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Month: January, 2015

Editing on the go (A Single Note Short Film) 21st January 2015

Nothing worse than getting to post-production and realising that you need to re-shoot scenes.

Today I decided that I wanted to edited all the footage I had together to get an idea of how the scenes flow, and if they were missing anything.

I have 3 scenes to edit together, and actually to my surprise I didn’t miss much, there are a couple of shots that I definitely need to film to make a bit more sense for the film.

I cut all the footage together to make sure that everything I needed is there, everything fits together perfectly and that it flows smoothly.

There isn’t much to say other than it is looking to be a good edit and hopefully this will apply to the other filming shoots, and the footage I can edit from those days.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 16.58.28


Day One of Principle Photography (A Single Note Short Film) 20th January 2015

Back in the Directors seat, stance. A lot falls on the latter, I knew that the planned hours of filming would have me on my feat for a long time. I wasn’t wrong.

The first of many shooting dates always gives me a sense of anxiety because it’s the beginning, everything is new and raw. But the proof is in the pudding. Or in this case the film.

I think from prior films I’ve learnt to have a calm and relaxed atmosphere on my sets, never a moment should be wasted on arguments so I keep it light and friendly. I had Charlotte Lenihan with me today she was helping me with sound (as well as my location contact, because I’m shooting some scenes in her house). And obviously my actor Tomm Houghton who looked through a casting call I made on Starnow, which has helped me a lot with looking for my cast.

My first priority is to set the mood of the set, get everyone accumulated with one another and to start out in a positive manner. So I set up with Charlotte moving objects that I would’t want in the scene and replaced them with the props that I brought for the shoot. Tomm arrived a little early which helped a lot, we started talking to each other just to get to know each other whilst we set up the gear (I have to mention this, we set up whilst three dogs wandered around the room. But throughout the shoot they didn’t disrupt us, that was a plus.)

I know that a hungry cast & crew, isn’t a happy cast & crew. As soon as we finished setting up the audio and camera gear we headed out for food.

[Insert dinner break here…]

After dinner I started to talk through the scene explaining how the character is in this certain scene. Running off a back and forth about how the character would approach each beat of the scene was a guid experience, I figured that Tomm would want to inhabit the character a bit more so I wanted him to be able to have the freedom to improvise if necessary, or if he felt as though he should.

So we start to role camera & start recording sound.

At first I was planning on using the tripod for the whole of the shoot, that plan changed after the first few takes. It took more time to move around the tripod for new set ups and I wasn’t able to pull off the shots I wanted to get. I swap to handheld (which actually was pretty steady, I just had to use chairs, tuffet’s and tables to lean on.) This turned out to be a better method.

We filmed from 2pm to 5:50pm, so in theory we filmed faster than I thought we would have, I estimated the film shoot to last from 1pm to 6pm, at that point we would just about film the 4 scenes that I wanted to film. So thumbs up for timing & effort for a two person crew.

In Pre-production I created storyboards for most of the scenes that I really needed a visual reference of. For the first half of the first scene we shot I followed the sketches but production was running slow because I’d constantly look at them. I changed how I approached the scenes by using the script rather than the storyboards, filming all the main coverage and going back to do different angles and film cutaways/inserts after. This worked better.

Plenty of footage was filmed today, thanks to Charlotte & Tomm. Here’s to the next shooting days!

If I learn’t anything from today, or anything that I know for a fact is one of the key elements to filming is 1.) Try to have a bigger crew (Because most of the time we were doing multiple jobs at the same time). B.) Cast and crew & Food = Happy workers. C.) Follow the script and be creative in the moment.

Other than that the skills I have learn’t over the years have helped me deal with what I need to do, and to wear multiple hats at the same time (not literally) This being the Director, Camera Operator, Lighting Spark, all at once.

Test footage (A Single Note Short Film) 14th January 2015

Early prep for shooting… in a weeks time. A process I haven’t really done, it’s been go to the location, work around the location. But now it’s all visualised and the location fits the needs of the 5 scenes we will be shooting there next week. (I’m not including any pictures in the blog, due to the fact that it’s a friends house.)

Anyway, I had the plans ready, a few storyboards of the scenes, and worked around the room to take photographs of the frames I’d imagined and sketched prior to filming test footage. In amazing fashion everything I thought of in the scene’s are a reality, everything looks how I’d want it to in camera.

There wasn’t much to the tests, just the idea that all the shots I want to get are possible, and they are.

Birdman or (the unexpected virtue of ignorance) Short Review

Tipped as my personal best film of the year, Birdman excels in it’s emphasis on good character and great story development. The films unique take on the one shot film is intriguing to say the least, especially since the entire length of the film is made to look as if it’s one giant take. Yes they’re using cheats and techniques to achieve the look, which are cleverly masked by dark frames where action can be separated. The underlying topic discussed visually is Michael Keaton’s character Riggan Thomson’ dilemma about a type cast that he has fallen into, due to the massive success of being the lead in Birdman 1, 2 and 3. His schizophrenia shows us his delusions of his characters powers that he believes he controls, which is just what he is seeing, not what is actually happening. If you have that in mind you can probably work out the ending if you were left puzzled. Which I like as a parallel to what’s visually happening is just a facade of his imagination. I definitely didn’t know what to expect from the film not knowing much before going into the cinema. But what greeted me was a splendid use of a great cast that makes you believe the world they live in is real.

Music and its effect on horror

Watching The Woman in Black: Angle of Death gave in interesting take on jumpscares and creepy music but at one point it had me thinking, why does every horror film in moment of dread raise the soundtrack to add emphasis. Not that it’s a bad thing, no of course it isn’t, but if horror is to truly become horrifically scary why not remove the score for added effect.

For example there is a scene in the film where a character is locked in the room presumably in the presence of the Woman in Black, all is well and creepy until the music kicks in. If only the scene was left to its own devices of dread by leaving it to the mise-en-scene and diegetic sounds.

The music in horror films does add to the experience, to the atmosphere. But what if scenes weren’t diluted with music. The reason I say this is that as soon as the music starts to play I feel safe, I know that whatever scare is coming my way isn’t going to be as impactful because I’m supported by constant loud noise.

Just a thought.