Shorts from 48HFP:DC

Two weeks ago, we featured a series of interviews with the team leaders of three films entered in the 48 Hour Film Project in DC. Two of these films were selected for a second screening in the Best Of DC series, but all three are now available online for your viewing pleasure. The perfect distraction for a Friday afternoon. If you don’t see the clips embedded below, click through to our site.

Interview with Jasmine Bulin

Last weekend was the 48 Hour Film Project in DC.  This weekend we’re bringing you interviews from several team leaders who participated last weekend.  Our first interview is with first time 48 Hour participant Jasmine Bulin.

Jasmine Bulin
Jasmine Bulin, 48HFP-DC "Hugs Productions" Team Leader

Still Indie: So, how did you get involved in the 48 Hour Film Project?

Jasmine Bulin: I heard about the project about three years ago and have been pining to do it ever since. Finally this year I signed myself up as a team leader and just hoped I could get my friends to help me out in time.

SI: What genre were you hoping for and which one did your team draw?

JB: I was crossing my fingers for “buddy film” or “mockumentary.”  Since our team’s mission was to have a good time during the 48 hours, not to win, we were hoping for a genre we could easily inject our comedic spirit into. I drew “holiday film” out of the hat as our genre, but we still had some great ideas, and it wasn’t hard to incorporate the 3 common elements; Eve or Ivan Pagoda, Coach (the character), ID Card (prop), and “We’re hoping things will change.” (the line of dialogue).

SI: What story did you tell?

JB: After the Kickoff, where we recieved all the elements, my entire group met to brainstorm and vote on the story we felt the strongest about telling. An obscure holiday, Make a Difference Day, won out, so we told the story of a man at a low point in his life trying to do good on that day while incorporating some slapstick moments where his good intentions go wrong.

SI: What was the biggest challenge your team faced?

JB: The biggest challenge was not time. It was definitely maintaining focus. There was plenty of time for drama in the 48 hours and I learned a lot about how I should do it next time. My advice to any 48hfp newbies out there is to set specific jobs/responsibilities for everyone, maintain a simple schedule, and choose the direction you want for the film.  I heard several comments from other team leaders about how they should have been more involved in the writing process.

SI: What was the best moment of the weekend?

JB: The best moment, hands down, was when we got to film the scene we were all anticipating: rolling one of our characters down a big hill in a wheelchair. I think we did 20 takes just because it was so much fun and after finishing the film I think it is the best scene. I still laugh at it.

SI: Will you be participating again next year?

JB:  When I was turning the film in, I wasn’t sure whether I would ever participate again. I had fun, but the drama… oh the drama! With a new strategy I think I will do it again next year and you may see one of my films in another 48hfp city this year.

Thanks Jasmine for giving us a view into your team’s process!  To see photos of Jasmine’s team at work, check out their Facebook photo album.  Be sure to check back with us tomorrow when we’ll hear from a 48HFP veteran. If you’ve got questions for Jasmine or her team, please submit them in the comments section below.

“I Love You, Man” Trailer Needs Spoiler Alert

This weekend, I went to see “I Love You, Man” with a bunch of grad students. Grad students are really great to take to a movie. They don’t have time to watch trailers online over and over, they don’t see commercials on TV, they read the news in newspapers, not the movie reviews. . . so they are actually pretty good at kicking back and enjoying what’s up on screen, minus the heavy expectations.

I, however, was not so lucky. I really enjoyed the trailer for “I Love You, Man,” only to find that the movie was, in effect, a much longer version of that trailer. That’s not to say it wasn’t an enjoyable movie – without a doubt, it was fun. . . but the trailer simply managed to suck out all the most enjoyable parts and deliver them to me before the movie could surprise me with them. A pivotal scene, in fact, THE pivotal scene, in which Paul Rudd tells his fiancee why he wants to marry her, is also the prominent scene in the film’s trailer.

