Archive for July, 2011

“But if along the way you act like someone you’re not, pretty soon that’s who you become.”
– Gabriella (High School Musical 2, 2007)

Painful words, but they ring true. We are defined by our actions, aren’t we? We may deny ourselves when we make certain choices we deem are out of our character (who we want to be or who we think we are), but if we keep repeating these out-of-character choices, then at some point we have to accept that these choices are us… or we have to start making the “right” choices for ourselves. And we have the power to change… and that’s a hopeful thought.

Cheers & good choices to you,


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You can find sunglasses in amber and also in… that other colour. Do you call it polarized… or ND?

Cheers & a happy summer shoot to you,

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We treasure on-screen characters like they are real persons, often assuming them to be alternative personalities of the performers who play them. Yet…

All the elements of filmmaking come together to create memorable on-screen characters from the writer’s invention and the initial casting choice through the magic created on set to the choice of shots in editing, including which shots are juxtaposed on either side, and the soundscape.

Memorable scenes can exist outside of both key story points and of memorable characters, and yet it is the characters themselves that bring us back, wanting to see more. With those characters we make a connection.

In honour of the last Harry Potter movie this weekend, here’s a look at 7 memorable characters of the first Harry Potter movie (“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”):

1. Harry Potter – Of course. A surprisingly average wizard with a few extraordinary talents and an admirably uncorrupted heart; oh, to have his resilience amid such darkness!

 2. Dumbledore – Classic master of magic with great kindness and who inspires deep trust; of all the scenes, we anticipate the Dumbledore/Harry scenes the most.

3. Ron Weasley – Earnest and real; he’s the only one who can ask to see Harry’s scar and the question doesn’t make Harry (or us) uncomfortable.

4. Hermione Granger – She makes an interesting choice that defines her future in Gryffindor as opposed to Ravenclaw, for her bravery exceeds her vast, enviable intelligence, and this brings us closer to her.

5. Fred & George Weasley – Hard to picture them as separate characters (and they like it that way); they embody the laughter that is essential in life and especially amid darkness; how the imp in all of us would love to get away with what they get away with!

6. Severus Snape – His presence fills the room; vastly intelligent, temperamental, and it appears a depth of character yet well hidden but sneaks out now and then; a worthy adversary to Harry, and one anticipates their verbal sparring

7. Rubeus Hagrid – More than the “gentle giant”, he has such staunch loyalty that helps him to earn a spot amid the brave folk of Gryffindor, and when it comes to creatures, a totally refreshing opinion of what is beautiful.

Again, this is my person list, and your list may differ. Still, it obviously takes an ensemble of characters to create the story moments. Scenes exist in that “space” between characters as they interact (or in the interaction between character and setting).

How many memorable characters are in your script? How can you make your characters more memorable through the various elements of filmmaking from prep to post?

Cheers & happy invention to you,

P.S. For more Harry Potter “lists”, the Hollywood Reporter a number of “25 Surprising Facts”:

* About Wizard’s Wands & Props

* About Costume & Animal Facts

* About Set Minatures & Franchise Offspring

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It is said that with 7 memorable scenes in a movie – I mean really memorable, magical scenes – then the movie has great potential to do well.

In honour of the last Harry Potter movie coming out, I thought to examine this idea using the first Harry Potter movie. If any movie were filled with memorable, magical scenes, then I believe this one would be it. The trick in this case is to identify the scenes of the movie, not the scenes of the book…. because reading the book is a very different experience from watching the movie.

So, here, for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”…

  1. The Harry Potter theme music over mist in the darkness and the first magic of Dumbledore & McGonagall
  2. Olivander facilitates the “twin” wand choosing Harry
  3. Through the wall and arriving on platform 9 3/4 to see the Hogwarts Express
  4. Harry, Ron and Hermione meet on the train over candy, spells and a dirty nose
  5. Snape explains the subtlety, fame & glory of potions… and labels Harry a celebrity
  6. In the great hall at the end, Neville earns the winning 10 points
  7. Hagrid gives Harry the photo album of wizard photos of Harry & his parents

Aha! Are these memorable moments different from yours? Hard to keep it to only seven?

Identifying the most memorable & magical scenes in your script will help to identify where and when to spend the production’s budget to maximize “getting the magic on the screen”. I’m not talking about “getting the story on the screen” – which is also a requirement of the focus of the budget – but finding the moments where the viewer’s thoughts are going to linger after leaving the theatre.

This list also shows us that allocating the production budget wisely may mean to allocate funds to special effects (the obvious) but also to time spent in rehearsal and on set to find the magic in the quiet moments or in dialogue between characters.

Since filmmaking is a collaborative art, explore (with the creative team) where the memorable moments may lie in your script.

Cheers & happy hunting,

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Grey is 18%?

Black. I get it. White. I get it. Grey? Well…

Black is 100% black. White is 100% white. There is no question. Ah, if life’s choices and answers were but black and white!

Grey, for some reason is 18%  (I know this from the camera department).

But where did 18% come from? I mean, why isn’t it 100% grey? Or even 50% (half way between black and white)? Now, THAT I could understand. But then again, if it were, then grey would be a black-and-white kind of grey, wouldn’t it? And when it comes to grey, it’s… well… grey, isn’t it? And a whole bunch of new questions tend to come with “grey” answers, don’t they?

So, why not 18% after all?

Best wishes with whatever is “grey” for you today!

Cheers & a good shoot to you,

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