Film producer/director/screenwriter Alex R. Johnson met with a large group of students, faculty and general public this morning for a free master class in filmmaking. He previewed several scenes from his upcoming film, “Two Step,” at Plaster Student Union Theater. The award-winning thriller has been making its way around the festival circuit and is scheduled for public release later this year.
See the movie in full
Johnson will be back on campus Saturday night to screen the movie in full, offering a talk-back session afterward to provide additional insights on the film and answer questions. That event will be at 7:30 p.m. in the PSU Theater. It is also free and open to the public.
Low-budget filmmaking 101
Johnson was joined in Friday’s master class by media, journalism and film assistant professor Harrison Witt, who gaffed “Two Step.” A gaffer is the chief electrician and production designer’s assistant. The pair broke down each scene shown, explaining how it was created and offering advice on making a $250,000 film look like it cost $2 million.
For instance, a scene in the beginning involves an ambulance ride, but without advanced sound and lighting equipment, the crew decided to make it appear to move rather than film while driving. They accomplished this, Witt said, by shaking the vehicle gently while creatively manipulating sound and reflected light.
Other advice included making objective cuts while editing, trusting actors when they question a scene’s authenticity and striving to make each scene worthy.
“Good enough should never be acceptable. If you cast an actor that you think, ‘Oh he’s good enough. He’ll get us there.’ He is probably not going to get you there. Everything you do should maintain or elevate the film.”
Johnson ended the session by encouraging all who aspire to be filmmakers, to call themselves filmmakers. “Commit to that emotion. So much is just process before actual doing. Consider yourself a filmmaker even if you haven’t done it yet.”
About ‘Two Step’
After the death of his only living relative, his grandmother, a college drop-out discovers she was being scammed. From that point his path is inextricably—and violently—linked with the criminal who had targeted her. The film debuted at the South by Southwest festival last March.