Now, before you tell me that all of the Segel-Rudd-Whoever-Is-Hot-This-Week movies are too formulaic to have any real surprises, I give you this precious clip from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

This scene would not have worked nearly as well had it appeared in trailers or commercials. The surprise that Segel’s character has a soft spot for puppets and vampires gives his character depth. Paul Rudd’s supposedly stuffy character in “I Love You, Man” has a soft spot for Rush – something we already guessed from the air bass scene we saw over and over again. The grad students, however, seemed to really enjoy watching Rudd’s character slowly unravel – they giggled at every line from the trailer and the tv spot. I’m sure whoever makes trailers out there giggled, too, which is why all the best lines ended up so worn out.

Were I not horribly addicted to trailers, I’d give them up entirely at this point. It’s a rare joke that can make me laugh after I’ve seen it the first time (most of those are in “Young Frankenstein” – a work of comedic genius if there ever was one). But for those lesser works of comedy, it would be lovely if we could just have a nice glossed-over summary in our trailers, and save the real laughs for the theater.

Happy Earth Day 2009

In honor of Earth Day, we’d like to point you to a couple of our previous articles about green film.  If you know of other resources for decreasing your environmental impact as a filmmaker, let us know in the comments.

Green Film

Image from Cayusa
Image from Cayusa
Slow Food, Slow Film?
Media-making requires a lot of resources.  What can you can do to reduce your impact?
ABC’s Earth 2100: You, too, can be Al Gore!
ABC News asks you to submit videos about what our planet could look like over the next hundred years if we don’t act now to save it.
Chris Carter’s Green Set for X Files Sequel
A concrete example of how a major film production reduced its impact on the environment.

More Earth Day Resources

For a great collection of Earth Day related videos, head over to the Earth Day collection at the brand new PBS Video Portal.

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” Trailer Ruins My Childhood

In September of this year, Sony Pictures will release Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which tragically seems to bear almost no resemblance to the book, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. First published in 1978, written by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett, the book is charming, scary and goofy all at once. It was a staple bedtime story in my house when I was growing up.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Cover
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Cover

The trailer for “Cloudy” shows the story of a clumsy mad scientist who invents a machine that turns water into food, then unleashes it upon his unsuspecting town. In the original book, we listen in with two kids as grandpa tells the tale of Chewandswallow, a town where three square meals a day rain down from the sky – a perfectly lovely, if strange, place to live – until suddenly everything goes haywire. Which story do you want to hear more? I don’t understand the obsession with throwing gadgetry into every single kids’ movie out there. The book is notably without gadgets (the denizens of Chewandswallow end up floating out to sea on large pieces of toast). The idea of making houses out of giant bagels and sailboats out of sandwiches sparks a kind of creativity that is absent from the story of an inventor who comes up with a big box with blinking lights that does something improbable.

I’m reminded of Marc Hirsh’s thoughtful response to the Watchmen film over at Monkey See. He asks why we need to turn everything into a movie – especially perfectly good graphic novels that have an artistic life of their own. What are picture books, anyway, other than graphic novels for kids?

For an example of how NOT to ruin a beloved childhood book in trailer form, check out the creepy, musty, delightful trailer for Where the Wild Things Are. Much has been made of this trailer, and how good the movie MUST be. I’m going to reserve judgment, but there’s a warmth to the “Wild Things” trailer that is missing from “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” The aesthetic reminds me of the old Jim Henson “Storyteller” series:

Jim Henson’s Storyteller Intro

Is “Race to Witch Mountain” Too Violent?

In slightly less indie news, Race to Witch Mountain (Disney’s remake of the old Escape to Witch Mountain) appears to be last weekend’s number 1 movie. Huh. I found this review of Race to Witch Mountain to be particularly interesting. Wesley Morris, Boston Globe film critic, reacted poorly to the movie not only because it was bad, but because he felt it was a very violent movie, given its young target audience.

Dwayne Johnson interview at HK Disneyland as a part of movie Race to Witch Mountain asian junket.
Dwayne Johnson interview at HK Disneyland as a part of movie 'Race to Witch Mountain' asian junket.

