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THE NEXT SHOT
by Marc Beurteaux

The Next Shot
August 9th blog by Marc Beurteaux

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  • I shot a technically challenging scene yesterday. I breathed such a sigh of relief when I grabbed the last frame of the sequence. Then I reviewed the scene about twenty times. When I was 1000% sure that it was done, I turned off the camera and shut down the computer. I killed the lights and wandered outside to remind myself what the sun felt like on my face.

    I was sitting outside, feeling slightly high from all of that fresh air flowing into my lungs and pondered my next scene. But I didn't want to think about my next scene, I wanted to relax and enjoy the buzz of a finished sequence. I focused on the bees buzzing in the flowers and a cloud that looked like a breaking wave. The next thing I know I'm staring at the paving tiles deeply concentrating on my next shot. There is no rest for the wicked.

    This is the sad state of life for one working on a film - it is always in your thoughts. There is no escape. Even now as I type, I'm wondering how I will construct little prop flowers that can easily be crushed by a puppet in my film. I think I even know what material to make them out of.... Oh sorry, I'm writing a blog here! I can figure out the props later.

    Anyway, that's just a small window into my obsessive world. Hell, I can't even watch TV or a movie without plotting out animation moves in my head. Tragic really. Maybe this is what it's like to be autistic? I sometimes think I am. I know I'm obsessive compulsive - I don't know an animator who isn't. I'm also very superstitious. For instance, I won't check off a finished scene on my shot list until the footage is backed up onto DVD and external harddrive. Maybe this is isn't so much superstition as common sense. I don't trust computers. Who does? Mind you, the worst instance of me losing footage had nothing to do with a computer, but with a Super 8 camera.

    Years ago when I was living in Mullaloo, West Australia, a lovely beachside suburb of Perth, I had commandeered my parents' lounge room (that's what Aussies call a living room) to shoot in. I was making a stop-motion saga of epic proportions on a very nice Canon Super 8 camera that I had obtained whilst working at a garbage dump (garbage dumps are an excellent source of props and equipment).

    The camera was working fine. However, the clincher was that because there was nowhere in the southern hemisphere that processed Kodachrome Super 8, I had to send the film to Switzerland. So there was about a month turnaround before I could see my rushes. This made things all the more difficult as I would send the footage off, strike my set, put up a new set and shoot new scenes while I waited for the rushes - all the while worrying if my previous animation had worked or not.

    As luck would have it, I had just shot a huge battle scene which took me about a week to do. I had no problems while shooting it but then I really never knew how the animation was going as I didn't have any instant playback. So I sent the footage off. A month later I got the footage back. Reviewing footage was always a bittersweet moment - did my animation turn out okay... or not. In this case it was definitely a "not". A really bad not. I lost about a minute of animation - which is a lot for an animator.

    I took the camera in to get fixed and eventually the repair guy found a replacement part. It cost a mere $15 to fix - but my morale was destroyed. To re-build that set and to re-shoot a whole minute of animation, well, how much can a koala bear? (I hope that joke works with a North American audience - it's a staple pun Downunder). I never did finish that film.There were other reasons involved why it was never completed but I did cobble together something from all that footage. You can see a cut of that film on my website(www.electricpagan.com) it's called INTERGALACTIC COUNTRY FAIR. It even screened at a few film festivals.

    Which is why I shoot on digital and back everything up religiously. But, maybe backing up isn't enough? Perhaps I should be making offerings to the gods? I know - a virgin sacrifice would ensure that my filmmaking would be a success! But finding a virgin in Toronto? Not bloody likely.

    Well, I think my best chance at success is getting my obsessive ass back into the studio and making a whole bunch of prop flowers for my next shot. My life is all about the next shot....

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