Author Archives: Annie Poling

About Annie Poling

Annie is an aspiring filmmaker with interests in directing, acting, cinematography, producing, screenwriting, and music. Basically, the whole making-a-movie thing. She’s very organized and helps keep us on track as we tend to descend into silliness. She’s directed several short films starring her younger siblings, as well as working as the cinematographer and camera operator for Phillip’s LCCX entry. She’s also into reading, various needle crafts, cooking, and playing the piano very loudly. Oh, and also, she collects weird hats and office supplies.

A Novel Way to Experience Loyalty

So this morning, we all woke up to find something AWESOME waiting for us. I’ve been sporadically jumping up and down and squealing all throughout the morning.

This morning, a novelization of our most recent short film, Loyalty was posted on facebook! Go here to read it, because it’s AWESOME.

The author, Antoine Bandele (or SilentBat as he’s known to the lightsaber community) was one of the official judges for the Lightsaber Choreography Competition. He’s entered LCC a couple times himself in Ricky vs. SilentBat and Nemesis: RvSB2. Ever since Loyalty came out, he has been a constant supporter and fan. We can hardly believe how much interest he’s shown Loyalty and our filmmaking in general.

*gushing alert*

Oh. My. GOSH!!!!!! Antoine, thank you so much for writing this. It is Too. Stinkin. Cool. I can’t even imagine how many times you had to watch the movie to be able to catch all the little details and facial expressions. *squeals in delight*

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 2.07.34 PMYou captured Alar’s conflict so perfectly and I was just stunned. I loved how you wrote the pivotal moment when she decides not to kill her master:

“Alar gripped her lightsaber tighter. She took a deep breath. Her arms began to shake. She could feel Andreas within her, prying the darkness away. He had to make her see reason.”

This just expresses so perfectly what we tried to get across in the movie. Back when we were building the story, we knew this moment needed to accomplish two things. The most important thing was to portray Alar’s indecision, of course, but in the background, it was also vital that we express Andreas’ selflessness. He’s not trying to convince her not to kill him cause he doesn’t want to die. He’s trying to stop her downward march towards the dark side. The way you wrote that entire section just… wow. It put into words exactly what we were thinking.

Andreas’ sorrow at seeing his apprentice fall to the dark side and his constant concern for her was also perfectly portrayed. I loved how constantly throughout the whole thing, Andreas’ is insistently, stubbornly thinking that Alar is not to blame. Though Andreas’ thought may not have been true (Alar made her own choices), it’s still very true to his character. It’s a little imperfection that makes him feel human, and I love that you put it in your novelization.

And don’t even get me started on Loban! If there is anything that I would go back and change about our film if I could, I would have delved farther into who Loban was and where he came from. Of the three characters in the film, he’s the one that’s the most flat and unmotivated. You gave him dimensionality and more purpose. My favorite moment of the entire story is after Alar makes the decision not to kill Andreas:

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 2.08.49 PM

“The siblings locked lightsabers, their beams crackled on one another. Loban’s shock at Alar’s betrayal was for only a moment. She had decided her fate the second she chose to defy him. Without a blink of his eye he swung towards her neck. She ducked just in time but Loban was on her fiercer than he ever was before.”

I feel like this is the moment where we really understand Loban. He did care for his sister and was hurt and betrayed by her defiance. I’m so grateful that you took the time to express Loban’s character more because I felt like it kind of got skipped over in the film.

My other favorite moment was the ending:

“He closed her dead eyes and bowed his head into her shoulder. Be at peace, Alar. I won’t fail you again.”

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 2.10.08 PM

You just about made me cry.

The whole thing is just amazing and I can assure you that it will be read many times, over and over again. Thanks so, so much for sharing this with us!

And that’s the way the carrot crunches,

Annie


LCC XI

Wow. I just realized that it has been almost an entire month since we wrote anything on here. Oops. There’s been too much exciting stuff going on. Filming for the Enumclaw movie is TOMORROW (YAY!)and the deadline for LCC is rapidly descending on us. There’s too much to write about! Aahhhhhh!

I’ll just skip to the most exciting thing happening right now.

Those of you who are Facebook friends with Rachel, Max, or Micah probably already are aware of what has been happening, but for those of you who don’t know, we are very happy to announce that filming for LCC XI has begun!

31089_115919201774186_8117639_nLCC stands for Lightsaber Choreography Contest. It’s a yearly, international contest for major Star Wars geeks who like making movies or swinging swords around. Or both. *glances in Max’s direction* Seriously though, there are some really awesome films made every year for for this contest and it’s a great place for any Star Wars fan or someone who wants to study fight choreography. While many of the entries are set up as Star Wars fanfilms, the purpose of the contest is to judge the choreography. The movies don’t have to take place in the Star Wars universe, be especially high quality, or even have to have saber effects. It all comes down to the choreography.

