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The Myth on Movie Musicals

The Myth on Movie Musicals

La La Land Behind the Scenes Source: La La Land Featurette

From some of my discusions with fellow film students, many are often curious about the process of making a movie musical (as the movie musical is my favourite genre and one that I have been exploring through my personal projects). They wonder how much more work is required to pull off these elegent musical numbers. Many wonder in awe at directors like Gene Kelly and Damien Chazelle and how they were able to think up these amazing sweeping set-pieces.

The thing is… it is no different from making any other film…

Director, Ron Howard, said in his MasterClass that anybody can be a director and he explains it well…

“We all have our own instincts… But [what] we have to do is back up that instinct with something called craft. “

Ron Howard in his MasterClass. (Yes, I know it was just a quote from the trailer.)

The same thing applies to directing a movie musical, everyone can instinctively tell when a character should to the rhythm of a song, how to feel when singing a particular line, etc.

The craft side of things is of course important. For years I’ve been watching movie musicals, studying how the characters move, how the camera moves and how they all relate to each other to create a fantastic sequence and so I feel confident that when I finally get the chance to shoot a complete movie musical with several numbers, I will do a good job… well at least a decent job.

But for everyone else, those who see me going full-on in specialising in this genre, please don’t be intimidated and feel like it’s an exclusive genre because apart from a couple of changes in approach, it is no different from making a music video and I’m sure many filmmakers have made a music video before.

In fact, all videos going around Facebook involving lipsyncing to pop songs whilst a story about some students is essentially a version of the jukebox musical that’s adapted for the internet. It incorporates all the ingredients of a movie musical: a narrative, songs to aid the telling of that narrative and the occasional bit of dancing. The only thing it really lacks is an original cast recording of each song.

I don’t know if it is just my own assumptions of people who talk to me when I have a conversation with them on the genre; I could just be assuming that the movie musical genre is viewed as a niche that people are afraid to touch and I can completely understand that people may not want to buy into the concept of people randomly bursting to song and dance when it is both in and out of the diegesis of the film.

Regardless, I love the genre and I’d like to encourage all of my filmmaker friends to give it a go! If you love music and love film, then the power of song and dance as a narrative device would be a great thing to explore. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be seeing original movie musicals from more people beyond Disney.

I’ve been doing it wrong all this time…

I’ve just finished my first year in university and am now in a position where I have virtually all the time in the world to catch up with old friends, do things I haven’t had the time to do while I’m focussing on the course and reevaluate my plan from January 2019.

I’ve made so many improvements to my own life such as using a bullet journal to plan and organise my day, writing in a private journal to collate my thoughts, feelings and better understand myself as well as making progress in my filmmaking journey. However, there have been moments where I’d either missed the mark or just failed to work on at all. This includes things such as my physical health in regards to going to the gym frequently, eating healthily, being smart with my spending, etc.

Part of that can be attributed to how I’d originally planned my future. There is one fundamental flaw in my ten-year plan which I failed to recognise: I’d overcomplicated my life way too much…

Whilst I was able to take my dreams, ambitions & long-term goals and break them down into realistic steps, I’d simply failed to account for the fact that I want to do so much with my life in such a small timeframe. Of course, for most people, ten years is an incredibly long amount of time for most people but for me, there is this undeniable conflict between my goals and the time I’ve given myself to achieve those goals and this conflict shows itself in different ways:

Firstly, there’s the fact that I want to do too much — I know that I’m a multifaceted person in regards to my hobbies and interests. I love making films… but I also love making music… but I also love designing and building things… etc. etc. etc. For whatever reason, I’m into so many different things, it’s unfortunately too much for myself to handle. Consequently, this means that I have to focus on one interest at a time while putting the rest aside. This is something I realised throughout the first year at uni, being able to play musical instruments a lot less due to working on course projects and essays.

I know this is a frustrating thing all of us have, especially those who have a daily routine of working a regular job and waiting for that one moment of free time where they can entertain their interests. I am grateful, however, that I’m able to finally work more things other than student films now that my academic year has ended.

