Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Beneath The Surface," our latest short film, premiers tonight in Providence

From beyond
Beneath The Surface, a New England ghost story

This past weekend, I shot a short film with team Playomatic for the Providence 48 Hour Film Project.

On Friday night, we initially drew "Road Movie" as our genre, but since we had secured a fantastic near-mansion in Manchester-by-the-Sea as our location, we didn't want to have to leave that behind and hit the road. So we took our chances with the wild card draw. As you can imagine, we were psyched when we drew "Ghost Movie," as it played right into the strengths of our location.

The required elements we ended up with were:

Genre: Ghost movie
Character: M. Chaney, hairdresser
Prop: Pear
Line of Dialog: "If you see him again, tell me."

All competing teams (some 50 or so--about half the number that competed in Boston in April) had to include those same elements; Character, Prop and Line of Dialog, into their film, regardless of what genre they drew.

(The 48 Hour run on pears probably raised a few produce manager eyebrows, too, and it's an Onion headline waiting to happen: "Mysterious Spike in New England Pear Sales Baffles American Fruit Council," but I digress.)

I'm proud of what we accomplished in a short two days.

Shooting the Ghost emerging from the pool
"She swims at night. Only at night..."

Cinematographically (I don't think that's a word, actually) this one was a lot of fun! I used one of my still cameras to shoot some infrared portraits and timelapses, which we animated into the film. The infrared has a natively "otherworldly" look to it, and it was perfect for the ghostly feel we were after.

The old tree swing in the backyard
Ye Old Oak Tree and backyard swing

I even managed to shoot some ethereal underwater footage in the pool of Leigh in a vintage-looking gown for a drowning sequence.

We shot and edited in SD this time, in the interest of speed and simplicity, since we were editing on my laptop on the fly. But, we went tapeless, again, shooting to P2 cards.

It's great not to have to digitize tapes, especially under such time pressure. Shooting to tape just feels so ancient and creaky now, I really try to avoid it whenever possible. Of course, the hard drives I buy now are measured in terabytes not gigabytes, but that's progress for you.

A Visitation
Portrait of a ghost
Some see her. Others cannot.

"Beneath The Surface" premiers at 9pm tonight at the Columbus Theatre in Providence, RI.

Photos ©BradKelly 2008. Pool-side production photo courtesy Art Hennessey.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Once," and again.

I'd long had a little movie kicking around in my head and when I saw "Once" last year, I felt like they had stolen it right from my cerebellum (well, the shape of the film, anyway, I know very little about Dublin street life). Still, jealousy didn't keep me from enjoying this touching little gem of an indie film.

Reportedly shot for under $200K in and around Dublin, the movie casts its eye on Guy (Glenn Hansard of Irish rock group the Frames) as a struggling singer/songwriter/busker, and Girl (Marketa Irglova) as a lonely, struggling Czech immigrant. They meet when she is drawn to his songs as he plays for quid on a downtown street corner. Soon they are working together recording a demo and find themselves sharing the joyous magic of creative musical connection, as well as feelings, inchoate dreams and finally, an enigmatic bittersweet future.

Unlike traditional musicals, the characters don't abruptly stop their lives to belt out bombastic or treacly tunes like Dublin-ite Ethel Mermins. The songs are integrated organically and given room to breath and work their way under your skin. The movie doesn't really seem like a "musical," but in its way, I suppose it is.

I love the off-the-cuff style of the dialog, the cinematography and the story arc. It's absolutely un-Hollywood at it's best, but the biggest reason this diamond shines is Hansard's delicate, emotive songs--they're the perfect hook to hang this slice-of-contemporary-Irish-life's transcendent melange of music, melancholy and hope.

(Rated R for the copious use of F-bombs. What is it with the Irish and swearing?)