First time to visit IAFT, or International Academy of Film and Television here in Lapu-lapu, and it was sooo awesome! We are invited for the Open House and end of term screening: Friday, May 23, 2014 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at One Hollywood Blvd. Bigfoot and Media Park, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Phil.
I know it was such a great chance to view their amazing school, the facility, the teaching, the teachers, their students, the lessons and a lot! So without any hesitation, I asked for reservation to join the fun. We did a lot of things learning filmmaking, and storytelling, and so much more.
I didn’t even know where the entrance is, the guards just told us that we’re on the wrong building. Haha, it’s supposed to be accross the orange one, and the right building is called “white house”, isn’t it familiar? Lol!
Anyways, I’d love to share my entire experience, and everything that I learned about filmmaking here on my blog. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the fun scrolling down this page.
This is how I looked like while roaming around the school.
Before visiting the school, I’ve been praying that I won’t be wasting a single second in joining this open house. And Praise the Lord, God is always in control, and always miraculous! My day, entire tour, and lectures, very worth it!
The first thing we did was entering the first class, Screenwriting 101, and our teacher was Mr. Eric Valente. Eric Valente is known for his work on Immortals (2011), Parasomnia (2008) and Far Out Man(1990). Check out his IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0884068/
Eric is a 20-year veteran of the film industry. As a director, Eric tackled Hollywood Defined and Breaking In for Moviola Digital Productions as well as being the 2nd Unit Director on twenty episodes of Werewolf for Tri Star Television. He has also directed numerous PSAs and Industrials, along with music videos and stage plays.
Starting in the world of video games and interactive CD-ROMs, Eric was a Visual Effects Supervisor on the Legend of the Mummy and Age of Treason, he entered the world of 3D as a Visual Effects Compositor. This added new dimension to his career as he worked on films such as The Dark, The Immortals, Looney Toons and John Dies in the End.
Eric soon moved into television as the Associate producer of television and Movies of the Week including Mercy Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Age of Treason. He moved into post as a post-production supervisor on Werewolf, Walker Texas Ranger and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
A member of the WGA, Eric wrote Revenge of the Mummy for Gidco Productions, Andes Films’ Back to School, the adaptation of the novel Maxwell’s Train for Don Murray Productions and over 25 industrials and PSAs.
– See more at: http://iaft.net/iaft-advantage/mentors/#sthash.vmkE04G0.dpuf
It was a typical classroom, I remembered a call center company training room the first time I entered. The only difference is that I felt different, hehe. I didn’t feel that dreadful feeling of passing your customer service training, I felt so excited, and hungry. Hungry for something really good. It’s really different if you know what you’re doing, and you love what you’re doing. It helps give confidence to yourself.
Mr. Eric Valente is one great teacher. He’s given us soooo many information in just an hour. He talks fast too, and I like it! I’m so full! Anyways, he started discussing about the very basic of screenplay, what is it about. He asked us what we think about making a movie, a screenplay, and everyone says “it’s complicated”, and each one explained why we feel that way. It’s complicated making a film because it takes a lot of brainstorming, where to start, organize your thoughts, make something out of nothing, thinking about making a really good story that really clicks and won’t waste anybody’s time, and so many reasons! He asked us again, if we have emotions, if we know how to feel angry, jealous, cry, feel sad, and many more. And of course, we said yes! He said, our emotions are our greatest tools in making a movie. Emotions come naturally, effortless actually, and that helps us make a really good story. All we have to do is to think of a story that has a conflict to make it interesting.
He even made an example so that we understand what is a story that has a REAL STORY. The first example was a boring one, doesn’t have a story. He stands up, picked up one student, and pretended that they’re friends talking to each other, “how are you doing?” “i’m great, thanks”, “how’s life”, “good, good!” And so on….a boring day to day scene, what humans usually do, and it doesn’t have any conflict, it’s boring, and not interesting. He made another example, this time he wants to show us a good scene, has conflict. So it was the same scene, but he added me, a girl standing in the corner. But this time, the story revolves around love triangle, the other guy likes the beautiful girl (me) standing in the corner, and he also likes the beautiful girl, so the camera will basically shoot his face, and his friend’s face, then me, which means something of course. There is a conflict! He and his friend now needs to make a decision, is it me or the friend? And he added another variable, a brother of the girl (Mark), and we all know what a brother feels when a guy is looking at his sister. So this is another conflict, from there, we know what’s happening, and that there is a story!
