Sunday, March 30, 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel

Great afternoon, even though it had started snowing again, at the movies where we went to the new Wes Anderson film, "Grand Budapest Hotel". I loved the nexted narratives, with one story set inside another set inside another. In the end, the various nests leave many parts unresolved, but there are so many details that it will likely take three viewings before I could put together a comprehensive list of dangling plot lines. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stitching some photos

No news today (at least none to speak of). I finally pulled some images off my tablet and stitched them together. One is the "pit" in the education building which I shot while my screenwriting students were in groups discussing some ideas last November.
The other is from February when I went to the doctor with an inflamed lymph node.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mockumentary, the other side

I have my two sections of second year film, both of which I workshoppped a mockumentary last week. The larger group were able to devise a more complex story which shot with two crews. This led to a lot of fun through some degree of secrecy, no one knowing what all of the story was. The second class, being smaller, only shot with one team and thus had less mystery, less footage, and few plot twists. However, on the second day of working with it, the day I tasked them with putting a paper edit together, the larger group, with so much more footage, only just managed to create cards for the shots and no one wanted to even consider the paper edit (perhaps next week?). The smaller group really came alive, assembling ideas for sequences and using over three quarters of the shots. Here it is on the wall:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Monument Men

We went to Monument Men tonight at the Southland. Margaret really wanted to see it so we went as a group tonight so that I could use the two for one coupons we were given (which ended up being for online ticket purchases only, so we had to eat the ticket price). I felt comforted by the general look and feel and sound of it being a world war two film like they would have made them in the 1960s. It's like the Dirty Dozen but instead of the characters having to find redemption along the way, most of these characters are already redeemed or have no past sins upon entering the story. I guess that leads to a weaker impact, but still worthwhile. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Combat Improv: Pope versus Hope!

I've been busy on Wednesdays for the past few months so have not attended the improv at the Artesian in quite a while. However, tonight William and I were baching it so we had burgers at the Mercury then went out for comedy night. The high point for me was the last sketch in which the group enacted a Michael Bay film "Pope Versus Hope" which they used a brilliant call back to a minor bit from earlier in the night and interpreted "hope" as Bob Hope. It was rib-splitting. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jason Britski film retrospective with photos

This evening the Filmpool hosted a retrospective screening of local filmmaker Jason Britski that I curated. While we didn't screen any of them in their original film forms, the projection was extremely good and the work was beautiful to watch on the big screen again. The crowd was solid (about 45 at screen time) and the Q+A afterwards lasted a half hour with many questions from diverse people. If you missed the event and would like to read my program notes, HERE THEY ARE.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Alan Zweig's "When Jews Were Funny" with producer Jeff Glickman

Jeff Glickman in Regina with "When Jews Were Funny"
This evening we attended the absolutely amazing new documentary "When Jews Were Funny" by Alan Zweig, whom some of you might know from his film "Vinyl" or from when he taught at the university in the early 90s. The producer, Jeff Glickman, was in town to introduce and answer questions about the film.  I'd like to see Alan's film "I Curmudgeon" as it likely gives the insights necessary to understand his frequent alienation of people around him. I think this is what gives his films their humour and their edge. However, that doesn't mean it makes him easy to work with. Someone asked Jeff Glickman about future collaborations between him and Alan and he indicated that such ventures were not going to happen.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wind Rises by Miyazaki

Last night we saw Miyazaki's new film "The Wind Rises" at the Rainbow (Cinema Seven) theatre. The audience was small, especially considering it was a Saturday night and the opening weekend for it here, so I strongly suggest that those interested in seeing it here in Regina go asap. They are playing it in Japanese on Wednesday but we have some conflicts so figured we'd watch it that way later on dvd.
The film was very quiet and thoughtful, punctuated by fewer than usual moments of action. It tells the story of an airplane designer in Japan between 1917 and 1940. Margaret was reading some reviews which suggest many people were upset by Miyazaki making arms merchants into heros, but that was really not the case. It is not a story about arms or war, nor is it about heroes or villains. The Germans are presented as distrusting as a group, but as individuals they are people. This is about people understanding the needs, passions, and desires of other like-minded people. The antagonist is the larger population, never other individuals. By looking at the role of airplanes in Miyazaki's previous films (especially Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso) it is certain that he shares this passion for aeronautics with the characters (loosely based on some historical people). They all want each other to succeed. What I felt was particularly uplifting was the way he and his friend/rival in the same company share ideas and build on each other's success rather than undermining and competing (as their boss was concerned they would). I also liked the pre-1941 discussion of inset rivets for the planes, something that was also described in a post 1941 Disney film made in the USA.
While rated G, the film is long (over 2 hours), quiet, poetic, full of dreams which blur with reality, and overall more than a little bit sad. It might not be the best choice for all little kids but William was quite engaged with it, as were all of the adults in the theatre. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Eyes in good shape, how about yous?

