Samstag, 2. Mai 2009

Coming out, coming out!

There are now trailers up and being published! The release date on IMDB is said to be March of 2009, but that's for Puerto Rico. It will be out by the fall and I am so excited! It is going to be beautiful and I can't wait to analyze the hell out of it.

Sonntag, 10. August 2008


The making of Miente was like an epic love affair. I think a lot of the crew felt like that. Our loved ones didn't see us for a month. We were completely removed and all our time, energy, and passion was consumed by this film. Relationships started, relationships ended. Inspiration was sparked, life paths were changed, connections were made. It was just fantastic. I could not have had a better experience.

Since coming back home I have re-sketched my life path. Before this experience I was still on the fence about whether I would pursue Psychology or Film/Photography. I had the inkling feeling that Psychology, although stable and guaranteeing a steady income, may not be my cup of tea... dealing with other peoples personal problems on a non-artistic level while staying in one place and being committed to my patients... just ... isn't for me. At least not yet. Not right now.

I need to follow my dream. It would be so lame of me not to. I don't need much. I'm young and idealistic. Even if I was poor and lived out of the back of my truck, I know I will still find happiness in doing what I love, moving around, meeting people, and being occupied with artistic projects, and dealing with on-and-off temporary unemployment. I want to study the medium of photography more fully.

I'm currently trying to figure out whether or not I should go to grad school and get a Master of Fine Arts in Photography or get a job... the photographers I worked with in Miente seem to have gotten to where they are by getting jobs, and they seem very satisfied with where they are. However, my dad thinks its better to be overqualified and have a Master of Fine Arts from which I would have a broad range of opportunities. I'm not sure if he knows what he's talking about. If you have any advice, I would really, really appreciate it.

There's this fabulous opportunity to work with an entrepreneur by the name of Danny Chu. He started a company called Digipixart, which is basically a photolab. I could either apprentice with Danny, be a wedding photographer, do some studio photography, learn about lighting, learn photoshop, learn how to get business, build a portfolio... OR I could go to grad school, learn about lighting, have a lot of equipment available to me, be around struggling artists, and... see what I learn, whether or not it seems applicable to the real world.

Miente couldn't have been a more perfect movie for me to work on. It completely catered to my interests in every way. The set was dramatically colorful and artistic, the crew was hysterical and warm, the storyline was psychological and philosophical... C'mon now, that's me in a nutshell! (If i were a movie...)

I hope to one day direct a movie that is as close to my heart as Miente was to Rafi. I know the path I want to take and that is through Photography, through fashion photography and set design, lighting, and people.

I am so eternally grateful for the opportunity that Soni Fritz gave me. And I am so eternally grateful that I met her and got to know her and be close to her. She is lovely and I did not expect for her to be such an intelligent and inspiring woman. I sorta kinda want to be her when I grow up.

Mittwoch, 2. Juli 2008

RIP, pictures... rip, rip, rip.

I cried. Not because I had to delete the pictures, but because I had made Rafi mad. I had considered by myself which pictures were too revealing. And if you've been reading, you see that I didn't visually reveal the last scene to you. But I had to delete the one's about the nightmare sequence, and the one's about Paola's transformation to blue hair. I guess you've already seen them, but they can't be out on the net for everybody to see, and that's understandable. I just felt so bad that I messed up. I hope no damage was done. If you copied pictures, please don't repost them on the net.

I mean, I had already revealed that he is hallucinating, and that's truly the biggest reveal... but twists like this are so common that they're not really twists any more. But that's not the point of the movie. If you think that's the point, then you've missed it. The point of the movie is the characters, the setting, the darkness, the hope...

The ending is not the most important part of the movie like i previously thought. It may still do that for the majority of people, but I have learned to appreciate movies for their lighting, for their angles, for their acting, for their setting, for all the subtleties that exist in the huge production that is a movie. It's haunting how much I have learned from this experience.

For example, I was watching Tyra today on her talk show, and the lighting was too bright and flattened the screen. They needed to put some diffusers up or something. Her complexion was glared and awful! I was also watching a video of a pianist, and the angle was so boring that I had to close my eyes and just listen to the music, because the boring angle really frustrated me. But at the same time I notice good lighting and I notice good angles. I notice good acting, and I notice good depth.

