A little while back I posted about Making A Ruffus Promo where I described a little bit of the antics involved in shooting and editing a short promotional video to announce new episodes released on the Ruffus The Dog web site.
Well – I did another one:
This time it involves 3 characters and so was, naturally, just a tad more time consuming to make than the previous one. But not because there was an extra character.
The excess production time was caused by me fucking up.
I thought I was being clever in this little exercise of quick and dirty shooting – set it up, knock it in the can, cut the fucker together and throw it out on to the interwebs. Ta-dah! Piece of cake. Yeah – right.
My son helped me with the shoot – operating camera and performing the right hand of the pig character. Took us less than an hour to get all the shots we needed. It was fun – even though we shot the scenes on one of the hottest days of the year and my sweat was dripping on the computer keyboard the whole time.
My sweat wasn’t the problem. It’s because I’m an overly confident lazy bastard that caused the problems. I have old hard drives – they need to be updated – yeah, yeah, sure, someday maybe. I back things up – sometimes – when I get around to it – maybe later when I’m not so busy – just let me get this one thing done first.
You get the picture.
Nothing too complicated – and it only took me 2 hours to cut and composite the whole thing.
That’s when I noticed we missed a line and had to set up all the lights and camera and shit – again – to get this one integral little fucking line from the pig. Geez.
No worries. Shit happens. Got the shot. Imported it into the edit. I’m feeling pretty cocky at this point. In a couple of hours the render will be finished and I’ll post this puppy and gloat it about it on Twitter and Facebook. I am too cool for school.
I got all the way to the end of the final edit on this shit and was just going to do one last pass to tweak the audio a bit when suddenly Final Cut Pro started telling me I had files that were off-line. That’s how FCP describes something important that just isn’t fucking there anymore. Off-Line.
What?! How is this possible?! Of course the files are there. I put them there. Right there – there – where there is now n-o-t-h-i-n-g.
The screams were heard all through Parkdale – and across the Twitterverse – that night.
Where did they go? I have no fucking idea. For all I know they just floated away with all the sunshine I’d been blowing up my own ass.
I proceeded to spend over 12 hours attempting to recover the files – even tempting the fates by going into the Terminal in a desperate bid to reconstruct the files via command line. Eventually I had to admit defeat and a few days later – this time without the help of my son who had returned to school – re-shot the entire thing.
This time I backed up the files. This time I saved everything – twice – and on different drives. This time I did it right. And it worked – sort of. It doesn’t possess the verve of the first shoot and the edit isn’t as finessed as the first one, largely because I was bored and pissed off with myself for wasting so much fucking time.
But I wasn’t just going to give up and do something else. Oh no. To me it was more important to actually get the thing done. It’s all part of a larger plan of mine that involves certain guerilla production techniques that (often) fly in the face of common sense. Backing Shit Up is now part of the plan.
Something else I did this time around was actually script the whole thing. I mean properly script it. I write scripts all the time for our shows but usually when I’m shooting something small like this I’ll just scribble down some notes and then wing it. It’s fun – what the hell.
This time I wrote it all down – just like a real shoot.
If you’re into that sort of thing you can download a PDF of the script. It’s not terribly clever – it’s just an exercise in production technique and an attempt to keep some original content flowing through the web site to maintain traffic.
The script is 4 pages for 2 minutes of screen time. There are some producers and broadcasters who live and die by page counts, refusing to even read scripts that defy their ironclad belief system in how long a script must be. Those people are pinheads. The running time of a script is based on how it plays. The little numbers in the corners of the paper don’t mean shit.
You’ll notice I wrote out each and every shot as it appears – with the exception of a couple because I fucked up the timing with the different characters speaking and had to fudge the edit to make it work – c’est la vie. When making the original Ruffus episodes – and for most of the shows I’ve produced and directed – I’ve always done this. It makes sense not to include all that kind of specific production detail when you’re just a writer-for-hire or trying to sell something on spec – then it makes sense to leave things open for readability and to let the other collaborators contribute their own vision to the process of crafting the finished story.
So should my script for a chintzy little 2 minute video have been only 2 pages long? No. Fuck that. Like I said: die hard page counters are pinheads.
Common wisdom sez a feature film script should be no more than 110-120 pages. Ever read a Hitchcock script? 250-300 pages. Of course, his scripts were detailed blueprints of exactly what he wanted to shoot and he was a freakin’ genius – and I’m no Hitchcock – but I do know if you toss one of those on an executive’s desk these days – they’ll plotz.
But, when you’re doing shoots that involve puppets and blue screen other stuff like that, and you don’t have a creative team on hand to figure shit out for you, and you don’t have a budget or the time to stand around with your thumbs up your arses trying to figure out the best way to accomplish the finished visual effect you desire – that’s when you simply write it down and say: “Shoot the fucker like that.”
Works for me – when I take the time to back shit up.
The next installment of this drivel will focus on how much crap I keep in my head as I work. That’ll be fun.
P. S. My friends and colleagues are, thankfully, telling me things like: “You know, if you ever need any help – all you gotta do is just call.”. I know! I appreciate that SO much. And YES – I will call. But first there’s still a couple of other things I need to mess around with before we move into a more collaborative frame of reference. Bear with me. And thank you so much for your support. :)