Max (with Micah) has entered LCC for three years in a row now. He won second place with his film The Fight Inside two years ago (LCC IX), and third place last year (LCC X) with Prevail. Also last year, Phillip and Josiah made Round 1 Infinity and got an honorable mention from the judges.

VIOLENCE WARNING: These are fight videos with mortal injuries. There is no blood but they could be slightly disturbing.

This year is LCC XI and we are all super duper stoked to be collaborating on one entry.

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Trying on their costumes all together. Phillip and Lizzy weren’t finished with their’s yet.

After several weeks of choreography, screen-writing, costume designing,  prop making, and location scouting, we finally all tromped down to the location and started filming. It’s been going kind of slow. This year, there’s dialogue involved which is something that none of us have really done before. We’re still figuring out everything and learning a whole bunch in the process.

We had all decided that it would be better to work in the morning because in the afternoon, the sun would be shinning directly down on us (making the heat unbearable for our actors in their heavy costumes) and the lighting wouldn’t be as good. During this time of year in Washington, the sun rises at about 4:30 AM. That means that if we want to be out there and filming before it gets too hot, we have to get up real early. Don’t know about all you folks, but I like sleep. I generally get up at about 8:00. Getting up at 5:00 for three days in a row was a totally new experience. We usually actually started filming at about 7:30.

Tuesday:

It was pretty slow. We were still trying to figure out exactly what we were doing, this being the first time that we’ve actually all done production together (unless you count the short test videos for Evasion). We made some good progress though and started to get more  of a feel of what the final film should look like. We wrapped up at about 11:00 cause the sun started coming out above the trees, ruining the lighting.

Josiah, the sound guy. Micah, the camera guy. And Annie, the do-whatever-needed-to-be-done-gal

Josiah, the sound guy. Micah, the camera guy. And Annie, the Assistant Director

The cast with finished costumes carrying stuff down to the location.

The cast with finished costumes carrying stuff down to the location.

Wednesday:

– wake up at 5:00 AM.

– Eat breakfast

– Lizzy and Phillip get their hair done by Rachel

– load the car

– get everyone in the car

– drive and meet Swets at trailhead

– Walk down trailhead to location

– Set up shop, getting camera and mic ready

– start filming

– keep filming

– take a quick snack break

– more filming

– filming

– Have your actors act while you capture their performance with a camera and microphone.

– filming

– hurriedly filming the last shots because the sun is steadily encroaching on your location space.

– wrap up

– walk back to the car

– yack with friends about all things you were trying really hard not to waste time on set with

– say good bye

– go home

Thursday:

      See Wednesday 🙂

As droll as I make it sound, I had tons and tons of fun. Being with my siblings and friends as we work hard to create something cool together is probably my favorite part of making movies. It wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without all of us together, giving ideas, being silly, being willing to do it over and over and over and over again until we get it right, and just being ourselves.

Phillip and Max getting into 'character'.

Phillip and Max getting into ‘character’.

We won’t be filming for LCC again for at least another week. We’re all gonna be super busy on set of the Enumclaw movie, and then we’re all gonna be exhausted for a few days after that. Won’t have too much time to recover though. The deadline for LCC is Sept. 8th. We really need to get a move on.

A couple last things:

Firstly, I’m gonna ask everybody in our group to write a blogpost about LCC, so be on the look out for cool posts about costumes, props, production, post-production and anything else that we might feel the need to write about.

Secondly, since we have been quite bad about keeping this blog updated recently, I’m gonna hopefully make up for it by allowing you guys to see these two stills from the film. I hope they make you as excited to see the final thing as I am.

Max_LCC-XI

 

Lizzy_LCC-XI

And that’s the way the camera rolls,

Annie


Some Good News and Some Bad News

Hey! Sorry for going all AWOL on you guys these past few weeks. We’ve all been super, super busy and Monday just kept showing up and leaving again without us having anything to write about. Unfortunately, this is gonna be one of those general-update-thingys we keep doing.

Okay. Good news first.

We’ve pretty much decided that we’re going to switch locations. We all really liked where we made that test film and I think it’s going to be awesome. Max is planning to write more about the location sometime soon so y’all get more details about where it is and what it is and all that jazz.

