I CANNOT find a better way to end this year than a round-up post, even though I have written less than twenty entries this year. It’s just that I have been busy with college; my priorities have been shifting now and then. Then there’s a problem of internet access. Not to mention the impending doomsday. (Okay, that may not be a valid argument.) I can’t also write about every film I have seen or books I have read. I realize it’s impractical, unless of course if I have a job like Roger Ebert where I get paid writing about films. It’s not as if I have readers on a daily basis, so no worries. Needless to say, twenty twelve (2012) has been a year of new discoveries, lessons relearned and tug-of- war between self-actualization and debasement.
I hope this post will make up for the posts I should have posted months ago.
Getting a Canon EOS 600D
The whole escapade started when I got my first DSLR camera, a Canon EOS 600D. Although I desired to venture out in audio video production, I didn’t expect that I would have a DSLR. I was rooting for a Sony Camcorder, because I was under the impression that they are way better in video. DSLRs are made primarily for shooting stills, not video. For instance, DSLR can’t record longer than 2 hours of footage, unless of course you have an extra battery or an extra memory card, but even then DSLRs have tendency to overheat.
However, after watching a lot of DSLR short films and observing the indie industry, I became convinced that I should choose DSLR. The reason is that DSLRs have evolved to changing times, although not fully equipped in video features, what they have are more than enough. They have already became an industry standard, so to say pervasive online peer to peer learning is available. For a person not going to film school, like me, that was really a life-saver. In addition, it can mount different lenses, not unlike a camcorder, which I came to appreciate as time went by. I learned that there is no lens for all around situation; each of them has their specific usage, say in the case of zooms and primes. If you want flexibility, you’d go for zoom, or if you want speed and quality, you’d go for prime. Another point is the focal length, how long or wide the camera can capture an image. The lower the “mm” number the wider the shoot is, while the longer the “mm” number the longer and tighter the shoot is.
Due to a tight budget, I have been using a 50mm 1.8, the cheapest prime lens of the Canon line up. For shooting portrait stills or a reaction conversation shot, it works perfectly. However, when it comes to getting an establishment shot or getting a group picture, the 50mm 1.8 is more or less futile. I remember the time when I was shooting a group picture of about 10-15 people, I have to move far back for about 80 meters to just get them in the frame.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just bear with me. It’s hard to talk about DSLR, without getting technical. In a nutshell, getting a DSLR was like learning a new language or living in a different country. A whole range of possibility is within your reach, and you can’t just wait to try all of them. As an existing amateur video editor, it helped me a lot practice editing since now I can shoot videos and edit them immediately. So far I have made a lot of videos, and in fact most of my memorable moments this year involve the making of them.
I had a chance on making a recruitment video on one of our school’s singing and dance club, “Jaguars”. It was an urgent project. We shot it at Sunday night, and the video is due on the following day, Monday. I couldn’t edit during Monday, since I have a loaded class schedule, so I have to edit it immediately after the shoot was over. Even though the duration is about a minute, it took me time to finish the whole thing. I took time deliberating which shots would fit best, in a certain beat, and in a certain parts. You can very well say that in a one-minute video, every second counts. If my memory serves me right, I finished the whole post-production process at almost four in the morning. My class starts at a quarter to nine. I have about more or less five hours to sleep, taking into account the time to prepare to school. At that moment, it was a record breaker. I used to sleep 6 to 8 hours.
Surprisingly, I was not entirely tired, partly because I stayed up late doing what I like and partly because the video came out surprisingly not bad. The shoot didn’t follow a certain outline, and everything came up while we were doing it, so I had little or no hope of getting a “watchable” video. It was the first time I used a 50mm 1.8, from the president of “Jaguars”, Kaiser, before eventually buying one. It’s also the first time I used a halogen light to light a scene. The way I see it the lighting came out fairly good.
I recently shot a dance music video for a friend, Audrey, which we will continue next year. There were also several video projects for people who requested them, but I can’t seem to remember their names. Our club also made a music video about the song “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz, which we shot in just one day. This was also the first time I held a Canon 7D from Sam. A month before I also got a chance to use a 5D MkII from Sir Rikki, and just recently a 60D from Antonette. It looks pitiful, but holding other camera bodies seems like a milestone for me. Still, my dream is to have a good full frame camera, 5D, a decent crop-factor camera, 60D, a reliable zoom lens and a dozen of primes. That’s just have to wait until I get stable and I get a job.
Not all of my video projects were successful; one is our semi-feature film “Babalik Ako” Part 2. Though I would not consider it as a failure, because there is still a chance of finishing it, but we failed to catch up with our shooting schedule due to other priorities. We were supposed to finish the whole shoot in the month of November, but hadn’t really shot that much even until now. I’m still hoping that we would get to finish the film. I think I should make a teaser trailer to encourage them. Now, that’s an idea.
There were also problems of keeping storage of these video files, which are eating my hard driver due to their bigger file size. I intend to delete them all when the class starts. Sometimes though it is really troublesome to make a video, especially when you are supposed to spend your time studying but you can’t since you are already committed by saying “Yes” to their request.
