january 23-30, 2002
greenbelt cinema 1, makati city
metro manila, philippines www.mov.moviespage.com
THE ZERO-MINUTE FILM SCHOOL
by Khavn Dela Cruz
Some famous filmmaker once said that all
the technical stuff you need to know in order to make movies can be learned
in a few weeks. Robert Rodriguez, the maverick filmmaker who directed ďEl
MariachiĒ, said that you can learn it in ten minutes. They were both being
The truth is you donít need to learn anything. You already know what you need to know. End of school.
The only question you have to answer is do you want to make a film? If no, then donít. Itís a free world. If yes, then make one. You donít have any excuses. Especially after youíve read the appendix.
You already have what you need. What you donít have, you can buy. What you canít buy, you can borrow. If you canít borrow it, you donít need it.
Nobel-prize winner Toni Morrison wrote the stories she wanted to read. So, make the film that you would want to see. If you donít have a story yet in your mind, ask above or below or wherever your source is. If you still donít have one, shoot without one. Kidlat Tahimik and Wong Kar Wai make their films without a script. On the opposite end, the films of Martin Scorsese and the Coen Brothers are heavily story-boarded. Or you can work in the middle. Write a detailed script, but donít use it on the set. Remember, itís your film. You can do whatever.
Cast your friends and your family, but give them screen names so your credits wonít look like a wedding invitation. If some stranger fancies your eye, ask them if they would like to be in your film. It wonít hurt if you ask, unless they kick you in the face. If youíre not what they call a people person, either shoot paparazzi style or donít shoot people. Shoot animals, nature, objects, time, places, non-people. Make your own rules.
If you can shoot it here, why shoot it there? Make use of the Russian Formalistsí concept of defamiliarization. Transform your backyard into the Sahara, your CR into a court room, your sala into a Venuti anís loveden. If you really want to shoot far and away, just make sure the bakasyonista-traveler within isnít the one deciding.
Even in the city, things have a natural way of arranging themselves. One just has to have an open eye to see that the set has been set by invisible hands. If youíre not an adherent of the Found Art school of thought, bring in whatever props and materials you want, as long as itís in line with your vision and no unnecessary pockets emptied.
Shoot it till itís dead, or finished as they say. No sense dilly-dallying which camera angle to use etcetera. The point is to capture the ever-fleeting moment.
Itís as easy as one, two, three; like asking someone to please pass the ketchup. Simply clear your thought and throat, tell them what to do, and theyíll do it. If youíre not happy, never do the old-school shout. Try and try until your actor gets you. Try to limit yourself to 3 takes if you donít want your head to explode on the editing table.
Make your own music. If youíre not a musician (though you want to be, but thatís another article), ask your musician friends to provide original music. If you donít have musician friends, befriend musicians; they donít bite. Ask around. Real musicians would like to do film music at least once in their career.
Option 1: No editing. What youíve shot is what it is, beauty marks and all. Other options: If you can get your hands on an Avid or any editing suite, then cut, paste, and whatever away. A VHS machine can also do the trick. The point is never let anything or anyone get in the way of your film.
So, have you made the film you would like to see? Or is it something you havenít imagined seeing before? The answer is secondary. The bottomline is that you now have a film, a part of your life, in your hands. Donít forget to thank everyone whoíve contributed in any way to the creation of your film, including yourself. Congratulations! One down, more to go. Invite us.
Be yourself and never fear,
Khavn Dela Cruz
Published in FLY MAGAZINE
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