It's funny how when you learn more about a certain field it will haunt you like this. The last thing that haunted me like this was behavioral psychology. Input, output. Punishment, reward. People can be so predictable, but simultaneously our environment is so complex that it creates the illusion of free will! That idea had consumed me last semester. Perhaps now I shall be consumed with lighting, composition, costume, and emotion. That seems happier... and by happier i mean it offers more reinforcements... and the psychological and emotional costs to get them are fewer... and there are practically no punishments!

Montag, 30. Juni 2008

It's a wrap! almost. Let's party!

I was a little nervous going to the wrap party. I didn't know what to expect, whether or not I was going to be under dressed. My first night in puerto rico i had gone to a party dressed in a t-shirt and jeans and turned up completely under dressed, and I didn't want to repeat that experience.

Rafi had said he wanted people to wear white. It wasn't a dress code, but I wanted to comply with it any way. I liked the idea that the crew would be dressed in the color of purity, after a collective exorcism. When I got there, everybody was dressed so beautifully. It seemed a little bit like a cult, and when I mentioned it, Rafi was like "yes! The cult of MIENTE!" It could definitely be a cult. There's a brotherhood, we're a family, it's a little incestuous, very spiritual in a new wavey style, and there's a definite hierarchy. I think we could definitely qualify as a cult.

It was funny to see everybody dressed up, not in their work clothes. some people set themselves apart from work by dressing nicely, and some people incorporated their work clothes into white-wear. The funny thing is that since it was such short notice that we should wear white, not everybody could comply. But the ladies who didn't wear white wore blue (like Paola) and the men who didn't wear white wore brown (like Henry.) We mingled, drank, ate, and were merry until the early hours.

Earlier that day I had put my pictures on a cd at the request of my aunt, and now they were going to be projected for everybody to see. I handed the cd over, and while it was being prepared into a slide show, I became very very nervous. All of a sudden I felt like I was exposing myself to the crew, showing them what I do behind my lens when I go into my dark little corner and stop interacting with people. The camera had been to me like what sunglasses are to Elton John. A strange coping mechanism and an inanimate object turned friend that helps you get through awkward, scary, boring times. Having a camera is like dancing around in your underwear late at night, when nobody is watching. Looking at people through a lens is an extremely intimate yet simultaneously voyeuristic moment. Its kind of my secret:

I'm looking at you.

Now it was being projected to all the people that I had been watching for this past month, to all the people I had briefly fallen in love with while looking at them through my lens. I didn't even have to do anything, though. I didn't have to prepare, warm up, breathe, drink water, go to the bathroom, jog, stretch... I just had to hand over the cd. My work was already done, every night at the end of the day when I would edit the pictures and decide which ones I liked.

I was excited, too, though. Laura and sonnel were there, as well as a bunch of other photographers and artists. What a perfect opportunity to get criticized or propped. The reception was really encouraging. People Aww'd and Wow'd in intended places, and some came up to me and were like "I always saw you taking pictures, but I had no idea that they were good!" and most of all, Laura Magrudel, the still photographer for Miente, told me I had a good eye and that meant a lot to me.

Sonntag, 29. Juni 2008

miente. MiEnTe! MIENTE!!!!

It's been a while since I last blogged. so much happens every day, and at the end of the day my thoughts are all a jumble and I don't really know what to write.

We spent 3 or 4 days in Henry's apartment (the days merge together in my memory when staying at one set). I realized we were nearing the end. We filmed Henry having a frantic episode. His world is falling apart and he is beginning to realize Diff isn't real. He's desperately trying to hold on to Diff, but he's not appearing any more. Paola comforts him. His mother confronts him about not taking his medication. Paola meets the mother and there is a moment in which these two women connect, and the mother realizes that Paola is going to take care of her little baby now.

At 5am we filmed a scene of the sun rising on the roof. It is the final scene and it is beautiful, although i won't upload pictures because I don't want to ruin the ending for you.

We spent our time on the set doing interviews. I became more incorporated into the Making-Of crew and held the boom mic. We interviewed the script writer who is from Chile and is incredibly animated when he speaks. I'm not sure what he was saying, but it was very fun watching him talk. Later on he saw the footage with the composer and they were both very impressed. The composer couldn't wait to make the music for Miente.

The highlight of the three days at Henry's was hanging out with Mariana. since Estefania has the key to the actors apartment/trailer replacement, we were always walking her back and forth. We hung out with her in her apartment and had a bunch of girl talk sessions. We talked about what its like to have kids, different styles of acting, what film festivals matter, politics, Cubans, Obama, Hillary, and a lot of other stuff that five minutes later I couldn't remember because we were so busy talking that I couldn't convert our conversations from short term memory into my long term memory! It's such a shame that this happens.

