Monday, December 12, 2011


MedP 160 was a great follow up course to MedP 150. It expanded on the different aspects involved in making media. I already knew about blogs and had one, but MedP 160 enhanced my understanding of websites including learning about html. I could now create the coding for my website. MedP 160 allowed me to become much more hands on with production, editing, and collaborating with others to get projects completed.

The midterm exam covered relevant topics that we had discussed and learned about in lecture. However, I don't think these courses, MedP 150 and 160, need to require written exams. Their purpose is to have students involved in the filmmaking/media department and make them work with equipment as you would do in the real world. Exams take away from that. If the professors or school require to have exams then there should be a non-cumulative final where the professor chooses what will be given.

My favorite blog assignment would be the interview/production assignment. In a lot of ways, I learned a lot about myself in getting a project done. Having a deadline forced me to focus more intensely on the project. I liked the idea of writing my ideas down and shooting them. Then with the editing process, I enjoyed being in control of the visuals and audio. I can manipulate the audio interview even more by adding an effect from final cut pro. It helped in trying to create a certain mood for the audience.

Another blog assignment that I really enjoyed was analyzing a scene from one of my favorite movies, For a Few Dollars More. It was interesting because I learned more about the movie as I examined it. I paid close attention to the audio. The sounds and the music Leone used have as strong an effect as his visual images. The wide shots coupled with the extreme close ups are powerful techniques to tell his story.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog 3

Maybe if I would've had more editing time, I could've had some moving shots of Kristen playing rugby. The moving footage that I shot was too shaky so I didn't use it. I definitely forgot to put my name in the end credits, but it's fine. I changed the music from a symphony sound to a hip hop instrumental and I think it sounds better. I took the best parts of Kristen's interview and edited it together. Hopefully, it will be enjoyable with the visuals I have. The pauses have a black screen. The purpose for this was to provide a breather for the audience. The intent was to move from topic to subtopic without losing the integrity of the interview. It was difficult transitioning from the rugby material to the more serious material. I had trouble finding visual images to go in this part, but I just ended up using some rugby footage and then I quickly cut to what I shot with Kristen, and the music fades back in.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blog 2: For a Few Dollars More (1965)

The final showdown between Colonel Mortimer (played by Lee Van Cleef) and Indio (played by Gian Maria Volonte) in Sergio Leone's For a Few Dollars More is a great example of editing contributing immensely to the feel of the film.  Those who worked with Leone say he was in love with music and it couldn't be more true in this film.  He was a very operatic director and it shows in the way he married music to images.  The sequence starts with Indio shooting Mortimer's gun out of his hand and then he walks towards Mortimer and we can even hear the spurs of his boots as he walks.  It's very detailed.  Both men own a watch with a portrait of a girl inside (it's Mortimer's sister and Indio's girl) which plays music when opened and Indio declares Mortimer pick up his gun when the chimes of the watch end.  It's a soft tune resembling a lullaby.  Leone probably had the writers write into the story about a watch that plays music.  When the lullaby starts, there's a close up of Mortimer looking down at his gun and then a shot of the gun.  Indio moves in towards the camera from a medium shot to a close up.  As the lullaby almost ends, there are extreme close ups of their faces along with a close up of Indio's hand going for his gun.  This is what Leone does really well.  As the film draws closer to a final moment (in this case the watch's song ending), he pushes us closer to the characters by his choice of shots.  Now when the chimes end, the lullaby starts up again and both men, in each a close up, are rattled.  We get a long shot of the two men and a hand, with a similar watch playing the same tune, comes into the frame.

Mortimer checks his locket chain and his watch isn't there (a close up).  In an extreme close up, he looks at the man holding his watch and the camera moves from the watch in this mysterious hand to an extreme close up of the man holding it, Monco (played by Clint Eastwood).  Now we get non-diegetic music by the great Ennio Morricone starting in an extreme close up of Indio's face.  It's a guitar and the lullaby still plays along with it, but the guitar heightens the tension because now there are two men against Indio.  After Monco gives Mortimer his gun belt, Monco declares "Now we start" and loud horns begin to play and we get a beautiful wide shot of the three men: Mortimer and Indio facing each other and Monco as he prepares to sit, a spectator for the final battle.  The camera slowly pushes in to Monco's face for a close up watching both men and in the background we still hear Morricone's music playing.

The images Leone uses are the guns or his characters' hands going for their guns, the watch, and his characters' faces and he cuts between them in a way to build suspense in this final gun battle.  It's a very long drawn out final battle, but the killing of Indio by Mortimer is very quick.  The set up of the battle is what takes a long time.  Leone organizes the shots in a way that he can hold us in suspense.  For example, there's a close up of Indio's hand slowly going for his gun.  Then we cut to an extreme close up of his face and back to his hand as it inches closer to his gun. We get a medium shot of Mortimer ready and then Monco's reaction in an extreme close up as he watches Indio do this and he looks at Mortimer.  Then a medium shot of Indio reaching for his gun.  In a medium shot, Mortimer rapidly fires his gun at Indio.  Before Mortimer fires his gun, we get six shots where Leone holds our attention.  We know how this is going to end because it's a Western.  One bandit usually kills another.  But Leone takes his time and makes his signature trademark in not just the selection of his shots, but the extreme close ups of his characters' reactions.

The shots aren't seamless where you don't notice them.  They're obvious but it's a good thing because that's the way they were intended to be.  This kind of film, especially a Western like this, wasn't intended to have the kind of invisible editing traditional Hollywood is known for.  Leone assembles the shots in a way that he wants you to notice Indio reaching for his gun because he'll cut to Monco's reaction in an extreme close up to let us know what Indio is doing is important.


