the daily DAN

 

A week ago, I posted this on Twitter. Must’ve been something of a shock to my Twitter followers, as I haven’t really used that social platform in quite some time.

The push to take up this challenge came partly from current research — I’m looking into Casey Neistat’s vlog practice for an article — but also partly from a need to kickstart my own creative practice. The short film we shot in July last year has sat pretty well dormant in post-production for over a year, and I’d barely touched any kind of creative software during that time.

I needed to get back into shooting, back into editing, back into writing, to get myself back up to speed with both the gear, the software, and with my own creativity.

The video-a-day thing hasn’t worked: I don’t think it trucks too well with a full-time job, relationships, family and such, but I’ve done five thus far, and fully intend to keep going, shooting and cutting whenever I can, until I reach the promised fourteen videos.

It’s been enormous fun: sometimes shooting new stuff, sometimes delving into the archives, always cutting something new, something fresh. Recording voiceover and featuring myself in the videos is not easy: as much as the challenge emerged from analysing vloggers, I don’t really want to be the main focus. That said, I received some feedback that the voiceover would lend itself well to a video essay, which may well be one of the videos to come.

Creativity begets creativity

On Monday, a few days into the challenge, I opened Final Draft for the first time in a year and smashed out the first draft of a short film I’ve been thinking about for a long time. And I think a few colleagues and I are going to shoot it — quick’n’dirty style — late next week, so expect an upcoming video to be something of a behind the scenes.

The producer of last year’s film and I are also spending three hours in an edit suite tomorrow, to finish off this damn short. Nothing like time pressure.

Don’t sweat it

Perfection is overrated. I think this is a lesson from Casey. But I’m learning to not kill myself over the edits, over colour correction, over getting the timing or the music just right. Do it quick, get it done — the satisfaction of a completed video far outweighs the hours you may have spent to get things perfect.

More reflections, hopefully to follow, but for now, here’s the playlist…

Rules

img_2964

Taking my first steps in the world of programming, I’ve been intrigued to see that many of the overarching rules for ‘best practice’ and the more philosophical protocols for program design/code structure, are nearly the same as in screenwriting.

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Show, don’t tell.
  3. Don’t repeat yourself.
  4. Only do one thing at a time.
  5. Write for your audience.

These aren’t rules in the traditional sense. They aren’t dictums passed down from on high that every programmer/screenwriter must adhere to. Occasionally you simply can’t keep it simple. You may well have to tell, rather than show. And sometimes, because it’s necessary (or because it’s something of an artistic flourish), you may have to repeat yourself.

Rather, these are popular rules, finely honed over the 120 years that people have written for the screen, and the 200+ years that programs have been written for machines.

It’s not just rules that translate between programming and cinema, though. There are quite a number of connections between the art of creating computer programs and the prevailing analytic approaches to film; but that’s for another time.

Writing

I haven’t written for a very long time.

That seems a strange thing to say, given that I bill myself as a ‘writer, producer, and researcher’. But it’s true. In terms of actually setting mind to page without the baggage of scholarly rigour, it’s been an age.

Given I now work for an institution that lauds, encourages, creative practice as research, I’m wondering if there’s an element of writing that needs a punch in the face. Or — maybe I just need to write, and figure the rest out afterwards.

I surround myself with people who I know have outstanding skills in their respective fields, whether living or dead. But I’ve not opened a screenwriting program in some three or four years. There’s something there.

There’s always something there.

I just have to go find it, capture it, and ensure I can type it out in Courier New 12pt.