TIME MANAGEMENT

Managing time is vital in filmmaking. Setting yourself and your team an appropriate time scale to do things is something to take much care in. In making Screen Three, I kept this mind and continued to organised my time strategically and so the production process would go with any problems. peter emailLets begin with our first scene. Emailing was key in communicating between myself and Red Lion Theatre which was the location for our shoot. I first contacted Peter Glanfield, an actor at the theatre, who gave me plenty of advice about when to propose a day to shoot. This worked to my advantage in that I could more easily organise with the Chairman, Shirley Moffat. shirley email2 After a series of emails with her I was able to secure not only a date and time, but also an allotted time for when our people could be in the theatre. Because I was weary of problems for the shoot, I asked for an hour more than what I thought I might need to ensure we’d get the film done and the quality of our work wasn’t reduced because of any pressures concerning time. Also, I knew it would take a while to clear up the popcorn and pack away all the equipment (cameras, tripods, lights, projectors etc) and so having this spare time really helped. actors date Whilst all this was being organised, I simultaneously organised with my actors to ensure everyone could make it. I contacted all my actors in a group chat using Facebook to make for a more efficient process. scene 2 scene 2 2 With the second scene which we intended to be shot in our school’s car park, I contacted the Deputy Head Master and after a series of emails, we managed to come to a date that worked for everyone and didn’t interfere with any of the events going on at school. I also arranged this with the school’s caretaker who allowed me to have power whilst on the shoot. Time really wasn’t an issue for our film after it was organised. Taking care in carefully managing time in pre-production can really boost the quality of a piece since it isn’t undermined by time issues. It’s something easy to organise and if you want your film to be successful, time must be addressed right.

DIRECTING ACTORS: PRACTICAL EXERCISE

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In order to prepare myself to shooting my film, I captured a series of photographs experimenting with lighting. I confined to the conventions of the film noir genre and directed my subject to pose in a number of ways. The original photos can be seen below.

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Below is a range of screenshots I captured whilst editing my pieces. By looking at these you can understand my work in PhotoShop and how I created my final photos.

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I also took a range of photos of passing cars in order to form the background for my images.

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Here are examples of my final pieces. Experimenting with three-point lighting and my direction of the subject really helped by get a range of “noir” pieces.

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IMG_9912 cropI think the shoot was successful in that I exercised by cinematography skills, lighting skills and directional skills in preparation for my short film, Screen Three.

PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY – SCENE TWO

I feel as though I was more than prepared for shooting this second scene which concludes the film and brings it to its tragic ending. Concerning location, I had done extensive amounts of research, planning and tests shots that really worked to my advantage during the shoot in that I really had gotten the right place to film which lead to no problems shooting there. You can see my work with locations around the area and specifically around the area my group decided to shoot at by clicking on the hyperlinks provided.

Cinematography was not an issue either. I had previously captured the car featured in scene extensively and was more than familiar with its shapes, which made me confident in making it look attractive in my shots. Examples of photos I shot can be seen below.

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I had planned out what lenses to use for each individual shot, such as the first shot, being a wide shot, being filmed with a wide lens (18-55mm). Another example would be the close ups I featured in my scene which I filmed used a 55-200mm lens. Using a lens like this that’s capable of zooming in so far creates the isolated feel I wanted for the scene by compressing each layer in the frame in on each other. This isolated feel is also created by being able to get up close to our actor, Peter Glanfield, which also emphasises his emotion in the shot.

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Here’s the owner of the car, Andrew Bell, posing a model to experiment with lighting before filming commenced. This gives us more time to experiment, concerning intensity and positioning, and more time to shoot.

Lighting a scene is vital in filmmaking. Rarely can you approach a location and immediately start to film. As well as creating an atmosphere, lighting is significant in showing everything in the scene clearly. The camera is not nearly as sensitive to light as the human eye; just because you can see what’s in the frame well doesn’t mean the camera will achieve the same. I used three-point lighting for my scene which I discuss extensively in the video below.

Despite having these three studio lights, I decided to substitute the backlight for the car park’s street light as it seemed to appear more natural. I think the shots looked great with the lighting and everything that’s significant in the frame is lit clearly and effectively.

2The image above was captured at the final position the camera poses during the first shot of the scene which was achieved using a crane. I think this is one of the best lit shots of the sequence due to the focus on the car, the insignificance of the background and the all-around well-lit subject. In order to achieve this shot, I first realised the natural light source was coming from the right side of the frame and so, to make a natural-looking shot, I positioned my key light here, and to balance it out and to light the car’s grill I used a fill light.

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Here, you can see the role the key light played during a shot later in the scene.