Nevertheless I gained an understanding of the psychology of acting, which was really interesting. For example, Paola enters Henry's life through his heart while Diff enters Henry's life through his head. Paola necessitates a sensual and emotional style of acting, while Diff, although focused, is less emotion and more physical. This creates a difference between how the actors adjust from In-Character to Off-Character. Frank is more likely to make the switch from Diff to Frank easier. Mariana has been in character for an entire month, though, even on her days off.

To top it off, Paola looks so different from Mariana, wearing more make up, being skinnier, dressing more elaborately, etc. Now that Paola's term is coming to an end, how will Mariana become Mariana again? Well she had to start by cutting her blue hair and dying it back to black (Amy Winehouse style.)

Anyway, the last big day of filming was yesterday. We went to an abandoned building covered in graffiti. It was beautifully urban, in exactly the fairytale style that one would imagine. We filmed the scene where Henry and Diff meet (which happens to be Diff saving Henry from being carjacked in a sketchy alley.) We also shot scenes of Henry freaking out looking for Diff because he begins to realize Diff isnt' real.

The scene was. so. strong. I had another one of those moments in which I stood by the monitors clapping silently, really excited, amazed, and completely trippin' to the scene:

Before the scene started, Henry was bouncing and hopping around like a boxer. He was going to be running in the scene, and he was working himself up.

I thought to myself jeez, that is a little silly. Does he really have to be bouncing around like a boxer? That's a little over the top... it's just acting!

Rafi yells action, and Henry runs into the spotlight, graffiti lit up in yellow Tungsten lights replicating street lights. "DIFF? DIIIIFFFF!" He pants, distressed, freaked out, in the midst of the realization that he's slightly crazy. "DIIIIFFF!"

Behind him, you see graffiti of a black angel, below is LIE, which the prop master Bryant and graffiti'd earlier that day. But in my trip watching the monitors i became conscious of another "lie" written subliminally and accidentally on the lower left hand of the screen. It wasn't on purpose, but it appeared. That accident really excited me, and elevated my respect for this movie by a hundred times. It's genuinely turning into a crazy movie.
By the way, the guy who did the PHET! graffiti happened to show up on set right when we arrived. When we needed to cover some panels, we utilized his help to do some work for us. He worked really quickly, and made some pretty cool stuff. He's a regular visitor of this abandoned building, and we noticed that he had covered every single wall. In particular, he covered every prominent wall which we were filming! We tried to do an interview with him, as a funny little cameo, but the making-of camera had to be used on set, and since we went overtime by two hours ($4000) due to Oscar being sick and needing a doctor, we couldn't keep the light on after shooting was finished to do the interviews. We then came up with the idea that my pictures should be included in the making-of footage to get in clips which the video couldn't capture!
Like this one, which the video camera couldn't capture because not enough lighting was available. This is Bryant, the prop master, making the guitar more breakable. We thought we only had one take to smash the guitar, but on the first take, Diff didn't smash it very hard. It was more like a tap, and it broke a little bit. It wasn't dramatic enough. so when we did it again, he really went for it, and sMAsH!!!!

It was brilliant, and we all got really excited. Clapping, whooping... the whole shbang.

Sonntag, 22. Juni 2008

Wakeful dreaming and Nightmare sequences

We've had some very exciting days lately. We went back to the Hollywood video rental club to shoot a scene of when Paola comes back to return the rentals and henry sees her blue hair. Diff is also in the store, and later on there is a brilliant scene in which henry is doodling a picture of paola, spills some carbonated beverage on it, and smears the blue green colors and then vamos en un viaje as the sparkling water dilutes the colors.

The twins were at the video club earlier that day, adding colors to 70 photocopies of the pictures of paola. They were very stressed out as they frantically prepared all the copies. They needed so many because they didn't know how many takes they would need. But honestly? 70? It ended up taking 3 or 4 takes to get not only henry to spill it naturally (it was really funny when oscar made it look really purposeful that he spilled the drink...) but also to make it spill beautifully so that you really go on a trip when the colors spread magically throughout the paper.