Since we’re switching locations, the script has to modified somewhat. Micah and I have made some good progress on that the past few days. Once again, the story is morphing into something different as we try to fit it all in. We’re planning to head back to the location sometime soon to actually figure out exactly where we’re gonna be filming specific things. (Lots of pictures will be taken. 🙂 )

Okay. Now for the bad news. 😦

When we first started the Evasion project, we were planning on filming sometime in July-August. As we get closer and closer to those months, our schedules are getting fuller and fuller. This summer, we are also working on two other film projects (LCC XI, and Enumclaw 10 Decades) not to mention Rachel has a job now, so can’t work as much. There is soooooo much packed into this summer!

Bottom line:

We’ve decided to put Evasion on the back burner for a while.

I know. It’s sad.

It’s very, very, very, very, very sad.

We will still be working on it somewhat, but our other projects have deadlines so they’re our first priority. Filming for Evasion has now been set back to October. Maybe we’ll have it done by Christmas.

There is a cloud in this silver lining….. wait……

*clears throat*

There is a silver lining in this cloud. 😉

This blog will NOT be put on hold. We are now going to be writing about our other projects as well! Anything and everything we learn about filmmaking will find it’s way here. *suppresses shriek of excitment* This is gonna be GREAT!!!!! 

And that’s the way the banana peels.

Annie


Just a General Update

Well… This week’s post was supposed to be Rachel going deep into the poster making process, but unfortunately, her computer is being excessively uncooperative and is in time-out at the Apple Store. Bad computer. The Swets just got back from a long and fun vacation, and have nasty colds to boot, which just leaves me to get y’all up to date. (Not that I mind :D)

IMG_3229Progress has been slow lately as we are all concentrating on getting the script finished and locked down. Last time I talked about the script, we had been through 2 main plotlines. Since then, we have been through at least three more. As we read and discuss each draft as it comes, we always end up with more ideas than we know what to do with and so end up making these dramatic script changes to try and use them all up.

Before, it has been Lizzy, Max, sometimes Josiah, and sometimes myself who have been actually writing with the others giving imput and ideas. Recently though, Micah has joined the ranks of writers and has completely finished the last three different drafts of the script. Way to go, Micah!!

Lately, we are all feeling like it’s time to be done with the script and get on with the other stuff so we’re working hard on not getting carried away with our ideas and focusing on fixing the little things in the script that we already have. Hopefully, after the next couple of secret-movie-project-get-togethers, we will have completely finished the script and moved on to get the rest of pre-production finished and ready for shooting (I can’t wait for that part!).

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Also, we have been thinking about locations. At first, we were just gonna be shooting at the location that Max already posted about, but we have been talking about getting another location as well. A field or maybe just more forest. Haven’t actually decided on anything yet, but we’re still talking.

Yesterday, us Polings went on a fun adventure going to look at all the walks and parks around our new area and we found several places that would make awesome movie locations, if not for Evasion, then for some future project maybe.

After reading some of you guys’ comments last time, I realized that we haven’t actually told you guys much about the movie itself, so here are some facts that we can be certain about without having the script locked down and without giving anything away.

  • This will be an Action/Adventure/Explosions/Gun-firing-galore kind of movie. There will be lots of running, fighting, and intense peril. No cliffs though.
  • Max and Lizzy play the two main characters.
  • Phillip will play the bad guy.
  • I’m not quite sure about the weapons, but I can promise you lots of guns, knives, a machete, possibly a couple grenades, and just maybe a bazooka.

After we finish the script, we’ll be working on getting the costumes finished, procuring or making all the props, choreographing fights and other such stuff, and figuring out exactly what goes where at our location(s).

So that’s mainly what’s goin’ on. Not too much.

Thanks for reading and as always, we love hearing from y’all!

Love, Annie


We Plunge into Photoshop – A First Look at ‘Evasion’

I just want to say before all y’all get your socks knocked off that I have been SUPER excited about this post ever since we decided to do it. I think pretty much all of us have. I have just been blown away by the awesomeness that Rachel, Micah, Lizzy, Josiah, and Max have created. Every time I see these, I just get super excited about the movie all over again. I hope that you do too, so without further ado:


By Micah:

Micah_poster1

Micah~ This is the first poster I made in Photoshop. I got the idea for this one from the Unstoppable poster here. It was not turning out right at first so I started over (that happened about 3 times 😛). I finally got something going that I liked and it went pretty smooth from there. I thought it was finished but it looked like something was missing. I stared at it for awhile and added the forest/helicopter at the top and the map on the bottom. That was the finishing touch it needed. 🙂

