The Making of ‘Weeb’

The idea behind Weeb was to make “Kung Fu with a weeaboo,” but having the brain that I have, it became this video.

Production went pretty well, considering what we were making. It is often difficult to direct people in a project like this because of its over-the-top style. The hardest scene to explain was the opening. Luckily, Sean and I had gone to school together and even if he didn’t understand the purpose of the opening, he did trust me enough to know it would make sense in the edit.

Something I have discovered while doing these type of little projects is that you can’t always articulate your vision completely to everyone involved. What I mean by that is that you explain it differently to each person involved. To the DP it is how the image makes you feel, and to the actor it is how the character feels in the scene.

I played with the color in this video more than with previous projects because I wanted to to make the viewer feel like they were in a different world. Also, when I think of Anime, I think of vibrant colors both within the character’s dress and the background.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) 

I wanted to add a sense of child-like wonder to the way that Sean’s character perceived the world, so I thought a super saturated achieved that.

Outtakes from the video:

 

Suicidal Weakness (Video)

I was listening to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly a lot lately, and the song really stuck out to me. I didn’t fully appreciate the album when it first came out, but, now it is my second favorite album just under Good Kid,  M.A.A.D City.

The second half of really stuck with me. It was really visceral, dark, and catches you off guard. The ending line, “The world’ll know money can’t stop a suicidal weakness,” is haunting in its honest bluntness.

Anyone who has struggled with depression or suicidal thoughts knows that riches, fame, or any external pleasure won’t fix it. It is an internal struggle that you have to face alone, which is why it is so difficult and isolating.

I wanted the video to capture the (for a lack of a better word) black and white thinking that someone has when you enter this state. People tend to focus on past regrets or future worries and that bogs them down even further in the muck.

The most haunting part of that half of the song is the familiarity of the tone and language being used. A lot of people have negative “self talk” and I imagine it sounds similar to the song.

It is somewhat cathartic to share these kinds of stories with others because it lets us know we are not alone in our struggle and we are not truly alone.

Lessons From Editing a Documentary Short

In September of 2016, I shot a documentary short about bird banding. A whopping NINE months later, I now have a cut that I like.

When I completed the production of the film, I had a Dell laptop with an Intel i7 processor, 8gb of RAM, and a subpar graphics card. The screen couldn’t even do 1080p. Fast forward to the present and I’m writing this on an iMac with 12gb of RAM, a Radeon HD graphics card, and a screen that can display a little over 2K resolution.  I also didn’t have the full Creative Cloud either.

Equipment doesn’t make films, people do. However, equipment does dictate when your film is going to come out.

I shot the b-roll for the film on the Canon C100 Mark I and the interview portion on my trusty Nikon D3100. My little laptop can handle my Nikon and most DSLRs more than adequately, but the C100 shoots in AVCHD which is larger than the MP4 files of standard DSLRs.

Editing a documentary is difficult. Everyone says that, but until you’re in the trenches, you don’t quite believe it. I didn’t believe it. I had a vision for what I wanted, but the film itself, had different ideas.

You are trying to represent these people’s lives as accurately as possible. It is an immense responsibility. For me, since I was so close to the subject, I tried to view it as an outsider and just show it objectively. As humans, we are innately biased, so being truly objective is pretty much impossible. What I did to combat this, was assemble a focus group of sorts. I got someone who was there to view it to see if it was a fair representation of the events, someone who helped me develop the idea to see if I was conveying what I was trying to convey, and someone who knows nothing about it to see what I was actually conveying. The most important question to ask each individual you show your film is, simply, “What is wrong with it?”, or, “What didn’t you like?”.  We all appreciate praise, but it is rarely constructive.

I think I’ve grown a lot as a filmmaker and a person since the production of this short. The most important lesson I’ve learned through all of this, is to never give up. Thoughts of all of this footage on my hard drive would keep me up at night. Not only for my own sake, but for the subjects too. When I locked the cut into something decent after all this time, it was like a gigantic weight had been lifted off my shoulders. All the the doubt, anxiety, frustration, and work paid off into something. It was tangible.

I will keep you all updated on the film as it progresses. I wanted to share my excitement with you and let you know what I have been doing. Also, there should be a new video next week about a certain political event happening in my state. I will be filming it tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Gray Catbird (Still from A Bird Hand)
A still of a Gray Catbird from, “A Bird in Hand.”