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.


Michelle said...

I watched all the video clips and I was as impressed by your work, as I was by theirs. Having been involved in high school (and college) theater, whatt they pulled off is amazing and it is nice to see a place where the theater program obviously competes with the football team in how much money the taxpayers and district give them :)

Chunky Photojournalist Barbie said...

Yay! I'm so glad you watched them! I was hoping someone would (and I figured it would be you.) Thanks, Michelle. :)

Julia said...

Love it! Watched them all too - damn they're ambitious in Nyack! But good to see it worked out for them. And for you. Ahh what a gift it is (depsite all the hard work it takes) for you to be able to revisit the important times in your life through the work of covering other people's memories. If only Michelle and I had someone as fabulous as you documenting our days in BSHS Troupe we might have something to show our friends now, rather then the blurry, horrible sound vides we have stashed somewhere and are too embrassed to drag out and point out our spec on the screen...

Michelle said...

Whatever, Jul, our edited video (with music, mind you) of "Our Town; Behind the Scenes" that we did for our communications class was (and is) AWESOME!

We should force Angie to watch it sometime (evil laugh)...

Chunky Photojournalist Barbie said...

Heh. I was Myrtle (Emily's mother) in "Our Town." I wore a dress the size of a couch. And yes, I can put my hands on those photos, like, when I get home from work. Maybe.

Julia, did you know Mike We!selberg in college? He was a drama major who worked at the Orange convenience store down on the corner of East Ad@ms and S. Cr0use by the McDonald's near M Street? He played the newspaper carrier in my high school's production of Our Town. In Act 2, he played the newspaper carrier's brother.

I would totally watch your Behind the Scenes of Our Town project. I would then subject you to the tape of me doing the morning news for my high school, but I'm afraid I would involuntarily curl up and die from the embarrassment. My spine is bending and my butt is clenching from the mere thought it.

Michelle said...

We also hosted a fake radio program for that class and we played all country music (as that was what we listened to then - other than musical theater songs) and the tape of that is enough to make me want to kill myself. I absolutely hate the sound of my voice when I hear it on tape and we were such total dorks on this show that I can hardly believe what an outright tool I was then....and maybe still am now?!?!?!?!?!?

hefk said...

This is really remarkable. I don't begin to know what goes into putting all of it together into a seamless piece - looks impressive. Congratulations!
Also? That caliber of production at the high school level is something to behold. Having helped direct and produce two shows where I teach, my hat is off to that entire group of faculty and students and parents.

Lo Lo said...

Hahahahaha I love that Our Town video! Classic Cataldo stuff.

Angie, the videos are amazing! I loved the last one a lot. :)

Julia said...

What's even worse is that our teacher thought our radio show was so good his kids through it was real radio - just goes to show how LOW the standards were at our HS. Oh well... we made it on to bigger and better things somehow. And DAMN we had fun while were were there...we ruled the school! ;)