What I'm Working On Now

Three short films are in Post-Production, soon to be submitting to film festivals.
Producing/editing a pilot for a new web-series inspired by the Alice in Wonderland tales.
Producing/editing a documentary on Gene Roddenberry and the genesis of Star Trek The Original Series.
There are a number of other projects in development, just waiting their turn to be produced.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Freelance

A friend and I finished work on a fundraiser piece for a local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club recently. I use to work with the Boys and Girls Club when I lived in Utah so this project was particularly important for me. The location was amazing, Museam of Flight, and had some great balcony and wide angle opportunities. The interviews turned out great thanks to some simple audio equipment we rented and, of course, our Panasonic HMC 150 which handled the low lighting very well. We even found a glass elevator we could use to simulate a crane shot and add just that much more to our production value. All in all I think it turned out well.
In the end, though, it was the thanks we got from the board members that really made this project worth it. A bit sappy sounding, I know, but it's the moments like this that make me keep at it when times are hard.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Skills, New Responsibilities

   Over the course of my education at the Seattle Film Institute ( commonly known as SFI) I've made it a point to be a go-to guy. I've taken a fair amount of my spare time to go into school and study more in depth aspects, particularly with editing.
   For editing, SFI uses Final Cut Pro 7 and Adobe Premier Pro CS 5.5. I cut and recut all of my projects multiple times just for the experience with the software, as well as with Motion and After Effects as I added in simple but effective special effects. The extra practice has paid off as, on multiple occasions, classmates and even teachers have asked for advice on how best to achieve a look or an effect in a film. This trust and expertise (I'm not an expert, that takes years, but you can get an idea of where I'm at by watching my films) led to my being put in charge of the graduating class' film reel.
   DVD Studio Pro was a program that I wasn't familiar with, and I only had a week to get the DVD composed. I tinkered for a day to learn the layout, menus and buttons, and then I watched tutorials for another day. I like to tinker first before watching/reading tutorials because I'm a hands on learner. Then, when I did go through the tutorials, I had a better idea of what was going on. I also gained a greater appreciation for the intermediary steps since I'd gained a better understanding of where all the steps were leading. Compressor became my friend as I exported the movie files into workable DVD formats.
   I've gathered the needed films for the graduation reel and my layout should be finalized before the end of today. I'm rather pleased with how well things have turned out. Learning new programs and finding interesting ways of implementing them has always been a joy for me. If I have time early next week, I'm going to put together a custom background animation for the DVD using both Photoshop and Final Cut Pro 7 to make an animated collage of the graduating class and stills from our production sets. It's not that hard and it would add a nice touch to the DVD. Don't get me wrong, the ready made backgrounds in DVD Studio Pro are nice and I'm pleased with the one I've selected thus far but it never hurts to put a little extra work in, especially when I know it would add so much more to the finished project.

   There are a lot of programs that could have been used in place of the ones I listed, these are just the ones that I'm familiar with. They're all great tools; powerful and easy to use (once you've put in the time) and allow you to be creative, rather than getting frustrated with technical issues that stifle your mind.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

30 Films in 30 Days-November Ups and Downs

    Last month, some classmates and I wanted to see if we could make 30 short films in 30 days. We had a camera (Panasonic HMC 150, which, by the way, is a great camera and served us well), an audio recorder (nothing fancy, but it worked when we needed it) and a half dozen committed people. Most of the films I've posted here were from that endeavor, hence the numbering. The films were like a sketch book for us, as we ran around, writing, filming and editing all in the same day. Nothing got terribly fleshed out but we got a lot of really good experience trying new camera angles, lighting, effects, and so forth. Things were going well.
   One of my classmates and I were out filming about halfway through the month. We'd been able to get a bit ahead in our filming and I had the footage stored on an external hard drive in my backpack (along with all the other projects I'd worked on this year). Upon returning to my car, I began buckling my one year old son into his car seat when my classmate said,
       "Your window's been busted."
   I looked and, sure enough, the car had been broken into, both our packs had been stolen along with the memory card and battery for the camera (we had the camera with us, thank goodness). All our footage, gone. There wasn't much we could do but wait for the new battery and memory card to arrive. We threw together a couple more films in the time that we had, including an apology for being late on our films, but in the end the setbacks became too much. People fell away from the project as class assignments came due and so, as I type, I'm uploading one of the last few films we were able to shoot before the end of the month.

