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

by weslar

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.