I Want to Make a Surrealist Short Film

... and I have no idea where to start.

I know how to draft a screenplay, but that's not really important as there's no dialogue and I'm not submitting it to anything.

I am not a film student, though I have been a HUGE fan of film for a long time, I am an artist though.

I got the idea for this short film and essentially as far as equipment goes, I have no idea where to begin.

First, it will be a silent film and I want to do as little (if none-at-all) of digital anything as I can. I don't mind cutting it together or filming with digital cameras, but I don't want digital EFFECTS at all period (under any circumstances).

Which brings me to my next problem, what type of camera should I attempt to get my hands on (since I'm dead broke, 100% broke, I'd be borrowing one)?

Then the next problem is how to pull off special effects. Look man, I have no idea what any of the terminology is so let me explain the biggest one first. The character will let out a primal scream. In this screaming, he will freeze frame, but nothing else around him. As soon as he freezes (scream still going), his entire body will turn to clay, which will then fall over and shatter on the ground, scattering into pure pitch black darkness. I have NO idea at all how to pull something like that off. I mean I could easily do it CGI style but, no way. Another idea I have is clocks that sort of just fade into the walls or get eaten by them or something, not quite sure yet.

There's just, so so much, so much. To give you an idea of what I'd be doing and the type of effects I'd be using, check out "The Grandmother" by David Lynch or some of the effects in "Eraserhead" by Lynch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLIxS7Bdz10https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-jJkVEuFAUhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u85GQ_W8fo0​
 
I don't get it. You want the character to
"let out a primal scream. In this screaming, he will freeze frame, but nothing else around him. As soon as he freezes (scream still going), his entire body will turn to clay, which will then fall over and shatter on the ground, scattering into pure pitch black darkness."
But you don't want to use digital effects.

As far as I can figure out (I'm a sound guy, not a visuals guy) you'll have to create a clay/pottery figure that matches your actor exactly (including size), have the actor do his scene and work his way into the exact position of his clay likeness. You will then have to stop the camera, replace the actor with the clay likeness in the exact position the actor was in, resume shooting, have it fall and shatter and then dim the lights to blackness. You'll probably have to create quite a few clay likenesses as you will probably not get it right the first time or two.

As you have no budget, digital sounds like a much cheaper, not to mention visually smoother, option.

And I'm sure that you don't mean a silent film, you mean a film without dialog. And, BTW, technically the scream counts as dialog.
 
I know how to draft a screenplay, but that's not really important as there's no dialogue and I'm not submitting it to anything.

That will is a bad joo joo. There is a reason why the screenplay the way it is. Don't shoot from the draft.

what type of camera should I attempt to get my hands on (since I'm dead broke, 100% broke, I'd be borrowing one)?

Do you really have that big of a variety to choose from? Any camera will work.


As far as effects go you have three options.

a) transfer your footage onto film, grab some scissors and do a manual labor of overlapping two frames, blending them together, then transfering that onto another film, developing it, etc. Many many months of work + a tall stack of $$$

b) as alcove suggested - claymation/puppets. You will need to have a ton of experience to pull this one off. tall stack of $$$

c) CGI, buddy ;) will take you an hour or so, and cheap.



Don't fight the technology.. embrace it ;)

good luck on your project.
 
surreal is cool.

Do it all in camera, just be creative. There is no READY MADE solution, you'll have to make it up as you go. Thats what its all about. INVENT something.

Since your going EXPERIMENTAL then you can create any symbolic image system you want. ...

For example: Have main actor freeze and go into "Im a little tea pot" pose.. . Stop the camera. Replace actor with a tea pot of normal size, but closer to the camera so it LOOKS like the same size.. start camera, shoot teapot with airsoft gun.

Go here for some help with IN CAMERA ideas.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/26981391/Filming-the-Fantastic-a-Guide-to-Visual-Effects-Cinematography
 
That will is a bad joo joo. There is a reason why the screenplay the way it is. Don't shoot from the draft.

