This morning when I was thinking about what to write and post about today I decided to do a quick search for what I was doing a year ago on this day. Thanks to google I was able to see exactly where I was and what I was doing. I was wrapping up the largest film project I had ever worked on!
Last winter my cinematography class collaborated with the drama department to transform their play into a movie. Due to covid they weren’t having in person performances so this created the opportunity to innovate and share the work with an audience via streaming. The play we were working with was Alicia in Wonder Tierra which is about a girl who goes on an adventure to discover her Mexican heritage.
The challenge of the play was all the special effects that were needed as well as the tremendous variety of locations. To overcome this I researched green screen and projection techniques. My favorite was the projection because the light from the projected background blends into the characters appearance more naturally. Green screen always seems to cause a little color shift in skin tones from the green reflecting off the actors. The real challenge with projection was the fact that we only had a 12 foot wide roll of white background material to work with which limited the angle of view we could film the actors with because we had to hide the edges of the screen.
The other challenge was the shear number of characters featured in the play. I would have to set up zones of lighting that didn’t spill on to the projection screen and carefully work with the director on the blocking of the actors and staging of the camera. We ended up filming 42 scenes and producing a final film that had a running length of 62 minutes. It was an incredible feat for beginning filmmaking students and their beginning filmmaking instructor. Prior to this I had only worked on documentary films which are much more manageable projects. With this project we transformed the drama theater into a soundstage.
I think this has been the most rewarding collaboration experience I have ever worked on. It has me looking forward to the next major film project!