Cinema Summer Intensive Blog: Marlaena Henry, blog 2


Hello again! This time around I will be sharing my experiences in Sheree Chen’s sketches class. The first week we made a comedy short where we split into two units for the sake of efficiency since we changed locations a couple times within three hours. With such an ambitious project, it was a great introduction to see how the Red Team works together. And it went great! Then onto editing; our group had three hours to edit, at least, a rough cut to be presented at a screening later that afternoon. But the Red Team has some amazing editors and several nearly-finished cuts were presented to show off our group’s creative efforts. 

Our second short was a romance which also had a tight schedule. After this point, we decided to use both filming time blocks to actually film, not plan and then film. But that is not a slight at the project, we just kept growing as a group and wanted to make progressively more complicated and in-depth films. 

As for our ambition, we pushed ourselves even further with locations, production design and acting. We made a thriller/drama this time around where I wore many hats as a filmmaker. Not only was I the production designer, I was also acting and providing wardrobe and make up. But that kept things exciting and allowed me to be even more hands on. The director that week, Murry Ryan, came up with an amazing concept to create a mirror sequence without using any mirrors (think of the bathroom scene in “La Haine” (1995) with Vinz). We sold the idea of a mirrored set by using body doubles. We took a group photo of the actors with the doubles to show the behind the scenes of how we made people with obvious physical differences look the same on camera. This short may have been my favorite all summer, or at least tied for first with week 4’s film. 

Week 4 contained our last official shoot, but we may do more side quests if we so please. We decided to make a short inspired by Wes Anderson. I am so proud of all the details that went into this piece. The raw footage is so beautiful, it did not really need any color correction! We continued to film over two days, and on the first day we realized the importance of prioritizing hydration. It was such a great lesson to learn early on in our careers as lots of film shoots are on location outside and for prolonged hours. Make sure to drink plenty of water, Virginia heat is no joke.

After we turned in a final cut, Sheree gave us a sticker that she designed that reflected each week’s challenge. The first week was parallel editing with a “Godfather” motif, the second was inspired by “The Green Knight” as we had a scavenger hunt for our shot list, Nic Cage’s face graced week’s 3 sticker as it was a screen grab from “Adaptation”, and the final week made it real by featuring celebrities wearing VCU merch. 

And a final piece of advice from fellow rising second year Fabiana Landívar Quintela, “make sure to do all your planning before shooting.” It makes everything from production to post way more efficient! 

Lead Image: Students operate boom mic and camera on the set of “Changes.” From left to right: Maya Rios, Kyle Miller, Gray Adgate, Marie Welch. Photo taken by Marlaena Henry.