Forever-new
2.26.2012

Making “Forever After” by Vitaly Verlov

INTRO
It’s not a top secret that filmmaking is a medium where artistic expression meets cutting-edge technologies, where highly organized collaborative effort involves hundreds of people doing different jobs just to have one particular thing at the end—the story that excites. The story that is both entertaining and inspiring. The story they can make some money on.

And it is the opportunity to tell a good story combining art and technology that personally fascinates me.

Working previously as a motion graphics artist I often had to design short animated audio-visual compositions like TV shows IDs, title sequences, packshots for commercials and all that sort of thing. The designs can be trendy-beautiful or not, abstract or scripted, technically complex or quite simple. The common thing here is it’s not a filmmaking—something I’ve always wanted to do. But the graphic design, animation and visual effects background feels like a good intermediate since it involves visual language which the film as a medium is actually based on. And writing short stories is what I’ve been already doing for some time.

PRE
Badly organized filmmaking process is one of the perfect ways to waste money so everything should be strictly scheduled. Actually, every detail has to be pre-planned to get the best possible outcome with the resources available. The micro-budget was all my own money. Of course, I could have tried to get some funding but, since I hadn’t shot a thing before, all efforts would have come to the following scene.

So I decided not to waste time.

Simple story I wanted to show in FOREVER AFTER takes place on exterior locations which introduces another level of difficulty. And it took me quite time to find more or less suitable locations. Actually, the old trashy gas station was discovered and locked just the week before strictly scheduled production, 25 miles (40 km) away from Moscow.

While writing and visualizing the script, everything looks gorgeous and stylish. But reality is you have to make compromises. The perfect, you know, atmospheric location in my mind becomes “at least it fits” on actual set which obviously hurts initial vision.

SHOOTING
Modern professional digital cameras and audio recording equipment make it possible to have high quality on micro-budget constraints. All the tech was rented and maintained by a very small crew.

As a director, I understood the need to shoot for four days. As a producer, I knew that have money only for three. It makes schedule absolutely strict and fixed, and this is another compromise which in reality looks simple: either I continue filming takes of this particular scene until it looks right, or I choose acceptable take and move on for next three more scenes I still need to shoot. The simplest: having a scene unshot in the end of the day meant the film not making a cut. Period.

And this is what filmmaking is, no matter how big the production is. It’s a continuous problem solving ride under pressure, and the more professional the crew and actors are, the more artistically consistent outcome you get. One can wait for perfect conditions around and this actually never happens.

Behind the scenes photos and other extras are available at www.facebook.com/foreverfilm. By the way, the temperature on location was something around +105–113 °F (+40–45 °C), like in the Sahara desert, so I was already thinking to get into my jerboa suit I had from very past elementary school days.

POST
The post-production meaning editing, concept design and graphics, rendering, compositing and color grading was done on a PC at home with the set of dedicated software. Original music was composed by Vitaliy Zavadskyy, sound design and mixing done by Anna Lavrenko who is also a co-producer of this small production.

The importance of image post-production in this case are so called invisible effects. Like this:


Cleaning up original plates, traffic and objects removal, set extension are actually a hell part of a job, being invisible and still crucial when locations aren’t good enough or stopping the unwanted traffic is impossible. The cleanups was done on every shot in the cut.

TEASER–TRAILER
As for the teaser-trailer, which is available here at http://www.internationalmovietrailerfestival.com/all-trailers/forever-after/, it was initially planned to be based on additional scenes, out of the final cut. But while shooting the film itself, it became obvious that these extra scenes are not only out of the film cut but also out of schedule. So the trailer, as you can see, is some kind of an intriguing three scenes remix, looking quite well.

OUTRO

On FOREVER AFTER, which is available at www.foreverfilm.net, I personally considered myself more as a filmmaker than as a director, for example, if it makes sense at all. I really think it is a must to get through the every detail of production pipeline, from the FADE IN of the script to the final video file rendering. Of course, this kind of approach would be groundless on a big studio feature production but on this little film—being my first one—it was essential.

And now I’m finishing a feature-length script, a complete different one. It’s a larger scope
SciFi/Drama/Action with a strong love theme since I still, you know, believe that behind every good film is a good love story.

See ya!

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