This Is It!
It's been a while since our last update. Due to some unexpected paperwork road blocks, we were forced to push our shoot date from late July to late October. Nevertheless, here we are! We're four, count them, FOUR days from shoot! Our official date and time is Sunday October 22nd, 2017 from 7am to 7pm with a 6:45am call time. So you bet your bottom dollar we'll be up bright and early come Sunday because we only have one day to get this right!
Who will be with us? We'll have a crew of about seven people. Our team will be head up by me, (Madison Lovely, writer/producer), Cin Anderson (director), and Eleanor Cho (producer). Those fearless leaders will be making all that VR cinematic experimental magic alongside Steve Park (drone pilot and DP), and Isaac Marshall Taylor (AC and assistant editor). Of course we'll also have our lovely cast, Max Vector (Dorian) and Bryan Hornbeck (CHARLIE).
We've learned a lot in the 10 months it's taken us to put together this project from the earliest stages of adapt/re-writing/funding. Experimental film in any capacity is always a leap of faith but add a new medium to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster or greatness. We're leaning towards the latter. So let's talk about what makes this film so experimental, aside from the obvious VR.
What our film is trying to capitalize on is what story can ONLY be told in cinematic VR? It's question that needs to be asked of all new mediums and is a very formalist approach to the art. Looking at formalist film theorists like Rudolf Arnheim has led next generation artists like me to VR. What's important to look at when approaching a new medium so early in it's inception is it's formal qualities that make it distinct and unique and capitalizing on them. In order to capitalize on them specifically, however, I'm looking towards story.
This leads me to the way our experience is being shot, on a drone. By place two VR cameras on a small drone (which is a main character in the story) we essentially give the audience all the power to be at the center of the action and yet have no control. Having no control narratively is important and they way you film that needs to reinforce it. We could have placed a stationary VR camera in the middle of every scene and had the audience be silent passive almost ghost-like voyeurs. However, by making them character, we've given them motion and importance to visually interact with the film. However, the character they embody is nothing more than technology, just like the viewing device they're using. With that it comes with battery failures, horrible conditions when exposed to the elements, and of course poor quality video when the camera has been damaged in say, an escape? By accounting for a poor technology and low budget, we've written it into the script to enhance the story even more and really work with the fundamentals that VR has to offer.
What is interesting is our camera rig. With the specific drone we're using, the Mavic, there aren't many options on the market for our PixPro SP360 dual VR cameras. Actually, more specifically, there's only one option and it costs a pretty penny plus international shipping of forever. So our team got crafty. You'll see from the video below that we're measuring the dimensions of the drone with the camera attached and the length of something we'd need to secure the cameras to the body of the drone. We eventually landed on velcro, which is used to secure the base of the camera to the body of the drone as well as basic black hair ties that are taunt enough to keep the cameras firmly in place with great stabilization. This may seem basic and rather risky, but it's actually one of the best solutions money can buy. First off, it's light weight, which means we get more battery life and flight time for our drone (that's a huge deal). Secondly, it's cost effective and easy to replace. That means if something goes wrong on set, we have the tools to fix it and quickly. Thirdly, It isn't bulky, which means nothing will be interrupting the shot or taking the viewer out of the experience. These three things are incredibly important for our specific filming requirements and we highly recommend this DIY option.
DIY Drone Rig
Lastly, we wanted to thank all the people who supported us and got us to this very moment. We'll be tying up all our last minute loose ends in our final rehearsal this Saturday (10/21) and running a sound check with our equipment, but we're more than ready to execute this to perfection. With projects that go through so many hiccups, bumps, and red tape like this, it's important to love the story you're creating. Luckily for us, our entire team does. It's really an experience and one of a kind mould breaker that we all believe in. Personally, it's not a job if you love what you're doing, and this project is the very definition of that. So without further ado, check out our sizzle reel below, which was made using our 2D drone test footage shot on our second location scout and first on-site rehearsal. Keep looking for more updates, posters, and behind the scenes shots from all the fun we're about to have this weekend. Until then, contribute your verse.