Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wow: 3/4ths of a Movie!

Scene 1 (See Feb 22 storyboard)

Scene 2 Hamlet + Ophelia, glimpses (3 beats of this)

Scene 3 A very long shot starting from K's POV toward V's window, through the window into the apartment and all the way to long shot of V talking to her Flip while watching a movie, and ending on V's television screen where plays a scene from Passion of Joan of Arc: a shot of Marie Falconetti's face tilted to the side like some of the shots of K

Scene 4 V talking to her Flip. Power goes out, V in mid-sentence.

END OF ACT 2, and on to: Chris's 'Beat 3.' 

(what is the word: 'stoked?' - sylvia)


Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Hi sylvia, I am sorry this is late, but here is the third beat. I hope you like it, if not, well, you get what you pay for. - AD Chris"

Beat three:

The electricity has gone out in V’s apartment. All we see is the black of the camera as V shuffles around, knocking things over.
(Illustrated and shown in words)
a. Medium shot of K’s door opening from the hall.
b. We only see her knees and feet as she walks to K’s door.
c. Medium shot from behind of V as she knocks on the door.  K then opens her door and stares at V. After several seconds of silence K ask
V, “Why are you here?”
d. Medium shot of the back of K (from inside her house) as V says, “My power went out. I need to charge my battery right now or—just let me in!”
e. P.O.V. medium shot of V from behind as K opens her door. K walks inside without saying anything.

The door closes and we pan in on V’s hand as she plugs her charger into an electrical outlet. We then go to a mid shot of V as sighs and sits down next to the outlet, we do a close up of her face as she looks around the house and asks, “What’s wrong with you why don’t you
have any furniture?”

b. P.O.V medium mid body shot of K as she responds with, “There is no point to furniture.”
c. P.O.V. medium mid body shot of V as she shakes her head and says, “You’re in America and in this country we have furniture. Its part of the American dream, it’s why people like you come here to buy furniture.”
d. P.O.V. medium mid body of K as she says. ”That is not why I came here.”

We pan out and watch K as she takes a drink of something, we close in
on her face as she say’s

a. “I have no American dream, I have no Russian dream, the only dream I dream is my husband.”
b. We pan over to V as she laughs to herself. She looks up at K and then says, “I don’t see the point of moving here without a dream? A real dream you can hold in your hands and feel. I don’t care what happened to your husband, you’re here now and he is wherever—and I don’t care where, where ever is, but you need a little hope you need some furniture, a bed or a coffee table or something.”
f. Pan back to K, she responds with “This is a free country.”
g. P.O.V. medium mid body of V as she giggles and says, “I suppose it is, you got that right.”
h. P.O.V. medium mid body of K as she says, “Why do you point that camera at me when I am looking out my window or emptying my trash?”
i. P.O.V. medium mid body of V as she shakes here head, camera pans out and we go into a medium shot of the two as they stare at one another, V then says, “I point that camera at things so I won’t forget—”
j. P.O.V. medium mid body shot of K as she says, “Okay—would you like a drink? I mean it is Russian and I know I came here from there, but now that you’re here would you want to have a drink?”
k. P.O.V. medium mid body of V as she laughs and says, “I don’t drink.”
l. A medium shot of the girls from down the hall as they stare at each other.
m. Pan over to V (Medium shot) who is looking away, after several seconds of silence she looks back over at K and says, “Okay give me the dam thing.”
n. From the hall (medium shot) we see K hand a bottle of vodka over to V.
o. Close up of V’s face as she takes a sip. Once she has taken a sip she spits it out all over the floor and wipes her mouth off. We pan out to show her face as K rushes to the bathroom gets some towels and mops it up. We pan out further to show K wiping it up and see V saying, “That was awful, how do you drink that stuff?”
p. P.O.V. medium mid body shot of K who folds the towels up, smiles and say’s “It makes the day go by faster.”
q. P.O.V. medium mid body shot of V who says, “What happened to you? You live here by yourself—I guess it isn’t my business.”
r. Medium shot from the hall as K bangs her hand against the wall and says “None of your business you make everything your business.”
s. Close up of V as she looks away at her charger, which is still blinking red. Pan out to show K getting up, once up she extends her hand. V looks up at her then back at her charger as K says, “I want to show you something. I don’t want to fight, I am sorry.”
t. Close up of V as she says “I’m fine right here”
u. Pan out (medium shot to show K with her hand still extended. After several seconds V reaches for it and up she goes.

