This was one of three short films, the production of which I am most proud of, for many reasons.
Firstly, I was dealing with a wonderful client in the City of Melville. They were most gracious and happy for me to guide them along the journey. It was a new experience for them, being relative newcomers to video production, let alone three short drama films with actors! I am most grateful to be given the opportunity. Second, this was a challenge on a couple of fronts; yes the budget was tight but the time frame required all three films to be shot in one day….8 hours including travel between locations and set up…to be precise. With myself as director/producer/caster/shooter and editor, it meant I needed to have my act together.
So I am most keen to share the results with film students, to highlight what happens when the two elements they learn very little about in school…time and money, collide head-on.
Here’s how I got it done, on time and on budget.
I had a three hour rehearsal, one hour for each film a couple of weeks before. Let’s iron out any performance subtleties, manage expectations and select wardrobe before the shoot. Please be aware that all talent had never appeared on camera before. They were all from a local repertory society or a friend of a friend. Unbelievable effort, considering. A Covid lockdown hit us smack in the middle of the shoot schedule, so calm and communication prevailed while new dates were lined up, then cancelled, then lined up again.
I decided early on not to use lights, rather except natural at each location and tweak my camera accordingly. I was shooting on a Canon 5DMkIV.
I used one lens, a Canon 24-105 F4 with an in-built stabiliser.
I never used a tripod. A time waster. Instead my camera was on a Manfrotto monopod.
I decided not to stress about sound, with me monitoring levels on multiple radio mics. I hired a soundman. Good decision. I/we came unstuck a couple of times with boom in shot or all and sundry appearing in reflections. That’s the down-side of not having a camera assistant’s or producer’s eyes over your shoulder. But we got there.
Client supplied lunch-on-the-run.
My wife Carole was make-up but she did very little, as I asked all talent to come made up and in wardrobe. Thirty minutes minimum saved at each location.
I decided not to use a clapper. Another time waster. I knew what to look for in the edit and it didn’t slow me down at all. A clap of the hands by the talent on camera was sufficient.
We had a minuscule budget for background extras, so a film student was one, along with client staff. We were lucky that a talent hero and his niece from one film followed us around to all locations and became background extras. Thank you Matt.
We finished the day 45 minutes ahead of schedule. I look back on each film with a cringing, critical eye and wish I had grabbed a couple of cutaway looks here, a glance there and massaged a performance or two. Are they perfect? Far from it, but overall I was happy. A wonderful client and great initiative about a subject that needs to be aired and talked about.