Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Armed to the Teeth

Today's act was to go out and get some Halfland set building stuff:

• (3) 2' x 4' panels of 1/8" peg board for use as additional set base tops.
• (4) 2-1/2" rolling caster wheels (on sale, 1/2 price) 'cause I want to build a camera dolly. I know, there are smoother ways. If it's no good, they won't waste as I can use them to shift set bases or something.
• Another bundle of cedar wood shims to stain and cut into roof shingles.
• Loads of wood screws to construct set bases out of scrap lumber (Say hello to a trip to Bergamot Station, the best dumpster diving in LA.)
• Pack of large corner iron brackets for constructing set bases from above mentioned scrap lumber
• Teensy wittle 6/32" wingnut/bolt/hex nuts for lightweight character tiedowns.
• Lots of small steel corner brackets to secure the set flats to the table tops.
• (1) tub o' pre-mixed joint compound with which to slather onto cottage walls as final coat before aging (the walls not me).
• (1) box of (rather pricey) "Rockite" dry anchoring cement (supposedly crazy mofo strong stuff, stronger than concrete, permanent, yada ya) to sample how it might serve as walkway strengthener coupled with...
• (1) $1.49 curve-able perforated plastic rain gutter guard (at that price it's worth a try).
• (1) quart of pre-mixed FlexAll© to paint on tree branches (it's expensive so I buy it in small quantities so I don't get sticker shock) BUT it is perfection for this use. It is as durable as cement yet will not crack as the small twigs move and flex. I'm going to try tinting this batch tree brown to see how it looks rather than painting after the fact.
• Another roll of my sculpy sculpity friend Mr. Aluminum rain gutter guard (mind in da gutta I guess)
• A larger width roll of thinny thin painter's masking paper, for those hard to mache tree areas.
• Coupla fresh phillips bits for all the motorized fastenin' I'll be doin'.
• Last, but dearest to me, a Contractor's 4-pack of High Adhesion, 1.5" wide, 3M, Scotch brand MASKING "eat me" TAPE!!! (I actually bought these, they were not taken from a Contractor minding his own business!)

Scoping out the OSH HARDWARE I had me some set solution idees. One was to use the large amount of 1/8" squares hardware cloth I have in house already to laminate with perhaps plaster or the spiffy Rockite pourable expansion cement deal for the set construction. I shall sample and report with a little animation test, non?

This brings me to my penultimate point of the day (there was one earlier?) I realized in the store, seeing all manor of cool stuff, that all my life, and still to this day, I have tried to spend nothing on my art/project supplies. I have done without most proper tools or even some basic ones as a matter of operating. I've never had a lot of money (relative to those in this culture) and have always felt like a cheater for buying myself supplies or equipment, asking myself how little I could get away with or what do I already have I could use instead? I never thought much about it. The mindset was always just in place. I don't know how I'll raise up the gumption to order good film lighting units, or my choice of animation camera, or order big dusty bags of UltraCal for all the molds, or yards of green screen fabric for the background, etc. I am more comfortable with making things with inexpensive or nearly free materials like newspaper and starch, rather than more costly gear used in nearby Hollywood. A plus side of this is that I have found a certain financial limitation is actually a force in and of itself for creativity to somehow emerge. Often having no such limits robs that marvelous mechanism of its necessity. The down side is feeling limited by not having a comparative abundance of stuff.

Which brings me to my final point of the day. It's important for me to declare in this journal of the project that part of its approach carries some philosophy within its construction. Part of it is the idea of using what we have at out disposal for our projects, not exceeding our monetary budget, networking, scrounging, finding, making it happen with whatever we have available at the time. That goes for cameras, graphic accelerators, hard drives, and other equipment too. I firmly believe that everybodys creativity need not be shut off due to any outside limitations.

Leni Riefenstahl is one of my favorite filmmakers. I became red faced while reading her memoirs several years ago at her defeated assertion that she was no longer allowed to create her films after the war (it's a long story.) No producer/studio would back any of her projects ever again after WWII. But as I read her tale, during the earliest days of digital cameras and Mac editing software, etc., I lamented over missing what wondrous things she, and those also gifted with a capacity for greatness, might have made with access to these new affordable tools. No one, talented or not-as-much (doesn't matter to me what level) need wait for studio funding any longer or ever again in order to make whatever they see fit.


  1. Oooh, hardware store fun.....I think any technical stop-motion issue can be resolved with a stroll through a hardware store...I love getting ideas as I wander, in fact I need to start bringing a notepad with me when I go.....I went to Lowes a couple of weeks ago and bought the lumber I'll need to build the pier (even though Im not 100% sure what it looks like yet :)...
    I completely stand behind what you say about financial limitation and creativity.....restrictions (of any kind really) force creative solutions.....
    I'm not familiar with Leni Riefenstahl, so I looked her up...I'm a sucker for a good underwater doc (though I'm sure she's more known for her Nazi docs)....

  2. Quite right, Jeffery, hardware stores can solve everything. I'm like you buying supplies for things without having precise blueprints in hand. Meh, it works out!

    You're also right about Leni's scuba films, I've only seen stills from them but I believe the only thing remarkable about those is that she TOOK UP SCUBA AT AGE 80!!!!!! She led a rich and varied, long life. Some of the moments she recounts in her memoir (read it twice!) are completely astounding, full of fearless courage in an age where women were generally meek.

    If someone reads the material about her that assert she was into Hitler's entire agenda, and believes that? I can't understand how people can't simply understand how it was for her back then. I completely empathize with her and believe her that she was politically naive and just blindly making the films as agreed to for the reasons that made perfect sense at that time. I believe she was wrongly and brutally punished solely for the mastery of her art.

    The lesson I got from her life was to closely PAY ATTENTION to what and whom I support with my time and talents. How many of us would have taken a juicy creative job from someone rich and powerful in that country at such a low point, who genuinely recognized our talents, and met with them and their cronies, had tea, maybe even a little crush?, and only in the aftermath found out the scope of the horror. It's easy now in hindsight to condemn someone for being so careless and breezing blithely through life, focused obsessively on the film project, not knowing, but even Americans didn't know until the troops went in, found and liberated the camps!

    I don't believe she was in any way a nazi (She boldly told Hitler to his face, something no one else ever did, that his views on Jews were wrong.) The fact that her films were so effective due to her vast ability is the razor's edge and the caution of the tale.

    Plus, she advanced the craft; invented tracking shots, below ground level holes to make the athletes appear more impressive, etc. Whatever was required to say what she wanted visually. Brilliant.


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