Micah_poster2

Micah~ This is my second and final poster. I first got the idea from this poster, but as you can see, it turned out a lot different than I had in mind 😀. One of the biggest challenges I had was getting the characters’ skin tone to match since half of them were taken at different times of the day. After I put in the people, explosion and helicopter, there was still something missing and then somebody (the Polings, to be exact) suggested I add some clouds and trees. I took the advice and that made it look a lot better. I did some fine tuning, added a faint grunge texture annnnndddddd it’s done! I’m not terribly happy with the look of the title but it works fine. 🙂


By Josiah:

Josiah_poster1

Josiah~ This was just kind of a throw-it-all-together-and-hope-it-turns-out-right kind of thing. I masked out the characters and just kept rearranging them ’til it looked good. I showed it to everybody and they suggested that I change the color grading a bit. Originally, the minion in the background with the gun was facing the other way, but it looked like he was shooting Micah in the head, and everybody preferred him facing the way I have him facing now.


By Lizzy:

Lizzy_poster1

Lizzy~ This is my first attempt at making a poster as well as working with Photoshop. I had already kind of used Photoshop before, but I hadn’t really done anything like this. Rachel had already made a poster, basing it off of some tutorial techniques she had found. Seeing her poster, I was immediately inspired. I could see it all in my head, it was just a matter of getting it out of my head and into Photoshop. Rachel gave me some links to some sites and showed me how to assemble a cool looking background. With some pointers from Rachel and some tips about Photoshop from Josiah and Phillip, I had a poster and I’m pretty pleased with it.

Lizzy_poster2

Lizzy~ I got inspiration from Micah’s first poster, but not wanting to copy him, I looked around for some other idea’s. I assembled my background, which is really cool, and began looking through the photos we had taken. I wanted some more action-looking poses rather than poses staring epic-ly at the camera, so I used pictures from costume idea’s and makeup tests. After jumbling around the photos in Photoshop, nothing was really working and I wasn’t feeling inspired. I decided to go with my original idea and went through the easy, but tedious job of masking people out. I played around and got kind of what I was seeing, but I wasn’t really happy with it and left it unfinished. But then, for this post, I pulled it out and decided it didn’t look all that bad. So, after doing some work on it, I posted it for everyone’s opinion. After getting some feedback, I tweaked it and I’m done! Now that I look at it, it turned out rather nicely and I’m pretty happy with it.


By Max:

Max_poster1

Max~ I based this poster on the one for The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonIt took me a while to figure out because I hadn’t a clue where to start in Photoshop; I know my way around After Effects but Photoshop was (and still is 🙂) a tough nut to crack for me. I had a hard time getting everything blended in and the colors right. I’m really happy with how it turned out. 🙂


By Rachel:

Rachel_poster1

Rachel~ This is the first poster I’ve ever made. I had no idea where to start, or even what style of poster exactly I wanted to do. My first step was researching how to make posters in Photoshop. I’m kind of a newb with Photoshop and those first few tutorials were a huge learning curve for me. I was so, so, SO pleased with how this one turned out, especially for my first attempt. This was also the first poster any of us had made for our film, so it was interesting hearing everyone else’s initial feedback. I probably did at least 10 different versions of this poster, each a tiny bit different, taking in the advice and feedback from the group.

Rachel_poster2

Rachel~ (Spoiler Alert!) I wanted to make a poster of just the “good guys” using some of the other poses we took. This one was actually harder because I felt like I had too much blank space to fill. Currently, we are going though some major script revisions, and these might not be the good guys at all now! 😉 It still turned out nice, I think.

Rachel_poster3

Rachel~ I took several pictures of Annie during our photo shoot that were just too epic. Even though she is not cast as a main character at this point, her pictures were SO poster-worthy that I had to make her a poster of her own. I also wanted to try a lighter color scheme. Don’t shoot me, Annie!

Rachel_poster4

Rachel~  This is the last one I made, and I think, my favorite. I learned quite a few new Photoshop techniques during the time between making the last one and this one.  I just love the colors and textures!


End of Show and Tell:

Are they amazing or what?! I hope you guys have enjoyed getting your first real peek at what the film will look like. I know I did. Now I’m really motivated to work on the film. Where’d I put that script…

P.S. Coming soon! Rachel is planning on writing an in-depth post about poster-making. 🙂

As always, we love, love, LOVE hearing feedback, so let us know your thoughts in the comments!


Screen-Writing

IMG_2410Screenwriting is something that I’ve been interested in for a couple years now, and it’s been really exciting to write with everybody else also giving input and words. My most favorite part of screenwriting is definitely writing the dialogue. Dialogue comes naturally to me and I find it relatively easy to get into the flow of what the characters are saying and what the thought process is behind their words.

Movie-scripts actually aren’t that different from stage-scripts. They are both written in the present tense (books are almost always written in the past tense), and they are both separated into two different sections: action, and dialogue.