We switch to the left side, behind the bathroom door and pan out to
show K as she pulls V into her arms.

a. Ariel shot of the two as they hug. At first V is reluctant and then the two find they are comforted as we go into a close up.
b. P.O.V. medium mid body shot of V as backs away, brushes her self off and says, “What do you want to show me? What are you doing hugging me?”
c. P.O.V. medium mid body shot of K as she shrugs her shoulder and says “I have no friends or husband to show it to, but you.”
d. Medium mid body shot of V as she shakes her head and says “I’m not your friend honey.”
e. From down the hall we film K as she grips V’s hand and guides her into the bathroom. We stay on the door until it shuts.

The two come out of the bathroom (a medium shot from down the hall) V hunches back down to her charger and unplugs it, shaking. K stands over her with her mouth opened. V wraps the cord around her charger and walks out the door and shuts it behind her. We see a dejected K as the door shuts. It then opens up K smiles as V pokes her face inside and says, “I had a client once, a widower, now I am not saying you are one, only that I once had a client that was one and I made a dating video for her after she lost her husband. It seemed to make her feel
better about life.”

a.      P.O.V. medium shot of K as she mumbles something incoherently then says, “You make videos for people to find dates on?”
b.      P.O.V. medium shot of V as she laughs and says, “Sometimes. I do all sorts of videos.”
c.      P.O.V. medium shot of K as she looks down and mumbles. “I’m not a widower and I am not ready to forget my husband.”
d.      P.O.V. medium shot of V as she says. “Sane people don’t live in houses with no furniture, not in America, just let me make a video for you its worth a try—and its about the only thing in this world that I’m good for.”
e.      P.O.V. medium shot of K as she shakes her head up and down and says. “I only know one husband, but thank you.”
f.      Close up of V as she nods her head and then says. “If you want to know another, you can come by and—(V begins to shake, then she collects herself and says, “Come over soon and we can make a tape. You need a man or somebody to get you some furniture. I mean I don’t need anyone, sometime come by.”

End Beat 3.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hamlet is like a box of chocolates ...

... you never know what you're gonna get.

Shot Study for Keskarel, Act 2, Scene 1

keep it simple, sylvia

so now that i've imagined the whole dumbshow reflected in Diana's eye, i'm thinking 'why keep it dumb?' POV will be cutting away to long shots, flashback and back into the eyeball movie screen again, anyway. why write dialogue when there's all that great Hamlet + Ophelia material ready + public domain. and why not let Hamlet be heard as he + Ophelia improvise their fight scene while Keskarel watches, projecting her own bad experience onto the scene. K won't hear Hamlet, but we will. keep it simple and straightforward, and make the most of our shots.

lots of material to mine. don't need to reinvent the wheel.

Monday, February 21, 2011

An Experiment with a Goal in My Mind's and Diana's Eye

i want a shot of the menacing male figure of the dumbshow approaching Keskarel's window, and a cutwaway, very very close up shot of that figure reflected in Diana's fabulous green eyes, and a final shot of Diana pulling away. if, big if, there is a flashback in Keskarel, these likely are the shots that will provide the transition to the flashback. 

my experiment was with a not so menacing subject - three white lion cubs born about a year ago. i wanted something that was active. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Draft-Outline of first dumbshow scene

this scene does not any more dialogue than it already has. it does need backstory so the actors are clear on how they got here. that is an assignment for Chris. if there is going to be a flashback as to how Keskarel got 'here,' this is the opportunity to show what happened, as her reaction to the dumbshow has to do with her perception of a woman in danger and her own fear of being harmed.

1st shot: camera zooms in to Hamlet's face staring directly into it

Hamlet comes forward in his chair and turns his head slowly until his face is pointed directly to his left
          BEAT BEAT
2nd shot: camera zooms out to show Hamlet in his chair and Ophelia a few feet away staring at each other

camera pans as Ophelia crosses until she's standing directly in front of Hamlet's chair with her back to the camera

3rd shot: left side CU of Ophelia as she says "You said you wanted to get married. Maybe you made a mistake."


4th shot: wide shot from Hamlet's right as Hamlet rises from his chair without breaking his stare with Ophelia (Ophelia barely lit from the front and her shadow long on the floor), Hamlet continues to rise until his shadow completely covers Ophelia.

Hamlet says: "Maybe I did."
Cut away immediately to Keskarel gasping as if she's choking, then zoom in to her iris with the reflection of a man's face dissolving to a wide shot of Keskarel covered by a man's looming shadow.

