Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Saturday, 26 October 2002

The harvest is nearly done, here in central Illinois. Jackie and I drove through a countryside of farmer's fields cut nearly down to the dirt, with no stalks or stubble left behind. The colors of fall are there too, but driving along the freeway, we saw mostly brown.

[Fall colors at Allerton Park]

We went to Allerton. Jackie wanted to go. We haven't been much this year and fall is a good time to go. I brought along my camera and got some good pictures, although some pictures came out poorly. In the center of the woods the leaves have not yet begun to turn and the forest was a deep, rich green under the cloudy sky. The camera, though, seeing that everything looked green, adjusted the color balance to compensate. The result was that all the browns turned a kind of pink color. Still nice pictures, but not much like what we saw.

For dinner I made leek and potato soup.

When Jackie and I went to England ten years ago, we discovered that nearly every restaurant there (and especially in Wales) had leek and potato soup on the menu. What interested me, though, was that the soups were nothing alike. One might have chunks of potato while others were smooth. One might have cheese while others had none. One might have lots of smoked sausage while others were vegan. It made an impression on me that so many different soups could be called leek and potato soup. So, I invented my own.

[Statue of the three graces]

My leek and potato soup is pretty plain--a leek or two (three small ones today, because that's what they were selling at the farmer's market), two or three potatoes, an onion, some celery, today we had fresh yellow carrots from the farmer's market, so I put one in. The potatoes cut into bite-sized chunks, everything else chopped up pretty fine. I seasoned it with a bay leaf, some garlic, some paprika, some dill, and a bit of black pepper. (The pepper is the key spice for this soup. For some reason I think potatoes call for black pepper.) We had some chicken broth, so I used that, but I've made it successfully with just a bouillon cube and 2.5 or 3 cups of water. Boil it until the potato chunks are cooked.

I've been having a great time working on my film.

For one thing, there's writing involved--coming up with the script was a great way to spend time while I was waiting for my camera to arrive.

Friday and Saturday last week I went out and scouted locations for the main action sequence.

The camera itself arrived on Monday. I shot a few minutes of the cat and then transfered them to the computer and edited them into a little 40-second film with a sound track. That verifies almost all the functionality I'll need for the planned film.

I tested the low-light and night settings of the camera, because I'd like to shoot one scene under street lights. It was almost okay, but I'll probably end up trying to get it all shot before dusk.

[Sample shot from my storyboards]

Besides that I did storyboards for pretty much every scene. That was a very useful experiment. It made me think about just how I might stage the scene. It turned out that there were several that I really didn't know how they'd look, even though I'd have said I did if you'd asked me. There's nothing like having to draw the scene to make you realize that you have no idea what it really looks like.

There's no need to be an artist to be able to do a storyboard. Stick figures are plenty good enough. It's just a tool for capturing the framing of the shot, so that you're not spending time deciding on that when the entire cast and crew are standing around waiting.


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