In slightly less indie news, Race to Witch Mountain (Disney’s remake of the old Escape to Witch Mountain) appears to be last weekend’s number 1 movie. Huh. I found this review of Race to Witch Mountain to be particularly interesting. Wesley Morris, Boston Globe film critic, reacted poorly to the movie not only because it was bad, but because he felt it was a very violent movie, given its young target audience.

Morris asks two very important questions at the end of his review: Will kids freak out [at this movie]? Could they already be desensitized to that sort of thing?

What kind of violence is okay in kids’ films? What even makes a movie a “kids’ film” and not a “family film?” I remember watching “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” as a kid, a movie that depicts sex, violence and one incredibly scary Christopher Lloyd. And yet, there’s something about the cartoon nature of the violence that made it seem like a family film way back in the day. Then again, what are we trying to protect children from? Are we preventing nightmares, or are we more worried that they’ll mimic what’s on screen?

New Media Showdown at Columbia J-School

On Wednesday, the NY Mag Daily Intel blog posted about the Columbia Journalism School’s struggle to integrate new media skills with an old-school journalism curriculum. Linda Holmes of Monkey See points out that the good dirt is in the comments section, where, of course, a lot of posters claim that the Daily Intel has published information without citing sufficient sources.

Let’s put aside the veracity claims for now: I think it’s safe to say that all of us who work in new media have heard the phrase “you’re just playing with toys” at one time or another (Daily Intel attributes it to a J-school professor). The reality is that new media “toys” wield an enormous amount of power. Why else would a whole bunch of respectable journalists and journalism students flock to the Daily Intel website to refute claims about Columbia? If it was just a toy, it would be easy to shelve and ignore.

The dean of the j-school points out:

“You can go to the Learning Annex and take a Flash course. I don’t think what we should do is be replicating courses you can take at the Learning Annex. But you have to have some familiarity, or you’re not able to execute a website.”

In other words, journalism schools aren’t supposed to turn out graphic designers or Flash programmers. Nobody has really figured out yet if new media is an art, a science, a trade, or some other profession entirely. When you simultaneously integrate design, engineering and content, it’s pretty difficult for traditional academic categories to keep up. But where does that leave institutions devoted to teaching traditional media? Do the “new” and the “old” have enough in common to be taught in one curriculum?

Validation in Short Film

Here’s another inspirational short film.  Films of this quality are easily produced in a technical sense, though not easily written, and a perfect example of how an engaging story and good acting trumps the cost of your camera.  I find this kind of film both uplifting as a viewer and encouraging as a producer.


If you’re trying to figure out who the lead is, that’s T.J. Thyne, most well known as Dr. Jack Hodgins from the TV show Bones.

Anna in Paris

I’m in the process of mastering Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express (unfortunately, my old MacBook doesn’t have the graphics capability to deal with Pro – so this video was created in Express).

I’m not a natural at editing, and I’m hoping that people reading will have some tips to help me make this video better. All shots were taken with my Canon still camera, this July, in and around Paris, France. The music is from Yo-Yo Ma’s “Obrigado Brazil.” What can you tell me? How can I improve? What tricks do you use when editing?

Paris Cut 1a from Anna Pinkert on Vimeo.

High Resolution Inauguration Photograph

The Fullscreen Gigapan Viewer offers a very interesting look at last week’s Inauguration.  Who can you find in the crowd?  It’s like Where’s Waldo for the digital age.  Ultra-high resolution photography offers some interesting opportunities.  

Has anyone had personal experience with this?  I’ve seen scanback cameras used for fine art reproduction, but I’m not sure what kind of camera took this photography.  Could this be from a medium format digital camera like the the Hasselblad H3D-39II?  

Photo by David Bergman
Photo by David Bergman

EDIT:   According to the photographer’s profile page (David Bergman) the image is “made up of 220 images and the final image size is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels.”  That’s way higher than the H3D’s measly 39 megapixels.  The fact that it’s multiple images stiched together explains the pincushioning on the edges.  Still an interesting technical implementation.  What else could this tool be applied to?