Rafi, the director, was outside directing through a walkie-talkie, and since we were only recording the image and not the sound, he started narrating a very sexual experience tha thenry should have with the image that he was playing with once the drink spilled over it. The camera man, sonnel, started making comments about how sexy it all was, and it was very, very hard for oscar to not laugh. Everybody else was laughing, but impressively, he only smiled a little bit... enough to make it look like he was really enjoying himself. i think the making-of crew got it on tape, so hopefully we'll get to see a repeat of that.

The film crew was also compiling films that they had all worked on together which they found on the shelves of Hollywood Video. some of them looked really crappy, and they told me that they were really crappy. But some of them apparently turned out quite well. One of them was bad boys two! :P

The next day we went to the fortress! if you have been READING (and not commenting to reinforce me) then you know that last time when we were at old san juan doing the Bar scene, my battery died and i couldn't get a brilliant picture of El Morro. Well, this time we went to san cristobal, which is not El Morro, but just as beautiful. I got a few good pictures, which I shall post on flickr. We were there to film the nightmare scene.

A make-up specialist came in to work on the faces of Jane and Paola who were to look like the walls of the fortress. Rocky, moldy, deathly, etc. Using latex and other materials, he created the illusion that their faces were peeling off. Very, very impressed. Apparently he had worked at some drag shows doing the make-up for performers, and even performing himself! He had worked on Isla films previous production, Manuela y Manuel, which was about a guy who always felt like inside he was Manuela and not Manuel, but then marries his best friend who got pregnant during a one night stand and now needs to face her family. Checkiado! (i'm learning some genuine spanglish here.)

We filmed Paola running down the halls in a white frilly dress, screaming and being frantic, and then a shadow of her ex husband with a huge knife, trying to kill her, but being a shadow, he couldn't really permeate the barrier that exists between represented and representation: human and human's shadow.

sadly, at the time when they were filming that, I was cutting long red strips of fabric, and so I didn't get any pictures of the shadow play, although I sneaked a peak for myself. After that we filmed Jane being murdered by the ex husband of Paola! Very abstractly, Jane was dancing on a pedestal, and samuel comes and stabs her with the knife, pulls out a red satin sheet from her stomach. At first it's agony, but Maine (who plays Jane) said to Rafi before the shoot

"I think Jane enjoys the death. At first it hurts a little, but she's such a free spirit and she's lived such a full life, she's okay with it, and it becomes like a sexual ecstatic feeling, sorta like 'que buenooo!'"

Maine was amazing. The control she has over her body was really impressive. I guess she is a dancer and performer for a living, and that's what she do, but damn girl. Anyway, enough colloquialism.

The art department showed some real teamness when setting up the flashback sequence.

We created two versions of the same room. One nightmare version, and one erotic bohemian version.

Apparently Henry and Paola are hanging out when they fall asleep to enter this nightmare sequence. I think all of this is henry's nightmare. In our fictional, non-dream world, Paola has jane's guitar, doesn't want henry to play it, henry asks why she keeps it around, and paola says she doesn't want to forget Jane. Henry asks to hear about this jane character. When he falls asleep he walks over to the bed, pulls the sheets off, and finds jane and paola canoodling under a see-through sheet. they pull him in, and then he is trapped! oh noo, he can't get out of the see through sheet! very dramatic, very dream-like.

He runs naked down the hallway. and his mouth is also sewed shut.
He got so dizzy doing the scene where he had to look like this. breathing was hard, he couldn't talk. he had to breathe really hard because he was scared in the dream, and breathing hard and fast for a few takes made him hyperventilate. Another trooper moment :P

I'm not sure what else there is to tell you. I've had today and yesterday off and I have been chillaxing on the beach. I did a body drag on my cousins kite board today, and played ukulele on the 15th floor of a beach side condo. And I had pizza. Grreeat. I get up in 7 hours to... i can't remember to do what, but my first challenge is getting up at 7am.

We only have 7 more days of shooting. It's going by really quickly. I can't wait to be home, though, even though i wouldn't mind my new home being Puerto Rico.

Here is my picture of the day. Angel, our scenic painter, was goofing off and I took a picture. He complained about people with camera's and how you have to be careful around them, and for that reason I am posting him on the blog to broadcast his goofy moment to the world.

Donnerstag, 19. Juni 2008

Oasis del Diablo

Between the natural humidity and heat of the Caribbean, and the artificially induced heat of the set lighting, I don't know which one was more painful. We arrived at El Batey, a local bar in the tourist area of old san juan, and began to set up. The original "El Batey" sign was covered with a sign that our scenic painter had made, which you can see above, stands for Oasis del Diablo.

