Monday, January 18, 2010

Night Vision

"Night Vision" was my second student film made as a final project for Film Making 102 at TCC Virginia Beach. This time we had to edit and have sound. This was back in the late 1980s, so editing meant physically cutting the film and using either tape or cement splices to join the new pieces. If you made a mistake, you were screwed, especially if you were working on your only copy of the film as all the students doing this project were. There was no "undo", no easy to make digital back-up. You rolled the film back and forth in the moviola and thought very carefully about the artistic choice you were about to make because there might not be any going back. Of course it was easier to think back then because there wasn't the consistent interruptions of Facebook or e-mail or cell phones, etc. The sound was accomplished by laying down all the music and dialogue to cassette tape and playing it back while projecting the film. It was closer to performance art, then cinema.

The original story of "Night Vision" was taken from an underground comic book that I published for awhile called "Reluctant Sadist". I had a ready made story already storyboarded so that gave me a big head start for this project. I also had an advantage in my then room friend and long time friend Colin Martin as he was (still is) a gifted musician and willing to take a run at acting, so I also had a star and music composer in house. Colin played "Sam" the nightmare-suffering lead and I took on the role of "Speed", his less-than-helpful, hyperactive roommate donning the hair farm. We shot all the interiors in our apartment with the black & and white dream sequences shot in and around the abandoned waterfront warehouses (long since torn down for luxury condominiums) in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. I couldn't afford the time or money for black white film, so I hit upon the idea of shooting the dream sequences on video, then filming them off the TV screen. This also allowed me to play with the brightness and contrast to give the footage a more dream-like quality. The final touch was looping the dialogue and Colin's fantastic music. As I recall, the student audience responded very well and the teacher was thrilled. Ah, glory days....