Over the weekend I was a “featured extra” for a cool ongoing film project led by Adam Sekuler (program director at the NW Film Forum), known by the working title of Stop Action Set. All I’ll say is the role involved an umbrella and wearing a bunny head. You’ll have to come see the finished work to find out more.
As explained on the project’s web site:
Every month for the next year, the cast of 8 dancers will attend a planning meeting, where director Adam Sekuler will present to the group a location and several obstructions. That night, the cast and crew will determine the plot of the film to be shot in 5-hour sessions the following Saturday and Sunday using only a digital still camera. During the next three weeks, Spaghetti Western will create a score, and Adam will edit a short film. At the end of 12 months, the project will have created 12 short films, which will be edited into 1 full-length film.
This is month seven of the project, which will wrap in September or shortly thereafter.
The filming process used for Stop Action Set is a kind of pixilation deal, where live actors are stop-motion animated. Though first used as early as 1911, pixilation was made famous by Scottish-Canadian master animator Norman McLaren in his short films Neighbors (1952) [NFBC, Wikipedia] and A Chairy Tale (1957) [NFBC, Wikipedia].
In this case, instead of using a film or video camera they’re using a digital still camera, a really great idea since it gives enormous flexibility and mobility to the camera person, and the images can be stored on tiny memory cards instead of video tape or lugged to a processing lab and all that follows from that. The memory cards can also be freed up by downloading the images to a laptop on set…which this weekend was actually the woods. Ah, the miracles of the digital age.
The gigabytes of stills are later compiled in (I presume) Final Cut and any extra frames (or dud takes) are selectively dropped so that the whole thing flows as though it were film/tape.
You can view a Quicktime of the first short film (made in October, 2006), entitled Writer’s Block, at the official web site. Though the later films are not posted for viewing online, you can see stills and basic breakdowns of what elements comprised each month’s opus to date…er, but they’re a month or so behind.
This month’s film (sorry, dunno the title) was shot in the “wilds” of Interlaken Park. It was a good time (especially since the weather cooperated), everyone was really nice, the whole thing very laid back and collaborative — and as an added bonus I got to spend the day in the woods. What more could you want?
This marked my semi-decennial return to screen acting. I was a lead in Jim Sikora’s entertainingly demented Super 8 opus, Stagefright Chameleon (1988) — featuring mad poet, outsider artist, and bona fide Guinness World Record holder Lee Groban, as well as music by tondant shaman (my band at the time) and Illusion of Safety. It was released twice on VHS by FilmThreat on Bring Me the Head of Geraldo Rivera (short films by Jim Sikora) and Small Gauge Shotgun (short films by Danny Plotnick and Jim Sikora) — which Seattle-ites can rent from Scarecrow Video. Then in 1999 I played, um, a serial killer in an unfinished film by Cole Drumb based on a short story by Andrew Vacchs and shot as a single take from the victim’s POV. Yes, very creepy. In 2000 I was in an impromptu bit shot for Cal Godot’s Alex the Great [director's site, streaming preview] but it stank and was mercifully immediately forgotten by all concerned.
Update:Â I was all but cut out of Stop Action Set.Â Serves me right.