Kick the Ladder: An Artistic Solo Dive

The Fountain Pen To Rule Them All

This weeks KTL rule set followed 62J. Translation? The subject of the film must be an inanimate object. My initial desire was to create a video that built up suspense. Something very similar to the art form in No Country for Old Men. There’s one scene in the movie where the psychopath killer, played by Javier Bardem, enters a gas station and strikes up a conversation with the owner. One wrong question from the owner and the audience gets dragged down into a slowly expanding suspenseful situation. The best part about all of it? There’s a single shot of a candy wrapper  being crushed up and placed on the table, and just it unraveling for a those few seconds creates a deep sense of unease. That’s what I fell in love with, a simple candy wrapper destroying any level of emotional stability that you thought you had. 

With all that being said, my week was pretty darn busy and I didn’t have the time or resources to recreate that suspense. So I did what I naturally do when uncertain and short on time: comedy. And given the timely coincidence of having ordered my first fountain pen only weeks prior, comedic inspiration was not far away. The imagery of someone using a fountain pen while all others rely on their far less sophisticated tools to write was an obvious connection and frankly an easy cop out for the week. I had only 5 hours to record video content, edit, and record a voice over dialogue. The result is the video below.

The Process

Time was my friend and my enemy. I could have easily given any excuse to not create content for this week, but I knew that consistency is the most important factor in any endeavor, no matter how “quality” the results are. So I befriended time and took on the challenge to complete the task before the midnight deadline. The motivation worked. Time limited my ability to plan to the level of quality that I wanted and tighten up all the screws. I jumped into action and began recording as much content as possible with essentially no dialogue to base the content on. I knew what I wanted, lots of up close and “artistic” views of the subject writing, contemplating, and using the surrounding the supplement to irony of the wacky dialogue that would eventually be a part of it. Grabbing a large tripod (and mini one) and experimenting with angles, I began improving my writing. Luckily my Benjamin Franklin bobble head and Harry Potter figure added inspiration for content. I eventually decided to implement my macro lens to create extremely close up shots with a shallow depth of field. This allowed me to focus on the single words when needed. But it takes a delicate balance. I learned from the previous week to diversify my “focused” shots with wider ones. 

Lighting was another challenge, but a warmer feel felt right. It was still overdone in my opinion. If I had the time, I would have made the mood much cooler with a slight touch of warmth, but the deadline had me by the throat. My lack of experience in color grading made the process impossible for me to complete effectively without damaging the whole thing. It’s like cleaning a room, things have to get messier before it can get cleaner. I knew I would have been in the messy stage before the cutoff. 

The last two shots really changed the direction of the video in many ways. While recording, I began experimenting with absurd external views. I began to improv a bunch of ridiculous scenes that seemed to have no place, but it felt right.. It could fit into the story and finding out how was part of the creative challenge. Essentially, the more lego pieces I have to work with, the more creative I can get in my creation. I began uploading all my video pieces into Premiere Pro and essentially dragged all the bits and piece that I thought had value. Audio recording began shortly after. Lacking any professional equipment, I began to record through a headset I had and made due with what I had. The slight ambient noise was not preferable and my accent was far from ideal, but life’s not perfect sometimes. Slowly but surely, I used the audio as a timing guideline. Especially important for the percentages and figurines. This became a back and forth process with me eventually rerecording audio to assure better video timing and giving a more fluid conclusion. 

Take Aways

You don’t have to love your work to get something out of it. The process was rushed and far from what I would have wanted from it. Having more time would have given me the ability to be more creative with the comedic content. It would have allowed me to fix the color grading and audio quality. It would have allowed me to plan out the video content and given that more “professional” look. Which would have added more substance to the comedy. The irony contrast between the professional visuals and comedic audio creates a deeper hole to fall into the comedy with.. If that even makes sense. Again, my opinion, deal with it. I was unhappy with the final product. Nevertheless, it was valuable. It exercised many muscles that I never used before. Really digging deep into using different lenses to achieve different looks, playing with the lighting to maintain a consistent look, really building that confidence of allowing my creative freedom to take over, and the most important one of taking initiative despite not having the perfect plan. All to often in life, we, I, never take action because the timing isn’t right. The timing is never right or perfect, just fucking do it. 

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