Monday, December 28, 2009
Once you are a Follower, an update will come to your Google Homepage or Reader to notify you of my blog updates.
So that means start using that Google Homepage -- it's actually quite nifty :-)
-AM (Ashley Maria)
Our intense production course, 508, was a 6 credit course (most classes are worth 2 credits). We are graded on attendance, participation, and our production notebooks -- both directing and producing.
As a producer at USC, you are very much following the industry rules. With our Producer Notebooks, we are proving that we got the right forms for each shooting location and got the proper crew-agreements signed.
We had two other classes required of us this semester besides our main production class. 529 - "Script Writing" and 509 - "Sound & Editing."
529 helped us further develop story ideas in hopes of writing 12 minute scripts and then feature length scripts. Ideally, we would all graduate with at least one feature length script under our belts. My professor was incredibly helpful and lenient on us because of our busy 508 semester. We all received good grades!
Our 509 class, on the other hand, was not as understanding. The class was held Friday mornings from 9am - 12pm. Keep in mind, Fridays were our only days to go pick up equipment for the weekend of shooting. We are in class all week and filming all weekend; so Fridays were very hard, knowing we had a 30-hour work weekend coming up! To make matters more frustrating, the class was attendance based and the teacher's assistant often forgot to pass around an attendance sheet. So not only did we have the added stress of rushing after class to pick up equipment, we also had to stay after class to make sure the professor knew we were there! Just when we thought the stress of that class was over, our professor decided to give us a final. Apparently too many people were skipping the class, so we were given an open book exam at the end of the year. What was once a class graded on attendance, became an exam-graded class. The exam was difficult and a lot of us who attended the class regularly saw our grades go down. A very upsetting way to end an already stressful semester!
I received great grades over all which is what you need in order to be eligible for scholarships at USC. Yippee!
Next semester will be another production heavy course for me. I will be doing "sound" on a 546 (3rd level production course) as well as learning 3D filmmaking and taking intermediate directing. I believe this is the first 3D filmmaking class offered by the school so it should be a really interesting learning experience.
Here's a link to more information about the 3D program at USC.
I'll definitely blog about it!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
An audience's reaction to your film is the true test. Will they laugh when you expect them to laugh? Will they get scared when you want them to get scared? Their laughter and their "ooo's" and "ahhh's" are so much fun for a filmmaker to hear!
Norris Theater - University of Southern California - Los Angeles
The first screening of "Friday Night Fright" in front of an audience was Sunday at USC. Over 300 friends, family, actors and filmmakers were there to watch our films. My professor read my log line, "In tonight's episode, Andy is not the only one doing the watching" in his scary voice and then the lights went down. My whole body was hunched over in preparation for the film - I was so nervous!
It started. People laughed at the first gag - YES! The second, not so much -- OH NO!!! Finally I allowed myself to relax and watch. I found myself laughing and getting tense in scary moments. I actually heard people gasp in fear -- not what I was expecting! And of course the biggest laugh was not where I was expecting either. This is how a screening goes with a live audience!
Afterward, everyone cheered. I stood up and gave a triumphant fist in the air - the film survived! Nothing can compare to that first screening, and it was perfect.
At intermission, I stepped outside to get some air - it was hot in the theater - probably because I was coming down from my adrenaline rush. Mason Maddocks, who played Andy, was there with his family and two friends. They immediately ran up and hugged me. I was so nervous for their reaction. They loved it - I was happy!
In photo: Ashley Maria, Lukas Lachenmeier, Christian Contreras, Dave Burg, Tom Gill, Barb Steele, Maritte Go
After all of the screenings, refreshments were served outside the theater. We all laughed and hugged in celebration of the end of an incredibly hard semester called 508!
Thirdplace Coffeehouse - Raleigh - North Carolina
Once home for Christmas Break, I held a screening in downtown Raleigh. Fruition Film organized and sponsored the event. Sleddogg Marketing sent out a press release and evite for the event. We had an amazing turn out. I was so happy to show all of my close friends and family what I have been doing for the past year!
After I showed the three films I made this past year, I asked if anyone had questions about the production process. There were a ton! I discussed the logistics of the film industry, the USC School of Cinematic Arts and my personal creative process. The best question of the night - What did you learn in the making of these three films? The answer - how to tell a story, and how to trust myself as a filmmaker. USC gives you the tools and opportunities and it is your job to use them and discover yourself as a filmmaker. I was so happy to express this to all of my friends and family! The screening was perfect!
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Los Angeles Screening Information:
Sunday Dec. 13th at 12 noon on the USC campus - Norris Theater.
The order of the films to be screened:
"Samba" (dir. Claudia Castello)
"Family Collection" (dir. RJ Olson)
"Vicissitude" (dir. Will Jobe)
"Asha" (dir. Ritvik Mayank)
"616 Candles" (dir. Luke Patton)
"She's Mine" (dir. Nelson Ceron)
"Mae" (dir. Michael La Breche)
"Nameless" (dir. Ariella Blejer)
"Fatima" (dir. Christian Contreras)
"He Knows" (dir. Ian Becker)
"Z" (dir. Dustin Jacobs)
"Caina" (Eric Robbins)
"Between Brothers" (dir. Karen Corneille)
"Friday Night Fright" (dir. Ashley Maria)
"You Are the Butterfly" (dir. Carolyn Corbett)
Another class will screen from 2:30 - 4:00pm and a reception will follow.