   Even though we failed to reach our goal of 30 films, and I had to pay for damages and stolen property, I've learned a lot from this experience and I'm grateful for it.
1) I've learned the value of pre-production, as we didn't get a lot of it and it shows.
2) Find out who you can rely on and share responsibilities. It's almost impossible to make a film alone.
3) Leave nothing in the car, regardless if it's under a seat or in the trunk. If someone wants it, they will take it.
4) Let things go. I wanted to be angry with people when they didn't show up or follow through (when I knew they couldn't be relied on). But in the end it was me relying on them when I knew I shouldn't have.
5) Forgive. After my car got broken into I wanted to hide out in that neighborhood and see if I could catch whoever it was that broke into my car. I wanted some kind of vigilante justice to be meted out on the wrong-doer(s). But in thinking so, I lost my creativity. It wasn't until I forgave him/her/them that I was able to write and film once more.


30Films30Days

As an old friend of mine likes to say, Peace be the Journey.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Last Man: Short Story and Short Film, link at the bottom

By Gabriel C. Taylor

Eighteen inches. A foot and a half of soil I have to remove before I can plant anything. A foot and a half of soil I can't touch with my skin. A foot and a half of dust and sand I can't breath if I want to live. That's what the book says, the book I found down here with me. There really isn't much here besides a couple weeks worth of food and water along with some batteries, a flashlight, first aid and the book. I'm supposed to wait here until I have three days left of food and water and then I run for it. I have to get away, get to the rendezvous point as quick as I can. The book says so. I hope I can remember which way is North from here. That's important too. There's so much to remember, so many important things. If I forget one of them, do something wrong, I'm dead. Oh, God, watch over me.

How did it come to this? Sure we were at war, sure we had enemies, but didn't they know what would happen if they didn't stop the escalation. Did they think they could survive? Who knows, maybe they did survive. Lucky them. I shouldn't have survived. I only had a few seconds to get to the bunker before everything outside went to hell. I had no choice but to shut the doors. I waited inside, listening to the roar of the holocaust without. Lucky me.

It's warm down here and the air tastes stale. It's too early to go up but I wonder. I've lasted so far, three days I think. There's supposed to be filters down here to keep the air breathable but I can't find them. Maybe they're hidden to keep them protected. There are vents but I don't feel any air moving. If I get too tired and feel like I'm going to pass out I'll have to go up. The book says that if anything goes wrong with the filters that I'll have five days of air down here if I stay calm and limit movement. Less if I'm nervous and fidgety. I may have to move tomorrow. Can't stop my hands from shaking.

Potassium Iodide pills. They look like horse pills. As big as quarters almost. I hate pills. Oh well. I can't stay down here another day, I'm getting cooked. And the air is going bad. I found an O2 meeter behind the first aid kit. That's why I have to take the potassium pills. The air above may still be full of dust. I'll have my face mask but I'm bound to get some of it in my lungs. Hopefully the pills will block it from getting into my lymph nodes, or whatever. I don't understand how any of this works, I'm just following what the book says. I'll leave tonight. Everyone dies sooner or later. I wonder if dying down here is really any worse than out there.

I made it, so far. It took me over two days but I made it. The radiation counter sang when I stuck my head up, but now it only beeps occasionally. Everything itches but the book says not to give in. I can't spare any water for a bath either so I have to live with it. I have a couple more days worth of food and water. I'll need to find more.

The book said there where some other bunkers near here. I hoped to find people here. There's no one, and the bunkers weren't sealed before the blast so the supplies are ruined. The sky is dark nearly all the time and thunder storms constantly loom on the horizon. The lightning in them scares me. I've never seen anything so powerful. Lights up the entire horizon. Nothing looks familiar now. There are mountains and valleys everywhere, and they use to be plains. If the storms come too much closer I'll have to move again. Rain doesn't help anything grow now, it only kills.

I moved on two days ago and found a bunker today. The doors were shut but not locked. No one inside. I have more supplies now.

Been here a few days. The storms are still on the horizon. I stay down in the bunker most of the time waiting. The book says the nearest rendezvous point is a little further North from here. As far as I can remember there aren't any more cities between here and there, just small towns. No shelters, fewer supplies and to go North means getting closer to the storms.