Secondly, I created way too many steps for me to achieve my end goal. For those who know me or are familiar with my past goal-setting blogs, I’ve detailed exactly what I needed to do to achieve everything I want in life. I also mentioned the hundreds of projects I was working on and out of that list of projects, I didn’t even get a chance to begin working on most of them. My thinking back then was that if each project took me closer to my end goal, then it mustn’t have been a bad idea to be taking on so much.

However, what I didn’t account for was the law of diminishing returns where I’d planned so many projects for minimal return. What I’ve learnt from running a business and researching into standard business practices is that a cost/benefit analysis is always made before a project is commissioned. When deciding on doing all of these projects, I’ve failed to account how much return I’d be getting for the amount of time and effort spent and as a result, I’ve had to drop many many projects and commitments, which is admittedly heartbreaking but most likely for the best.

As you can see, while I’d planned my future with some consideration into approaching them realistically, I have a long way to go until I come up with a plan that I am confident in to aid my journey for the next ten years of my life. I better start updating it!

Today’s the Day: Some weird thoughts on “New Year. New me.”

Today’s the Day: Some weird thoughts on “New Year. New me.”
January 7, 2019

My goals, how to set your own realistic goals, experiencing failure, troubles with relationships and how to bounce back.

I think we all have a New Year’s Resolution planned, whether we like to admit to it or not. However, I’m certain that the vast majority do so purely because of social expectations; the “New Year. New me,” phrase is always thrown around the start of January, creating unrealistic goals, unrealistic time frames and unrealistic expectations to achieve them. For example, someone would set themselves the goal to focus more time and effort on their work or career or would get a gym subscription, pledging to work out and eat healthily every day…

Okay, I’ve done this…

But…I’d written a little bit about it on my older blog site (I’m still migrating all my posts to this one) but here is a summery:

  1. Make more short films in and out the course, including (hopefully) finishing This City of Mine.
  2. Get into more graphic design and web design based projects in my free time.
  3. Relaunching my blog (done) and redesign my other websites.
  4. Begin that long-term business venture with my two brothers.
  5. Improve my health and fitness.

Of course, I’m sure some of you will notice that it’s a pretty, pretty long list of goals and it seems like a lot of work. Yeah… me too… However, there’s a few reasons why I think I might be able to pull this off:

They’re all related.

All these goals relate to my singular long-term goal of being in a position where I can do all the things I enjoy for a living.

Making more films will mean I’m building up my portfolio, working on my craft and forming my own style, which will collectively contribute to my dream career of writing and directing all kinds of films.

Getting into graphic design and web design are hobbies I’ve always wanted to try out and if I’m any good, make some money from it.

Redesigning my own personal brand and websites will help me market myself for small jobs and hopefully in the near future, big projects professionally.

Relaunching my blog will help me take control of my own thoughts and feelings and publicly confess so whoever is so bored enough with their lives that they’ll read one of my posts can hold me accountable to these goals.

Starting a business with my brothers is essentially us, trying to make money from doing things we enjoy.

Improving my health and fitness is pretty much a non-negotiable when I have way too many goals that I do not have the physical and mental capacities to achieve them all in my current state.

They’re all short-term.

Back in 2017, when I first started to write about my plans for the future, I’d followed the structure of creating short-term goals that are steps towards achieving a larger long-term goal. I kept that going throughout into my 2018 Future: Take Two blog post and now my latest update post.

All of those short films as well as This City of Mine are steps into achieving that long-term goal of directing Project Emmy Firework Moony. (I do understand that giving codenames to top secret projects that nobody cares about is dorky but I’m sure you’re protective about your work. Lol.) Even one of the short films is a proof-of-concept musical short for the proof-of-concept feature-length movie musical for my much bigger feature-length movie musical. To be honest, I’m also starting to think that Project Emmy Firework Moony may also be a proof-of-concept feature for another movie musical… (I’ll talk about uncertainty in another post.)

My hobby in graphic design and web design is the first step in me doing whatever I want. I’ve always made excuses like lack of money and lack of time (both are actually very valid excuses) but I’m at that point where my main passion for filmmaking is being fulfilled through my academic course and with some proper scheduling, allow me the time to explore those other hobbies.