I am not shooting from the draft, I am shooting from the screen play.

"Draft a screenplay" means "write a screen play". Or does drafting not mean this in the film world?


Do you really have that big of a variety to choose from? Any camera will work.

I don't know what my variety to choose from is or how much money I may come into to work with. Essentially, I was looking for a list of specific types of cameras that would be good for shooting a short film, digital or analogue and what type (like say for example, CMOS SLR digital for photos)


As far as effects go you have three options.

a) transfer your footage onto film, grab some scissors and do a manual labor of overlapping two frames, blending them together, then transfering that onto another film, developing it, etc. Many many months of work + a tall stack of $$$

This is no problem, I have cutting tools for film film, but I don't mind digital and combining things digitally, I just don't want the effects to be digital, I want them to be real.

b) as alcove suggested - claymation/puppets. You will need to have a ton of experience to pull this one off. tall stack of $$$

This for me is no problem, and I can get almost limitless clay for free.

c) CGI, buddy ;) will take you an hour or so, and cheap.

Don't fight the technology.. embrace it ;)

ABSOLUTELY NOT! No CGI whatsoever. The farthest for CGI will be like title cards, scene transitions, end credits, etc., but nothing for the film itself. I have strict standards for what I do and do not consider art. Digital is not inherently non-art to me, but for this particular piece and the way I want to do it, making the effects digitally would ruin it and make it non-art.

The problem is that right now, aside from writing the screenplay and finding actors, I have no idea at all of where to begin.

I'm not even so much looking for how to pull off individual effects at this point, I just need to know what sort of camera to go with for this style of film.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

*also, none of this is meant to come off as stand-off-ish, or something, or mean, please don't take it that way.
 
You could actually achieve this with little effort on just a decent cellphone video camera.

Here's the deal: You got a vision.
In your heart and in your head.
You got no camera.
You got no skills.
You got no idea of how to pull this off.
You don't want to use CGI no way no how.
As far as you've communicated, you likely don't have the software either.
But you do have a "dead broke, 100% broke" budget.
So...

Here's the deal: Use what you have to achieve the nearest approximation of what you want to achieve.
Modify your expectation accordingly.

That ugly little runt Seth Green bagged this chick.
seth_green_married.jpg


The rest of us ugly little runts with no knowledge, no equipment, and no money are probably not gonna get so lucky.
Modify your expectations according to what you bring to the table.

You've gotta satisfy no one but yourself.



From what you've described, camera aside which I'm convinced you can do on a decent cellphone, your only limitation is software.
Assuming you don't have a POS computer, get Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 plus Adobe Premiere Elements.
http://www.google.com/products/cata...&ei=nB-ST6_dKIrAtwehr5zCCQ&ved=0CHkQ8wIwBTgy#

It allows you to "key out" a background leaving only the foreground to superimpose it on a new background.

That's all the special effects trickery you need.

A) The character will let out a primal scream. In this screaming, he will B) freeze frame, but nothing else around him. As soon as he freezes (scream still going), C) his entire body will turn to clay, which will then fall over and shatter on the ground, D) scattering into pure pitch black darkness... Another idea I have is E1) clocks that sort of just fade into the walls or E2) get eaten by them or something, not quite sure yet.

A) Shoot your character screaming. When he freezes he'll be...
B) Superimposed on the background, which I'm going to assume has some appearence of still moving
C) Fade in a superimposition image of your endless supply of clay model over your frozen image of the screaming character.
Clay image falls over can be done in camera.
I haven't figured out a sensible way to show a shatter other than to goto Dollar Tree and buy a ceramic figurine, paint it your clay color, and record a close up of it shattering on the floor to be edited in at the moment of impact so that you really can't tell WTH just broke.
It's implied or suggested.
The audience will need to infer.
D) Again, you'll have to record a background previously that fades from the previous background and timed to fade to black right at this time.
Headzup: shoot your foreground images first and modify your time DEPENDENT background second.
E1) Again, more superimposed clocks with keyed out backgrounds. No big whup.
E2) Same again, just another added level of complexity as you string together images of clocks being eaten.



