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"Today" Short Film


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Posted (edited)

Hey guys, you can catch our little period piece "Today", screening in competition with Australia's top 100 shorts for the next week at the St. Kilda Film Festival (which is streaming online for free this year).

Really proud of this little film and the terrific team who pulled it together under COVID restrictions and between the two lockdowns last year, and it's screening alongside a really interesting collection other films in the session called "Tales of Mystery & Imagination" (it's the last film in the session, but I enjoyed the whole session if you want to watch them all). The player's fast-forward feature has been disabled in the viewer, but if you hold down the left/right arrows on your keyboard, you can scroll through the session to find it at the end (if you don't want to watch the whole session).

It features perhaps my favourite practical FX shot that I've done to-date!

Would love to hear people's thoughts.

You can check it out here:


https://player.vimeo.com/video/551773641
(password: TOMI2021)

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Edited by Mark Kenfield
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  • Sustaining Member
On 5/22/2021 at 1:50 AM, Mark Kenfield said:

Here's a direct link that should make scrubbing through the full session easier:
 

Password: TOMI2021

Beautiful work, Mark! I’d suggest including the time stamp for the film so people can find it easier. 

The actors were fantastic, the cyclical story structure along with the sound design worked really well to keep cranking the tension, and the production design, lighting, and lensing nailed the too-perfect ‘Mad Men’ vibe. Loved it!

You guys fooled me with Chekhov’s gun, I thought the rat poison would come into play on the third time around. Instead the trigger turned out to be something we saw in the foreground and also didn’t see just outside of frame. Can you talk a bit about how you and the director came up with that bit of storytelling sleight-of-hand? 

Love the practical FX you got in there. The bulb filament popping with the smoke was a nice touch. But I was wondering how you did the ‘guts’ shot and whether you used a probe lens for the mouth/eye shots? I’m guessing you had to paint out the camera reflection in post for the eye shot? 

Also, I’m assuming the space void transitions were VFX, but maybe that’s what you were referring to? 

Anyway, lovely work Mark. You and your team should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished with this one. Congrats!

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Posted (edited)
On 5/23/2021 at 12:01 PM, Tyler Purcell said:

Interesting concept... I assume the story is in her head? Kinda confused on the meaning behind it. 

It was well shot, what camera did you use? 

Thanks Tyler, we shot it on the F55.

The story is a remembrance, but it's also supposed to be a compression of events and representative of the cyclical and dependent nature of so many domestic abuse situations. People don't just leave, caught up between their love and the constant conflict, and and the cycle keeps repeating itself.

The original title for the film was "The Loop", which I personally think they should have kept.

17 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Beautiful work, Mark! I’d suggest including the time stamp for the film so people can find it easier. 

The actors were fantastic, the cyclical story structure along with the sound design worked really well to keep cranking the tension, and the production design, lighting, and lensing nailed the too-perfect ‘Mad Men’ vibe. Loved it!

You guys fooled me with Chekhov’s gun, I thought the rat poison would come into play on the third time around. Instead the trigger turned out to be something we saw in the foreground and also didn’t see just outside of frame. Can you talk a bit about how you and the director came up with that bit of storytelling sleight-of-hand? 

Love the practical FX you got in there. The bulb filament popping with the smoke was a nice touch. But I was wondering how you did the ‘guts’ shot and whether you used a probe lens for the mouth/eye shots? I’m guessing you had to paint out the camera reflection in post for the eye shot? 

Also, I’m assuming the space void transitions were VFX, but maybe that’s what you were referring to? 

Anyway, lovely work Mark. You and your team should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished with this one. Congrats!

A good point Sat, for anyone interested in taking a look, you can click through to the vimeo page itself to access the forward/backward controls here:

https://vimeo.com/551773641

Password: TOMI2021
Timestamp: 1:07:48

And thanks Sat, really appreciate the kind words. I'm not sure we consciously had the rat poison there for a mis-directed Chekov's Gun, so much as for a bit of flavour in the dressing, to help set the mood. But it did become pretty immediately apparent in the edit, and I think it works a treat as a mis-direct.