So basically, a good story has a character that needs to make a choice, or make a change/decision to make the story interesting. We can apply this to any story, and there are 3 types of stories we can make:
- Myth – like Harry Potter (archetype, journey, destiny)
- Fairytale – Sometimes it’s more about family, and usually has 3 main characters, and about desire of something.
- Drama – Making personal choices or decisions
The usual 3 important characters, or events in a movie, is something new for me too. There are many movies that have 3 important events happened, 3 choices, 3 important characters, three 3 daughters/son etc. Usually the older sister makes a lot of mistakes, the second one has few, and the last one will try to correct the mistakes.
He also shared to us the 7 steps to dramatic structure, or human decision making process. Before this, we have our past which he referred to as Ghost.
- Need – An internal lack, example is: Harry Potter needs to grow up
- Desire – outward goal of a hero, example is like Star Wars, the hero wants to save the universe, and in Harry Potter, the boy Harry wants to defeat the bad guy.
- Opponent – Another character that wants the same exact thing as the hero, who makes a conflict. Both characters have to have one thing they want.
- Plan – Harry Potter needs a plan to defeat Voldemort.
- Battle – or showdown. When the hero has a plan, there SHOULD be a showdown going on, it should be visible because the audience is waiting for it.
- Self realization – in the end of Harry Potter, the boy Harry realizes that he’s a grown up already.
- New Equilibrium – basically something new in the end, the character is reborn or something.
These things remind me of literature, I think storytelling is more about literature.
Movies are about people who get what they want.
Now, he moved on to talking about the logline. This is another jargon for me. But he explained it perfectly. Logline is like a very short summary about the movie that describes everything about the movie in general. It’s a 1-2 sentences telling us what the movie is it all about. An example of a logline is the short paragraph posted on IMDB for every movie. The one that we read immediately, it’s like a description of the movie that’s very short but precise. Here’s one good example:
A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.
STAR WARS—A science-fiction fantasy about a naive but ambitious farm boy from a backwater desert who discovers powers he never knew he had when he teams up with a feisty princess, a mercenary space pilot and an old wizard warrior to lead a ragtag rebellion against the sinister forces of the evil Galactic Empire.
On behalf of the United States Government, Archaeologist Indiana Jones goes on a quest to find and prevent Hitler’s Nazi soldiers from obtaining the Lost Ark of the Covenant, an ancient artifact that is said to possess the power of God.
You know these movies, they’re very popular. And just by reading the logline, we will immediately know what this movie is all about, or we can guess what movie is it talking about. Mr. Valente said that loglines are very important because this is what writers present to moviemakers for approval, so it can either make or break the chance of your story to be accepted.
Here are the components of a logline:
- Main Character
- Inciting Incident – one event which causes or changes the hero’s life. (Ex: Harry Potters has new parents, and that life sucks and he received an invitation to wizard school and he needs to make a choice)
- Possible incident
The last part of our session was to individually create a logline for a popular movie we’ve watched in 30 seconds, LOL. I made my own, for HTTYD 🙂
A young boy luckily caught a dragon that’s known to be scary and dangerous, but later became his best friend and helped protect their village.
And he gave us another 2 minutes to make a logline of our own story. Of course I used my own special story that I made long ago. “The Cockroach Story”, that until now, I am still confused if it’s a good or a bad one. I am still longing to learn how to make this story super interesting, or else I’ll make a whole new story instead. Here’s my logline:
An ordinary cockroach who wanted to have a better and free life after seeing his very own best friend died in front of him.
He said it was nice. Lol, but I know I need something even more interesting in my story. Something that really pops!
Anyways, that ended our very awesome discussion. We’re bombarded with so many information in just one hour. And of course, we never left the room without his picture, for my blog of course. Although a little bit shy, we really got great pictures with him. Yey!
I took my twin cousins with me too, here’s their pic:
The next lecture we had was about editing, editing a movie! Yes, it includes using adobe after effects, adobe premier, or final cut pro. They also use iMac desktop PCs which brings really good quality results. When we entered the room, there are students editing their videos. They’re busy because of the screening for 6:30 PM, that’s why they really need to finish their work. I saw their After Effects timelines, so many layers, and objects! They are really lucky using strong hardwares for those videos. I also saw another student making a really good effect for her introduction.
The discussion was really quick because they’re very busy at that moment. Our instructor for editing was Mr Francesco Uboldi, an italian filmmaker. Here’s his Bio: http://www.francescouboldi.com/bio.php
Born in Milan (Italy), Francesco Uboldi lived and studied in Virginia (USA) as a teenager and then moved back to Italy where he majored in Communications at the University of Bologna. Here he founded a laboratory dedicated to online multimedia productions – where, after his theoretical studies, he began working with digital video.
