Thursday, March 8, 2012

The First Step: Creating the Narrative

From the producers to the guys behind the camera, everyone made a pitch at Filmic’s first story meeting. That’s how we work; everyone has a say. Leaving the meeting, we definitely weren’t at a loss for ideas. In fact, we had the beginnings of at least... 10 different films?!? With a WWII drama that contrasted two soldiers’ return home and even a comedy featuring Blockbuster employees’ and their attempt to take down Netflix,the list just went on and on...

So, the problem was never ‘what could we possibly make this film about’ but rather ‘what kind of film did we want to make’.

At first, we tried to work with the WWII treatment. Our writers, Emily Lyon and Barbara Twist, actually drafted three different scripts around the idea, but the story just wasn’t clicking. Capturing the story of WWII was just a little too big for what we had in mind – a 10-12 minute narrative that would draw our audience in from the get-go and keep them on the edge of their seats until the credits. So we stepped back and reevaluated the kind of film that we wanted to make… Another pondering art film wasn’t in the cards; everyone on the Filmic team was looking to make something exciting and original that people would want to watch again and again.

And so began our push towards ‘Simon Says’ – a suspenseful, action-packed, political thriller. In reevaluating our approach, our Production Designer, Christina Bender, pitched her redrafted version of a world where pressing buttons can cause accidents. The idea had earlier been dropped, because the story felt more like a Pixar short than a narrative film. But Christina’s rewrite brought a darker tone to the table that struck everyone as a step in the right direction. Still, the story needed work...

Meeting after meeting, we tossed around scenarios featuring Simon pressing buttons. And again, we were never short of ideas. A fact that may have irritated Emily and Barbara as they cranked out script after script only to find that the ideas we pitched didn’t work.

At times, we all felt like we weren’t moving at all, but looking back, each draft added something to the final mix whether it was a character, a motif, or even a specific moment. Eventually (and I use this word lightly), we found the three major ingredients that would define our final story – Equity Corps, a chase sequence, and the idea of ‘fair is fair’.

We’d come a long way since our WWII drama, and now had a story about Simon – an employee at Equity Corps who maintains balance in the world by creating accidents. But, there existed one last problem…Simon was boring, and we wanted exciting. How could we make a protagonist who just sits at a desk pressing buttons exciting? He needed to leave his desk! It was such a simple problem, but we made little progress until Christina reframed where the story began.

We don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say that Simon is definitely not boring, as he’ll be facing some serious obstacles from Equity Corps. The first in fact came this weekend with a fast-paced robbery and chase sequence!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Image Behind the Films

Equally as important to us as pushing the standards of our work is continually polishing our identity. Check out the graphic below to learn more about how the Filmic image has developed along with us over the last year and a half. And yes, that is a mascot, circa spring 2011...!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Filmic's First Narrative

The Filmic team’s semester includes a number of awesome opportunities, but one of the most exciting is – surprisingly – offered as a class. That’s right, we’re pumped up about school. But this isn’t your mundane, anonymous lecture with GSIs and math homework due every week… This is Filmmaking II, where the goal is to finish a 10-15 minute narrative film. Needless to say, we’re thinking big.
Most Importantly, this project has to be, fittingly, filmic. In the most literal sense, this course offers us an opportunity that is quickly dying off - the chance to shoot on super 16 color negative. We plan on taking full advantage of this rare opportunity and special aesthetic. So, yes, Filmic will temporarily put away the SLRs for something truly cinematic.
Our biggest focus as always, will be story. Not only do we want to tell a story appropriate to film, but also one we all are passionate about. If not everyone is on board, then we're not running at our full potential. Fortunately, our current treatment has captured everyone's attention: it allows for big production design, but more importantly, presents themes and characters with which we all can identify. The best hint that I can give everyone is that our big story idea involves buttons (a world full of buttons), and I'll just let your minds run with that for now. However, as we move more into the semester, we'll be blogging all about our first narrative experience as we move from pre-production to post. So... Be on the lookout for updates, photos, and maybe even some behind the scenes videos (honestly, we really will never put down our SLRs), because we want you all to be just as excited as we are as we continue to move forward on this project.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Production Design Rules the World

When a college house just isn't "college" enough, we're faced with the dilemma of what the heck to fill the shot with. Fortunately, the gnome sustained only minor injuries (thanks Skyler), the AK was never fired, and the residents of Pleasant St. were able to navigate their way home safely that evening...


