Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Matter of Time

A Matter of Time from Mu-Ming Tsai on Vimeo.

A short film I directed for an editing class. The original assignment was to just come up with anything that's two minutes long and edit it, but I figured why not just shoot something myself and edit it? That thought quickly turned into "Why not work with a full-sized crew and shoot a short film?" Plus at the time I was itching to direct something, so I conceived and shot "A Matter of Time" in less than two weeks.

After doing "The Human Cave," I wanted to do something that "Took it's time." It was also relevant to the whole theme being the weight of time, I wanted the audience to physically feel the time that was happening on screen. I remember my editing teacher and classmates commenting that the pace was too slow, but after they saw the whole thing they understood the idea. In film school (Especially in the States?) it's always about "what happens next?" Honestly I was really insecure in the editing process, for fear that the audience would be bored, but turned out it was a good choice to stick with my intuitions. I mean, even if it is the wrong choice, I don't have producers and financiers looking over my head and making decisions for me, I'm proud of the outcome.

Technically, the most difficult thing was shooting by the beach. Ocean Beach, SF, especially during spring is just not the ideal place to shoot a film. I had Vitale, my very talented DP do a long Steadicam shot of people collecting packages in the water, but there was just too many issues so we had to cut it out. The extras were freezing, they wore too less, lens were fogging, the wind was so strong the softie hardly worked, I'm really grateful for even finishing the shoot and for the actor's and crew's hard work. Daniel, my editor and who served on the shoot as the script supervisor, told me as a friend: "Mu, don't shoot at the beach again, ok?"

At the very least, we got the money shot of the film, a.k.a "The Giant Clock." Jack Perez, my directing mentor who directed "The Big Empty," "La Cucaracha" and "Mega Shark V.S. Giant Octopus," (Yes, the trailer that was a YouTube sensation) showed us how he did a forced perspective shot in MSVGO. I thought that was super cool, and did a homage to that, and put it in a different context. We only had like 5 minutes to do two takes of that shot because my actor Author had to leave early, I was yelling to my actor, the wind was gushing... it's still a miracle we pulled it off. In this day and age of special effects and CGI, it feels great to physically see your creation happen in front of you!

All in all, it was a great experience, 1st time I tried to tackle a semi-fantasy film. I was satisfied with the outcome. Next on I will be shooting "Plastic Revolver," which is a super fast paced film. It's good to switch between paces and genres from time to time.

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