Back of Gerald Saul's eye
William and I both had eye appointments this morning. Everything is good. My six year old contact is still pretty much the right prescription but has simply worn out from use (I have a lot of murkiness on it these past few months). With drops in my eyes, I've spent the rest of the day at home. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

3D success with new camera

photo of Gerald Saul by Geremy Lague

I picked up the second roll of film I shot with the Revere stereoscopic camera. This time I didn't suffer as much bleeding between frames, probably due to working more carefully, advancing fully, that sort of thing. I was really pumped when I saw the little thumbnails on the outside of the cd of files when I picked them up, but once I began photoshopping them, I discovered that the lab scanned rectangular portions of each of the square images. So even though they had a note warning them about "half frames", they obviously don't quite understand what I need yet. I'll have to print a sample or two and bring that in with the negatives to see if the whole thing can be fixed. At least they must of known that something major was up as they returned the negatives in a roll, uncut. It should be easier to rescan them all. As it stands, I have to pick and choose images in which both halfs of the pair were scanned more or less the same. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Talking to high schoolers in Fort Qu'Appelle

On Wednesday I drove out to Fort Qu'Appelle to talk about film and the film department as a career at the high school job fair. It was all rather a blur. I did three talks to three different groups, each 45 minutes long, with barely a minute between each. I had notes but, as is my nature, didn't follow them closely enough so when I reached the third group, I couldn't remember what I'd told them and what I hadn't. Everyone was polite and two or three people actually seemed like they were interested in making films as careers. One teacher from Lumsden told me they have a new grade 11 photography course, so some new interest might come from there. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Attack of the Killer Lego Easter Bunny

Here is the rest of the spring display in our entrance-way Lego cabinet. As I said two days ago, I made the didactic leprechaun set up for St. Patrick's day. William built this magnificent mutated robot Easter Bunny chasing the guy dressed up as a bunny. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mockumentary in Film 202 class

Austin by the pool in "Los Angelos"
I'm fairly certain that most of the students in Film 202 had fun AND learned things while improvising a mockumentary in class this afternoon. These sorts of things can go either way and today the full moon must have been shining on us because secrets were kept, characters become complex, and even I had a difficult time not laughing. The central idea was that one student wanted to play the role of a successful version of himself, ten years in the future. I said that everyone else in the class would take on roles I gave them (very thin sketches) who were part of his rise to fame. I learned a new word: "LORNO". 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Society of Camera Operators video "starring" Gerald Saul and his PXL2000

I got a cryptic Facebook message from Steve Suderman today which read "Gerald Saul, You're part of motion picture history" and a link to a video from the SOC (Society of Camera Operators, for the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Awards, edited by Bob Joyce. To tell you the truth, I rarely watch more than 45 seconds of any video sent to me through Facebook but I had just arrived at the office and was changing my shoes and had not started anything else yet, so I let it run. It was expertly done and enjoyable as a tribute to the evolution of the motion picture camera and I was sitting generally amused but ready to turn it off when suddenly I was there, on the screen holding my Pixelvision camera. It was the oddest experience to be in a film that you'd never heard of or consented to. I watched it a few times. Of course, I have no problem with my face being thrown around. Some shocks are good shocks. Here is the link, I am at 2:55. The image is from this blog in Sept, 2010

St. Patrick's Day lego

We were redecorating a bit in preparation for Pi/Pie Day last week and spent some time re configuring the display box in the front entrance way which has continued to have winter scenes in it. Lest we hold onto winter forever, we changed it to a spring display. William made a very cool Easter scene while I put together this fairly cliche St. Patrick scene. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"No Clue" by Carl Bessai

Margaret and William with Carl's poster
This evening we finally made it to Carl's new film "No Clue" (it started last week but we failed to attend in the opening weekend due to other commitments). We had a lot of fun but I'd have to say it was more of a Brent Butt picture, with Butt as both the screenwriter and the star, so the humour usually remained small screen. However, the film had a seductive comic book look with endless details in the production design, location section, and colour palate which kept me interested. Deer heads hanging in Vancouver bars? Would that really happen? Carl used a wide selection of 1940s buildings as the backdrop for the noir-influenced story. The jazz-heavy music was worthy of a soundtrack album, although unfortunately that is something only done for the biggest American pictures these days.  

