Prague Updates: An Overview

Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote anything. It’s been really hectic lately, so I apologize. Since I last wrote I’ve had a friend come over to visit me for the week, travelled to Budapest and Salzburg, and been working on my final project for the program that I’m in. But I figured that, since things have calmed down a bit, I could write another post and possibly go into detail on the CET program and what I’ve been doing so far.

Our final project is a short film – about 8 minutes long – and currently we have moved from just formulating ideas to actually executing them. Here’s the overview of the entire program so far for anyone’s who’s interested:

For the first month of actually working on our final project, we divided into 3 or 4 person groups of our own choosing and began coming up with pitches to present to our professor. That was a much longer and much more arduous process than I anticipated. I think it’s hard enough just coming up with a story suitable for 8 minutes. Those types of short films require a little more development and intricacy than 5 minute films but can’t be too complex that they can’t be expressed in 8 minutes. So that, in itself was difficult – I think we naturally tended towards more ambitious pitches and quickly had to realize that we didn’t have the time or the resources to tackle such big projects. Besides that, we had to come up with a suitable pitch that appealed to all of the members of our group – something that gets exponentially more difficult the more people you add to the group.

So after spending a month on that and finally coming up with something we could all agree to make, we had a final presentation of our pitch in front of a handful of professors from the university. Then, using the feedback from these final presentations, we had basically a week to write a working script for our projects, and another week to finalize it. It wasn’t really enough time to do either of those things, but I think it was a good exercise in speed and practicality. If we had had more time, I’m fairly sure we would have lingered unnecessarily on the rough draft, trying to make it perfect, but because we had so little time we just hammered out our rough draft and left perfecting it up to the next couple of drafts. At this point, we have just finished the script (with the exception of giving our project an actual title) and we’re now working on the logistics of our film.

We’ve already got our production money and right now we’re looking for actors and locations while trying to map out a budget. It’s difficult work. I don’t think that any of our members had experience with legitimate actors or working with an actual production manager so this was new for all of us. But basically, we broke the jobs and responsibilities up among group members to help ease the load on everyone and make our work more efficient. My jobs are Head Writer, Art Director, and Editor, so I’m mostly working with the props, costumes, and set dressing right now. It’s not very demanding since our film involves only one location, three people, and relatively few props, but I imagine that will change once I’m actually on set and in charge of dressing sets and making sure every prop and costume is where it should be. But those are only my specific responsibilities. As a group member, I’m still expected to, and happy to, contribute to the group and that includes finding inexpensive actors that fit the roles we will be assigning to them. We need a mother, father, and boy, and right now we have a female and child actor but are still trying to find a man to play the dad. In order to find these people, we had to go on a casting site and choose a couple of people that appealed to us, rate them in order of preference, then send them to our production manager so that she could contact them and negotiate a salary.

Another important part of our production process in finding a location for shooting. We were hoping to find a house with a staircase and told our production manager such so that she could know what to search for. We still don’t have anything concrete and we’re getting really close to shooting – we only have about a week and a half – but I’m not worried. Our production manager seems competent and it’s her job to figure this stuff out so we just have to leave it up to her. Besides, we’ve known for a while now that CET’s track record with organization is pretty terrible, so this is nothing unexpected.

But yeah, that’s an overview of where I’m at with the final project. We also had a short sound seminar and an extremely long 2-day light seminar to give us some inspiration and technical know-how for our films, but other than that we’re just having our normal classes. Next week, we’ll be wrapping up most of our classes though so that we can dedicate all of our time (the next month) to our project, so we have a couple of final tests coming up. But other than that, life goes on as always.

I’ve definitely learned a lot since I’ve been here, whether it’s in school or on my travels outside the program. I can’t believe how much I’ve changed since I’ve come here just from being in a new country, around new people, and having opportunities to master new film technologies and techniques. I can’t wait to see what the next couple of weeks has in store for me!