Over the past decade, then, he directed, produced, and filmed several award-winning documentaries and worked on TV shows, interactive multimedia pieces, and reportages. He gained a broad international experience shooting in numerous countries in Europe, America, Africa, and Asia.
Currently, he also teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of Milan (IULM).
– See more at: http://iaft.net/iaft-advantage/mentors/#sthash.vmkE04G0.dpuf
He shared a very important information about editing a video. And this is also another jargon for me, it’s called Kuleshov Effect. It’s about using softwares effectively to cut and paste clips that tell something different. It came from the name of a russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov.
I’ll do my best to explain what I understand about this. Just comment below if I did something wrong.
Okay, Mr. Uboldi showed us examples of the same clips but tell different stories. Example 1 is the first and second image from left to right. It’s a video of a man, black and white, gloomy background music, then the next clip is a dead girl. This could tell us that the story is about a man who is mourning for the death of his daughter, or a close relative girl. Second example, for the third picture, and the fourth one from left to right. The same man in black and white, gloomy background music, then the next clip is food. So this could mean that the man is very hungry that he cannot say a word. The last example is the fifth and sixth one from left to right. Same man, gloomy background music, then the next clip is a beautiful girl, which could mean that the man is seduced by this girl, or he really likes the girl.
And this second video set is funny. Hehe
The first 3 video set from left to right, shows an old man, then a video of a little boy and his mother cuddling or something, next clip is his face smiling. So this could mean that the old man is a kind and nice man that likes looking at the cute and beautiful moment about mother and son scene. The second set of clips shows a man, then the next clip is a sexy beautiful girl, and the last clip is a man smiling, which means that he’s a dirty old man. Hehe. Simple cut and paste of videos can make different stories even though they only use mostly the same scenes.
So basically, it’s not just about simple copy, cut, paste thing, Mr. Uboldi said. It’s still about thinking of a good story, compose them creatively to tell something interesting. It will still take us back to the basics of storytelling right?
So let’s move on to our last lesson. Hehe. Our last mentor was Lucas Griego.
We’re in the acting studio! Lol!. Thank God we didn’t enter the acting 101, who knows we’ll be asked to act in there. (shiver)
Lucas Griego has worked as Cinematographer, Production Designer, and Gaffer on a multitude of award winning films, TV commercials and music videos both in the US and across Asia.
Having worked for over decade in all facets of film/television/media production in both Hong Kong and across China, he brings a real world approach to filmmaking and visual storytelling. His ability to employ an intuitive approach to telling stories cinematically draws on extensive real world experience (including extensive world travel) and translates into an invaluable resource for the IAFT Student Body and community.
Additionally, he comes from a long history of animation and children’s publishing. Luc played a key creative role as character and product designer for Disney, Hannah-Barbera, Warner Brothers, and others.
– See more at: http://iaft.net/iaft-advantage/mentors/#sthash.vmkE04G0.dpuf
We talked about so many things, and I don’t know where to start! Well, he started the discussion by talking about Drama, and how to make a good drama. First, drama is an ordered conflict, and it forces the character to change or make a change. Pretty much the same as screenwriting, and how to make a good story right? So in a drama, people empathize. He said that, because we are humans, we naturally empathize. When a cat sees a baby cat lost in the middle of nowhere, the cat will eat that baby cat, but for us humans, we empathize and we will think how cute and adorable the cat is and that we should save the cat! That’s why in movies, directors make sure to make a movie that is emotional or can touch viewers emotion. This way, viewers will surely stick to the movie and empathize.
And in a movie, there should always be a showdown, a very good showdown. Just like what’s mentioned previously, showdown is very important because it’s like the climax of the story, although it’s not always the climax part, sometimes it’s after the climax or after the decision making part. The movie also needs the main character to make a choice. He also drew zigzags as an example of a good story. In a story, people will only be interested in the ups and downs, not the flat and normal part. No one will ever watch a movie about batman brushing his teeth, or shaving, eating something, and etc. Only the peaks of life will give interest to viewers, those very important life changing events!
