Author Archives: dylfilmiums

About dylfilmiums

I am a Spanish Major and Film Minor in my third year at USF. My dream for making films is to combine my cinematic ideas with my love and knowledge of Spanish, and language in general, to make thought provoking films that inspire people to feel solidarity in the human spirit. Also I like action movies.

Short Film to Watch – “Spider” dir. Nash Edgerton 2007

This twisted little short film about a practical joke gone horribly wrong kept me guessing the whole time and made me laugh right out loud. I think it’s a good example of a “resume short” that uses a comedic formula in an unfamiliar way to create a very original piece. It starts out simply enough, with Jill driving a car obviously upset, next to her boyfriend Jack, who is the cause of her exasperation because he always “takes things too far.” They stop at a gas station, where Jack buys a handful of Jill’s favorite chocolates as well as a plastic spider. The chocolates manage to assuage Jane’s anger, but the spider winds up causing both of them dearly.

The simplicity of this film is what I love the best. I think all to often we think that we complicate our scripts with a bunch of non-essential story elements that we think will contribute to the idea of the film or help the audience “get” what we’re trying to say. I know I’m guilty of this, even in my current script. Mostly though, these extras wind up only getting in our way. This film doesn’t delve into anyone’s psyche of make us ponder the meaning or nature of existence, it just tells a the story of one seemingly random event.

The moral of the story is pretty set up from the quote at the beginning, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” (a quote ingeniously cited to “mum”) and really goes on to assert that if you keep messing with people, you’ll get the comeuppance you deserve. But the seriousness and reality of the story right up until the end make the final surprise so much more satisfying, and the whole film  ultimately winds up in the realm of the absurd; the comedic. We aren’t that sad for the pain that the characters go through because all of a sudden it becomes clear that the whole thing is really an extended gag set up to entertain the audience.

A+ Nash Edgerton, you got me good you crazy Aussie.

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Look at Me

Last semester Katiana Mashikian and worked really hard on this film. It wound up being very different from our original intentions, but that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. I wanted to show the couple in a lot more locations than wound up on the screen. This was due to lack of planning and a lot of missed shoots because of scheduling conflicts. Technically we ran into issues with lighting and not enough sound. Mainly I think we just weren’t always careful enough when we were shooting. Overall I was satisfied with how the film came out, mainly because I think the story is strong;  fun and light with the right amount of weird.

I totally disregarded out the two biggest cautionary pieces of advice that Danny gave us going into the shooting process. 1. Limit your locations and 2. Don’t rely too heavily on characters because acting is hard and no one is getting paid. Of course I decided to make a totally character driven film with as many locations as possible. Luckily I had great people to work with. Matt Cline is a very talented improviser in Awkward Silence here at USF, and my beloved girlfriend Kelly Cook created the character of Becky. That their somewhat absurdist relationship was believable was the most crucial part of the film, and it also turned out to be the easiest and most fun part to direct.

Katiana and I naturally worked well together so we never really had set roles in mind. I think I did more of the “directing” when it came to performances and blocking, while she did a lot more with cinematography and shot composition. She also did story boards, which, had I the chance to go back, I would have used frame for frame. We foolishly did not refer to when shooting. It was only when I found them later that I saw how many ideas we had had for shots that never wound up on screen. Kati was better than me at visualizing a specific image, I prefer shot lists. But having a real visual reminder is sometimes invaluable and can greatly contribute to the flow of the film. The film we wound up with flowed well, but had we known exactly what we wanted in every shot before we pressed record the film would have been a lot more dynamic.

Neither Kati nor I were very concerned with originality. It was based on the crazy girlfriend character, Becky, that Kelly and I thought up one day. I was originally toying with having the boyfriend be the crazy one, but Kelly’s performance was too funny to deny. I think it wound up being original enough, but it’s a love story after all, so it follows a pretty simple formula. The music definitely gives it a kind of classic feel, which makes it seem less original, but we couldn’t find any non-copyrighted music that we liked so we picked well known songs. The music is actually my favorite part.

So that’s what I think of “Look at Me.” It’s not perfect by far, but learned a lot in the process of making it. Everyone in the production was having a lot of fun, and I think that shows on screen and makes the film enjoyable.