Some Stuff I Like Vol. 1

Paul Trillo’s Short Films:

A while ago, maybe a little more than a year, I was looking online for experimental, time-lapse and hyper-lapse films because I was trying to make a time-lapse film of my own.  This vimeo-based research led me to some of the works of a New York based director named Paul Trillo.  I think this may have been the first video of his I found:

I spent so much time studying this video, trying to figure out how exactly he stitched it together.  Trillo’s work, from what I’ve seen, is highly inventive.  I don’t know who his influences are, or if he’s just borrowing techniques he’s picked up from other people, but all his works seem centered on a particular technique, and then he moves on from one thing to another, constantly playing with new video tricks.

Here’s another one:

It was made with a Matrix-like bullet time rig of cameras, and you can see the style in this ad he made for the Mega Millions lottery:

He has made a number of commercials that all benefit from a particular trick or style he has honed in other videos.  He has also made a few short films, including a recent one which caught my attention and reminded me how much I love his work.

This recent film is called At The End of the Cul-de-Sac.  It is an almost 10 minute short about a man’s mental breakdown, shot in a continuous take with a drone that glides around the environment like in Birdman or the first shot of The Player.  A film like this has all kinds of challenges, mainly because drones are loud, and as he says in the ‘making of’ video, drone videos don’t usually deal with dialogue for that reason.

Another one I really enjoyed was called The Irrational Fear of Nothing.  It follows one man through his day as we hear his thoughts in whispered narration.  The film is shot entirely from behind the man so we only see the back of his head and his upper back and shoulders.  This was done using a specialized rig and a lightweight camera.  When the man turns or rotates, the camera whips around to keep up with him because it’s attached to him.  It creates an interesting perspective, with the slight distortion at the edge of the frame and the peculiar movements that sync up to the way the man, or anyone, walks.

Finally, there are a lot of other great works of his to check out, but I want to highlight The Life & Death of an iPhone:

It’s shot entirely with an iPhone (as far as I can tell), so the video quality looks familiar, and all the situations feel very real, such as when he drops his phone and it cracks.  Really, there’s nothing all that special about it, but I like it so much because it makes you look at a situation from a different view and yada yada yada, I just enjoyed it.

All of Trillo’s works inspire me.  They’re not just about camera tricks or a particular way of seeing the world.  They feel like the passion projects of someone who cares about his work and is always trying to learn.

The Soundtrack of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints:

I recently watched Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, the 2013 film from David Lowery featuring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck.  It was a nice film, not perfect but certainly inspired.  The performances were great, and the cinematography was excellent, but what I loved best was the soundtrack.  When I say I like a soundtrack, it’s probably because I recognize music that I want to use in my own films or videos or whatever I make.

I love Hans Zimmer, but I’m unlikely to use his work in my own projects because his music is grand whereas I work with a budget of close to $0.  In other words, it just wouldn’t add up.  But the music in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is rhythmic and kind of quiet.  What I remember most about it is the clapping.  There’s a lot of clapping.  It feels like the music was recorded by two to four people in a small room.

My favorite track is Ruth and Sylvie.  It uses strings and clapping, such that the music feels like it’s wavering, a little unstable, but it finds strength halfway through.  It’s an empowering track.  I don’t know really how to write about music, but I just love this track and the soundtrack as a whole.  It feels like something out of the Friday Night Lights television show.

S-Town Podcast:

I just finished this podcast a few days ago.  It’s from Brian Reed and the rest of the This American Life team as well as the people who made Serial, which I think already falls under the T.A.L. umbrella.  The show is pitched as a Serial-esque crime thriller.  Brian Reed talks about how a story about old clocks led him to an unsolved murder, or at least that’s what I gathered from the 3 minute promo teased before an episode of This American Life.

But after the second episode, it’s clear this story is going another direction.  There have been so many crime thriller-whodunnit-type stories in recent years (Making a Murderer among them) that it’s started to feel like of cheap.  There are plenty of murders, many unsolved or improperly solved, but the stories always find a way to ignore the person who was murdered.  Can you remember the name of the female murder victim in Making a Murderer?  Maybe you can, but I can’t.

The recent HBO miniseries The Night Of did a subtly excellent job of pointing out this flaw in all these crime programs.  The miniseries ends rather quietly, it seems, after all the buildup of whether Nasir really did kill the girl in the first episode, but you just have to reevaluate what the series is really about?  There is a storyline in which John Turturro’s public defender character takes in a cat (owned by the murder victim) even though he’s allergic.  He cares about the cat, and so do we, in fact a little more than we care about the dead girl.  The show ends with a reveal that Turturro did in fact keep the cat when it seemed like he might give it up, and the people behind the show know it’ll make us happy despite all the gore and horror we’ve witnessed from the murder and subsequent violence we see while Nasir is in prison.

So, what I’m getting at is that S-Town focuses on a single character more than any kind of crime.  It’s a vivid portrait into a man who would be easy to stereotype to fit the box you want to put him in.

I’m also not new in saying this is good.  Everyone’s been talking about this podcast recently.


Baseball’s back!  I love baseball, I’ve always loved it.  It’s like the soundtrack to my life 6 months of the year, just kind of always there in the background.  I’m looking forward to late summer nights when it feels like the sun will always hover low enough in the sky to let you know it’s time to head inside but high enough above the skyline to suggest it might never turn to night, and the sounds of bat cracks and broadcasters will echo softly through the house.

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