He also said that movie making is not difficult as long as you are consistent with what you want. We should stick to the plan, not changeable, maybe because you’ll never get somewhere if you’re not focused. He even mentioned that he stayed in China for a long time, he knows how to speak mandarin, and he saw an old man making noodles and very consistent with what’s he’s doing. He said that the old man has been making noodles for 40 years, now that’s consistent! The only funny thing though is that there’s no fun in what the old man is doing, because he’s too consistent, he only makes straight noodles, no curvy or zigzag ones. Mr. Griego said that there’s no stress in the old man’s life, he doesn’t really have to think about making better looking noodles, just plain noodles, that’s it, for 40 years!
Maybe, in movies, we just have to be consistent with the style we want, the story we want, the genre, and etc.
Another wonderful thing he shared to us is a movie scene that has very good direction. It’s Donnie Darko movie directed by Richard Kelly. It’s budget was $4.5 M, and the gross was $7.6 M, that’s so huge! That doesn’t include the other income you can get from t-shirts, advertising, magazine, and a lot more! Can you imagine the money they’re making? Hehe, that is awesome, you’re doing something you love, and making money out of it, gosh that’s so fullfilling! Anyways, he said that it’s still a job, and you need to give your very best, with all the brainstorming to come up with a very perfect result. You need to be very detailed about every scene. He said that a director is only given documents, written scripts, and what we see is already a complete package film. The director will be the one to visualize everything, like what room should it be, how many people are there, there’s a teenager, what kind of a teenager, dorky, gangster, what color or mood of the room, what kind of music is good for background, where should the camera stay, whatsoever, and so many things to add details to. Other team members will be assisting the director in translating his vision, so the work can be shared. You’ll have to think about organizing the job again, and so on….
Well anyways, going back to the movie Donnie Darko, there is this scene (below, from 1:28-2:00)
And Mr. Griego said that the camera movement is very good in this scene. He explained so many things about camera movements. If you see the video, the first clip shows the girl and boy talking, notice how the girl or boy is focused while saying their lines using the rule of thirds, and over the shoulder shot (OTS)? The eyes are approximately a third of the screen, the girl’s head is also a third of the screen, and the shoulders that are looking closer to the camera than the girl to give emphasis that the girl is talking to someone. In that scene with very few seconds, there are already many camera shots made. All these things aren’t accident, they’re all carefully planned.
You can also notice the volume of the background music, and what kind of music is played. In the part where the boy and girl are talking outside, you’ll know that there’s a party inside the house, and possibly the parent’s of the boy is not around. When they get inside, the music went louder.
When the girl and boy went upstairs, camera followed them up, you’ll notice that it’s a holloween party because of the people’s costumes, then while the camera is moving upward following the girl and boy, someone threw a tissue paper downward which also takes our eyes away from the girl and boy, but instead followed where the camera is moving. The viewers eyes are manipulated to make us look to a different direction. Then the camera stops to another girl on that scene, still using the rule of thirds that’s why it looks very neat, the new girl’s eyes and body, and her expression tells us something. The girl’s eyes are looking at the girl and boy going upstairs. Then it was cut.
On the next clip, arc shot was done very slowly because this scene is a little intimate. The background music is now very soft already, and the viewer will feel that they are really going to kiss. When the camera is facing in front of them, it’s pushed very slowly closer to them reminding us that the scene is already going very intimate. Mr. Griego also mentioned that there is a specialized person who’s going to push the camera man slowly, and he’s also the one who’s going to build those train-like path where the camera and camera man are placed. He’s called a Dolly Grip, and he jokingly said that usually men with huge body are the one’s doing this kind of work. You can imagine how difficult this work when you see scenes that are in the middle of an ocean, or a hill, how will the Dolly Grip make a good path for the camera man in that place? That’s really something.
In the end of the scene, the second girl also tries to find Donnie, so she tried asking her friends downstairs. This part still uses rule of thirds, Maggie is closer to the camera and the lights are brighter on her side, then the next person that’s beside her is a little more distant from the camera with lower light. This tells us that the scene is emphasized on Maggie’s body and expression. I couldn’t find that exact image on google. Hehehe.
Okay, well there are so many things he said and it seems like he couldn’t really stop teaching that the session took an hour and 10 minutes long, the original schedule is only an hour. Very passionate people willing to share what they know, that is really remarkable.
So this is mostly everything, that happened. The last part was that we’re given a little discussion about programs they offered, and we had some Q&A about studying in IAFT. I am very interested, especially in 3D animation, but we’ll see. Hehe. I’ll ask God about this first. And oh, I almost forgot, we had snacks! Hahaha
You can see the complete list of mentors at IAFT here: http://iaft.net/iaft-advantage/mentors/
Bigfoot! If you have some great experience, things learned about multimedia arts, just share them here!