500mm lens

I'm quite excited about putting this used Tamron 500mm lens into action. I can not only mount it to my old Canon 35mm camera, but I also have mounts to put it onto the Canon DSLR cameras or onto a Bolex (and due to the smaller image size, it would be doubly telephoto!). I've not tested the optics but the lens looks unblemished and the price was low, so I couldn't resist purchasing it from Don's on Friday. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jaqueline Berting and James Clark return to glass art making

At the MacKenzie Art Gallery today, Jacky Berting and James Clark revealed their new glass art. They are taking some radically different approaches. James is collaborating on some quirky sculptures of cartoony cyborgs. Jacky is creating fusions of glass and metal, having her hands in bronze (through Joe Fafard's foundry) holding elegant and emotionally charged objects shaped from glass. 

Stereoscopic image with Revere 33 camera

I processed the test images that Geremy and I shot with the Revere Stereo 33 camera on Thursday. I think our fumbling around with it resulted in advancing the film incorrectly and flashing it a bit while unloading so I have some overlap here between images. Also, the lab had difficulties not cutting images in half when scanning them but I spoke with the lab guy and he'll watch for this in the future and be more cautious. A crude black and white print out of it has given me hope that it will work well for creating 3D images for the stereoscope. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

A filling day of pie... filling

My parents came over for pie and a piano recital this afternoon. William is getting better all the time. I sometimes sing along, but never with the correct words. I think that "Shoot the Piano Player" inspired him slightly since he practiced a bit after the movie without any provocation or prodding. After supper, Margaret's parents and brother came over for pie. We still have lots left over.


First t hing this morning we started Pi day with Saskatoon/peach pie. It was perfect, although I'd have eaten if more glutinously if I wasn't trying to read out loud during breakfast, having started the newest Grimm book (Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz) which William has been enjoying hearing out loud and is a fun and playful thing to do together. Last night, it seemed that my 20 hour day from Wednesday finally caught up to me and I just collapsed at 10:00 and couldn't move even though I heard something through the haze about getting started on Pi Day a bit early (they didn't). 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Adventures in the third dimension begin

Today, shortly after Geremy arrived at my office and we'd begun to talk about 3D images (I showed him the new Derrick May book which arrived last night) Andrea told me that there was a call from someone wanting to donate a small projection screen to the department. While this is something that the department doesn't need and only takes up space, it is something that many of the students might value so I said I could pick it up and get it to a student who would appreciate it.
Geremy and I drove out there and picked it up and then carried on to the pawn shop on Dewdney where the owner collects 3D cameras. I asked his advice about them and asked if I could look at one. One thing led to another and we shot a test roll on the sidewalk after which I asked if he had any doubles of cameras and I ended up buying it. I'm hoping to use it to shoot source images which I can Photoshop into the card formats and make stereoscopic images with.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A little coffee

Early meeting today, picked up Geremy on route at 6:30. Felt tongue tied the whole time. Got a little coffee to make it through the day. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cruel weather ... for snowmen!

On my way to work this morning it was already melting. This poor guy from our front yard is not long for the world. We had class inside today since I had this terrible feeling that I needed to shift gears and get them completing some of the smaller assignments I'd not put much emphasis on. It would have been nice to just go outside with some cameras. I guess there is always next week. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Above zero!!!

The weather has finally turned and we are looking at a stretch of melting. Today I shoveled most of the snow off of the back deck and then we went to Margaret's parent's house for a bit of bbq. On the way home we found a family of snowpeople.  I believe that the second one from the right is pregnant (perhaps a family portrait?). 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Living Skies film festival day 2

Turning the camera on the reporter makes them forget their questions.
William and I attended the second day of screenings of student films (after zipping past Toys R Us for a Lego mini-fig exchange, I got a fireman with two saws and William got a baker with a torn and bloodied shirt). I did an interview for CTV on regarding the event and about the importance of screenings for film students.