Cut away to Keskarel backing away from the window and out of the room.
5th shot: (through Keskarel's window): Ophelia backing out of Hamlet's shadow until the two shadows are completely distinct from each other. Hamlet sits. Ophelia leaves the room.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Please stay tuned!

my first dramatic writing professor said "writing counts as sitting at the computer for 2 hours even if you don't write anything, because the next day, you probably will actually write."

okay, Dr. Frey: does writing inside your head count if once you're done with your mental outline, you open your Word or Text Edit or a blank Google email form and write your outline, even if you've been working on your mental outline for about 10 days? Dr. Frey would probably say "no." but if one of my assistants asked me that once they sent me actual content, i would say "yes," a mental outline counts.

i must, however, add the caveat that since i now think in shots, not paragraphs, my process has become sort of techie caveman-like. and AD Chris probably will have to rework the outline before he writes the dialogue that he's supposed to fill it in with.

later this weekend, i am recording Nicol Williamson's Hamlet* (1969, with Anthony Hopkins as a very convincing Claudius even though a year younger than his 'stepson-nephew') - i like it a lot, and am going to transcribe my outline while watching it again. thanks for continuing to read us.

*one note, i really like the way they 'show' the ghost in this version - very interesting.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thanks for Watching

Keskarel, a Quicktime storyboard - The Complete Act One

Keskarel is a feature length Quicktime storyboard in progress. i am creating it the same way i created performance art stage plays during my 7 years of training as a playwright/17 years as a touring actor: second-draft-and-a-half page to stage, and then back to the drawing board. i was truly a "writer who acts."

i love art that still has blood on it. Yes, if one is a professional, eventually she brings her work to, hopefully, polished completion. But midwifery and rehearsal are my favorite part of storytelling. Act One is complete except for a transitional shot that i hope to get this weekend when the actor is in town. It is uploading to Vimeo at the moment and i will post it midmorning. Act One including credits is 18 minutes long.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chris Robinson ...

... he does nothing in a small way or part way - and Chris's shotlist assignment is delayed. we will have to wait for the illustrated shotlist - and the transitions into Act Two of the storyboard. but, Chris did send a bio:
Chris Robinson has written a novel and is currently working on another. He has authored a series of comic books and has been involved with music for the better part of his life. Artistic expression, Chris has discovered, gives him the courage to confront the tyranny and tribulations of life. Chris is overjoyed at the opportunity to assist with the direction and writing of “Keskarel, a Movie,” making a feature length film gives him a little twinge in his stomach, makes his heart beat a little faster and makes the idea of happiness a plausible reality.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chris's Assignment This Week

as i've said before, Chris is a novelist and new to creating drama that played rather than read. i am a sculptor, my husband is a painter and mixed media artist, and we have all our work + about 20 pieces of other people's work that we've collected. at some point every story conferences Chris peers around the living room that is populated by life-sized woodcarvings, and says "i've never really gotten art." i read an interesting article about the haptic nature of sculpture ((hăp'tĭk) pronunciation, adj. Of or relating to the sense of touch; tactile.) in Herbert Read's History of Modern Sculpture, and often explain to people that sculpture can be disconcerting just because it seems to take up its own personal space.

so, i was surprised when Chris showed me his first storyboard, which was drawn well enough for me follow it. he says it takes him 'hours.' but i tell him: think in shots! not paragraphs.

Chris's assignment this week: do at least half the shotlist for our next shoot as drawings. the shotlist will be scanned and posted later this week.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thanks, G, for "Keskarel's" first press ...

by my friend and mentor Gaetana Caldwell-Smith, writer & reviewer: "Compelling! Intriguing short. Loved the whole concept and of course, the actors!"

Kekarel: Outtakes

Keskarel: The Inciting Incident

very exciting day today - we know how the first act of our movie ends, and Chris has already started the next shotlist. after his debut as a director last month, Chris seemed very happy to get his hands on the camera again. once again, i crewed, but my job was a little easier this shoot - must be, i'm still awake! Diana's preparation was clear, although she usually doesn't receive the shotlist until the Thursday before shoot. her work was exceptional today. and once again, we were fortunate to have an expert cameraman, Michael Lewis, shooting a challenging scene. Chris and I stood in as stuntmen today - one of the takes will be uploaded in a few minutes. thanks to all.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Chris, Diana and sylvia spend Saturdays with our significant others - very healthy habit we find. But tomorrow will be busy, probably exhausting and will complete our Act 1 save for the cutaway scenes that pobre sylvia will have to fly down to LA to shoot. any excuse ... Pobre sylvia loves that crazy town.

Diana will help turn the scenes of the Videographer talking to her cameras look like the character really has a "relationship" with her cameras - thereby revealing how her solitary and insular lifestyle has limited her social skills and made her, well, the weird lady at the end of the hall.