In stage-plays, the emphases is placed heavily upon the dialogue, the action being delegated to tiny columns along the sides of the script while the dialogue has plenty of elbow room across the entire page.

Screenplays are the opposite. The action has full width and breath while the dialogue is placed in narrow column in the center of the page. This shows the importance that films place on showing what is happening with pictures, rather than the characters talking about it to inform the audience what is happening.

This format of writing, as you may guess, is extremely difficult to implement using a regular writing program. Not to worry! There are several programs that are out there for the sole purpose of screenwriting. The problem? Most of the good ones (you know, the ones that actually work) are extremely expensive. Like, hundreds of dollars expensive. Luckily for us, there’s a really nice one that is free! It’s called Celtx. Celtx is nice because it can handle more that one screenplay within a project, meaning that we could have several different drafts of the same project all linked together in one place.

Talking with Max and Micah via Google+

Talking with Max and Micah via Google+

The first step in writing the script for our movie was making sure we all had a version of Celtx. I think Rachel and I were the only ones who didn’t. Rachel had just gotten a new computer and I inherited her old one, neither of which had Celtx on them. That was soon remedied and we were all set to go.

We went through several phases while talking and thinking through the story for our movie. The original concept was Max’s, inspired when he first saw the location. Everybody really liked his idea, and started talking about ways to fill it out, make it better, and add their own ideas.

It wasn’t until the next time we talked together that we started to discover some of the major problems we would encounter.

One of the biggest problems is the scale of the film we want to make does not match the size of our cast. While neither of our families have ever worked with this many people before, we started to realize that we still didn’t have enough. 2-3 good guys, 2 baddies, and lots of faceless minions is a little too much for 7 people to pull off.

Another big problem is the time constraint. Our vision was a 5-10 min film, but every time we sat down and talked, our ideas would just keep getting longer and more elaborate as we tried to give depth to the characters and motivation to the story. We’d toss ideas back and forth, each saying what they thought was the most important stuff, trying to decide what we could cut out. Sometimes we would veer completely off course, just tossing out random ideas, grasping for something good. We’d always come back to the original idea, but then it just felt like we were going in circles, not accomplishing anything with all our talking.

The third big problem was a story gimmick (that I’m not allowed to reveal) that we all really, really, wanted to keep, but it kept causing problems. We tried to reorder the events, but that just made everything too confusing. We knew where we wanted it. We knew how we wanted it, but couldn’t wrangle the rest of the story to fit around it in a complete, but non-time-consuming way.

As you can see, sometimes things get a little dramatic...

As you can see, sometimes things get a little dramatic…

Several of us wrote draft scripts, giving more detail to how we thought the story could work. Some of it was pretty good. For myself, I was never happy with any of them.

At this point, it had been 3-4 weeks of chasing our ideas around in circles trying to pinpoint the things we liked and the things that didn’t work. It seemed like no matter how far away we roamed, eventually we would always come back to the basic plot that we started with.

Finally, we had a breakthrough.

Micah stepped forward with an alternate plotline that seemed to magically deal with all our problems. It only differed slightly from Max’s original concept but it gave a different motivation behind our characters’ actions. It allowed us to explain things more plainly to the audience, while keeping within the time limit, and allowing our story gimmick to sit in a good and right place.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for a complete draft to be whipped up. Max spat one out and sent it over to us to take a look at.

Now, a draft is… just that. A draft. It’s not perfect by any means. The first thing I do with a draft is to dance with excitement. Finally! Something whole and tangible that we can set on the table to work on! The next second, I’m hacking it to pieces looking for everything that is wrong with it. (In a loving way, of course.) 😉

After we took a look at Max’s draft, we all talked about it via a Google+ Hangout. Josiah then made some edits and sent it back to Max. Max made some more edits and sent it back to us.

And that is where we are currently in the development of the script. Right now it’s waiting for Lizzy and I to go over it and add our edits. This process of going back and forth, editing and changing, will continue until we get as close as we can to perfection.

Writing this script has been a lot different than every other script I written (or attempted to write). Not just because of all the people involved, but also because the style is very different as well. I tend to write about plots and characters rather than shoot-em-up-action-films like this one. A lot of the story is still rather vague with such lines as ‘They fight for a while’ or ‘They somehow get from here to there’. These types of things will be plotted out later. The fighting will have to be choreographed, which is not really something you want to write out in a script, and the other stuff will be worked out as we are shooting the film where it will be easy to integrate our location into what is happening.

Well, that’s it for updates on the script and my very first blogpost (Yay!). Thanks for reading.

~Annie