If somehow you are getting a camera, I don’t necessarily suggest a DSLR. Weigh your priorities and how would you use the camera. The compact camera might be just the thing for you, and DSLR is just too much. I don’t really like the idea of a DSLR sitting on the shelf collecting dust, or getting the DSLR for showoff and end up becoming like a necklace accessory, and I know you don’t too. Besides, compact camera nowadays are getting better in taking a picture, they can even use a depth-of-field, like my friend’s Sony camera.
College rocked the boat hard
I am currently a third year college student enrolling in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, and the first semester was really a hell. In the previous year, we only have one major subject, which is related to our chosen course, the others being minor such as History, Literature or Philippine Constitution. This year, we have about five! Talk about transition. I have trouble adjusting and readjusting my time schedule, because I have to give more or less equal priority in studying them. These five subjects will come up in the board exam.
We had the Auditing Theory, which for the most part I barely understand at all. Our teacher gave us quizzes and exams that are way beyond the scope of our textbook, but not of the course subject. It’s imperative to look for other materials such as reviewers, to increase our knowledge, but that would require more time, which means I have to spend lesser time in the other subjects. The worst part about this course is that our teacher never gave us back our quizzes and exams. We could never learn from our mistakes, learn what went wrong and why. Chances are we might commit the same error again, if the question or the concept is repeated.
There was a time that I got a failing grade on an exam. The worst part about it (yes I’m saying this again because indeed it’s worst) is that I studied hard on that exam. It’s not like I sat for one hour and answered forty questions without a fair knowledge about the subject matter. I couldn’t quite figure it out if I was the one lacking or if the teacher was just excessive. In this second semester, since we are taking the second part of Auditing Theory, I still can’t figure it out. Or am I just lazy enough to do it?
I feel bad on taking Cost Accounting for granted. Our teacher is enthusiastic and eager to teach us, but I spent lesser time on studying Cost Accounting than I should have. In fact, it reflected on my performance, I got a 10 point decrease on my period grade! Luckily, I managed to catch up and recover the 10 points in our final exam, but still the 10 points decrease is a big red flag.
Not only the first semester tested our calculation skills, it also tested our memory through our Business Law and Taxation. We have to familiarize a lot of articles. Understanding them is one thing, and applying them is another. I could get fairly good on objective questions but I performed badly in case problems. It’s hard to figure out which is which in a real-life world situation. It seems like you got it right, only to find out you’re wrong. However, of all the subjects, this is where I was satisfied, though I did not get high grades. It’s just amazing that for two or three hundred articles, I can still manage to recall some of them, and that is just plain remarkable. I think our teacher did a good job teaching us. Teaching has been her passion.
Financial Management was probably the subject I was happy because it compensated for the lower grades I had with my other subjects. You can get by the questions by answering the sample exercises, and reading them. Though you couldn’t qualify it as absolutely easy, but with a fair amount of knowledge you can manage to get a high grade. However, this isn’t true this second semester where we took the second part of Financial Management. Again, I took a subject for granted; this time it’s this subject. For now, I got a below average grade. I hope to catch up on the subsequent exams.
For the best and worst part of the first semester, a subject which I developed a love-and-hate relationship, is not other than Financial Accounting Part 3. This subject pointed out my weakness, that I could have nevertheless known if not for its exams. It is solving comprehensive problems with a lot of details. You see I have a problem in organizing things, and I get really disturb when things doesn’t turn out the way I wanted. Before I know it, time is against me and I couldn’t finish the problem. This didn’t happen on only one quiz, not two, not even three, but for the whole semester! Seriously, what was wrong with me back then?
I’ll let you in a little secret. There was a time when I got so disappointed with my results that I walked on a separate street, talking to myself on the way, not minding where I was going, cursing everything on my paper. How unfair life is. How I should have deserve better results. I sounded totally crazy, but if I was back the same night, I would have done the same thing again. It felt good letting go of that steam, and I definitely needed that. Come to think of it, I would have probably been crazy by now, if not for myself going amok on the streets.
The reason why I was disappointed was because my results didn’t compensate for the effort I made in studying for it, which was the whole weekend, and the weekend before that. However, looking deeper, I think that was not necessarily the case. For truly, I have more disappoints in life in correlation between results and effort, and this one is no different. I think I was caught up of the mentality of getting higher grades. In process, it consumed my identity and for what truly matters. That might sounded cheesy, but the truth does sound cheesy.
Before the start of the first semester, I was a part of the Ateneo First Year Orientation Program (AFYOP). It was a group of selected outstanding students who excel academically. Having this badge is where I started thinking of getting high grades – consistently. I even came to a point where I hated myself for not reaching my expectations. It dawned to me that I couldn’t meet up these academic demands, where I subconsciously imposed, unless I forego my free time (which includes socialization), but still even that is gamble. Indeed no one can ruin man better than himself. Sooner or later, I had to let go of the AFYOP stigma. Surprisingly, that lifted a heavy burden and I feel better now than ever, whether I get a low or high grade.
