Film 5, Aug 4 – 10: Phthisis

Due to my one week limitation, I can only focus on one or two filmmaking elements per film.  This week, I chose to keep the production simple and focus on working with my actors.

I intentionally began with a skeletal script designed to be fleshed out with Susan and Shelley during rehearsals.  Fortunately, they were eager to collaborate in creating their characters and circumstances, resulting in highly authentic performances.

It really was a fun and fulfilling process…

Click here to watch film 6


28 Responses to “Film 5, Aug 4 – 10: Phthisis”

  1. virtuos and beautiful August 31, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    How do you find all these interesting settings so fast? I loved the piano and clock. I don’t know what the name of this is, but piano players use some sort of pace tool to guide them throughout the pace of the music. Just like how that tool helps to guide the pace of the song for the piano, the sound of the clock seemed to help guide the pace of the characters and what they said. As if the music and their lives where part of one melody.

    • Christopher August 31, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

      One of the best things I did with this project was preschedule my actors and locations so I would not have to worry about them during the week of production :)

  2. Douglas Reese August 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    Those performances were incredible!

    • Christopher August 25, 2011 at 11:16 am #

      Thank you, Douglas. Let me just say it really was a blessing to work with Shelley and Susan. We actually spent quite some time creating the characters together and developing the story Susan ultimately shares. I came to them with a skeleton and they helped me flesh it out!

      For a director, there is nothing, absolutely nothing better than working with great actors….

  3. Tatiyana August 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Your films progressively got longer. I like that! Its amazing to me that you got each one done in ONE WEEK! I like the opening in this film (loved the intro lighting) and piano playing it reminded me of my childhood. This film is so realistic and related to how today’s relationships are including neighbor to neighbor, mother to daughter, etc. This movie clip touched me!

    • Christopher August 24, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

      Thanks for all the comments, Tat! Way cool of you to take the time to do that. And thanks for posting on FB – yeah, it’ll be interesting to see what your friends think.

      And I’m happy that this particular film touched you. The two actors really are amazing, which makes me look good! :) I think that’s the secret to directing films: cast great actors….

  4. doughnutdiva August 21, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Chris, seriously…it just keeps getting better. Thank you for this.

  5. Chris Bell August 19, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    Loved, loved that wide shot.

    • Christopher August 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      Thanks, Chris. You know, we pulled the plug on that wide shot about half way through the take and didn’t reshoot, then, during editing, I remembered it and said, “Damn, I gotta use that here!” So happy we got it….

  6. Bob August 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    I’m loving these.

    • Christopher August 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      Thanks, Bob. I really appreciate you taking the time to watch and comment…

  7. Rae August 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Love the acting & story. Great Movie :)

    • Christopher August 19, 2011 at 10:05 am #

      Thanks, Rae!!! Really sweet performances, huh? I have to say, working with incredible actors has definitely been one of the greatest aspects of this project!

  8. Graham Fisher August 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Favorite piece of yours bar none. In the best way, it felt like each element had been measured out.

  9. Chuck Norton August 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    Please take back all the previous comments – this is my favorite yet! So captivating. I found myself just entranced by the story & not thinking about you or anything else at all… which is rare in our industry.

    Elena is right – she’ll be hearing your name more in the future. I get to be one of the ‘i knew him early on’ braggers.

    • Christopher August 17, 2011 at 8:41 am #

      Thanks for the comment(s), Chuck! I’m so happy you enjoyed the film. You know, the fact that you were swept away by the story says a lot about Susan, the actor. She really is gifted and it was an incredible privilege to work with her.

      This film is a testament to what great actors bring to a film, even a tiny one like mine…


  10. Mark Stolaroff August 15, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    I agree with Danny, Chris. Love the pace. The way you held on shots. That wide shot of the daughter sitting motionless on the couch for so long, while the mother was in the kitchen, spoke volumes. I’ve skipped a couple of films that I need to go back and watch, but loved this one! What is the mother’s background as a piano player?

    • Christopher August 15, 2011 at 11:00 am #

      Hey, Mark. Thank you for the comment. I agree with you; the way she sits in that room alone in that shot is pretty cool. And the great thing is that, sort of a No Budget thing, the room was very small, but with a wide lens, you can make is big and isolate the character. In fact, when you see Girlfriend 19, then see my apartment, you won’t believe it’s the same place…

      I’m not sure about Susan’s professional background as a pianist. When I asked, all she said is that she had been playing since 6. I met her through Tom. I knew she was great on the piano, so I wrote Film 5 with that in mind! Again, NO BUDGET!!!! Make the most with what you have :)

      • Mark Stolaroff August 17, 2011 at 5:24 am #

        Hey Chris, I love the way you expressed “due to your limitation, you focused on…” You know that’s something I talk about when I teach and I wrote a blog piece for Filmmaker Magazine about it, which they posted yesterday. Your film and everyone’s response to it is a perfect example of doing this effectively. The best no-budget films do this!

      • Christopher August 17, 2011 at 8:43 am #

        Wow, that’s great about Filmmaker Magazine. They really are cool and very supportive of aspiring types like me, especially no-budget filmmakers….

        I’ll definitely check out your article.

  11. Elena Plesa August 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    It was because of Elena Beuca that I started to watch yout work. This piece impressed me with its simplicity that spoke volumes. It says a lot about your sensibilities as a filmaker and no doubt I will hear your name in the future. Good luck.
    Elena Plesa

    • Christopher August 15, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Thank you for the incredible compliment, Elena. Nice to meet you. Hopefully we’ll meet through Elena B. in the near future :)

  12. Danny Redfern Holme August 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    Definately, my favourite so far! Seeing your work each week, you can really appreciate your voice and style as a film maker. ONE of the strengths for me, in this film, is the pace. (Loved the pauses etc) It was held with such grace, and beauty. As an audience member you let us in so much by giving time and space to the action, the story and history of the characters. It was so rich. I could go on for hours! LOVED it. Great job!! Thank you!

    • Christopher August 11, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      Thank you so much, Danny. Very encouraging. And I totally agree with you regarding the pace. You know, working on this film, I was reminded of the power to “craft a performance” during editing. In other words, I “added” pauses and rhythmic changes to the performance during the editing.

      The reality I found is that things aren’t always the same on-camera as they are in person. So, the rhythm during shooting may have felt “right” and good, but once you edit the whole together, you notice that it doesn’t work as well. Therefore, adjustments to the rhythm must be made during the editing. Pauses need to be added or taken, etc..

      As you know, this is probably because we don’t shoot all in one take, like a theatrical show. We stop, change the lighting and so on, so that throws off the actors, changes the flow of the piece, etc..

      The power of editing, huh? :) Thank you again for bringing up such a great point…

  13. thisknight August 10, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Bravo! You continue to impress, Chris. By the way, you should give me Susan’s phone number so I can contact her the next time you ask me for a piece of piano music. ;)

    • Christopher August 11, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      Thank you, Jake! I’m sure she’d love to play for you sometime. Just let me know if you’d like a proper introduction…

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