2018 // Film Diary

2018…

…was the first year that I documented the films I watched. It was also the first year that I felt a major responsibility to watch as many films as I could in order to make up for all the films I slept through in film school. For those wondering, I used the app Letterboxd to track these films. Highly recommend. Add me if you get it! @thejoshuachang

Films watched: 77 films

Most watched month: November (13 films)

Longest film: The Aviator (2 hr 50 min)

Oldest film: The Shining (1980)

Favorite directors: Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash, etc) & David Fincher (Panic Room, Gone Girl, Se7en, Zodiac)


*Bold denotes a favorite

January

03: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
03-30: Binged all of Black Mirror

February

01-10: Pretty much binged all of Rick and Morty
19: Thor (2011)
23: The Avengers (2012)
23: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
24: Django Unchained (2012)

March

10: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
14: Dunkirk (2017) – Christopher Nolan
25: The Martian (2015)
30: Ant-Man (2015)

April

03: Wonder Woman (2017)
05: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
15: Doctor Strange (2016)
22: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
23: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
25: Get Out (2017) – Jordan Peele
26: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
28: The Shape of Water (2017)
29: Lady Bird (2017)

May

03: Baby Driver (2017) – Edgar Wright
06: A Quiet Place (2018)
12: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
13: Ready Player One (2018)
17: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
19: I, Tonya (2017)
20: Call Me By Your Name (2017)
24: Boyhood (2014)
26: The Greatest Showman (2017)
27: Deadpool 2 (2018)
28: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

June

23: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
27: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

July

08: The Imitation Game (2014) – Morten Tyldum

August

04: Moana (2016)
06: Isle of Dogs (2018) – Wes Anderson
16: The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)
24: La La Land (2016) – Damien Chazelle
25: BlaKkKlansman (2018)
31: Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

September

05: Searching (2018) – Aneesh Chaganty
27: The Departed (2006)
29: Black Panther (2018)

October

05: Gone Girl (2014) – David Fincher
06: Venom (2018) – Ruben Fleischer
07: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
08: Children of Men (2006)
10: The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
11: Game Night (2018)
12: First Man (2018)
14: The Town (2010)
15: Se7en (1995) – David Fincher
17: Zodiac (2007)
22: A Star Is Born (2018)
25: The Game (1997) – David Fincher

November

02: Panic Room (2002)
04: The Truman Show (1998)
05: Almost Famous (2000)
12: Mid90s (2018)
15: Arrival (2016)
15: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
17: Superbad (2007)
18: Moon (2009)
18: Enemy (2013)
19: Prisoners (2013) – Dennis Villeneuve
22: Creed II (2018)
22: Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
30: The Shining (1980)

December

08: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)
11: Contact (1997)
13: The Favourite (2001)
23: Amélie (2001)
24: Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
24: Enemy at the Gates (2001)
25: The Aviator (2004)
26: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Bob Persichetti
28: Bird Box (2018)
29: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)
31: Mother! (2017) – Darren Aronofsky

Wine Bottle Photography

Product photography is something that I've always been interested in.

I thought I might make a quick post on some techniques I used to make these photographs, all taken on my dining room table with simple lighting equipment:

My dad making a great assistant!

Stuff you'll need:

- Any DSLR camera
- Telephoto lens (anything over 50mm, I would suggest)
- Speedlite
- White cardboard stock

Breaking down the shots that I took:

- Label shot
- Side reflection shot (duplicated on either side to make symmetrical)
- Cap/lid
- Liquid shot (lighting up the inside of the bottle for a glow)

I took those 4 shots, blended them in Photoshop, and added a subtle reflection.

These pictures will explain it better:

The wine bottle was placed on the two black pieces of cardboard to avoid additional reflections coming onto the bottle. Then, the white bounce board was used to light certain areas of the bottle. It was all about experimentation. I tethered the camera to my MacBook so I could see the images coming in on a larger screen. This is very important, because you want to be sure the details are exactly how you want. For example, making sure that the label is directly center on the bottle, or that there are no fingerprints on the bottle. This takes a LOT of work off of post-production, and saves you from re-shooting.

In Photoshop, a lot of masking was involved. First, I cut out the bottle with the pen tool, and made a masked folder. Then, I put the other photos in that folder, and started building my bottle. For the reflections, it may be useful to use the "screen" blending mode. If you aren't familiar with blending modes, I recommend checking out a YouTube video on it.

Finishing it off, I added a reflection with a slight blur with gradient mask, and sharpened it a touch.

Overall it was a VERY fun process, and I'd love to answer additional questions. Happy shooting!

Professional inquiries: thejoshuachang@gmail.com

Tips On Working With a Child Actor

Once in a filmmaker's lifetime, he or she will most definitely work with a kid. If you know what you're doing, you'll have an amazing performance.

However, many things can go wrong when working with a kid. This past week, I had the experience of directing a Christmas commercial for work. Our concept included working with a 5-yr old, which pushes the edge of whether a kid can successfully take direction or not. Thankfully, it was only a 30-second spot. For this spot, production took 4 hours.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 6.05.51 PM.jpg

INCENTIVES

Kids fuel on incentives. Find out what the kid likes, and come prepared to the shoot with things to keep the child engaged. Be careful on using this too much, because the kid will start to get over it. Give subtle reminders for them to work towards a goal. For example, food, gifts, or a quick 10 minute break. Also make sure the parents are OK with this.

GET CREATIVE

In one shot, we had to get the kid running down the stairs towards the Christmas tree. Instead of telling the kid exactly what to do, make sure you get him involved and make him feel like he is part of the team. In my case, I asked the kid if he knew how to count to 4. Then, I made him go onto the fourth step of the stairs, counting as he went. Once there, I gave him some direction, and asked him to count down from 3 and say "ACTION".

This worked for us because he felt like he was in control, and that he was helping direct the commercial.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 6.06.07 PM.jpg

PLAN AHEAD

With any kid, you are not going to be able to get a lot of takes. Repetition is not something kids enjoy, and generally speaking, after around 5 takes the kid will be tired of it. You need to plan your shot ahead, and practice your movements, focus, etc. After 3 or 4 takes, the performance of the kid will suffer.

LET THE KID BE A FILMMAKER TOO

Kids LOVE cameras. Try to relate to them and ask them about their favorite movies or TV shows. Flip the monitor around once in a while so the kid can see themselves on the screen. Or... maybe let them clap the slate or yell "LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION". You never know what will excite a child.

THAT'S IT!

I hope you found this helpful. Enjoy these screenshots of the commercial.

Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 6.06.25 PM.jpg

Sunflower Season!

Overview:

On Sunday, I planned two looks with Tiffany and we shot the next day. All photos were done with one lens, one speedlite, and one reflector.

Challenge:

For most of my photography career, I shot in a studio, where light was easily controllable. I owned a speedlite, but never used it outdoors... let alone in broad daylight. My mindset was: "I won't be able to achieve the look that I want because this speedlite is underpowered, and I need Profoto B1's to do that kind of thing."

Granted, I had been thinking about getting Profoto B1's for the longest time, and I kept putting off shoots because of that very reason.

For this shoot, I challenged myself to use what I had and see what I could come up with. See the results and let me know what you think!

Takeaway:

Photography is about using what you have to its fullest potential. It is rarely about the equipment...