Deep down I think we all knew it would come to this. We just didn't know when it would come. There wasn't any warning. On my way to work, alarms started going off and I was next to the bunker. In the beginning I wondered if it would come by accident. Now I see things clearly, the way people were. Someone wanted this to happen. In war, lots of people pull the trigger but only a few have blood on their hands.

I think I'm dying, part of me wants to. Blisters cover most of my body. Even with all the pain I managed to run when the storms came. I've never seen a sky change so fast. The dark clouds thrashed around as the lightning shrieked down everywhere. There were still a few buildings standing nearby. They're not there anymore but I survived. The rain was cold even though it felt like it was boiling. I ran North through it all. The storms came from the North so I might have shaved off a few minutes or maybe even an hour from the time I had to spend in the storm. I might have shaved more than that off my own life, I took more potassium. It may help.

I found them today. The others. They're all dead. The air filters in their bunker must not have worked either. There were so many of them down there. Their air must have run out after a couple hours. I don't have the strength to bury them. I guess a bunker's as good as anything now. There's another rendezvous point to the East of here, then one more North of that. I have to keep moving. The rain makes my radiation counter sing. I think I'm bleeding inside.

The last couple of days I haven't been able to eat. I've been throwing up constantly and there's blood mixed in the bile. I managed some water today but I have to ration it. I can't waste what I have. It isn't much. The sores on my arms and legs have begun to heal at least. I keep taking the potassium pills. I feel better when I do but that may just be a placebo. My radiation counter still chirps regularly. There's only a couple miles before the next rendezvous point. I travel as far as I can each day. It may take me a while.

Well, I'm still alive. That's something at least. The batteries in my radiation counter are dying. I can only turn it on once in a while to check if I'm safe. The storms seem to be calming down. I feel a lot better too. I'm not so shaky as I was before either. I've made it to the second rendezvous point. Same problem as the others. At least I'm not running out of supplies for now.

I don't know why I'm writing this. I've been wondering about it the last couple of days. I don't know what got me started, but now I don't know if I can stop. Not until either I find the others or I die. I don't care which it is. I don't want to live like this. It may be childish but I can't bare this solitude. I don't speak aloud anymore because I'm afraid I won't stop talking to myself. My family lived near the last rendezvous point. Maybe they're still alive. Perhaps it's foolish of me to get my hopes up. I do hope.

Why do we believe so easily the lies we tell ourselves? We said we'd win, that ours was the greater cause. I'm sure every side in a war says such things. Maybe no one lied, we all saw things from a different perspective. Conditional morality I guess. Who knows, maybe we were wrong and they were right the whole time. Traditionally the winners write history and that dictates the right or wrong of the war. Maybe no one won this time, no one was right.

I was married, once. That doesn't matter now, I know, but I thought I should write it down. We never had any children. I regret that now.

I'm half a mile from the rendezvous point, I think. Smoke rises from that direction. Tomorrow I should reach them, if my strength holds out. Ever since the rain I've been so tired and weak. I didn't want to admit it. A couple hours of walking is all I've been able to manage the last few days. I'm too exhausted to do much more. Hopefully that rising smoke is from camp fires. The book says this shelter could house hundreds of refugees and even has a medical facility. Maybe I'll finally find the others, find my family. Maybe I'll be dead before I get there.

Thought I'd take a rest before I climb this last hill. I should be able to see the rendezvous point from the top. If they're not there, then I'll know that this must be my penance, my hell, to wander through this dead world. Or maybe they're alive and I can still be redeemed for what part I played in all this. So tired. I'll take a nap and then climb the last hill.

*             *             *             *
Here's a link to a short film I made of the same title and similar story.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Short Stories and Short Films

     Student films have a certain air about them. They're experimental, filled with mistakes and, often times, predictable. The real struggle for an aspiring film maker is to come up with something interesting and unique. As you will see as my films get posted, I am striving to break free of the student film look. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't, but my work is improving.
     Next month I'll be graduating from the Seattle Film Institute with a Certificate in Film Making. In July I'll be graduating with my MA in Producing Film. I aim to work into the professional world of film making and eventually write, direct and produce films. Editing film has also sparked an interest in me as there are so many possibilities lying around on the editing room floor.
     Storytelling of all kinds have interested me throughout my life. Film making is just my favorite.