Then once Chris arrives, we hope to do justice to his shotlist (posted here Thursday). Stay tuned! Our readership has increased, we are grateful and promise to deliver.

And remember: we shoot in HD and will need your indulgence while we render tomorrow evening.
The Cast/Crew of Keskarel

Friday, February 11, 2011

Directed by Christopher Robinson

Diana Slampyak Closeup

fortunately, i stick to a throughline ...

... a bit easier than i ever stick to any point.

i told AD Chris this when he first agreed to work on Keskarel. Chris is a novelist and good at big picturing, and as i told him he would have to do from time to time, he always finds a polite but firm way to say, "I think you're getting off focus."

i would like to find more good people to work with. until Act One of the Quicktime Storyboard is complete, i don't think i have quite enough to show anyone i was asking for money. but that is the plan. if you or anyone you might refer to this blog is interested in this process, thinks s/he can learn something, and, like Chris, can also teach me something, please contact keskarel AT gmail.

i have one requirement. my college theater teacher insisted that all his actors learn how to do a simple softshoe because "sometimes being able to do this can help you get a gig." i am an expert paralegal writer - i love doing it (don't know why). it is not a skill that i could take and pass a test on - either you can do it because you can do it, or you can't. i did not feel that i had a skill until i knew i could pick up virtually any video camera and figure out how to use it in 20 minutes or less - 20 minutes being the time limit of most basic tests for camera operation.

my requirement: because i believe in the softshoe theory of having that extra skill, no matter what crew role you have on Keskarel, if you do not know how to operate a camera when you get here, you will have to learn how to use all of the cameras on the set because having that skill might you get a job.

Act One—Beat #2 Shotlist for Sunday the 14th by Chris Robinson

 nice work, AD Chris!

Shot List: Act One—Beat #2

1. K is lying on the floor with a bottle of vodka by her side.
       a. Aerial medium shot of our girl as she twitches around like a
flounder and sips on a bottle of vodka.
       b. We pan in on her until we get a close up of her face; she mouths
the name of her long lost love “Ivan” to herself and takes another
sip. (We can use a different name if you would like)
       c. We pan out to an aerial medium shot of K as she attempts to rise
up to her feet.
       d. When she succeeds, we do a medium shot as our girl staggers to the
bathroom door, leaving her alcohol behind. We keep the camera in place
until the door shuts. She then stumbles out, picks the bottle back up
and goes where she has just been.
       e. Close up of K’s face as she glances at herself in the mirror,
cringing at her drunken self. We pan down to her hands as she places
her bottle on the sink.
       f. K turns around and we get a mid body shot of her as she climbs
over the tubs walls to the window from the right hand side.
       g. A left hand mid level shot of K as she lifts up the blinds then the window.
       h. Close up exterior shot of K as she squints her eyes trying to
place what she is seeing.
       i. P.O.V. of shadow puppets dancing. Medium shot, we can draw a
window sill around the paper to look like a window.
       j. We go back to a close up of K’s face as she stares on.
       k. Back to the shadow puppets.

2. K is profoundly affected, she races out the hall to go and see V;
her footsteps are steady this time, after all she has just experienced
something traumatic.
       a. Close up of K as she turns around—we are still in the bathroom—
       b. Pan out medium shot of K as she walks towards her door and the camera.
       c. Medium shot of her from the hall as the bathroom door opens and
she walks out her front door to V’s house, again the camera stays
focused shot until our girl’s door shuts.
       d. We follow K with the camera until she arrives at the door to V’s house.
       e. Medium shot of K from behind as she knocks on V’s door. We wait
awhile until we hear V shuffle to the door. V stares out her peep
hole, sighs and says this,
       V—“What do you want?”
f. Close up of K’s face from the right hand side as she says,
K—“I need your help—I saw something and I, I don’t know anybody in
this building but you—please let me in.”
g. Back to a medium shot of K from behind, V says this in response to K,
V—“Oh no, no no. I would never, never, I don’t get involved. I just wa…No no.
h. K sighs, turns around and walks back to her apartment, she trots
towards the camera, which remains in position, V is still talking as K
staggers away.
i. Mid body shot of K from behind as our girl goes through her front
door; again we stay on the door until it shuts.
j. Another medium shot from the hall way as she walks into her bathroom.
k. Close up of K’s hand as she reaches for her vodka on the sink.
l. A floor shot of her as she bends down to get into the tub. She
comes into focus as she crouches down and stumbles into her bath tub.
m. Ariel medium shot of K as she lies in her tub; we pan in on her
face as she hums.
n. Left side medium aerial shot; we pan in on her as she cradle her
bottle and hums, fade out end scene—
End Beat 2

