Video Assignment #1 – Chaplin Busts Missoula

by Vincent Thorne

Here is our first video proposal, Chaplin Busts Missoula. I felt it was for us all a great experience. Personally, I am very glad I finally had the chance to go to the end of a cinematic project. It was a very enriching experience.

We started to work on the project pretty early. At first, we tried to collaborate over the Internet by sharing a Google Document, but we really began working on it when Heather, Stephen and myself meet and wrote the script. It was the very first time I was actually writing a script and I sometime felt a bit lost. Heather and Stephen both had the experience of the pre-production class, so everything went fine and I could concentrate more on my contributions to the story.

At the end of the evening, we were pretty proud of our ideas, found them fairly ambitious but were definitively convinced by the concept.
Here is a brief overview of what we imagined for this proposal at that point. First, we settled to treat early comedy, as it was easy to implement with the means and time we had at our disposition. We thought that placing Charlie Chaplin in a Missoula context would be funny, and so would be to make him meet Buster Keaton. Stephen then mentioned that he already had worked on a mimic of early comedies, and so we had the idea to place our characters in a modern context and film them with contemporaneous filmic vocabulary. We thought that aspect would be very interesting, as it would make our project slightly more original than just a remake of a Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton sketch. Putting two very different visions of cinema in discussion seemed inspiring. The narrative and acting style of the two comic actors would however stay very classical. To emphasize this aspect even more, we decided to color the two actors in black in white, which looked great in the final result. During the writing of the script, we had many more filling and transitions scenes, which we later decided to drop.

Amanda then took care of producing a shot list, and that was our proposal.

Charlie and Buster

Chaplin and Buster

Next step was the shooting. We had scheduled it Sunday March 23rd. The weather was perfect, we had our costume, our equipment and two actresses to play the homeless and woman in distress part. Everything went smoothly, we knew what to be done. I was not feeling so comfortable as I was acting, surrounded by all those student actors, but they gave we some helpful advice and hopefully my performance turned out not to be too bad. A fun part was to pretend being punched, which is not as straight forward as it seems to! We filmed at a good pace, improving the script as we were shooting.

Amanda and Stephen then spent the evening editing the video, noticeably applying the black and white effects and scoring the soundtrack. The final result pleases me a lot, the movie has a great rhythm and the comical elements connect well between each other and also with the women-in-distress/homeless part.

The process was excessively fun and eased by the great team I was part of. I would like to thank them, and particularly Stephen who « took the lead » for the best, as he was the most experienced of us.

This experience was, again, very rich and greatly enhanced my knowledge of the production process in a structured framework.

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