3For the safety of everyone involved in the scene, Andrew took the time to go through the actions Peter would have to undertake for the second shot. Under my direction, Peter had to get in the car, appear preoccupied and anxious before starting the car, turning on the headlights, appear to run over a push-chair and show his reaction all in one shot. Using a 200mm zoom lens was how we achieve the effect of running something over. As I mentioned before, zoom lenses compress layers in a frame and so while the push chair was a few feet away from the car, it appeared inches away from the grill. This made the shot safe and unthreatening to those involved.

THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS

So what’s going on with mine and Jannath’s short film production? Thanks to our great organisational skills and my motivation I’d say we’ve worked at a good pace and right now have done a considerable about of work. Despite this there is more to do and it’s time to clarify what’s done and what’s to be done.

SCENE ONE IS DONE. This is the cinema scene and perhaps the most complex and difficult part to film however, it’s over and done with. The footage turned out great, the shots were nicely executed and the actors’ great performances really shine on screen. The audio recording, despite moments of noise, is at a great quality. I’m really happy with the result which has been taken to Final Cut Pro editing software and is almost complete.

What’s next is the second scene and part of this has already been executed by myself. I took the time out to organise the shoot which revolves around a car parking lot. The location and date has been set, the actor involved is ready to go and the car is available for us to shoot. All aspects of our pre-production has been completed and so I’m ready to take on the task of filming when it happens. After this is completed, all that needs to be done is editing it all together, finishing the film poster and the film review page. It’s likely our film will be close to being done by Christmas.

DIRECTING ACTORS

Whether we know it or not, we are truly blessed to have the internet at our disposal. Amongst other things it acts as a superb tool to educate the world and with this in mind, I took a lot of time out to learn more about DIRECTING.

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Film Riot is such an awesome YouTube channel where the host and film-maker, Ryan Connolly, gives back to the filming community with tutorials, behind the scenes of his work and his own short films. In the video above he talks about something very important and that’s working with and directing actors.

What makes the video I’ve featured so good and so helpful is having professional actor, Todd Bruno (right), by Ryan’s side to further the educational supplement and to get a personal viewpoint from an actor. The duo discuss acting, directing actors as well as answering questions from guys like me who want to know more about this subject. Connolly and Bruno had amounted their relations from their work on Ryan’s shot film “TELL” which he wrote and directed while Bruno played the lead acting role as “Taylor”.

In a close look into filming day two of their short film, actress Bridget Kelly is interviewed  about the director she wants to work with. Information that this is relatively rare to come across and very much helpful is educating a director. One of the most important things for her is for her to “trust the director” and “they have no what they want”. This is understandable and something I felt I’ve tried to achieve for my own work. With “PRAY” I took my time with shooting to really tell my actors what I was going for for certain shots and angles and passages of dialogues so while I meditated and revised that they got to know what I was going for.

Bruno discusses similar ideas with Kelly by saying it’s important to be “close” to a director, “to become friends” with him/her and it’s helpful to get to know each other. “The more intimate, the better the product.” The film set, he notes, is a place with “high intensity”; people are running around, things need to be done quickly and to a high standard while money is being spent, and, refering to the director, an actor needs to “rely on the person in charge of everything “. This trust is there so as an actor you can “put yourself in their hands and give yourself over to them”.

Similarly Connolly discusses them from a director’s point of view. Any sense of discomfort is no good during a film production especially for an actor. I know this from working with amateur actors who aren’t confident in the craft. Them feeling not right damages their performances significantly and so it’s important their in an environment they’re happy in. Although Connolly notes that this method of directing is “my method, not the method,” he continues to say how he talks to his actors directly after cut. He’ll begin with “what the actor did right” and “lead to the bad” whilst focusing on keeping “the actor’s confidence fully intact”. This balance between criticism and keeping their confidence is a difficult one but one that needs to be done, and done right, I’ve learnt. Afterall, the director, as Connolly puts it, is supposed to be the actors’ “safety net” as someone to fall back on. As a director you need to be someone who’s approachable, a good communicator and someone who does their homework and knows what they’re doing.

What does Connolly expect from his actors? Well, in my opinion, what every director should expect on an established production.

  • They need to know their dialogue. Not knowing this slows down principle photography dramatically and gives off an unprofessional vibe on set. Not knowing the dialogue means a lack of preparation of behalf of the actor which may mean they’re not ready to fulfil their role.
  • Actors need to understand and have a grasp on their character’s “motivation”. What’s driving them in a certain scene? Why are they there doing what they’re doing? Answering these questions and adding them into a performance is vital for an actor.
  • Similar to the point above, actors must have a understanding of their character. From looking at the script, perhaps one might imagine and construct a past for their character that might create a more in-depth performance on screen.

