rehearsal on location since the location will be in our studio. We have all the equipment there already. Plus, it will give both the cast and the crew the ability to test things out and get a feel for the actual shoot. Though magic will pro
It will be shot on digital so the media is not cost prohibitive. And it will give us the freedom to try different things. This
We did a read through with the cast last night and it went great. There are some changes to the script I want to make. Nothing too major but more about making the characters a little more defined.
I’ll set up a meeting with Christina and we can discuss the ideas. We’ll keep you posted.
Thank you very much to the cast and crew from last night. It is our goal to showcase your awesome craft.
This is a cinematography test featuring Sean O’Malley who will play the role of Iago. We are going for a Film Noir look. We are playing with light and dark. This was shot on the Canon 5D Mark iii in high compression h.264. I will not be using Magic Lantern RAW in order to save time, money, expense, and complexity. The way I look at it, it’s like shooting on positive film. Riskier in a way but has its benefits. One of my favorite movies of all time, Pi, was shot in B/W positive.
In terms of lights, we used all LED lights: Apurture, Fotodiox, F&V Ring Light, and a 160 Ebay light. Our goal is to get this lit once and tweak only a little bit throughout the shoot. The less we have to move the lights, the faster we can shoot. I did a pre-setup on Thursday just to see what it sort of looked like. On Saturday, with no lights set up, it took me about an hour to set up the table, lights, water, tripod, and camera.
When Sean is sitting by the desk, it might be a little too dark when facing the monitor.
Special thanks to: Sean O’Malley, Noah Felipe, Larissa Nielsen, Mark Worsham, Christine Hancock, Christina Shaver, and the Hawaii Filmmaker’s Collective.
Hit me up if you have any questions.
I just read some more of Robert Rodriguez’ Rebel without a Crew. At this point in the journey, he has serious buzz around him and nearly every studio in town wants to make a deal with him. It is very exciting to think about. It makes me wonder if we can generate that sort of buzz these days.
I will email the cast today and schedule the table read and rehearsal schedule. Let’s do this!
Here is a vlog entry I posted yesterday. Do you like my hair cut?