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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How I Made A Short Film With Nokia N95 (Part 1)

This is a chronicle of the video I made for the PC.com Magazine Awards Night held last Friday at KL Tower.

The actual opening video, uploaded by Erna

9th of January. One Wednesday evening (shortly after meeting up with Dabido) Erna, editor of PC.com Magazine, called me on my cellphone, reminding me that the opening video I've promised to do for their Awards Night was due on the 18th.

Inwardly, I groaned.

It almost didn't seem like something worth doing.

When I was asked to help them do the video for the event last month, I was apprehensive.

To make the video, I had to adhere to numerous conditions like:

1) Must have a James Bond theme to coincide with the actual Awards Night.

2) The mobile phone, Nokia N95, must be involved, either as a prop, or be used to shoot the actual video.

3) There wouldn't really be enough pay to really hire a crew, or actors from outside. Renting professional filmmaking equipment would be out of the question as well.

4) I'll be using Erna's own colleagues in REACH PUBLISHING, who all have zero acting experiences, to act.

And this bothered me because of the following reasons:

1) I prefer to work with a good cinematographer for my film since I don't really know how to operate a film camera much. (My areas of interest for filmmaking had always been writing, producing, directing and editing, one guy just can't do that much!)

2) There had been some common misconception that I'm a one-man filmmaking crew, as much as I wish to be something like that, I've generally worked with at least a crew of 3 to 4 in my own short films.

3) There would be zero rehearsals.

4) It brings back horrible (but really fun) memories of my attempts to make my first two video experiments: A BORING STORY and FORCED LABOUR back in '04 and '05. Yeah, those were fun, but it would mean that I'm taking a step backwards!

Nonetheless, I took the challenge in the end because I was too prideful to back down from one (you seriously expect a guy who calls himself The 'Great' Swifty to NOT be prideful?), and I needed to do some warmups before embarking upon my next short, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY.

With the deadline looming over me, I was seized by a slight sense of panic, and since I subscribe to the 'desperation leads to creativity' school of thought, I immediately took out a piece of paper and started listing out the scenes I wanted to do in the video.

The initial idea was to reenact the infamous Casino Royale torture scene (where Bond got whacked in the balls), but even that itself would be too much for something shot only with a N95 (I'm prideful, but I don't overrate my own abilities, I'm not a magician).

So it was back to the drawing board for me.

Sitting in my room, staring intensely at the N95, my mind scattered to many different directions at once, pondering WHAT can people shoot with a N95... and could involve James Bond.

The following paragraph will describe what my thought process was right. (Pardon my pretentious but inept attempt to use the stream-of-consciousness literary device.)

now that im limited to shooting only with a nokia n95 i have to shoot something that is best shot with a mobile phone and what is best shot with a mobile phone i have to dig deep into the film library of my mind and find something good but i cannot think of anything like that maybe i should think of popular Youtube videos that are short with mobile phones something like videoblogs and videoblogs are most popular if its funny or if it has a hot babe and all i have to do is find a beautiful actress to act in the film however im cannot even afford to hire one for this production so all i can do is aim for funny and if its a videoblog should it be a videoblog of james bond but that will be too boring and no one can imitate daniel craig nor pierce brosnan so i need a different angle like one of a bond supervillain that is funny like dr no but then i just reference dr evil because he is funnier so this is a video of a disenchanted inventor pissed off that pc.com awards overlooked him...

So I got my idea mere days before the actual shoot on the 14th of Jan.

I tried to write the screenplay.

No luck.

I frowned.

After compiling a short list of props I needed for the video to Erna (some lighters, two feathers, two flashlights... nothing complicated) and sending it to her for preparation, I went off to play Xenosaga 3 on my PS2.

Shion and KOS-MOS needed some leveling up.

The day of the shoot finally arrived.

Still haven't decided whether I would really use the Nokia N95 or my own lousy broken down camcorder for the shoot, I ended up bringing both to location.