Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Where I've Been
As I mentioned below, I've been following a local high school through one of the first amateur productions of "Phantom of the Opera" permitted by Andrew Lloyd Webber's licensing company. They're sort of an experiment, to see if high schools can do this. I have literally spent hours upon hours with them, shooting more than a hundred stills and six videos (also below) documenting their progress from from auditions to opening night.
This is my first real push at significant documentary filmmaking work, aside from the 1-2 minute news packages for the newspaper's website and affiliate broadcast. Documentary-style editing is a real bitch, by the way. I actually experimented with two video cameras filming at once.
It's something I've seen wedding videographers do if they're shooting alone. One camera was set up in the middle of the auditorium (usually wedding videographers set it up in the choir loft) and ran a steady take. Then I moved around with my second camera. Oh, and I was shooting stills, too. Because I am a glutton for punishment, what can I say? And I want the shots that I want. Also, I'm doing both video and stills for Alissa's wedding in July. I'll have both Joel and Amanda assisting in July, so that will be much, much easier. Probably.
Anyway, my project is all wrapped up now, more or less. I will be doing one final segment on the conclusion of the show on March 15th.
You know what's helped me keep my sanity, though? These kids are amazing. They are so, so talented. I was able to shoot all through a five-hour rehearsal, log and capture both tapes of that same rehearsal from two different angles, and then go back and line up the audio tracks with excruciating precision ONLY because they're incredibly talented.
Part one features the stage manager. A little fondness, perhaps, because of my own high school experience? Yeah, guilty as charged. This is more of a slideshow approach with stills, because I lost some crucial footage in a hard drive crash. Poop on that.
This is part two, featuring the girl who plays Christine. She is only 15. She's funny and smart and hits that high C in "Think of Me" with a HAMMER, though you can see more of that song in part five.
This is part three, featuring the guy who plays the Phantom. He wants to be a graphic designer with a theater minor. How much you wanna bet he comes back from Winter Break majoring in drama or musical theater? He has such a thoughtful approach to his acting, from his singing style to his use of gesture, that I can't help but marvel at his maturity as a performer.
This is part four, which technically focuses on the director and the way he teaches the kids to succeed. At this point, I was trying to include one major musical number in each movie. This segment features "Masquerade."
This is part five, which focuses on the pit orchestra and the conductor. (I can't post a photo of Gwen from 1993 and not give the pit orchestra a shout-out.) This segment contains "Think of Me" and "Angel of Music," including the bit where the Phantom appears in the mirror.
Finally, part six is the Opening Night segment. If you're skimming this, and who can blame you? This is the segment to watch. These editing techniques are HARD, (please say nice things), and I'm especially proud of how the two cameras captured the falling chandelier. To be fair and to paraphrase some Grand Poobahs of Theatre who saw Opening Night, you know... This isn't Broadway. But what these kids do well, they do SO well that you forget you're watching high school theater. And that suspension of disbelief is a credit to their storytelling, no matter how you slice it.
So this is where I've been, what I've been doing while blogging has been sparse. Those of you who remember Saturdays spent set-painting, who remember how much I loved this musical (and Jon) when I was 15, who know that I sat curled up in theater seats with my fist pressed to my mouth whenever my sister or ex stepped out on stage, who recall that I vicariously lived and died by the names on callback lists in college, you will see how much of my heart went into this project.
And you'll see why I'm just so proud of these kids.