Azn Badger's Blog

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Get Stingray Production Diary Entry #0

Not long ago, I mentioned on this blog that I was gearing up to make a movie with some friends entitled “Get Stingray.”

Being as this is intended to be a fairly serious endeavor, requiring many hours and weeks of effort to complete, I figure it would be in my best interest to track and log the progression of things on a fairly consistent basis.

Well, being as it’s been about a week since I announced this project, I can honestly say that not a whole lot has changed, which is the reasoning for why this diary entry is labeled #0 instead of #1.

While I have yet formally set aside time to devote to budgeting, choreographing, or pounding out a script for Get Stingray as of yet, (that’s what this weekend is for) I have had random bits of inspiration come me, mostly in terms of the cinematographic style of things.

After years of watching action/kung fu movies, I finally like I have a decent feel what kind of movements are most dynamic, and what kind of camera angles work to “sell” said motions.

While it sucks to have to admit it, it needs to be said that neither myself, nor any of my friends are particularly gifted in terms of physicality or coordination.

That being said, I’m leaning towards using tight focal points in the framing of the shots during the fights, as well as using quick cuts to mask whatever shortcomings myself and the other performers might have in the physical department.

Speaking of quick cuts, as I write this I find myself peering up at the television to watch Matt Damon and Joey Ansah’s spectacular brawl from The Bourne Ultimatum:

Unlike the dreadful stock library sound effects used in this scene though, I intend to do what I can to foley whatever sound I can.

The vision I have for the cinematography during the fights in Get Stingray, is something along the lines of a cross between the Bourne series’ quick cuts, and the more polished on-rails camera movements of Donnie Yen’s work in the past 5 years or so.

Basically, I want to take the calculated artistry of the camera choreography of Hong Kong action films, pair it with the quick cuts of American films, all while keeping the “shaky-cam” to the bare minimum, or at least in a tasteful proportion.

I know it sounds heady and artsy, and very likely far beyond my capabilities as a barely amateur filmmaker, but that’s probably the simplest and most straightforward way one could articulate my intent.

While I’m on the topic of cinematography, I may as well mention that I’m seriously considering investing in a new camera.

I’ve used a DV cam for every film project I’ve ever made, but at my old job as a graphic designer, I was afforded the chance to handle a flash memory HD camcorder.

I really grew to love that camera, with it’s manual focus and 24p shooting mode, and as such; it’s hard for me to consider going back to my 10 year old, dead pixel ridden DV cam.

Anyway, right now I’m looking at the Canon HFS20, and the HFS21, either of which would run me about $1,000.

As it stands, I can definitely afford the expense, but if anyone has any suggestions on a better choice/alternative, it’d be much appreciative.

Anyway, while I haven’t had an opportunity to shoot any test footage (again, that might be on the menu this weekend) I did get a chance to rough-house and block out a few beats of the choreography with my friends last week.

As with my confidence in my ability to deliver in terms of the cinematography of the movie, I feel that I have a pretty good sense of the “flow” or “language” of crafting fight scenes.

In playing around with my friends, I found I was able to effectively reference the temperaments and fighting disciplines of the characters, and logically deduce the attacks or defensive maneuvers that each character would utilize on a contextual basis.

Again, I know it’s a mouthful, but I couldn’t think of a better way to say it.

In many ways, my intent in making Get Stingray is to test myself, to see if I really can do what I’ve always felt I could.

Expect many Stingray updates from now on.

Chances are I’ll have some character bios or something like that next time around.

Filed under: Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses

  1. Sean Parker says:

    I like the concept of your approach to filming the action (quick shots combined with smooth camera motion). Sounds unique. The only thing that springs to mind is the cinematography in the Mortal Kombat Rebirth teaser — would that be accurate, in your opinion? Or are you thinking of going further with the close-ups and quicker cutting?

    • aznbadger says:

      More close-ups and quicker cuts. I’m confident in my abilities, but I know my physical limitations. I’m a big fan of Larnell Stovall’s choreography, (the same guy that did Undisputed III) but his style caters to the more American approach of frequently using slow-motion, and relying heavily on the physical attributes of the performers. I’ve always admired the Hong Kong approach of using exchanges and sparring to create drama, rather than relying on “money shots.” Anyway, thanks for poppin’ by Mr. Parker, good luck with your project too.

  2. CousinJa9 says:

    When you become an awesome direction action guy in Hollywood please remember me!!! Haha. And as far as I know, Canons are the best cameras. They last long and have really good color and stuff. 🙂

  3. Sean Parker says:

    Oh, also: I don’t know much of anything about Canon’s HSF20/21, and I don’t have experience with the exact models I’m tentatively recommending (so I’d definitely suggest researching them first), but Canon has significantly expanded its video DSLR line of cameras, like the one I use, to accommodate the needs of low-budget videographers.

    The cheapest one they offer with a usable video mode is the Rebel T2i, which is about $800, shoots full 1080p HD at 24 or 30 fps and a 60 fps mode (for slow-motion) at 720p HD. I love the 5D mark II, which is what I have, and this one is pretty similar in terms of image quality.

    The Canon 50D ($1000) should be even better, with really good low-light recording tech (so if you wanted to shoot a high-shutter speed fight scene in dim conditions sans image noise, it may very well be possible with this).

    With either of these models, you’ll have the benefit of being able to swap in a huge variety of lenses, which really gives you a lot of freedom compared to being limited by the stock lens on a normal video camera.

    Although I think DSLR video is pretty much the coolest new thing in video right now, there are some drawbacks. It can be a hassle to use sometime. The ergonomics take some getting used to — shooting handheld doesn’t feel natural in the same way that a camcorder would, for instance, and zooming in or out during a shot without massive shakiness can be a real pain since the lenses are designed for still photos. There are workarounds for most issues (going with tripods and dollies would solve both things above) but there’s plenty one should know about the process before diving in.

    It does look really damn good though.

    Let me know if you have any questions about this kind of stuff, I’m more than happy to help.

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