Galloping Gertie, 2008
Written and directed by Michael McVey
Bunker Hill Community College 2008 – Elements of Video Production
In 2008, I decided to go back to school and learn filmmaking. I enrolled in video and audio production courses at Bunker Hill Community College, Charlestown, MA. Galloping Gertie was my first video, made for a class called Elements of Video Production. It was an intro course for video basics like 3-point lighting and depth of field. It was a good class, thanks to the learned Professor Pastel and his classic film references. For our final projects, Pastel divided the class into small groups. I was elected our group’s writer/director, and I mustered up a quick little story that used our group as actors and our school as our location.
I’ve included the original storyboards below: I wrote the script on cocktail napkins at a Cambridge, MA music bar called Toad during a friend’s shows. I wrote parts with specific people in mind – with my group members as lead actors, I cast my audio production Professor Palermo, as the Evil Professor.
The shooting day came, but most of the cast and crew didn’t show up for the shoot… so I recast on the spot. With a leading actor vanished from the group, the role of the Agent went to Bunker Hill’s resident AV squad leader, Marcelo Almeida. Professor Palermo was a no-show, and I ended up filling in. If you look at the storyboards, you’ll see the difference, as I drew that role for a big Sydney Greenstreet type.
We shot the whole thing at Bunker Hill over a couple of days in late Fall 2008. We shot on a Canon Elura 85 MiniDV Camcorder and edited it in Final Cut Pro. It didn’t cost a thing, and it was a lot of fun to make — I really had a great time making this goofy little project, and really enjoyed the process, even if the final result is ridiculous.
When comparing the film against the storyboards, you may notice that the fight scene was originally set in a bathroom. Why you ask?
Apparently, we weren’t allowed to film Marcelo on BHCC campus bathrooms. He had landed in some hot water with the campus security earlier in the year. He was working on his own video project – a “re-imagining” of the Casino Royale Trailer. Marcelo brought a toy gun to school to recreate a James Bond bathroom fight. When security walked in on 007 filming fights in school bathrooms, they were not pleased. They confiscated the toy gun, but let him keep the tuxedo. Now that I think about it, that’s probably what caused his lutropublicaphobia.
And it was for these reasons we had to move the bathroom fight scene to a computer lab. We kept computer genius Stephan Brooks’ cameo as “That Guy Who Was Made Uncomfortable,” but it wasn’t nearly as awkward as it should have been. The lesson: stay fluid, especially with comedy.
Film as Art
Week 09 – Choosing Shots to Tell the Story, Assignment 9
By Michael McVey – April 22, 2010
Bunker Hill Community College – Charlestown, MA
Watch The Seven Samurai. Choose one scene and list each shot in it.
Identify what kind of camera angle was used (such as a wide shot, medium shot, close-up), any camera movements (dolly, pan, zoom, tilt), and a description of the action occurring in the scene (the movement of the actors, and so forth).
The Seven Samurai – Heihachi’s Funeral
The samurai bury Heihachi after he dies during a raid. The farmers and samurai mourn his loss. The wild Kikuchiyo galvanizes the village with Heihachi’s flag. At that moment, bandits attack that village.
Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. Encircled by villagers, the samurai bow before Heihachi’s grave mound. The wind blows.
Low-angle, Medium long shot of samurai. This a zoomed shot at the same angle – the samurai perform the burial ritual.
Low-angle, Medium long shot of Kikuchiyo, framed left. This is an even closer view, same angle. The camera tracks Kikuchiyo as he plunges Heihachi’s sword into his grave, then sits, despondent.
Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The samurai and farmers kneel before Heihachi’s grave mound.
Medium, Low-angle shot of Rikichi and the farmers kneeling at the grave. As the farmers mourn, Rikichi breaks down and hugs the dirt, crying in despair. His actions accidently lead to Heihachi’s death. The camera pans left, following Rikichi as he snaps.
Return to Low-angle, Medium long shot of Kikuchiyo, framed left. Kikuchiyo yells at Rikichi to stop crying. The camera tilts as he stands.
Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. Kikuchiyo yells at everyone to stop crying. He runs down the hillside.
Medium long shot, panning right to left, tracking Kikuchiyo. Kikuchiyo runs through the village.
Long shot to Medium, tracking the movement of Kikuchiyo run through the village and into the samurai’s quarters. The camera pulls back as Kikuchiyo enters the building and pans left as he grabs Heihachi’s flag, then scrambles outside.
Long shot, low angle. The camera tilts up as Kikuchiyo climbs the thatched roof.
Wide shot with Samurai in the foreground, and Kikuchiyo on the roof in the distance. Kikuchiyo plants the flag in the thatched roof. The samurai see the flag and turn towards it.
Close-up on Heihachi’s flag. The flag stands tall, waving in the fierce wind.
Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The farmers and samurai all turn to the flag.
Medium shot of farmers. The male farmers jockey for position, fixing eyes on the flag.
Medium shot of farmers. The female farmers look on, teary eyed.
Extreme close-up of flag. The camera tilts down on the flag’s symbols.
Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The village stands together, staring at the flag.
Return to Extreme close-up of flag. Again, the camera tilts down on the flag’s symbols.
Medium shot of Kikuchiyo on the roof. Kikuchiyo sits, cradling himself under the flag. Something in the distance suddenly alarms him.
Wide shot of the distant hills. Bandits on horseback gallop over the horizon.
Return to Medium shot of Kikuchiyo on the roof. Kikuchiyo alertly stands and runs to the roof’s edge as the camera pans left, tracking him. He announces the bandit arrival to the village. “Goddamn! Here they come!”