Actually committing to a blog is short-term as it’s a form of keeping track of all of the other short-term goals.

Okay, I understand that one of the goals literally says “long-term” however the steps I’m taking in starting a business and beginning to trade is by nature, a short-term step into the long-term goal of creating a successful business.

Improving my health and fitness is also short-term as it refers to me actually getting back into my old habits of running every morning, exercising regularly and not feeling like shit. I’d like to get back to that point where it is all habitual and I don’t have to consciously work on it.

I have the means to achieve all of this.

I’m in university, studying Film, so I have all the equipment I need to make the films I want to right now. I also have resources outside of my course to help me: workshops and mentorship schemes will be useful for the business idea, having access to a laptop and the internet means blogging isn’t an issue and my gym is on campus so it doesn’t take me a lot of convincing to travel there and do a quick hour’s workout.

The only unrealistic goal, admittedly, is finishing This City of Mine, as rebooting a project that had collapsed, trying to source the funds to revive a project in it’s current state is a risky thing.

But as I’ve mentioned before, it will involve a lot of work on my part to achieve this. I’ve planned a weekly schedule that maximises the time I have while being flexible to suit my lifestyle and am planning a yearly calendar. My start date for this weekly schedule is in fact, Monday 7th January. Today.

With all this planning I need to be in the mindset where I can actually follow through this plan and not accept any failure that was a result of my lack of control. I needed something to kick start my obsessiveness.

I feel like shit.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m pretty sure I’m mentally sound (enough).

2018 was fantastic but many parts of it weren’t. For example, This City of Mine’s production being cut because of funding issues. Of course, there are many independent productions from young and dumb nobodies that fail due to a lack of funding, however, I’m not going to lie to you in saying that it didn’t hurt. It did… Something I poured my heart and soul into for over a year now because of factors I couldn’t control sucks! And even if I did, I somewhat felt responsible for it all and am feeling the consequences through my current circumstances, work relationships with some of the cast and crew and even personal relationships with a few of them.

To make things worse, having the support of a good part of my home city and having many of them financially support us makes me feel like such a let down. I’ve gone through the usual questions like “Am I good enough for this?”, “Do I have what it takes?”, etc. and

I’m very confident (or at the very least, my innate desire to change all of this is strong enough) that I will work my hardest to find the funding needed to complete this film and make things write for myself, the cast, crew and the people of my city.

I’ve reevaluated the situation and had came to the realisation that I really don’t need a feature if I end up not having enough time in the summer to shoot one, none of the cast and crew are dependent on this job to provide them income for the entire year (less shoot weeks on a single film just means they can work on other films), the people who are supporting the film will simply enjoy the fact that a movie musical is being made in their home city, they wouldn’t really care if the film is 50 minutes long or 72 minutes.

Also, first semester was a mixed bag of feelings. I’m incredibly happy with the friends I’ve made, the coursemates I’ve worked with, even the mutual friends I’ve briefly spoken to. The only problem that I’ve had is because I was on this downward slope of struggling to sleep, not treating my body right and feeling unmotivated, my ability to properly interact with people and have meaningful conversations has declined. Something I openly admit to people when discussing.

I’m that kind of person who just sits back, enjoying his drink and watching the events of other people’s lives unfolding. This isn’t because I’m an observation person or like to be, it’s because I’ve became socially inept. I’ve been thinking a lot about people and their intensions as well as my own and I feel like part of the reason why I think about them is because I don’t think I’m certain of my own. I would like to experience meaningful relationships with all my mates at uni but sometimes I’m just not sure what to expect. I cannot be sure why a person is nice because they like me, they want to appear nice or whether they’re messing with me.

I’ve always struggled with uncertainty and maybe, if I can improve and understand myself with a bit of structure, that would be a step in understanding other people. After all, I don’t think I’d be able to be a team player in a relationship if I can’t be a good player in the first place.

I reckon it’s the larger issue that these problems are present in all aspects of my life: personal, social and work.