Monday, January 2, 2012

Post NO.3

2012. Boom. Some seriously exciting projects are in store for the new year. But we're also excited to deliver some pieces we've been working on through the end of 2011. So, here's a quick recap - a slice of the recent chaos...

Sparked from the fame surrounding past hilarious viral video work from UM's own Skyler Fulton and Devin Rossinsky, the opportunity for Filmic to collaborate with 3P on a series of online commercials for arose. I had discussed the possibilities of working with Skyler for some time now, but we were all thrilled that this project was able to become a reality.

Without giving too much away about the two spots we produced, lets just say they're both pretty absurd, and most definitely different style pieces than we've shot in the past. Starring Skyler and Devin as those "EatBlue Guys", these original comedy sketches aim to build's brand visibility, evoke laughter, and maybe - just maybe - make you think "What the hell is going through these dude's heads?" Also, there may or may not be a very, very cute puppy involved with one of the spots.

The shoot was really awesome at reversing our sleeping schedules, as we shot into the early morning hours the Friday before the holiday break. In case anyone was wondering, Benny's Family Dining off South State St. on Industrial opens at 5AM. And they have some of the best greasy omeletts in Ann Arbor. Highly recommended for a hungry crew after a late-night wrap, or just because you can.

Post Production for both spots is well underway. Look for them to be released online mid-January, and show your friends. And then order some food online without getting off the couch. Or your computer.

The Michigan Marketing Enterprise

Fresh off the excitement from the EatBlue shoot, we had to refocus and wrap pre-production prep on a film for the University of Michigan's Marketing Enterprise. The three creative branches of the University's marketing department are in the process of overhauling their identity. Soon to be named Michigan Creative, Michigan Media, and Michigan Photography, a unified picture of these 3 divisions was commissioned by the University's Director of Marketing, Matt Schlentz, in the form of a short film. We had 3 days of production to construct an up-beat, hight energy piece that positively represented the personalities, process, and work of these creatives.

Hanging out with this creative community for the week was a blast. By the time we had wrapped, Josh, Joe, Steve, and myself felt like we were part of the crew. Chris McElroy of Michigan Media was huge in making our blank-canvas studio space vision a reality, and we were thrilled to see some of these wacky personalities shine through, just as we had envisioned. We learned a thing or two about lighting subjects for a solid backdrop, probably over-used our Cinevate Atlas 30 slider once again, and learned that some of the perks of working in an organized office space are unlimited free coffee and home-cooked community lunches.

However, what sums it up best might have to be what Kelly Fuligni, the Creative Director for Michigan Creative stated in one of her interviews: "It's a point of pride. I think the University of Michigan's reputation precedes itself, and being associated with an institution that embodies such brand attributes as the University is an honor."


Sunday, December 18, 2011


Tomorrow we begin a shoot at the Argus I building in Ann Arbor profiling Michigan Creative - the University's new collective branding involving Michigan Marketing & Design, Michigan Photo Services, and Michigan Productions. It took a little while for it to sink in... its a little confusing at first thinking about how to creatively market a creative marketing agency. Furthermore, this video was going to be smack-dab front page of their redesigned website, to launch right atop the new year. We ended up thinking along the lines of how we function as a creative collective, and applied some of those principles to how we would market Michigan Creative. Well, the pitch got the green-light last week after an all-night prep session, and it will involve shooting several interviews, b-roll in the workplace, along with a separate studio space setup. And they got shiny new production books in the process! We're excited to shoot creatives being creative, and infuse some of our ideas into capturing their personalities, energy, and most importantly great work. We'll keep ya posted...


Friday, December 9, 2011

And we're off...

I've been wanting to start a blog for some time covering the experiences, projects, and incredible people we've worked with over the couse of the last year. Part of it, I will admit, is I'm a sucker for behind-the-scenes stuff. But I also really believe that taking note of the little things that make this work so special to us can help us catch our breath and enjoy where we currently are. As I try to sum up some of the past year's excitement here in a few memorable images, we'll plan on keeping the posts rolling steadily into the new year.

In the coming weeks, look for updates surrounding the completion of our current commercial work for The Erb Institute at the University of Michigan, and new projects for Michigan Marketing & Design, the Office of Development, and more. Check out the latest on a series of online commercials for being produced in conjunction with Skyler and Devin of 3P productions, as well as news about our ongoing narrative film production involvement.

I'd like to say thank you to all who have worked with this team thus far in any way, shape, or form, and I look forward to what's to come. Think big.