Roll for Experience!

How D & D has helped me become a better filmmaker

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a bit of a nerd. In recent years, this nerdiness has manifested itself in me picking up a new hobby: Dungeons and Dragons. Upon starting to play, I’ve wondered how I went for so long without it. It is a game that offers escapism, world building, improv, teamwork, and chance in a way that I’d never experienced before.

Soon after my first roll of the dice I began to notice something else as well: the many, many shared skillsets between industry jobs and playing D&D. Depending on the play style of your group, Dungeons and Dragons has the potential to teach / reinforce many skill sets you may find yourself needing on your next project.

The list of similarities I’ve found is quite long, so to start let’s focus on one phase of filmmaking to compare: preproduction.

Continue reading “Roll for Experience!”

Meet the Slicer: Colton Hayward would like to wish a happy birth month to COLTON HAYWARD!

Colton has been involved from varying degrees (almost) since the conception of CinemaSlice!  We’re grateful to work with this creative, ambitious contributor! Colton has directed two CinemaSlice Mixtapes, acted in several skits and videos, and has been a cast member in the the 2016 and 2017 Black Friday filmmaking events!

Colton is a writer, producer, and director originally from Munger, Michigan. He currently is living in Chicago where he attends Columbia College. He enjoys hiking, video games, and story-based adventures like dungeons and dragons. Continue reading “Meet the Slicer: Colton Hayward”

Feature Length Script in 4 Months!

I wrote a feature length script in four months and it was terrifying …but I loved it.

I’ve put off writing my first feature for a long time. So much that I was worried I would stop growing as a writer if I didn’t do it soon. Five years of writing scripts that are fifteen pages or less gave me a lot of experience in the fundamentals, but little in way of setting up a larger story. I knew that this had to change.
So, I signed up for a class centered around writing a feature script in a single semester. It was a small class, less than ten of us after some people dropped. When the professor began the first day, he started by telling us two things:

  1. This will be your most time-consuming class of the semester by a longshot
  2. Don’t expect to finish this class with a perfect script that’s ready to be sold and/or shot.

In hindsight this was the best possible introduction we could have had for what was to come.

The first three weeks of class were dedicated to preparation. When you’re aiming to write 120 pages in such a short amount of time, your story structure needs to be solid. Mine wasn’t. I wasn’t used to doing weeks of prep before opening final draft. We focused on character driven stories as well which, again, I wasn’t the strongest with. Continue reading “Feature Length Script in 4 Months!”

3rd Annual CinemaSlice Black Friday Shoot!

Being a part of the annual CinemaSlice Black Friday film shoot is becoming a tradition for me! I’ve only been involved in two of them so far, but plan to be a part of as many as I can be in the future. However Nic and Michael come up with these ideas is working for them: each year has its own style and factor of cheesiness that I love.

This year’s trailer is for a zombie baseball film.

I met up with my fellow slicers at a baseball field in Bay City’s south end. Stepping out of my car two things immediately became clear: there were a lot of new faces this year, and none of us had a great understanding of the rules of baseball. That didn’t stop us from having fun though.

Continue reading “3rd Annual CinemaSlice Black Friday Shoot!”

Looking at Netflix’s Death Note

Before I get into the details of this one, I need to explain that there’s two different ways of looking at this movie. You can either view it as a standalone piece, or you can compare and contrast it to the anime. Throughout this I’ll try to use both perspectives, one at a time. I actually finished the anime about a week before the movie came out. Good timing I suppose.

Anyhow, let me start with a bit of background for those who might be interested or don’t know anything about Death Note. Originally starting as a manga (comic series) in Japan, Death Note rose in popularity due to its unique premise and the now famous mind games that its main characters participate in. In Japan, the series was spun off into an anime, a live-action TV show, and various feature length movies. Over time the manga and anime grew in popularity stateside. Everything else, save for a small theatrical releases of the live action films in 2008, seemed to stay in Japan. That is, until Netflix announced that they were making a new English live-action Death Note.

With the manga selling more than 30 million copies worldwide, there was an obvious market for the film. And people were EXCITED! The unique characters and genius level mind games of this beloved series combined with Willem Dafoe as Ryuk? In English? Even I was a bit excited at the possibilities! …Then the movie came out.

Now I can’t go much further without explaining the basic story of Death Note so SPOILERS AHEAD! Death Note (the anime/manga series) is about a high schooler named Light Yagami who comes across a book called the ‘death note’ that claims it can kill anyone whose name is written in the book. There are some rules that go along with the book as well, and the book’s keeper (a demon-like creature named Ryuk) appears soon after Light makes his first kill using the book. Ryuk lets Light hang on to the book, mainly because he’s bored and Light’s use of the book only helps him. With the book and his intellect, Light takes on the persona of ‘Kira’ and kills criminals while simultaneously dodging capture from authorities worldwide who fear his unknown power. Continue reading “Looking at Netflix’s Death Note”