Raleigh, North Carolina Screening Information:
Thursday Dec. 17th 8:00pm - 10:00pm at Third Place Coffeehouse
The following films will screen:
Walter wakes up in a stranger's bed once again, but this time, sneaking out isn't so easy. While the mystery woman showers, Walt tries to leave, but his keys have another plan.
Amy needs to fight back. She needs to leave. One day, her boyfriend's anger goes over the edge. This is her chance. Will she run?
Friday Night Fright
With his parents finally gone, Andy is left alone to watch his favorite late night horror show, "Friday Night Fright." But - in tonight's episode, Andy is not the only one doing the watching.
Special thanks to Lee & Priscilla Woodward ("Grumpa Group") and F. Michael Davis for their support in the making of "Friday Night Fright."
Located at 1811 Glenwood Avenue in the Five Points area of Raleigh, the Third Place Coffeehouse LFS event will be held on December 17 at 8:00pm and is free and open to the public. Harpist J. Rosaleigh Stringfellow will entertain film viewers from 6:00-8:00pm.
About Third Place Coffeehouse
Third Place is a cozy and eclectic coffeehouse. Surrounded by rich red Oriental rugs, warmly hued walls and exotic glass lanterns suspended from the antique tin ceiling, Third Place patrons can enjoy coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, vegetarian fare and yummy desserts.
The LFS series offers local filmmakers an audience for their work and a chance to discuss the process and the challenge of filmmaking. All screenings are free to attend. Third Place is on the lookout for films to build a lineup! Student films, documentaries, shorts, and animations are all welcome. If you're interested in screening a film, contact: Andrew Mayo at 919.834.6566. For additional information please visit: www.thirdplacecoffee.com.
About Fruition Film
Fruition Film is a full-service HD production company owned by Tim McKay and Sam Griffin. The Raleigh based company produces a wide range of work including documentary, corporate, and broadcast television. Credits include A Man of Firsts, A Tribute to Henry E. Frye; PlanVirginia; Steeped in Surprises, the story of the Sparta Teapot Museum; and Haunted Taps, a new web series that explores the haunted bars and pubs of North America. Find out more by visiting www.fruitionfilm.com.
About Ashley Maria
Ashley Maria is a graduate student at USC studying Film & Television at the School of Cinematic Arts. Her love affair with film began in high school and continued through her undergraduate career at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she produced and directed for the local television network and interned at various companies such as ESPN and Current TV. She has screamed on the Great Wall of China, swam with dolphins and is both a Mac and PC person. She blogs about life as a film student at: www.ashley-maria.blogspot.com. You can find out more about Ashley Maria by visiting www.ashley-maria.com.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Second Weekend of Production
We began our shooting weekend on Friday afternoon. We decided to bring all of the equipment and set up the night before. This gave us more time to shoot on Saturday, rather than spending hours to set up lights. We did this our first shooting weekend and blew through our shot lists - definitely more efficient. Our first shot of the day was "Andy watching television." We received this look by placing two lights below the TV and putting them on dimmer switches. Ryan Berst, our production assistant, was the official dimmer-man. By dimming the lights up and down with scene changes to match the TV show, a nice flicker appeared on the actor's face. Check out the photos below of us rehearsing our first shot.
Photos courtesy of Desmond Reich.
Preparing for our first shot.
Working with the parents in rehearsal.
Mason, who played "Andy," lived in Stephenson Ranch, a small town right outside of LA, and his parents allowed us to film there. At USC, we have a 50 mile radius rule - meaning, if we shoot outside 50 miles of the center of LA, we have to put up the cast and crew in a hotel - something I can't afford! Luckily, their home was within the 50 mile radius!
Shelly and Brian Maddocks, Mason's parents, own a gorgeous home and we were so lucky to film there! Having an actual living room, rather than a graduate student's poor excuse for a living room, really added production value. We had a real couch, rather than a futon - seriously - HUGE thanks to the Maddocks family! And to make the experience even that much better, Shelly was a chef and made us cookies and snacks. She also had tons of fridges so our food and drinks could stay cold. It was the most ideal situation for a student film!
Below is a screen shot from Andy's scariest moment of the film - when an unknown man enters his front door. For this shot, we needed rain and lightning all timed just right with the dolly. As a side note, we put the camera on "baby legs" so the shot would be low angle and then put it on a "dolly" so it would zoom into the front door. Our assistant director, Rusty Beaman, stood on a ladder holding a sprinkler behind the actor, and our gaffer, Zak Ettlinger, set up a light for lightning. It was the perfect storm!!
The film will now be in post-editing for 2 weeks and then sound design for 2 weeks. It is a quick but fun process!!