So...
Can it be done?
Yes.

Does it HAVE TO cost you an arm and a leg?
Nope. Not at all.
It's just gonna be a sh!tload of labor for whatever freak fetish you got to achieve this vision.

IMHO: Move onto a more practical vision.

I've shot plenty of poopy video with my cell, converted it from 3gp to avi files with FREE Leawo Video Converter to make some dandy videos of my kids.
http://download.cnet.com/Leawo-Video-Converter/3000-2194_4-209074.html

Begin there.

Also, try Free Audio Editor
http://www.free-audio-editor.com/download/index.htm


Have fun.
Good luck.
And don't poke yerr eye out.
 
Last edited:
Sorry, I don't have any advice to offer. But, I really enjoy surrealist films and the work of Lynch. So, I just thought I'd offer my support in saying that I hope you're able to complete it and I'd like to see it if/when it's done. Please keep me updated.
 
I'm sorry but I can't go for a more simplistic vision. I am not creating a film for the sake of creating film.

As an artist, I only create art that I feel and I must create it the way I feel.

Now, there is the possibility of me borrowing a camera or coming into money. A cell phone camera does me no good if I can't afford one and don't already have one.

As far as software, that is of no issue, back when I used to have money, I got plenty of production software (for a while I was doing video lectures in philosophy and amateur music composition until I lost my camera...). I have the full Adobe suite and and full production suite.

I hate to say it, but please stick to what I asked and don't "assume" anything.

First the question is what camera to go with - ignore the lack of money. Ignore everything except what the type of film is. With that in mind, what sort of camera should I attempt to procure and use? What I am looking for is a list of digital or non-digital cameras.

I only gave a few of the ideas for effects to help decide on what sort of camera to go with.

Please, I'm just asking that you tell me what I ask, not assume I'm incapable and that I'm too much of a "n00bz" to do it and should give up.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
Essentially, I was looking for a list of specific types of cameras that would be good for shooting a short film, digital or analogue and what type (like say for example, CMOS SLR digital for photos)
It's a long list. Super 8, 16mm, 35mm for film. Hi-8, VHS for
analogue. SD, HD, DSLR, DVCPro, DVCAM, Digibeta, DV, MiniDV...
And the prices range from $100 to $300,000. You said you
since you're dead broke, 100% broke, you'd be borrowing a
camera. I agree with dlevanchuk - if you are borrowing a camera
your choices are limited to the people you know. Any camera
you can borrow is good for shooting a short film.

If you want a list here it sure would help to know a price range.
I could list 200 cameras but maybe only a few would really mean
anything to you. Care to narrow down your focus?


This is no problem, I have cutting tools for film film...
I'm not even so much looking for how to pull off individual effects at this point, I just need to know what sort of camera to go with for this style of film.
In that case the camera that would be good for shooting a short
film is the Eclair NPR. Lynch used the 35mm Eclair CM3 for
"Eraserhead". The Bolex H-16 would be good. From what you say
here I think you could use the Krasnogorsk-3.
 
if you are borrowing a camera
your choices are limited to the people you know. Any camera
you can borrow is good for shooting a short film.

Hence the need for a list of the best possible cameras for what I am going to use it for as none of us knows what types of cameras the people I can possibly borrow one own. Then again, I may even be able to secure a free grant. Who knows?

If you want a list here it sure would help to know a price range.
I could list 200 cameras but maybe only a few would really mean
anything to you. Care to narrow down your focus?