Monday, September 19, 2011


There are two motorcycles that zip past Broadway, the main street of where I live.  Everyone looks.  This was probably done intentionally to draw everyone's attention since the motorcyclists know Broadway is where a lot of people work or hang out in the neighborhood.  A yellow school bus stops and opens its doors.  The children that exit are talkative and excited.  This excitement adds to the noisy and boisterous quality of my neighborhood.  A teenage kid dribbles his basketball.  It attacks the pavement with a bouncy sound.  An ice cream truck passes by playing its catchy tune.  The melody is playful and engages your attention very quickly.  A car zooms by blasting Spanish merengue music.  This is representative of the Latin culture in my neighborhood.  In the song, there are loud horns and the rhythm of the horns is very soulful, but celebratory.  A few cars try to honk their way out of a busy intersection.  After one car does it, then another honks.  It's a persistent, invasive sound.  There's a couple in an argument.  The man hushes the woman not to yell.  She talks even louder.  Juxtaposing the cars honking and this couple in an argument with the ice cream truck's playful tune, it's indicative of the neighborhood.  It's a very busy, confrontational place.  It lost its innocence a long time ago.  A police car's sirens go off.  Some people turn to look and talk about the police car.  The police add to the tension and uneasiness of my surroundings.  When it's calm, the sirens abruptly wake you.  A business-type man talks on his phone.  He's completely tuned in to his conversation.  It seems like he's not aware of the business of the neighborhood.  It's interesting to see a person not caught up in the  chaotic sounds of the neighborhood, but into their own world.
After careful review of what I heard, these sounds represent a cultural place with richness in activities, but also a place where a person from the countryside will probably be uncomfortable.  The sounds were invasive, like the police sirens and the cars honking and the couple arguing.  The chatter of the kids and the ice cream truck are sounds that perhaps represent innocence, but it can belie the neighborhood.  Beneath the surface, it can be a dangerous place and the police sirens and the couple arguing suggest that.  This assignment really opened me up in terms of not just observing things but listening to people and objects around me.  I learned how sounds can tell a story.  You don't have to always look at things to get a story.  You can close your eyes and depend on the sounds to get a story from it.  Sound is an underrated aspect of the film medium and I've learned to appreciate and work on telling a better story using sound. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Extra Credit: TAXI DRIVER (1976)

The camera work/ camera movement in Martin Scorsese's 1976 Taxi Driver is what makes it a special film.  It's interesting to see what's objective and subjective.  Most of the film is subjective.  We see things through the eyes of Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro.  Scorsese sets up early how the film's going to feel when Travis drives in his cab and we get to see exterior shots of the taxi.  We also see what he sees through his window: pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, etc.  The film was influenced by Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 film The Wrong Man in which an innocent man is accused of a crime.  (Fun Fact: Both films were scored by Bernard Herrmann.)  The shots convey what Travis feels.  For example, when he steps out of the diner and stares at a group of black kids walking by it's a slow motion.  Some suggest it means he's a racist, but one thing is sure and that is that he's disgusted and bothered by them.

In this scene, Michael Chapman, the cinematographer, incorporates beautifully the red lighting of the huge diner sign (called the Bellmore Cafe).  As Travis stares at the black kid, we feel this is a living hell.  New York City is a living hell.  What Travis is feeling is a living hell.  The last scene, the killing in which Travis saves Iris, played by Jodie Foster, is very important in terms of lighting.  Iris has candles lit all over the room and those flames become a metaphor for hell again after Travis has murdered all those men.

The music, provided by Bernard Herrmann, adds another important element to the film.  It adds tension.  Even in the opening shot as the taxi pulls up and emerges from the smoke, it's a loud abrupt sound that introduces the film.  This same loud sound that resembles a slow beating drum plays longer during the overhead slow motion final shot of the Travis massacre in the apartment.

The setting is New York City post Vietnam.  Travis hates his surroundings.  He doesn't like the garbage.  Or the hookers and pimps.  But unfortunately, it's a perfect backdrop for the film.  The film is about rejection and Travis gets rejected by Betsy, played by Cybill Shepherd.  Travis also rejects New York City and its horrid, dirty conditions.

In terms of wardrobe, two things stand out: Travis' green jacket and his mohawk.  This green jacket is important because he wears it mostly throughout the whole film.  He keeps his drinking flask inside and tucks his hands when he's cold.  It's who he is.  The mohawk is significant because of its revelation and the timing of it.  We see the mohawk as Travis stands outside the political rally.  The camera only shows up to his neck initially and then it tilts up to show his face.  He has a tight grin and a mohawk.  It represents a change in him and a change in the tone of the film because he's now about to go on his murdering spree.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Final Project

I wanted to show different aspects of NYC, from the really known to its minor qualities. It's an ode to the city and something that someone could anticipate if they've never been to NYC.

Link Below

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Artist Statement

As a kid, I was drawn to the 90's action movies.  The Die Hards and Terminators are still favorites.  As I got older it became crime movies and film noir.  Some of the lasting influences on me have been from Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, and Quentin Tarantino.  When I was younger, it never occurred to me that filmmaking could be a career.  I was unaware of the many positions it took to make a film.  What appeals to me the most is having an idea and creating rich characters.  Putting them in a fictional world, giving them obstacles, and seeing how they react.  It is fascinating to have your idea be brought to life by wonderful actors.  I enjoy exploring the consequences of a murder, the allure of money, the dark personality of a protagonist, and the ulterior motives of a heroine.  My plans include being apart of a group or community of artists and filmmakers who I could learn from and earn my degree in film production.  As a film major, I hope to make a few short films.  In five years or so, I will write and direct a feature.  Down the road I do want to work within the Hollywood studio system which would allow for a bigger budget and be a huge challenge.  Many people have fears.  They may include a fear of dying, fear of heights, or a fear of public speaking.  Mine would be dying and not leaving behind important timeless movies that would always be remembered.