This being said, actors have the power to evolve the character if the writer or directing likes where the path is taking their film. Connolly notes that this happened in “TELL”. Todd Bruno added something to “Taylor” that his director admired and thus was added in the script, and so the actor/director relationship is very much a collaboration.

Studying this discussion has been immensely helpful in furthering my understanding of how to work with and direct actors. Although learning on set through directing first-hand is immensely important, one must not forgot there is a whole world of directing out there to learn from, thanks to videos like this.

Below is the short film “TELL”; the film the duo are discussing in the video at the top of this blog. With Ryan Connolly putting this thing together and Todd Bruno’s acting role, this is not one to be missed.

AN INSIGHT: THE DIRECTOR

The role of the director is a vital and significant part of a film production. Unlike many members of a crew, they control and have power over a wide variety of areas such as the script, mise-en-scene, cinematography and editing.

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So let’s identify what a director is first of all, shall we? I believe the quotation I’ve snatched from the Dark Knight himself, Christian Bale, is a very true and significant part of the director’s role (or directors’ role as seen in films such as The Butterfly Effect by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Grube). They create an overall vision for a production which is to be captured, and are a key member of a film crew. Realizing this vision includes overseeing the artistic and technical elements of a production and acting as a commander but equally as a listener who’s open to idea. A bad director only listens to himself/herself and limits creativity which is definitely the wrong way to go about film-making. Creating a film is far from an individual process. It requires a group of talented people to make a successful film but it is the director that leads on the march and, with help from the other members of the crew, decides the route they all take to get to their destination.

Put a group of fantastic professionals together, Quentin Tarantino, David. Russell, Ben Affleck, Ang Lee, Tom Hooper and Gus Van Sant, and you get the video you see above with priceless experiences and knowledge. In my eyes, it serves as a great way to understand the role of the film director and is equally as entertaining.

What I really learnt about this video in concern to directing is that a director has to be very much aware and knowledgeable of a huge variety of other roles. In the interview Ben Affleck talks about the pressures of being an actor and how that affected him as a director later in life concerning his treatment towards actors and actresses in his films. Having a firm understanding of aspects such as editing, cinematography and more is key is being a director.

THE SHOOT – 11/11/13

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After months of scripting and storyboarding and organising actors and locations and getting continuingly shot down, Monday 11th of November saw our first day of principal photography. I was over the Moon to finally get behind the camera and to get the chance to shoot what Jannath and I had brewing in our minds but thanks to my determination in getting things on the road, we got there.

I spoke to my actors over Facebook and arranged a date and a time period for shooting that would suit their schedules before talking to The Red Lion Theatre’s Chairman in regards to the same matter. It was far more sensible that I set a date my actors were happy with rather than organising with the establishment and dragging them along. As the date grew closer and closer I was preparing more and more for the shoot by learning the script for myself as a director  and finalising the shot list for the scene.

Thanks to the Media department at school we were able to book out valuable pieces of equipment that really helped the production process. I had two tripods in my own possession however, these would only serve purpose for the two cameras that I had and yet, I still needed something to hold up my lighting equipment. The department were helpful enough to let us borrow two tripods, sound recording equipment that you can read about here and a dolly and track. School also helped me significantly by letting me have a projector over night to create the cinematic effect. The pressure was on since this was an expensive piece of equipment that was cost me and Jannath considerably if it got damaged. With all this equipment I was taking to the shoot I didn’t think twice about preparing a checklist to improve my organisation and to make sure I had everything I needed. You can see this list below and the “BEFORE” column concerns what I brought to the shoot in my car whilst the “AFTER” is in regards to what I took home with me. This proved as a great tool to help me organise everything.

ChecklistThe location was as perfect for our production as I remembered upon visiting it. The classic red seats, the lighting, the size of the room, were all what I had envisioned for the scene. I was more than happy to work here and after greeting Shirley, the Chairwoman, inside I couldn’t have prepared for the shoot any quicker. From my car, Jannath and I unloaded our equipment and although we couldn’t use the light-box (seen in the top right of the image below) I confidently compromised in carefully setting up the projector with my DVD-playing-laptop in the ledge next to it (hidden by the curtain). Despite this set-back, it turned out fine and perhaps more effective in that it was lower to our actors which made a more dramatic effect. We set up the dolly and track, attached the lights to tripods and arranged popcorn as the actors came in right on time. While we were preparing our “set”, the actors went away to rehearse theirs lines as I instructed and were happy to do so. It was at this point when I knew we had something promising in that their line delivery which I overheard was great and far better than what I had expected.

a shoot 5Filming itself went great. Jannath controlled the lights by adjusting their intensity from low to high creating the film projector that would have been in the cinema. I focused on the actors, the camerawork, directing the production and managing the team’s time so we could collect enough footage and complete the scene.

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