How did I do it

After my friends and acquaintances see To the Other Shore, this is the benevolent question they often ask:  “How did you do it?”. My answer to that is the same as the one I’ve been giving for the last 8 years when asked “how is the movie going?” – “slowly, but surely.”

Quite often, this is not a satisfactory answer, not because it’s not true, but because of its brevity and non-specificity. Keeping in mind that most shots for the film were done in different locations in different circumstances, over many years, with, at least, some special effects applied to them, and put together through painstaking editing, a full answer to that question would get fairly lengthy.

However, I doubt very many people would care to find out the full answer. Instead, let’s address the gist of this question – what does it roughly take to make a movie like this.

It takes, roughly 7000 hours of work. Granted, that doesn’t directly answer our overbearing question, but it does provide context. Seven thousand hours is such a long time, that it’s not only long enough to make a movie, but also to learn to make a movie as well. It’s an equivalent to three and a half years of full time work. That time allows multitudes of trips into the field, dozens of hours of camera roll, hundreds of hours of preparation for the shots and still leave thousands of hours for post production. Taking that much time is the single most important contributing factor in the resulting final quality of this film.

After over 120 hours of footage recorded, it’s not an extraordinary challenge to find fairly good amount of shots suited for inclusion into the film. Those shots would later serve as a basis for special effects to be applied to them.

The special effects added to the shots combined with the precise editing is, to the great extent, responsible for the ‘feel’ of To the Other Shore, and, in many cases, lies at the center of our titular question. After all, anyone can get a camera, go out and shoot a bunch of shots, put it together in iMovie or Movie Maker and – ta da – the movie’s done! Most people know how that is done. Instead of doing it leisurely,  quickly, and without much care, I filmed the shots with great care, planning, patience and luck. Luck means here to be at the right place at the right time. That part of the process in my movie is still based on the same principles that simple movies are made, it only takes much longer.

Instead, what they refer to, when they ask how I did it, is how that ‘feel’ was achieved.

That feel is, of course, created thru special effects applied to these carefully shot and selected shots. There could be written a whole another article (or a dozen) addressing the application of special effects that could delve deep into the nitty gritty of the development of these effects. Suffice to say, given enough time, any effect can be achieved. I simply went for the ones I found worthy of the time investment they required.

Finally, once the composition is completed, came the coloring. It isn’t special effect per se, but it can greatly transform everything on screen – make a night out of a day, breathe life into a gloomy image or give a cheap camera shot a cinematic look. That would finalize the feel we, so curiously, are intrigued by.

What might seem at the end an extraordinarily perplexing creation, is, in fact, a seemingly endless – but, finite – number of small, simple steps, executed with care and precision in the right order.

That, given enough time, can make coma come to life dreams come true.

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