Author Archives: Mariia Makutonina

Tips for working on set!

Film production had always been the most intimidating part of the film studies for me until I realized that you don’t have to do it alone. Collaboration and teamwork are at the heart of filmmaking and you should absolutely take advantage of Middlebury’s close-knitted network to assemble your crew of creative collaborators. Here’re some tips that I wish I could go back in time and tell myself.

  1. Schedules, schedules, schedules:
    Identify as early as possible (at least a month in advance!) how many people you need on your set and their roles. You don’t want to be be directing and doing sound at the same time in case there isn’t enough people on the crew. On the other hand, you also don’t want to experience the Diminishing Marginal Returns where too many people on set lead to less efficiency and create stressful environment. 4 people was great number for me personally (one DP, one director, one Gaffer, one PA/sound person. Your project does not need to be in a completed pre-production stage to reach out to these people (plus actors). I repeat, your script does not need to be finished when you reach out to these people. It is crucial you start this process of scheduling as early as possible to account for rejections, last-minute changes and simple recruitment of the best people before they commit to another project.
  2. Be respectful of everybody’s time
    Once you have people committing to helping you, it is crucial to carefully plan the shooting hours and stick to them. Your crew and actors are volunteering their time and to ensure they will want to work with you again, you don’t want to ask them to stay overtime the last minute. Sometimes you won’t have the luxury to do so anyway if you are shooting on a paid location with a strict time limit. Feel free to advice with our professors or other peers about how long a specific scene might take.
  3. Be kind and establish the type of set you would want to be a part of. The shooting process can be very stressful but it doesn’t always have to. I have been on plenty of sets where the director and crew were efficient and welcoming. Definitely be polite to every person on set and remember that the best creative solutions come in moments of play not rush.
  4. “Get everything in the bag” or “Get my cut”. Decide which type of director you want to be. “Get everything in the bag” is the director who gets as many shots of the scene as possible and strictly sticks to the pre-production plan. “Get my cut” director prioritizes creative solutions based on the circumstances and maybe tends to more creative choices. Ideally you are on a spectrum between both, be careful of leaning to much into one or the other direction. Also, a personal tip: I like to always do at least one elaborate shot (long take or a taxi switch) that requires everyone on the crew being involved to pull it off. Edgar Wright in his interview mentions this type of shot is his favourite thing to film because it truly brings together the team.
  5. You do not need to do this alone! There are a lot of things to figure out but please do not undertake to do it all alone. Ideally, find a co-director or and a creative partner to devise these tasks and keep each other accountable. Unlike many other classes at Midd that underline individualism, film production is all about not carrying the wight alone. This sounds very straightforward but sometimes proves the hardest for Middkids.

Introduction!

Hi everyone! My name is Masha and I am a super senior Feb and media assistant on duty every Sunday in Axinn basement (from 4-7 pm and then from 7 pm -12am).

If you don’t know me, please come say hi before I graduate!

The first thing you need to know about me is that I love to steal like a true artist. I think it’s the greatest compliment one creator can give to another, and so today I want to give that compliment to Misha, my fellow colleague in the film department, who so creatively combined his favourite characters in one collage for his introduction post which you can find on this page.

I am still on my journey to learn photoshop but I propose to you today “Movies That Influenced Masha” collage. These are characters that for better or worse shaped my early love for visual art. From Soviet comedies and British costume dramas to Hollywood blockbusters and French action flicks – my favourite films like me combine most unexpected cultural heritage. Please, come talk to me about the ones you recognized so we can fangirl over them together (staff and students!)

Hoping for all your judgements,

Masha


Production Hub is here for you!

When I first took a production class at Middlebury and started watching PremierePro tutorials on Lynda (now LinkedIn Learning) I could not imagine where it would take me how much it would change my relationship with film.

This is a small piece for all our theory-gravitating people! Don’t be shy, that essay can wait, come over to the dark side of the production courses…

Introduction to video-essays

While we wait for the Videography course to become again available at Middlebury, I invite you to discover the world of video essays on your own terms through these five artists.

Video essay is a piece of video content that, much like a written essay, advances an argument. The only difference is that a video essay takes advantage of the structure and language of film to deliver its point.

  1. Kogonada

    Discover masterfully constructed video essays from the writer-director Kogonada who reveals through visual arguments the power of cinematography in your favourite. His works are STRIKINGLY beautiful and give you an amazing insight into the history of film and its artistic power to create emotional response in viewers worldwide. You can start your exploration with this piece on Italian Neo-realism:

    http://kogonada.com/portfolio/what-is-neorealism
  2. Shanespeare

    If you are looking for more casual, relaxed and chattier video-essay experience, you should definitely check out Shanespeare channel on YouTube. Shaniya explores a variety of cultural, societal and media subjects using popular films we consume to ask critical questions about our collective values. And it’s great fun, too! She manages to combine highly academic rhetoric with casual Gen-z language and jokes, making you feel like you are listening to a friend’s banter about pop culture’s latest trends. I recommend this piece on How Hollywood Demonizes Feminity.
  3. Nerdwriter

    We all sooner or later discover this channel on Youtube and inevitably fall in love with Evan Pushak’s beautiful voice, slick visuals and highly engaging philosophical reflections on a myriad of humanity subjects. Whether you want to look at the film you love from a new, unexpected perspective, learn about history, architecture, painting or like me, discover the poetry of Emily Dickinson and E.E. Cummings, you absolutely must check out this page if you haven’t already done so before. You can start with this piece Time, Tarkovsky And Pandemic.
  4. What’s So Great About That?

    Grace Lee is the queen of engaging with dense, very specific media subjects with seeming ease and relaxed attitude that you cannot stop watching whatever video you happen to click on and can find yourself down the rabbit hole of layers of complex theoretical arguments Lee proposes. Be careful with this self-reflexive, funny and piercingly smart video-essayist, because the next time you will be preparing readings for your film theory class, inevitably this question will pop into your head: “Did Grace reference this paper in one her essays?” She probably did, and let’s keep this gem between us. You can start with her piece on Video essay.
  5. Lessons from the Screenplay

    Finally, if like me, you have missed an opportunity to take a screenwriting course and find yourself in ss1/2 trying to make a short film, this is one of the helpful resources on your crash-course journey of becoming a better storyteller. Check out this piece on the structure of When Harry Met Sally.



    Bonus essay: Jessica McGoff on Mulholland Drive: http://www.thecine-files.com/on-mulholland-drive/

Feel free to talk to me about taking a video essay class – my media tutor hours: Sunday 4 pm-7pm and 8pm-12 am:)

WEB SERIES BY MIDD students

Folks, we are in for a treat. This eight-episode comedy series created by the recent Midd grads is a great showcase for all the talent, creativity and originality you can find on our campus and in our theatre and film departments. It is also an excellent example how you can make the most of the CCI funding grants and create an opportunity for yourself instead of waiting for a big break in the future.

Be careful when you start watching it because I could not avoid binging it despite my essay assignment that was due on same day. It’s that good!

And if you have an idea for a film or a TV pilot in the making, hopefully this inspires you to go ahead and make it happen (TIP: watch out for those credits for potential collaborators!).

All 8 episodes are out now.