Spilled Coffee

For my final video project I decided to make a short film in black and white, 1950’s, noir style. My first draft of the screenplay was quite different. I really wanted to challenge myself to make something beautiful and dynamic, with multiple moving parts and locations. If this project taught me anything at all, it’s that I shouldn’t expect so much out of myself this early in the game. Fortunately, I was able to whittle the story into something much more manageable.

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Another very important lesson I took from this project is that no matter how much time & effort you put into preplanning, no matter how prepared you think you are, you’ll still run into obstacles. I spent about a week & a half perfecting my shot list and script. I planned out all the sets, I bought all the props/costumes, I obtained all the equipment (I rented a T5i camera, a video tripod, a snowball mic & some bounce cards for my lights) & I wrangled together a crew. When filming day came around, everyone was excited to get rolling. We got everything set up for the first shot & boom- the camera died, despite having charged it all night. We had sadly rented a bad battery that would only stay charged for about 5 minutes at a time. Luckily, we had a back up camera. Although, this caused some issues on the editing floor because we had filmed in 2 different aspect ratios. But needless to say, I was not prepared for equipment failure. After about 6 hours, switching cameras when the bad battery had to charge, we had recorded all the shots.

photo 1

I used a snowball mic to capture a monologue that did not make it into the final cut, because I ran into issues with that as well. The mic was placed in different positions while recording, which messed up the consistency of the audio quality. For example, we held the mic under the table while we were filming & we had it on the desk when we were recording narration. Now I know for next time that a boom mic is the way to go. I tried to salvage the audio in a few different experiments, but I eventually decided to cut my loses & make a silent film. This meant that I had to rearrange some of the clips in places where the main actress was saying her lines. I tried a couple different arrangements, but I believe I went with the best choice in the final product. I spliced different shots of her talking with shots of her looking around, looking into the camera, playing with her handcuffs, etc. I believe this shows the passage of time, as if she’s been in that police interrogation room for hours. Ideally, it would’ve been nice to have the monologue & narration playing over the film. It would’ve clarified the story. Without words it’s unclear that the husband has been cheating on his wife with his student. On the other hand, I also kind of enjoy the ambiguity of the film. Perhaps it works better this way.

photo 2

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the outcome. I think I was able to capture some really nice shots & I was able to edit them together with a nice rhythm. I only hope to get better with practice. Thank you to everyone that helped me keep this project out of the trash.

18 thoughts on “Spilled Coffee

  1. Karl Reindel

    I really like your story. You did a great job getting the message across. You have some well shot camera angles, good POV. I know you were planning on having dialogue, but it is really good without words. I think words might actually take away from your piece; it is much more moving as it is.

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  2. Christopher Palanuk

    Holy cow. This is great! It reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe’s, A TellTale Heart. It’s so devious. My favorite shot is the panned scene of Keasey drinking coffee. That is a wonderful shot. Good work, as always!

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