Don’t get me wrong. I see to it not to flunk a subject, for that is already tantamount to not studying at all, which I guess defeats the purpose of my schooling.
To be frank, I hated the demanding teachers, the requirements due on an unreasonable deadline, the hard quizzes and exams that merited me low grades. But to be more frank, I hated myself for letting that happen.
For years I ridiculed people who give so much adoration to their favorites, these may be in the form of an actor, a band, a movie or a political figure. They even went up to label themselves as “fans”. I couldn’t quite figure it out until I became hooked on Korean storytelling, and became one myself – a fan. These things, so called favorites, have one way or another moved or changed your life, and the least you could do is patronize its existence for recognition, or it’s the way I understand it.
Like other inferior countries, I have been under the impression of Hollywood as an all-time best to offer for movies, for storytelling. However, that impression slowly begins to disintegrate when I first started watching a Korean series, “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho”, then followed by a few Asian films such as “You’re the Apple of my Eye”, “Shutter”, “Coming Soon”, among others. The culmination of my Asian, or to be specific Korean, appetite was when I watched another Korean series “Innocent Man” a month ago. I was so consumed by the storytelling, unlike any other before, that I can barely contain myself. The series deals with adult themes such as betrayal, revenge and distorted love affection. It was flawed. It was remarkable at Episode 1 to 9, but begins to wilt from 10 to 20. But still, it was one memorable experience.
From then on, I finished watching “Secret Garden”, another Korean series, several Asian films such as “Speedy Scandal”, which became my instant favorite, “Spellbound”, “Secret”, “Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger”, among others. I can’t wait to watch other Korean films such as “The Host”, “A Memories of Murder” and “My Sassy Girl”. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint why these Asian films appeal to me, I could only in so far conclude that it touches my culture, and so to speak touches my identity. These films did change my perspective about the Asian film industry, and for a personal level, it was revolutionary.
I want to disclaim that by Asian films, I meant to exclude our industry – Filipino films. There are certainly noteworthy films such as “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” or “No Other Woman” but for the most part Filipino films are unlikely to compete globally. In a practical sense, they’re not worth your money. They have barely improved in creative storytelling, cinematography, even in aesthetics such as color grading. They are dependent in overused actors, with little or no dignity for plots and stories. I may not be a professional film maker, but I don’t think I need to. Even a layman can distinguish a bad from a good movie, a good from a great movie. (I have been shaking to write an exhaustive rant on the Filipino film industry, but I need to have more evidence. I guess that would be for a while, and would definitely in a long post.)
I would still watch Hollywood films, but more emphasis in Asian. I still want to watch the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen. Watching trending films are also on my list. It’s equally important to be updated in these modern times, as society would tell us. If you haven’t watch or heard about “The Dictator”, then consider yourself uncivilized.
If there is one thing I regret in this year, it would be the fact that I haven’t made a decent a short film or any short film at all. There were many prospective plans such as that of Juno entering in peace making contest through short films, but the schedule didn’t turned out as favorable as we hoped for. I have to say that when we were brainstorming, our ideas we’re really good. We want to show peace in an ironical statement, where the short film would start off a montage of wars. I think that was really a powerful intro.
There was also the Cinefilipino Festival, a nationwide competition. I had a working script, but it never really come to materialize. We had three months to make the short film, so I couldn’t really give an excuse, except perhaps I couldn’t find a person as eager and as committed as myself. I felt really bad not doing that, because I was really hoping to enter the competition, regardless of whether I win or not. The mere fact that we could have an entry is something worth celebrating.
Another observation is that I am not getting any taller. Heck, my younger brother is even taller than me. I already expected that but I didn’t expect it to be any sooner. I think I am not growing except in sideways. Oh well, that’s that. I didn’t also have a chance to date the girl I’m interested in. Whenever I asked her, the odds are not really in my favor, though I did only ask her twice. Oh well, that’s that.
With regards to doomsday, I couldn’t really care less of it. If it had happened, so be it. The thing is I concede to fact that we’re all going to die, anyway. However, it would really be nice knowing your death timeline so you’d be force to live your live to the fullest. We were also affected by the recent devastating storm Pablo, but not that much compared to other towns such as New Bataan or Cateel, where they literally have to start at zero. I hope that our province, and the affected regions, would rise and cope with this problem. This was the first time we got hit by a storm. It really left us unprepared.
There are probably a hundred more situations to write, but what I wrote is adequate to describe my year. As usual with the previous years, I didn’t really progress as I intend to, which is always disappointing. I know, as well as you do, that you can do a lot of things in one year. I could have learned a 3D program, but I didn’t. I could have learned Adobe Illustrator, but I didn’t. I could have made several short films, but I didn’t. I could have ace on an exam, but I didn’t.
Multi-tasking has proved no good. The more I think of doing several things, the more I end up doing nothing at all. I think it’s important to focus on one action for a moment.For the next year, I desire to be diligent enough to act upon every opportunity and responsibility on my way, and to know the difference of saying yes and no. I couldn’t think of any better way to end this post than to say: Happy New Year!