Thankfully, these issues, as far as I can tell, are simply speed bumps. Minor setbacks that I’m now in a good position to change. And feeling shit is a good motivator for me to get started!

I’m ready to get started.

Now, I’ve mentioned that Monday 7th January 2019 and already, three things had happened:

1. I finished the first season of Master of None (the comedy show with Aziz Ansari) and actually find the main character, Dev, incredibly inspirational — if a dork like him can authentically be himself around people who care about him and have meaningful relationships, a dork such as myself certainly can.
2. I impulse purchased a bag of protein powder and some supplements on Amazon. I’m pretty sure that’s me just conforming to consumerism and really good corporate marketing but nonetheless, all the YouTube videos and adverts on becoming fitter makes me want to better myself and achieve the mental/physical state that I aspire to have.
3. Blogged about it, marking my intensions. Today is the day!

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, I’ve literally just wrote about S.M.A.R.T goals in a self-reflective, anecdotal form, even though most of my readership will probably have been taught this in an Intro to Reflective Essays class on their first year of uni.

That being said, most of my readership are probably the one’s who would need an article like this…

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The Myth on Movie Musicals

La La Land Behind the Scenes Source: La La Land Featurette From some of my discusions with fellow film students, many are often curious about the process of making a movie musical (as the movie musical is my favourite genre and one that I have been exploring through...

I’ve been doing it wrong all this time…

I've just finished my first year in university and am now in a position where I have virtually all the time in the world to catch up with old friends, do things I haven't had the time to do while I'm focussing on the course and reevaluate my plan from January 2019....

Today’s the Day: Some weird thoughts on “New Year. New me.”

My goals, how to set your own realistic goals, experiencing failure, troubles with relationships and how to bounce back.I think we all have a New Year’s Resolution planned, whether we like to admit to it or not. However, I’m certain that the vast majority do so purely...

Hello world! (Again)

I'm moving from Wix to WordPress to reflect my intention to write more blog posts in 2019. Expect to see more film reviews, self-reflective pieces, essays, other random thoughts and ideas by professional procrastinator, Chris.  As you can see (if you're reading this...

Hello world! (Again)

Hello world! (Again)
January 1, 2019

I’m moving from Wix to WordPress to reflect my intention to write more blog posts in 2019. Expect to see more film reviews, self-reflective pieces, essays, other random thoughts and ideas by professional procrastinator, Chris.

 As you can see (if you’re reading this at the time of the post’s release), this website is still in progress; I’m migrating all my previous posts from the old Wix website to this one which is using the WordPress Content Management System. Neat! This will of course take some time and I’m currently working on a few university projects as well as an academic essay so time is pretty scarce.

Regardless, I look forward to sharing all my thoughts, feelings and other things that are too insignificant for you to actually read.

 

Follow my blog!

More posts

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Curabitur vehicula, lacus et convallis laoreet, leo ligula egestas metus, et porta purus turpis vel nunc. Duis id iaculis metus, at cursus tortor. Suspendisse potenti. Aliquam vitae euismod ex, quis mollis leo....

The Myth on Movie Musicals

La La Land Behind the Scenes Source: La La Land Featurette From some of my discusions with fellow film students, many are often curious about the process of making a movie musical (as the movie musical is my favourite genre and one that I have been exploring through...

I’ve been doing it wrong all this time…

I've just finished my first year in university and am now in a position where I have virtually all the time in the world to catch up with old friends, do things I haven't had the time to do while I'm focussing on the course and reevaluate my plan from January 2019....

Today’s the Day: Some weird thoughts on “New Year. New me.”

My goals, how to set your own realistic goals, experiencing failure, troubles with relationships and how to bounce back.I think we all have a New Year’s Resolution planned, whether we like to admit to it or not. However, I’m certain that the vast majority do so purely...

Hello world! (Again)

I'm moving from Wix to WordPress to reflect my intention to write more blog posts in 2019. Expect to see more film reviews, self-reflective pieces, essays, other random thoughts and ideas by professional procrastinator, Chris.  As you can see (if you're reading this...