The walls inside were covered in graffiti in the highest of places. Whether it was decoration made by the owner of the bar, or drunk and determined bar goers, there was graffiti 15 feet above the floor as well as on the ceiling, which is impossible to reach without a utility ladder. Lighting the bar took forever, and everybody worked in a crammed space at a hurried pace. They hammered and screwed beams on to the ceiling so lights could be attached to them. My job was to graffiti those beams to make them blend in to the graffiti'd walls. When Angel, the scenic painter, handed me four sharpies, I couldn't have been happier with my job! I wrote little paragraphs of nonsense, political quips and attempted subliminal messages.

After the lighting was set up, the extras rolled in, wearing punk/goth clothes and looking quite hellish. The twins made a cameo appearance as well, and although their initial outfits didn't look very hellish in comparison to the extras (who i am sure dress hellish on a regular basis, as their hairstyles were immutably punkified) the twins ended up looking hellish enough when put in the setting of the bar.

It all looked very amazing, and very hot, and all the actors/extras were sweating and glowing in the red lights.

The scene we were filming today goes as following. Henry and Diff speak in spanish for the purpose that I do not understand exactly what is going on (enigma makes art), then they walk out of the single stall bathroom together, still stubbornly speaking spanish. Then Henry goes to the bar and orders a whiskey, and receives what he thinks is rum. He yells at the waitress to give him his whiskey, and the waitress, whose costume is magnificent (and includes a marilyn manson style contact lens with the black dot) yells back at him because she gave him whiskey and will not be talked to in this manner, and then begins to serve somebody else. All of a sudden, WOAH Henry reaches over the bar, takes his cigarette from the ash tray, and burns her in the hand.

Bryan, the prop master, had worked hard at making a fake cigarette. The result was so good, that in confusion, Henry took the real cigarette, and burned the actress for real! The genuine reaction to being burned was validated through the actresses ability to stay in character and continue the scene. But her poor little hand had a real cigarette burn on it :(

We finished at around 11pm, with some shots of Henry and Diff screeching their tires as they speed off, and the waitress comes running out, yelling and screaming, and being very, very cool.

since our location was right in the middle of the tourist area, I got to do some sight seeing! It looks like I won't even have to have days off, since working is showing me more of Puerto Rico than actual vacation would be (as i'd probably just sit on a beach.)

Estefania and I were sitting at base camp, fighting the heat and guarding the food against bums and tourists (silly tourists think that puerto rico put up a tent and catering for the tourists... who do they think they are?) and it came across in conversation that the totem that the illustrators uncle made was right around the corner. I had heard of this totem, which is a landmark for puerto rico, marking 500 years of history. I decided to take a break from guarding duties, and went for a walk. The totem is earth toned, and represents the layers of stratosphere (is that the right geological term? I don't quite feel like opening a new window and googling it...) in which puerto rican history is buried.

Once, when javier (one of the twins, whose uncle made the totem) was around the totem, a gringo tourist started climbing the totem, breaking pieces off along the way. Javier started chucking the broken pieces at the climbing gringo, his friends saying "no, no! you'll kill him if he falls!" but javier was mad, because there's this dude climbing his uncles sculpture. Eventually the cops come, and the guy comes down the totem, and as he's being escorted into the cop car, javier jumps through the crowd and bitch slaps the offender, and then disappears into the crowd.

The offender was kicked out of school due to all the bad press, and also met Jaime suarez, the artist, to talk to him about helping to restore the pieces he broke. Unbelievable to the rising twin artist, the established uncle artist is unaffected and even jovial about the event. His reply:

"I haven't gotten this much press in years!"

Below the totem, a fountain entertains children, while the children entertain tourists by posing for pictures. The kids thanked me voraciously after I took this one.

I continued walking towards the fortress "el morro", which is a cliche tourist area. so cliche, in fact, that a commercial has been made where the punch line is "Dondey estah el morro?"

as you can see, the sun is almost set and its moments before the sky will turn a beautiful purple. I have a long way to get close enough to the fortress to take my masterpiece picture, and i'm rushing to catch the perfect lighting. However, I get distracted by the view:

and as I try for another picture of this same graveyard, which would include a larger view of the ocean and maybe a backdrop of the fortress and the setting sun, but then, my nightmare comes true:


and my battery died.

Oh well! At least we're filming inside the fortress for a nightmare/flashback scene! stay tuned.