DISPATCH #3: The art of visual collaboration
I come originally from a cinematography background. Ever since I moved to Chicago, that's what I've done, both to pay the bills and simply because I love it. I love crafting lighting that fits a certain mood, choosing lenses to best illustrate a concept visually or to just tell the story in the best way, setting the technical elements of cameras both large and small...it geeks me out. It's a blessing every day for me, knowing I get to do what I love and get paid for it.
So, naturally, as a director, I've always enjoyed having a measure of control over the image. But it also begs the question: who should have more control? As a cinematographer, I always would hate it when directors tried to micro-manage the shots or the lighting, yet as a director, I often find myself sitting over my DP's shoulder, whispering little words like "headroom" or "pan left" or "pull focus" and basically becoming a silly control freak. It's my movie, after all!
The answer, really, is that no one person has total control over the image. I'm the director, sure, but it's not MY movie, after all. Filmmaking involves extreme collaboration, and in our case, even more so with people you're already comfortable with on set. When directing my first feature, Happily After, I hired cinematographer Justin Cameron because we had already developed a close working relationship and friendship, and as such had a kind of visual shorthand. We referenced the same movies, knew the same lenses and cameras, and understood the concepts we were trying to tackle in very much the same way. Chrysalis screenwriter Ben Kurstin wrote this film partially because he wanted to develop a film on which he could serve as cinematographer, which helped us both because we had also worked together on dozens of sets prior to this; he had served as my gaffer for years, and we had developed that same shorthand of lighting and composition.
That notion of collaboration extends to every element of the visuals. On the teaser, Ben wrote the script with certain shots in mind, and then in reading the script I drew up a concept that centered around the idea of Penelope's dream, a fever dream that grew in dread and intensity. We then collaborated on the shot list: shots we knew we wanted, shots that were more loose, shots that were location specific versus shots that we could get anywhere, really. We discussed whether or not to shoot in a different aspect ratio than the native 16:9 HD of the Canon 5D MkIII, and ultimately settled on a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio, to add to the epic feel of the film. We decided on a certain color palette, a blue-gray tint and a bleached-out green look that would best evoke a post-apocalyptic landscape. We wanted almost no handheld work, but instead a lot of linear design highlighting the architecture of urban decay. And many of these concepts will make it into the finished film!
Because of our time constraints - and my relative inability to draw! - we didn't storyboard the teaser, though when we're in pre-production on Chrysalis, we plan to hire a storyboard artist or graphic designer to not only help us plan specific shots but to flesh out concepts with our production designer Megan McDonough. It's always important to me as a director to essentially make the film in pre-production, to decide on themes and arcs and visual styles and shots early. That way, then, if you run into big problems at a specific location or you don't have enough time to do what you planned, everything can still come back to, "How does this best serve the story, and how can we work within our limitations to do that?" Sometimes one shot will work when we had planned on four, and as long as the intensity of the scene is still there, all the better!
Visual creation doesn't end on set, either. Editor Mike Molenda has suggested having another camera operator on set whose job is solely to capture b-roll of dilapidated buildings, wire, rocks, broken glass...any sort of threatening image. It's a way in the editing room of further fracturing the world of the film and calling attention to a simple truth: everything in this world is dangerous. Drawing blood means death. And anywhere you walk, you had better watch your step.
I guess my point is that, at the end of the day, you need to surround yourself with not only incredibly talented people, but also people you can trust. People you can trust to be honest with you when an idea doesn't work. People who will contribute equally off-the-wall ideas. People who thrive on collaboration, on throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, on adhering to a concept even - and especially - when limitations may challenge us.
Collaboration is what makes our industry move. And, on Chrysalis, it will make our film come alive.
~Update by John Klein, director of Chrysalis
pledged of $30,000 goal
seconds to go
Aug 1, 2012 - Sep 1, 2012
Pledge $5 or more
Acknowledgement on the film’s WEBSITE for your donation, and receive a POSTCARD featuring messages from characters in the "Chrysalis" universe, complete with blood spatter!Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $10 or more
A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of the film's soundtrack, plus all of the above prizes!Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
Pledge $13 or more
4 backers All gone!
DVD copies of Glass City Films' two horror short films "Under the Table" and "Hangers" plus all of the above prizes! (PLEASE NOTE: This offer only applies to backers who donate or increase their pledge on 8/13/12. Backers who increase a previous pledge, or who choose the $25+ prizes, on 8/13/12, do NOT need to choose this as their prize, it will be added to your currently chosen prize package automatically)Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
Pledge $25 or more
A SIGNED DVD of the finished film, plus all of the above prizes!Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $50 or more
A SIGNED COPY of the LIMITED EDITION POSTER, and your name in the film's CREDITS and special thanks on our IMDb PAGE, plus all of the above prizes!Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $75 or more
Two FREE TICKETS to the film's premiere, plus all of the above prizes!Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $100 or more
The CHRYSALIS SURVIVOR PACK, which contains a SIGNED copy of the Extended Edition DVD (which includes limited-edition DVD cover art, behind-the-scenes footage, cast video diaries, a retrospective on how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign, and MORE), first aid kit, Chrysalis T-shirt, and lighter...plus a few other SURPRISES as well, and all of the above prizes!Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $200 or more
20 backers Limited (5 of 25 left)
LIMITED SUPPLY – BE AN INFECTED IN THE FILM! This standalone prize includes full costume and makeup, as well as a signed copy of the DVD, two tickets to the premiere, your name in the film's credits and on IMDb, and an ON-SET PHOTO SHOOT which includes an 8x10 and three 3x5 prints! (NOTE: does NOT include any other above prizes unless you pledge those amounts separately! Duration of appearance in the finished film is dependent on final creative approval from the director.)Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $250 or more
A signed copy of the production book “FROM INFECTION TO RESURRECTION” (which includes behind the scenes photos, designer’s sketches, concept art, story boards and stills from the film showing the evolution and execution of the design of the Chrysalis universe), and an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER’S CREDIT on IMDb! Also includes all of the above prizes (except the $200 prize).Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $500 or more
An EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit on IMDb and an INKED PORTRAIT of you as a zombie, signed by the artist! Also includes all of the above prizes (except the $200 prize).Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $1,000 or more
A TITLE CARD in the credits of the film, to be shared with another donor! Also includes all of the above prizes (except the $200 prize).Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
Pledge $5,000 or more
Your LOGO or ANIMATION shown before the Glass City Films logo at the start of the film! Also includes all of the above prizes (except the $200 prize).Estimated delivery: Oct 2013