The guts/throat/mouth/void/eye shot was actually supposed to have two additional components at the start. We were going to fade in on launch footage from the Apollo 12 mission (the lunar mission that she's watching on the TV), and from shots of the exhaust flames from the rocket, we'd crossfade into our own shots of the "rocket exhaust" which we did by feeding the smoke from a smoke machine through a pipe surrounding a Dedolight, with the dedo flickering through a dimmer to create the sense of the exhaust flames shooting out at the camera lens.

That explosive firey/smokey shot would then blend into the roiling stomach juices and the rest of the shot would carry on from there. The gut itself was a bowl we lined with lettuce leaves painted pink, and reddish liquid mix that we fed a small gas tube into to create the bubbles. The oesophagus was a soft rubber tube.

We used a Laowa probe lens to get all three of the shots (the guts/oesophagus, the mouth/void, and the eyeball pull-back). By feeding the oesophagus tube over the barrel of the probe lens, and with the camera mounted on a slider vertically, we'd slide up and away from the roiling gut juices, and then pull the oesophagus tube down over the lens, twisting and clenching it by hand to create the "curves" in the throat.

Getting enough light for the shot (at T/22 @ 60fps and 800 ISO) on the probe lens required a LOT of light, so I had a 2k blonde literally centimeters below the gut-bowl, and then a pair of 150w Dedolights firing at full spot into the oesophagus/tube sections (again mere centimeters away from it. The little wafts of smoke that you see floating above the bubbling stomach juices are actually steam from the liquid - because the 2k heated it up to near boiling point!

The mouth/void section was continued by putting the probe lens on a jib, and literally pushing it down to the back of our poor actor Tom's throat! With an M18 blasting into his face at close range to get us the T/32 or so that we needed for my poor AC to have any chance at sharps. If I could have had a 6k HMI that would have helped a great deal, and I could have stopped down to T/44 and made our lives (if not Tom's!) easier.

Shooting on S35mm made this a bit harder than it could have been because at 24mm, we were struggling to jib up and away far enough from Tom's head to fit his whole body in, so that it could be comped into the eyeball shot. 

With the eyeball shot itself, having Tom comped into it at the start of the shot helps cover the camera. But we had ourselves pretty well tented behind, to help hide things - still, very hard to get away with much looking THAT closely into an eye. You can see EVERYTHING reflected, and to a very wide viewing angle.

Also, trying to make old-age makeup work at THAT level of magnification is just brutal. You can see everything. We had to remove quite a lot of it on the day, and then I used some contrast/mid-tone detail trickery in the grade to help hide things long-enough that the shot pulls back far enough and you can (kinda) get away with it.

Edited by Mark Kenfield
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Thanks for the details Mark! The ‘guts’ practical FX sounds like it was a lot of fun to shoot. No better feeling than getting it done in-camera!

Having somewhat recent done a macro eyeball shot myself, I know how hard it is to light and hide reflections. Well done mate, great film and gorgeous work by you and your team. 

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16 hours ago, Mark Kenfield said:

The story is a remembrance, but it's also supposed to be a compression of events and representative of the cyclical and dependent nature of so many domestic abuse situations. People don't just leave, caught up between their love and the constant conflict, and and the cycle keeps repeating itself.

Ohh got ya. Makes sense, thanks for the explanation and yea, it came out super great. 

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13 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Thanks for the details Mark! The ‘guts’ practical FX sounds like it was a lot of fun to shoot. No better feeling than getting it done in-camera!

Having somewhat recent done a macro eyeball shot myself, I know how hard it is to light and hide reflections. Well done mate, great film and gorgeous work by you and your team. 

Yeah, I certainly won’t be rushing to shoot macro eyeballs with a 24mm again anytime soon! Distance is most certainly your friend for those ones.

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