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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Azn Badger’s (Hopefully) Makin’ a Movie!

You can thank my good buddy JD for making this image for me. It basically encapsulates everything that is "me." Thanks again buddy.

I love movies.

Not only that, but for most of my life, I’ve wanted to be involved in making movies, as an actor, director, stunt man, pretty much as whatever, so long as I was involved.

The first distinct memory I have of myself wanting to be involved in filmmaking, was when I was very young, probably 8 or 9 years old.

I had a friend over, and we were playing war with Micromasters and my Mega Man X3 gashapons.

We built a fortress out of cardboard blocks for one of the 2 factions, and basically spent the afternoon yelling at each other through the action figures splayed out across the basement floor, occasionally throwing a figure at the fort to simulate a death on the battlefield or an attempted siege.

Oh yeah, for whatever reason, we had Killer Cuts; the soundtrack CD that came packaged with Killer Instinct on the Super NES, blaring from a boombox.

I remember setting Jago’s theme, “Do It Now,” on a loop for the majority of the day:

Whatever man, it was the mid-90’s, America was culturally fucked; and therefore my friend and I were as well.

Still, I’d like to think we turned out okay.

Well, my friend did anyway...

Anyway, at some point during our “play date,” my mom overheard us, and decided to bring down our beefy-ass VHS camcorder to record some of our goofy bullshit.

While my friend and I kept playing as normal, barely even acknowledging my mother’s presence; I distinctly recall several instances where I asked her to film specific aspects of the action, from very specific angles.

While it was basically the equivalent to calling out, “Hey mom, watch me jump!” in many ways, this served as my first experience in playing director.

Over the years I’ve been involved with a number of film projects, mostly in front of the camera; but outside of a handful of stop-motion movies that I made entirely on my own, I feel like I’ve never really directed a movie.

Hell, I made every frame of this movie myself, and somehow I managed to not direct it:

Sure, I’ve been in-charge plenty of times, usually because I was the only person enthusiastic enough about the project to step up and do it,  but I can’t recall an instance where I really took the time to take a step back and focus on getting exactly what I wanted for each shot.

Hell, when it comes to filmmaking, I don’t think I’ve ever taken my time with anything.

At this point in my life, pretty much every movie I’ve made has been an single afternoon/evening affair with my friends, usually amounting to little more than a single scene as opposed to an actual complete thought.

Pretty much every movie I’ve ever made with my local neighborhood buddies has involved guns, fighting, and very little, if any; dialogue.

Needless to say, we never worked from a script.

If that wasn’t ghetto enough, we always reserved all instances of bloodshed for scenes taking place in the bathroom so as to ease the clean-up process.

As silly as it seems, I treasure those memories.

The reason I’m making this post, is because last week I met with my buddies and proposed to them that we get together to make a movie again.

It’s been several years since any of us have made a movie together, and being as I am finally back living in Seattle; I figured now was as good a time as any for a reunion of sorts.

Anyway, we spit-balled a bit, and came to the conclusion that we’d like to remake a past work of ours called “Get Stingray.”

Pictured: The Man That Would Be Stingray...

Basically, it’s a melodramatic and violent revenge movie, with the “Stingray” of the title being the beastly man on whom revenge is sought.

As with any movie I have a hand in from a conceptual standpoint, the plot and characters are pretty much paper-thin, serving as lame excuses to include gunplay and hand-to-hand combat scenes whenever possible.

You remember how exacting and critical I was with my evaluations of the fight choreography in all of my movie reviews?

Well, I’m hoping I can finally bring those perfectionist qualities to the fight work in “Get Stingray.”

What can I say, I know what I like; and this time I really look forward to being happy with the end results.

I hope to spend the next several weeks fleshing out “Get Stingray,” with filming starting ASAP.

Filming will hopefully be an “every weekend” sort of thing, with as many weeks as necessary/possible being utilized in the process.

I’m in no hurry, so long as it gets done.

I’ll keep you guys posted with plot summaries, storyboards (if I make them), production stills, and probably a trailer or 2 if I’m feeling up to it.

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

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