Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Reconstructing old footage

Giving Up

When my friend and I made videos years ago, we often did not finish what we started. 

Above is an unfinished episode from an educational series we made called Brain Pow!. It's the elusive "Holiday Special," of which there are at least five half-shot variants and two half-written scripts. 

We also made a video called "House of Nightmares," which has two unfinished sequels, two unfinished remakes, and multiple scripts that served as either sequels or remakes. 

Basically, we'd get bored with a video, then give up on it. There was a certain spark that occurred when we started filming as young kids, but often the spark would die out, and we'd end up with a half-finished product. It's fine, though, because these projects were just for fun. No one's money was involved. 

Unfortunately, the tendency to shelf projects liberally carried into adulthood. The biggest example is my unfinished short film Crime Alley: The X-Rated, X-ploitation, X-travaganza

This short had a Kickstarter campaign, people were involved, and I created hype around the project. It was to be a professional endeavor. 

The first problem was that the Kickstarter campaign failed. Basically, the lack-of funding allowed me to feel less pressure, which allowed me to give up on the whole thing.

Crew members disappeared, my relationship with the cast was strained, and then I just stopped caring. 

We shot a week's worth of rushed footage. I had a few shots left, but I never got them done. I also never brought it to the editing room. The project just died. 

Now, Crime Alley was not going to be a masterpiece, nor were any of the videos that my friend and I didn't finish when we were younger. They were all made for fun.

"Fun" is the reason why I'm currently finishing up an old project.


EX-150 has a nerdy background. 

Essentially, my JVC miniDV camera stopped functioning one day. Years later, I fixed the camera, but I considered it dead when I was a kid. 

My dad knew I'd died without a camera, so he got me a little standard definition Flip Video camera.

The sound on these things was absolutely terrible. If your voice was even a little bit loud, the audio would peak. If your voice was too low, however, you couldn't hear a thing.

Fortunately for me, I was very into silent movies at the time. I loved Nosferatu and the 1910 version of Frankenstein. So, I made my own silent movies with this crappy digital camera. 

I made seven Dracula movies over the course of about a year. Most importantly, though, I made a Frankenstein rip-off called The Evil Experiment.

Obviously, not a great short movie, but I had a lot of fun making it. It was also one of the few non-fan-films I'd made at the time. 

My friend and I made a sequel years later called The Even Eviler Experiment, which is probably my favorite video he and I did together. It's also one of the last projects we completed before I went off to college.

Before The Even Eviler Experiment, though, I sought to make a Texas Chainsaw-Esque remake/sequel to the original Evil Experiment. That remake/sequel was to be called EX-150.

Basically, in the fictional world where The Evil Experiment came out in 1910, EX-150 would have been a dark and artsy 1970s soft-reboot. 

The plot is, essentially, a descendent of Dr. Douglass -- the main character from the original film -- seeks also to create life from nothing. So, he pays a man to come to his house, then kidnaps him, kills him, and finally brings him back to life. 

This video is significant because it depicts the first time I ever attempted to use lighting to enhance my shots. It's also the first time I put any thought into my shots at all. It had a lot of canted angles, basically. 

My friend and I, though, gave up after one long day of shooting. We got all the way to the scene where I kidnap the man and put him in a locked dungeon. 

Honestly, I'm kind of glad that we didn't finish it at the time. After reviewing the footage, it's quite dull. I was going for a methodical and slow tone, but it came off as unduly long and boring. 

Also, I gave my character a goofy, over-the-top British accent. I'm not sure why I decided to do that. 

In short, the idea we had for the film was better than the product ever could have been.

Despite that, I've decided to construct something new from what my friend and I started years ago. 

Basically, the pre-shot footage remains the same, but I cut some shots out to make it less boring. I also color-graded it to look a bit like a washed-out 70s film. 

Then, exactly where we gave up eight years ago, a new style takes over, and the story goes off-the-rails. 

I was inspired by the Loose Cannon Doctor Who reconstructions. It's meant to look like Silent Hill if it were a Super Nintendo game. Originally, I was going to just use screenshots and do voiceovers, but then I got carried away. 

For character voices, I decided to use old text-to-speech programs. I decided to do this because I thought of Tara the Android, which is probably the creepiest thing I've ever seen. 

It's constructed from some old notes I found, a half-written short story, and memory. Most of it, however, is entirely new. 

The new material is darker than the old stuff. It's supposed to be brutal and off-putting. Of course, it is just a bunch of poorly-photoshopped images, so we'll see if my desired tone is realized. It's also quite niche. Only about 0.05% of people want to watch something that could be described as "Silent Hill on SNES."

At the end of the day, though, I've embarked on this project for myself. Too many of my creative projects have gone unfinished, so it's time to finally complete this long-abandoned story! 

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