Living Skies student film festival, day 1

Last night the student film festival, Living Skies, began. They attracted a solid audience. I took William and we arrived in time to see a workshop/interview with director Lowel Dean (Wolf Cop) and the first screening. William loved an animated film about geese which was not only funny but was set perfectly to Beethoven's 6th symphony. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Professor Delusia's controversial scientific publications

Yesterday Geremy and I tried out the random science publication software and "wrote" a number of papers ready for publication under our pseudonyms "Professor Delusia", "R. Canister aka Canister the robot", and "Lague Corp".  I think they seem convincing because we have trouble understanding the usage of at least one or two words per sentence. We also looked at an art and film essay generator (which only created titles, not entire essays) and I found almost every title it created to be inaccurate or contradictory, so probably these don't read true to someone with science training.
They are all on my website: HERE. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Behind the scenes photos with grad students and 16mm Bolex

Last week Dianne Ouellette stopped in to the grad seminar to observe and consult as we shot some 16mm film. She took a few behind the scenes stills and kindly sent me these. Of course, Dianne is an expert filmmaker herself and knows 16mm as well as I do but, like many of us, finds fewer and fewer occasions to shoot it so values opportunities to be near it. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jennifer Baichwal in Regina with "Watermark"

Jennifer Baichwal and Mike Rollo
 Today our department was privileged to be able to host a visit by documentary director Jennifer Baichwal. She screened "The True Meaning of Pictures" and spoke with a large group of our students early this afternoon and then this evening screened her newest feature doc, "Watermarks" which she co-directed with acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky. The talk earlier related to many issues of representation, privilege, power, and stereotypes so will be certainly be a discussion continued in the next grad seminar since many of these issues have arisen recently.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hand processed film with the grad students

Last week I worked with the grad students in my class to shoot a roll of black and white film. This week we processed it in class and screened it. I asked An to put on some music and she picked this calm little number which creates an eerie counterpoint to it.  I'm surprised at how low contrast the film came out, considering it was the high contrast film stock. This is due to a bit of under-exposure, room temperature developer, and probably old or slightly depleted developer. The character I play has Professor Delusia's coat on but Canister's helmet, but to confuse the historians trying to make sense of my work some day. The title isn't really perfect but came out of a conversation about Caligari I had with them. The suggestion from Saqib was "Cabinet of Dr. Saul" or something like that, but I figured the reference to one or the other of the fictitious characters I use would be better. Dianne Ouellette was on set and shot at least once production still but I don't have it yet. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Flapper Margaret at Oscars party

Continuing our tradition, Margaret was the life of the party, enjoying the Oscars (although not winning any prizes this year) while I teach William the ways of the curmudgeon as we stay home and gorge on snacks in front of the tv.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Forgot to take pictures this weekend

The way I decide what to blog about is that I look at my camera and see what I have taken pictures of and talk about that. The way I decide what to take pictures of is that I look at something and think that I should blog about it and so I take out my camera and take a picture. However, when I forget my camera or am just having a non-visual day, I end up with nothing to write about. However, I actually did do stuff in the past 24 hours. We went to a terrific engagement/house warming party for Allan and Jana. William and I learned three new games, "King of Tokyo", "Chrononaughts" as well as a very minimal storytelling game about saving magic played with a single sheet of paper and some simple playing markers. William did brilliantly at the story game, even ending the game with a very dramatic sacrifice of his companion for the greater good of the world. Epic.
Today I hosted the planning group of Filmpool members putting together the 2016 Caligari project. Just so I'm not without any images, here is a random frame of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari grabbed from the internet. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

a funny thing happened on the way to spring...

The weather is a tricky thing. When I was younger, I put faith in the calendar to enforce the temperature; that in the "spring" months it would not be winter - that sort of thing. I'm far from that naive any more. March can be nasty and wintery and make you feel very cold. However, I still stand by "wintery" - I still believe that March is not quite as bad as the winter, it just feels bad because our expectations are different. However, the numbers do not really lie. This is a cold winter day. If this were a day in January, it would be a cold January day. If we were on the north pole, it would be a cold north pole day. That's not supposed to be my March in Regina.