Star Wars Abridged

In which I am the Emperor in a spoof of Star Wars. This one has a lot of in-jokes about my college, so all of you folks out there might not appreciate it as much as we do, but it should still be entertaining.

Fun fact: Since both this film and Poetic Justice aired during my college’s Film Fest, I was able to play an evil cackling villain who shows up for the final battle to get a dramatic death in not one, but two different films.

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Poetic Justice

My award-winning student film, in which a team of heroic poets tackle the Grammar Nazi menace.

Character Twist: the classier plot twist

The Master Cleanse is a 15-minute dramedy created, according to the makers themselves, “to see if we could make a short and strip away all of our tricks, no action, no chase scenes, no fancy angles, or violence, and see if two people talking about universal relationship problems could be as compelling as an all girls high octane pillow fight.”

And it is a fun film, mostly because there’s a clever twist at the end. The plot twist hinges on a reveal about the main characters’ relationship, and is an example of something that I’ve been wondering about for a while: how can character development be subjected to the same boost of whizz-bang fun that a properly designed plot twist gives to a plot? As a writer, my weakest subject is character development, and my strongest subject is plot. My neverending quest, therefore, is a search to discover ways to make my characters as interesting as my plots.

The Master Cleanse provides an example of the classic character twist. This post will deconstruct the twist in depth, so I’ll hide the rest of the text in case you feel like watching the short film sans spoilers. (There’s crass language and an intentionally unappealing sex scene, if you need any incentive to keep reading without seeing the film)

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Tea Time (Short Film)

The second film we put together entirely on Saturday. That’s right, we did two of them. This one is a hard-boiled detective noir genre as opposed to the sci-fi one. I’ve always like how the two genres seem to fit even though they’re entirely different: they both have an old-timey cheesiness to them.

This one was entirely a monologue, and I think it suffered a bit from that. The broccoli one moved around a lot more, so it seemed more dynamic. Also, there was a glare from the huge bay windows that we shot Tea Time right next to, so we had to make the contrast wild and crazy to hide that.

I do enjoy how this film ties in with the other one. They would make a nice double feature. Maybe we can make that an extra feature on a Poetic Justice DVD…

Broccoli Planet (Short Film)

Zach and I wrote, filmed and finished most of the editing for this film last Saturday. If anything isn’t as stellar as you expect in such an intergalactic story, I blame it on the speed we worked with. The short is on the same type of camera that we’ll use to film Poetic Justice, and gave me a chance to see how the basics — lighting, sound, and angles — are used. I don’t have much experience with it. In the end, it was easier than I thought it would be, although I didn’t anticipate the amount of broccoli that I’d get mushed into my hair.

I think this one has a bit of rewatch value, due to touches like the broccoli I pull out of an unlikely spot at 1:48 or the sweet camera angle that we start with. Zach’s a lot better at thinking of good angles to shoot from than I am… he noticed the ceiling fan that we used for the opening shot, and also propped the camera up on an opened door in order to get the wide shot of us eating.

Fun fact: we used broccoli to steady the camera half the time. That stuff really does have a million uses.