It’s my all time favorite movie.
I’m not sure if I posted about it on this blog yet, but I’m sure I posted it over at the 8 for Vegas blog.
I’m bringing it up here because I just found out that on February 22nd, in NYC, there will be a screening. And I’d love to see it on the big screen.
‘All time favorite movie’ movies are hard to boil down, but I haven’t had difficulty with this question since I saw it, by myself, when I was 24. I remember the first time I saw it was at my friend Jeff Ellis’ apartment in Park Slope, when I was 19, living with him and some friends for the summer, between college years. I remember I saw this and Brazil, and I didn’t understand either of them.
Jeff also introduced me to Ren & Stimpy, but that’s a story for another time. Space Madness was a particularly deadly episode for me, our mutual friend Thane Gorek, for him, and for his girlfriend at the time.
We had similar tastes in music and film, but Jeff had a couple of years on me and was, admittedly, much more worldly.
At 24, I was living in Jersey City, coincidentally in the same building as Jeff, and was working at Village Copier on 13th Street, or 12th Street, I cannot remember. I was making shit money, but it was enough to afford my $600 apartment. In 1997 or so, studios were releasing a lot of titles letterboxed on VHS, which was great. Prior, you could watch the pan & scan versions of films. Sometimes they didn’t even bother.
Lost Highway had come out in the theaters, and I had been enjoying Lynch’s films for years. I found a copy of Wild at Heart for sale, brought it home, and was simply amazed at what he had created. The visuals, the music, the acting, the STORY, all of it was batshit crazy!
Months later, I was leaving one day from work and heading over to The Strand, going into their rare book department and coming across a copy of Barry Gifford’s novel of the same name. And it was signed. I bought that straight away, read it, and was even more surprised at Lynch’s ability to not only adapt material respectfully, but to also be able to adjust Gifford’s universe to suit a theme throughout the film. The Wizard of Oz.
I remember when Pulp Fiction had come out in 1994, and had won the Palme D’Or. It had resonated with me, at the time, that this was a pretty prestigious, especially since they went to so much trouble mentioning it in the Pulp Fiction trailer… but I had no idea where it what Cannes was, where it was taking place, and why it was so important. Little did I realize that Wild at Heart had won the award in 1990.
Another film that Jeff and I share an affinity to, Barton Fink, won the award a year later, in ’91. Jeff defined Barton Fink as a film that ‘every single person who wants to be an artist should see.’
I’m very excited to see Wild at Heart next month.
But, back to ‘all time favorite film’ questions. It’s not the best film ever made. For me, that honor goes to The Deer Hunter. But it’s special to me, none-the-less, and helped determine that Lynch is my all time favorite director.
Enough about that, though.
Yesterday’s shoot went very well. I dropped my camera bag, again, but I swear it wasn’t my fault. It was closed this time, too. I won’t get into it, but it was a small fall, and due to weight shifting and gravity and there was a worm hole and folded space.
I went into yesterday’s shoot concerned about lighting, as all good cinematographers should.
The thing is, I’m not a cinematographer. What I have shot has been more point and shoot, while trying to discern a personal style. I cannot say if I’ve accomplished that or not, but I’ve watched a ton of movies, and I know what I like.
Here’s what I’ve gathered over the course of a couple of months from either professionals, semi-professionals, and people who love typing into the internet.
1 – Get a tripod.
2 – Shakycam footage is amateurish.
3 – Shallow depth of field shots are amateurish.
4 – Sound is sometimes more important than footage.
5 – Your camera is only a recording device. Your lenses are what help you capture great imagery.
And so on.
Well, I got a tripod. I researched far and wide and settled on a nice one.
I love shakycam footage. Big fan of Cloverfield, etc, etc. Love it. Not sure what to do about that. At the moment, I will not be doing anything, except shooting more footage.
Shallow depth of field shots look cool. They look COOL. The director is giving you a specific thing to look at for a reason. That reason could be color, or emotion, a specific detail important enough to focus on… whatever. I love the look of shallow depth of field.
The rest of those points… yes. Sound is wicked important. I found that out almost the hard way, dodged a huge bullet. Was glad for the advice.
The other. I say shoot with what you have or can afford to buy/rent, until your ship, however big or small, comes in. But that’s just me.
I knew that we had some apartment shots to shoot yesterday, and that it was going to be at night and was going to be a nightmare because the interior was dark. Not DARK, like the woman who owns the apartment is Vampirella. No. But it was lit with interior lights and was going to be hard to view. Not to mention, it was bathed in perpetual warmth. That didn’t bother me, but the yellow tinge was going to be an issue.
So. I did some researched on inexpensive lighting techniques, and also on 3-point lighting. For those of you who don’t know what three point lighting is, there are 3 lights. That’s it.
Ok, ok. One’s called the Key Light, which is your main light. The second is called your Fill Light, which helps remove unwanted shadows that come from your Key Light. It also softens the opposite side of the face that is bathed in the Key Light. The third is the Back Light, or Hair Light, which is either behind or above the subject. That helps define the subject more, especially if you’re shooting on a darker background.
That’s a simplification. Truly.
I knew I wasn’t going to need three lights, because the background was going to be a light beige wall, and the subject was going to be moving constantly.
So, I went to Adorama and talked to a salesperson there, who suggested the following. A 3200 Photoflood Bulb, at 250 watts, 120 volts. These were going to go into standard Home Depot clamp lights. I also purchased a white heat-resistant umbrella to either dampen or bounce the light off of, depending.
I’m glad I bought these, because it saved our ass. A rolling light kit, under $50.
I don’t have any of that footage to show, I’m sorry to say, but we started the evening at around 4:30-5:00 pm yesterday evening in the East Village, over by Tompkin’s Square Park. I shot some outside footage, and then we went to our first real location, Tinto Fino, a wine store in the East Village. We ended up buying three bottles of red wine there that were simply delicious, and at a very reasonable price. They were nice enough to let us shoot there, and I thought it only fair that we not only buy the wine we used in the shoot, but drink it, too.
All in all, it was a very successful evening. I learned more about shooting. I learned a tiny fraction about lighting, and we’re 95% finished on our shoot, which is awesome.
Here’s some footage from the day. Thanks for reading. I can’t believe I’m at 1300 words. It’s 1:09am, and I can’t stop typing.
Thanks to Kevin MacLeod for the use of his fantastic music.