To some degree I think I can categorize Scape Films into three generations, based both on timeframe and experience level.
First Generation (Roughly 1992-1997)
There were the films made between middle school and high school years.This includes everything from my first attempts at stop-motion animation and the first scene I shot with my friend Tom in his parents basement (about a mad scientist) to the Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me movies that Steve, Dan and others shot and which I later joined in on during high school. This period was the beginning. Everything was rudimentary and experimental. Very little production value or planning/preparation. At best an outline to a story and a few costumes and props. Most of the editing was done in camera though some was done VCR to VCR.
Second Generation (1998-2006)
Our most active period. This generation started with One Strange Night and encompasses everything we’ve done since. The pinnacle of which is Falling Apart. This period is best defined by the use of computer based editing, digital video or film cameras and a little more planning on our part. Although we did make some experimental and goofy movies at this stage that had as much planning as our first generation films, the technical backend was more sophisticated when it came to editing, lighting, and sound. Films like Maintain, Falling Apart and Crash all had screenplays, as did Night School and Mistake, neither of which were completed projects. Others like One Strange Nights, The Withers Trilogy, What Could Have Been, Quickguns, and Knock Knock You’re Dead, did not. They were more experimental or made for fun.
Third Generation (2015-…)
I don’t yet know if there will be a third generation of Scape Films. It’s been nine years now since Crash, our last film. My hope is that we’ll get back on track and start making films again. So all I can do is tell you what I believe they will be based on how things have changed in nine years. For starters, I personally haven’t been just sitting around. I’ve spent eight and a half years working as a professional corporate video shooter, editor, encoder, etc. as part of an in-house production crew for a local web media company along with Josh, who has been there with me for seven and a half of those years. This period has given me greater experience with camera work, lighting, sound, editing, directing, authoring/encoding and some level of composting and motion graphics. It’s what I do for a living. Which is great. So even though it is not directly the same as making narrative films, the technical knowledge and people skills translate to lower budget indie filmmaking.
The result of this experience (along with nine years of general life experience) should in theory produce better films. Stuff that is planned better and looks and sounds better. These won’t be Hollywood calibre films like you see today or even yesterday. Those reqire massive crews and bigger budgets. Those two things alone determine the kinds of films you can make and what they’ll ultimately turn out like. So it’s hard to saw for sure what this generation of movies would look like. At the least they would be a few grades above the high points of our second generation era films like Falling Apart and Crash.
The other contributing factor is technology. It’s changed a lot in nine years. We shot Falling Apart and Crash on standard definition, interlaced digital video cameras with built-in lenses. Today we live in an era of affordable HD and 4K progressive scan cameras with interchangable lenses, large sensors and film-like frame rates. We live in an era of inexpensive high quality portable digital audio recorders and microphones. Along with an era of inexpensive cinema style lighting and rigging gear, fast computer editing and compositing software and high quality online video sharing sites. All of which is easily within reach of shoestring budget filmmakers such as ourselves. So at the very least, the technical quality will go up. But I’d also like to believe that everything we learned form our second generation of films along with everything I’ve learned from my eight and a half years on the job will also lead to better planning and storytelling. One can hope.
It’s time to get the ball rolling again.