Well, I can see that. Let me break it down then I suppose:
  • digital or analogue/film is fine
  • must be able to capture light as it is seen with the eye
  • must be able to use some in-camera effects if necessary
  • the feature will be roughly 30 minutes, but digital is no problem (assuming extra batteries aren't too expensive and how much I can get to play with)
  • if I must purchase one, a maximum cost of $1,000 will probably be the limit (though I will probably need more than one)
The next problem then becomes audio. What type of microphone (as in omnidirectional, unidirectional, etc.) would be best to go with? I have experience in recording music and in recording studios, but not recording on a set. Then there is capturing the audio. I have a stereo reel to reel that works perfectly, two of them actually. Tape for them is massively expensive but, that will be no consequence as other forms for recording audio are probably equally as expensive (as my currently gear for recording aside from these two reel to reel machines is my desktop computer).

In that case the camera that would be good for shooting a short
film is the Eclair NPR. Lynch used the 35mm Eclair CM3 for
"Eraserhead". The Bolex H-16 would be good. From what you say
here I think you could use the Krasnogorsk-3.

Now, that sounds like a pretty good start! I will definitely look into those in a little while.
 
Well, there will be music and I don't mean capturing the music - I mean capturing various sound effects.

Silent doesn't mean it's always DEAD quiet. There's just no real talking.

Also, what's the best way to secure filming locations and do you guys know of any non-student art film related grants? I mean, I'm currently doing a Google search, but it would help too if other people knew some that may not have come up in the search...
 
Watch the old 'Clash of the titans' (not the recent remake!) to watch how they used to mix animation/puppets and live action half-way the 20th century.

If it's too hard to make a seemless transition between actor and clay, you may want to consider 1 or more shots to put between the 2 states.
Something like closeups of a leg, foot or arm turning to clay: maybe even as stopmotion.
 
Disclaimer: I'm a newbie so don't talk my word for gospel.

That said:

You could do what Robert Rodriguez sometimes does, quick cuts (masking shit with cuts)

The shot that comes to mind straight away is on his film "Shorts", it was an interior shot and the protag is suppose to magically get longer arms. What Rodriguez did was film the kid without the arms, put the longer prosthetic arms on him, then film him in the position with the arms and just cut from no arms to arms and it worked just fine.

I can't remember the specific details of whether or not he set this up earlier in the scene with other quick cuts so it wouldn't seem out of place - but that might not be such a bad idea. I also can't remember if he changed the angle of the cut much or just kept it the same as a jump cut.

So film the guy screaming, freeze frame, cut (jump cut might work well), replace with clay model, shatter model and edit it down to the frame so that it shatters the instant that you cut to it.

OR:

Have him screaming from a Wide shot, freeze the scream, then jump cut in towards him, making the shot tighter each time, say four times, then on the fifth time just repalce him with the clay model, shatter it right on the cut while the shot's tighter, then quickly cut to back to the WS (Cut on action of the model shattering) you'll need two cameras or two clay models - my reasoning is that the view will be jarred by the jump cuts and not notice the replacement model....

I guess it doesn't matter if the audience knows how you did it, as long as it's done and it works and fits the context of everything else.

It's about suspension of disbelief and if you set it up correctly I think it will work.

About the audio, I think iPhones and iPods can now record uncompressed PCM with an App, not to say that it's going to be amazing quality because there are other variables involved like preamps and microphones that are going to limit it too but it damn well might be usable and might fit right into the story you're telling especially if you shoot on VHS (which would be cool!)

If you get desperate and have a $1000 budget why not buy an entry level DSLR and a Rode Videomic pro? It will get you usable audio and video and when you make more money you can get some better gear?

Anyway just my two cents and I would really like to see the finished product if it goes ahead.
 
Watch the old 'Clash of the titans' (not the recent remake!) to watch how they used to mix animation/puppets and live action half-way the 20th century.

If it's too hard to make a seemless transition between actor and clay, you may want to consider 1 or more shots to put between the 2 states.
Something like closeups of a leg, foot or arm turning to clay: maybe even as stopmotion.

I'm actually more of a fan of Jan Svankmajer's works:

Alice

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095715/

Lesson Faust

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109781/
 
Top