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Murder of Gonzago

When i was trying to explain to AD Chris why, even though all we  as writers & audience care about is that Keskarel is dramatically disturbed by the "dumb show" she watches from the single window in her apartment, i.e., what she believes is a man slowly beating his bride to death, i want him to write lively dialogue and provide the actors who we likely never hear except in an ironic anticlimactic moment at the end of the movie - i said, "you know, like in Hamlet, the Murder of Gonzago." While Chris, being a novelist himself, has read every novel on the planet, he has not had a lot of interest in Shakespeare and didn't get the reference. To an old thespian like myself, that's like not having underwear - sorry, i looked for another metaphor - but not having repeated exposure to Shakespeare in one form or another ever since i was a kid would be like an empty underwear drawer. No foundation. i give Chris an assignment per week, as his UCSF internship requires, and i assigned him to read Hamlet. He asked which was my favorite, and i told him Lear. i collect alternative film versions of Lear - my favorite being Richard Harris' My Kingdom - not available in America, but i was lucky to be able to record it off IFC a few years ago.

So, Chris checked out Lear and liked it a lot. Of course he did. i'm looking forward to Chris' moment of realization that Shakespeare is part of his foundation without his having known it.

We Players did Shakespeare on Alcatraz Island (yes, that Alcatraz, all over the island and it was the best alternative i've ever seen!), and since i have to ramp up to write an outline for the dumb show Keskarel watches from her solitary window, i think it's going to be based on scenes between Hamlet & Ophelia.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Keskarel: latest version

Keskarel stars Diana Slampyak and  is written and shot by sylviatoyindustries and Christopher Robinson. Christopher Robinson is the Assistant Director and script coordinator. sylviatoyindustries is producer, director and the crew.

Keskarel this week

Act One is nearly complete - one more scene to be shot next Sunday. The shotlist will be posted later this week.

The scene of the inciting incident will be shot next Sunday. The ending scenes in the current storyboard will be woven into Act Two, and Keskarel will begin trying to draw out The Videographer. The week after next, Chris will reshoot The Videographer's conversations with her cameras in order to clearly establish the POV in those scenes. And it is likely that since we'll have Diana on set on the 12th, we'll shoot scenes of her eavesdropping on The Videographer.

We also need to shoot Keskarel carrying 6 empty Vodka bottles next Sunday. If you are in San Francisco and have some empties we can borrow, let us know at keskarel AT gmail, and Chris or i will swing by for them.

Finally, at our story conference this week, Chris and I agreed to get cracking on the dialogue for the battling couple in the condo ttha Keskarel watches - i will outline and Chris will write the dialogue.

Thanks for watching.
Revised & expanded Keskarel Quicktime storyboard

Sunday, February 6, 2011

please excuse us while we render ...

Very very very productive story conference today ...

... and the big picture guy, Chris, who keeps me, the lady who thinks in shots (dreams in Final Cut) focused on The Plan, we have had a meeting of the minds on act one of Keskarel, and after our shoot next Sunday - we will go into act two knowing what to do.

and watch this week for our re-edited, almost complete act one of our Quicktime storyboard. we now have almost 30 minutes of story. stoked, i believe, is the word.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Great article on the 'Mike Leigh Method'

It is like herding cats!

Revised Listing: Wanted, Script Guru


a member of a film crew responsible for maintaining the motion picture's internal continuity and for recording the production unit's daily progress in shooting the film's screenplay. ... In pre-production, the script supervisor creates a number of reports based on the script, including a one-line continuity synopsis providing basic information on each scene such as the time of day, day in story order, and a one line synopsis of the scene. ... For every take, the script supervisor will note the duration of the take (usually with a stopwatch) and meticulously log information about the action of the take, including position of the main actor(s), screen direction of their movement, important actions performed during the shot, type of lens used, and additional information which may vary from case to case. When multiple cameras are in use, the script supervisor keeps separate notes on each. ... The script supervisor is responsible for keeping the most current version of the shooting script. During shooting, the script supervisor notates any changes from the screenplay that are made by the actors, director or others during the actual filming process.  
The script supervisor is the primary liaison between the director (who decides what scenes are to be shot) and the editor (who is usually not present during actual filming but needs to have exact records of the filming in order to do the job of cutting the film together.) The script supervisor is a technical rather than artistic position and is generally considered as part of the producer's or studio's staff. There is usually only one script supervisor on a given film production. (