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iPontificateFilmmaker Craig Knapp on Mac's Role in Feature Film Production


- October 29th, 2004

Local Austin Filmmaker and Canadian National Craig Knapp just recently finished post-production on a DV film he directed titled; "The Sum of Jobe". I took a few moments to ask Craig a few questions about the project, and how the Mac was instrumental in the film's production.

TMO: So tell us about the story and what were the elements in its development?

CK: Jobe on the surface is a simple love story. A homeless man falls in love with a convenience store worker and they begin an unconventional relationship, but that's just the story on the surface. Underneath we learn that the two main characters are both fighting demons that have been with them for a long time. To put it simply, the story is about redemption and forgiving yourself.

Originally, I was about to do a short kung-fu film with Jett Garner (the writer). We were in preproduction when Jett told me this idea for an improvised movie. All he had was a premise, a man keeps robbing the same store over and over just to be near the girl he loves. As soon as he told me the premise I decided to scrap the short and we started to work on Jobe.

TMO: On your film's Web site you mention this film is a "non-traditional" narrative, please elaborate.

CK: Jobe was an experiment. We came up with a basic story, gave the actors parameters for the scene but other than that we just let them fly. By doing this, the story didn't evolve as a regular 3 act story. Without giving anything away we also introduced multiple story lines. For 75% of the movie we tried to follow Dogma guidelines for the other 25% we employed a totally different style to better differentiate the two story lines. In the end it all ties together and works.

Note: For those of you not familiar with the Dogma 95 Manifesto, it is a theory of filmmaking from Lars Von Trier that strips away all conventional aspects and tools of filmmaking including props, music, tripods, and lighting. It is designed to prevent contrived storytelling by relying totally on the environment and the "moment" to dictate how a scene unfolds in a truly organic way.

TMO: So tell us a little about principal photography, any interesting stories from the set?

CK: One of the major scenes in the movie is where Jobe robs the store just to be close to Sandy. We shot this scene at a convenience store is south west Austin. The scene called for Jobe to be wearing a ski mask and to be carrying a fake gun. We shot the first part of the scene inside and went out side to shot some shots of Jobe running around looking for his getaway.

As we shot the first take I noticed that a man was watching us and he seemed agitated. I walked up to him and let him know we where shooting a movie and that is wall make believe. He responds: "You're lucky I don't have my gun or I'd shoot the guy in the mask and then shoot you."

Then this guy proceeds to tell everybody around and in the store how he would shoot us if he had the chance and since the guy was wearing a ski mask he looked like a terrorist so he was fair game. This guy went on like this for about an hour. Many a take was ruined from him talking in the background about his concealed hand gun and how he could get away with it.

TMO: What equipment did you use during the making of this picture including camera, lights and sound gear, etc.

We shot the movie on an XL1s and for sound we used a Sennheiser ME66 [microphone] going straight into the camera. As I mentioned earlier for most of the movie we tried to follow Dogma guidelines, so we used existing lights. Most of the film takes place outdoors so it made that easy. For the alternate story lines we lit it like a normal film. We used 3 650s a 1K, plus some china balls with 100w bulbs and some Par 16s. It was a very bare package. We needed to shoot quick so we needed to travel light.

TMO: How was the Mac used in pre-production, production, and post production?

CK: The film was written and edited primarily on a iBook G4 1ghz running Final Cut Pro HD. I used a dual 1.42 G4 for color correction, effects and to speed up the rendering times. Every frame of the movie has extensive color correction so it was easier to do the rendering on a faster machine.

For a few scenes we recorded straight to a FireWire hard drive running through FCP. Since most of the movie was improv, we did this so I could edit scenes quickly on set and see how it went together. This worked well and enabled us to try different things. When doing a movie like this, there is no such thing as a shot list. If the actors are improvising, it is important that the camera improv also.

TMO: Were there any special techniques used with the Mac to improve the film, graphics, filters, or anything other than straight editing?

CK: I used a variety of techniques for color correction. I started color correction in FCP. Using the 3 way color corrector I'd start off by desaturating the shot, then I would crush the blacks and slightly increase the white point. From there I would then apply a tint filter to add just a little bit of blue to cool down the shot a bit. This technique was used on every shot of the movie.

For a few select scenes I exported Targa files to Photoshop and added effects like universal glows, some grain and more advanced color correction. This gave me a lot more control of the color space. I then brought the Targa's into After Effects to reconstitute the scene and add a bit of grain. While it seemed complicated, it worked to give the dream sequences an other-worldly look.

TMO: How was the Mac used in the sound mix and audio post-production?

CK: The sound mix is being done at Zzyzxrecording in Round Rock Texas. Since we shot mostly outdoors, there is a lot of extraneous sound. Scot Reynolds of Zzyzx using a ProTools LE rig was able to clean up a lot of that sound.

One of the shining points of the movie is the score done by Gabe Gonzalez. Gabe recorded the music using just his iBook running ProTools LE with an mBox [audio interface] as the IO. The music really added a lot to the movie. For the break in scenes, Gabe created a "Hobo" drum kit from things found in the alley. The pieces range from hard driving guitar to a homage to spaghetti westerns and everything in between. The music really helped set the mood and give the movie a different tone.

TMO: Thanks for your time Craig, we look forward to seeing the film when it is released, and good luck...

Visit the Sum of Jobe Web site for stills and a credit list

With five years in the entertainment industry, and three years writing for The Mac Observer, works passionately on various genres of film, including documentaries, narrative features, and shorts. He has two feature films under his belt as Director of Photography and Camera Operator, and his current role at TMO is to cover digital media and the film industry.

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