Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Short Film Diary - Week 9...

Last week was mostly taken up with finding a replacement actor for the one who dropped out and rescheduling the aborted shoot from the previous Sunday.We also had to pack the contents of my flat into whatever spaces we could find that were not part of the film before the weekend. Here's how we did, with pictures because people are gonna want to know how it went down...

Saturday 3rd July

It was a big day for our art department (Pete and Charlotte) who had to make our flat look like a witch and her slacker flatmate had been living there for years. Kind of like this...

Obviously they would have a copy of Ten Dead Men on display...doesn't everyone?

I wanted to make sure it didn't look like we'd just filmed in our flat with all our stuff everywhere. They did an awesome job with the lounge and the hallway, then they had to make our relatively tidy kitchen look like no one had cleaned up in there for years. In my head it looked like the kitchen of the house I'd lived in for two years at university, where we washed up maybe once every six months and every available surface was occupied by unwashed plates or half-finished meals. By the time they'd finished it looked much much worse than I'd imagined. Kind of like this...

It was perfect. And smelt of beans.

The scenes on Saturday were all pretty straightforward as I was only filming the scenes that involved Rosie and Lukas without any other actors or tricky effects. Mostly it was odd half pages of dialogue. We also had less of a crew and no producer on set, hence no photos.

It should have been a short day but we were slowed down by the fact that we only have one battery and one memory card for the camera. So it takes around an hour to charge the camera which then lasts for about 3-4 hours before it needs charging again. This sounds fine in theory because the timing works out so you break for lunch when the battery runs down, charge it up again and you've got enough for the afternoon. But the memory card adds further problems - at some point during the day we also have to dump the footage from the card onto a computer and the files are so big that this takes around an hour too. This meant that on Saturday we ended up having two breaks without much filming in between.

So the planned short and simple day turned into an eleven hour epic. By the end everyone was slightly hysterical, particularly the actors who by this point found each other hilarious, but my relentless determination to get a perfect take without stopping for anymore breaks wasn't helping. We got there in the end and I'm pretty happy with the scenes we did manage to film.

Again there were a couple of shots we didn't get around to but I've come to accept that this is the way things go now and am pretty sure we will have to schedule an extra half-day to get the last few scenes. Overall it was a pretty productive day.

Sunday 4th July

Learning from the previous week I went down to the seafront with the rest of the crew at about 7.30 so we could start shooting at 8am. This worked much better and I felt a lot more prepared when the actors arrived.

Here we are recreating a scene from Planet of the Apes...

When we were setting up on the beach up a middle-aged American man shouted over to us - something about him being a producer or something and a film I'd never heard of. Then he wished us luck and went on his way. I was preoccupied at the time, but it was kind of cool - like we were filming in LA or something, where every passer-by is probably involved in films somehow. Later on, a man walking his dog stopped to chat to us because he'd seen us the previous weekend and presumed we'd been there all week. We're starting to get noticed, which is fine, I just hope that by the time we reshoot the dance sequence we don't end up with an audience.

Here's me like totally directing again. The hat does help.

The shoot went a lot more smoothly than the previous weekend. There were less people around, and because we were shooting on the beach rather than the promenade it meant we could frame the shot to cut out potential passers-by anyway.

The only problem we had was a continuity issue. Rosie is wearing a pendant as part of her costume. The pendant itself belongs to Lukas who wasn't due to turn up until 10am. We'd filmed a bunch of scenes without the pendant before the make-up artist pointed it out. As with the monkey, I spent a good few minutes trying to work out whether this would actually be a problem or not, then decided to reshoot the scenes anyway to be on the safe side.

We may also have continuity issues with smoking. I'm trying not to think about that.

This was followed by a lengthy dialogue scene on a bench, for which I had helpfully written 'They are both holding ice creams.' Never film with ice creams. It wasn't even that hot, but we'd barely started shooting the scene when the ice-creams had turned to liquid, splattering the actors' costumes at the same time.

We tried a couple of takes cleaning up as we went along but it clearly wasn't going to work. Andrea then consulted the ice-cream man for his expert opinion and returned with a superior ice-cream for filming with. Once again, we just about made it through the scene before the camera battery ran out. That meant another scene had to be added to the list of things we'll film later.

Wanting to avoid a repeat of the delays we suffered on the previous day I came up with the genius idea of charging the camera and dumping the footage before starting again so we'd be set to film all afternoon. This meant waiting around for two hours in the middle of the day. Not such a great idea after all as it kind of killed the energy a bit.

Still we made it through the bedroom scene okay. Note the piles of random stuff on the left - most of our flat is now packed into the bedroom.

Then we shot some exteriors of the flat, but it was the wrong time of day really and the sun was in the wrong place. There was a massive shadow in front of the building that made it look like we were shooting in the evening unless the actors walked right out into the street to do their lines. Another one for the growing list of reshoots.

The last few scenes we shot I talked about here. The less said about that the better.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how the weekend went, despite the rogue monkey. I was hoping it would move a little quicker but we got most of the stuff on my shot list with the exception of one more seafront scene that's been rescheduled for this coming weekend.

Speaking of which, this weekend was supposed to be the last weekend of filming, but it hasn't quite worked out that way. I've also scheduled more scenes than we've ever shot before which should be a challenge. I've bought Darren a new memory card and he's hopefully borrowing a spare battery so we should at least be able to get through it without so many delays. Who needs breaks anyway...

To recap, here's what I learned -

1) Never film with ice-cream.

2) Never break for more than an hour if you can help it.

3) Try not to let your actors overdose on Haribo.

4) Beware of cursed monkeys.

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