Category Archives: Movie diary

Director’s View: 1st Quarter 2002

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Editing on a Dinosaur

In May, we were lucky in getting the offer of editing our demo on an Avid that had been used for the Academy-Award winning documentary The Last Days. I am only hoping it will rub off a little.

Gail Yasunaga, who I had talked to about the project in 1999 was available and interested to help bring her editing magic to the demo.

In the mornings we would start reading my editing script and try to piece the things together.

It took me three complete rewrites to get the demo down to 9 minutes and down to the nitty gritty of the story, which made it sometimes feel like therapy as the story has become so personal.

Although not purple, the Avid was a friendly dinosaur with its own mind. A little lazy, which prohibited us from doing any fancy moves. Just a little move would take four hours rendering.

But as we say in Holland, you can’t look a given horse in the mouth and believe me, without this generosity of the dinosaur’s keeper the demo film would not have been finished.

After the edit, the tape went to my good friend and amazing composer Elliot Anders, who both did the music and the sound mix with astonishing result. He captured both my personal memories to my father in music as well as managing to set the right tone to accompany the Ben Ali Libi story line, not an easy task to do.

Listen to the music on the demo.

Director’s View: December 2001

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Coloring the Magic – the telecine process

Last week, after getting a great rate and deal from our telecine company Company 3, I went in for my first experience with the telecine process. First, I wanted to do the telecine elsewhere, at my friend’s Jackie, whose negative cutting company Magic Film & Video Works also is equipped with a telecine bay. It was my first standoff with my DP Curt, who insisted on using PJ, the colorist at Company 3, with whom he had worked several times before. Well, sometimes you win a few, and sometimes you lose and it’s still a win. You guess right, we telecine’d at Company 3. First round for the DP…

 

I felt a little better, when Company 3 gave me a great deal, considering this independent filmmaker had to pay for the telecine process out of her won [pocket from the few dimes that were left after shooting the demo and feeding the crew with Flemish Fries in Amsterdam.

While, PJ, our colorist, was just finishing up with a trailer for a major Hollywood film, I could get a good view of how the different color settings changes the mood of the film.

After my Curt, my amazing DP arrived, we started our own coloring process. It was the first time that I saw my footage after we shot it in the Netherlands. Besides trying to set the right color and thus the look of the film was not the only thing in my mind that night. More than ever, while watching the different shots pass by, I was very aware of the whole filmmaking process. How I had pictured certain shots in my mind months before, how we encountered location limitations in trying to match that vision and how ultimately the color, and the vision in my mind differs slightly from the ultimate shot after the film is processed and gets loaded into the computer for telecine. It was clear to me that the learning process never stops when you make a film, from the moment of the inception of the idea till the moment your film, after its release in theaters or on TV, comes out on video or DVD.

We did the telecine process in 2 days, with a week apart, the last week we laid the earlier color corrected work back on Digi-Betacam after syncing the sound. And what a clear sound it was, which was recorded loud and clear by our amazing sound guy Ken King. A man, who once worked with Tarantino on Pulp Fiction, and who graciously, went once more independent, this time with me on the Dutch shoot. Could it have been the project or was it the Fries, once depicted in a Pulp Fiction-scene, and which he needed to try out for himself? (Read more about that in tech talk, the Production coordinator diary).

Well, the telecine process resulted in Digi-Betacam tapes in a vault and 6 VHS-dubs for me work on to make a demo, which hopefully will convince broadcasters and potential co-producers that Disappearance Act is a project that can work magic for them.

Director’s View: October 2001

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Locations negotiations

For some time now, I had wanted to film in the Tuschinski Theater, one of Europe’s most beautiful movie theaters and one of the locations where Ben Ali Libi supposedly had been performing in the thirties.

I had no expectation whatsoever, that I could really film there, as it is one of Amsterdam busiest movie theaters. What luck I had when I found out that they were renovating. And they were willing to give us the theater for a weekend to do our shooting. Curt did an amazing job with the lighting of the half tore down inside of the theater, lighting those spots that reminds us of the golden days before WWII.

I felt that week lucky, guided and at ease while shooting. All three days of shooting were blessed with the right kind of weather, the unexpected miracles I got used to during the making of Disappearing Act, and when we got the demo footage in the can we celebrated with Dutch gin and Italian food.