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. Lets 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. 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. 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. 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.
No film is made without inspiration, including that from other films. This video details the research process I undertook to make my film and how similar media products such as films, novels and music videos influenced my work .
The video delves into the likes of The Butterfly Effect, A Clockwork Orange, Scream 2 and ‘Movies’ by Alien Ant Farm.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
For 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.
In a group of two when making a film production, one must take on a wide range of roles in order to make the film happen. In the video above you can see my contribution concerning directing and cinematography with my focus on how I lit each scene. In a close look at the set of my second scene, you’ll get the chance to hear about the composition of Three-Point Lighting, its uses and effects, and how I applied it to my film ‘Screen Three’.
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.
Location scouting is a vital process in the pre-production stage of filmmaking and it is a “location scout” who has the specific job of searching for suitable areas for a crew to film. Being in a duo making this film it’s no surprise that we’d each have to take on a wide variety of roles to makes this production happen. Although I direct, and more, I had to play the location scout also. I tested the suitability of locations to the task at hand and took into consideration many factors, such as:
- overall aesthetics
- financial cost to production
- logistic feasibility including but not limited to distance from base of operations or other locations scheduled
- availability of parking and facilities to keep crew and talent (principal actors or models and extras) safe and dry at all times
- availability of electrical power or feasibility of bringing in generators for lights and electrical equipment.
- available light (indoors or outdoors) and weather conditions (outdoors)
- permission from and cooperation of location owner and neighbours, local government and law enforcement
I had already done a substantial amount of scouting through test shots which you can see in another blog and although the locations weren’t up to the standard I expected or desired, they helped me understand what I needed for the second scene for my film. Having a bright, friendly atmosphere just wouldn’t match the dark, isolated mood of the cinema scene that’s featured before it and so I needed something different.
The difference would occur if we shot the scene at night. I’ve attempted night-test-shots before but not in a suitable location until now. Although we’d be vulnerable to weather conditions, we realised a suitable location for our scene would be a parking area of our school, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, which takes advantage of an number of factors:
- Does not interfere with public since it’s in a private area
- Close to home and the storage of equipment, transport will not be a problem
- Lit nicely and atmospherically prior to film lights being set
- Has access to electric supply, if arranged, for lighting equipment
- Nice area filled with both foliage and industrial backgrounds that’ll suit the scene visually
- Not near any busy roads so recording unnecessary sound won’t be an issue
- Arrangements for the location can be done easily and efficiently since we’ll simply have to contact suitable members of staff
- Vulnerable to rain which is a quality we wanted to create a more intense scene.
I also checked out the spot at night, getting a high view to look down upon the parking lot below. I did this since this is when we’ll be shooting and so taking a range of photos of this time will give a better understanding of what shoot will look like. The photos and checking out the location first-hand has been very helpful and opened my eyes to the possibilities of the scene. I learned more about the spacing of the area so I could imagine when everything goes such as our dolly for the scene, lights and camera positions.
Filming has been completed for scene one of “Screen Three” however, there is more to be done concerning putting the final scene together and this posts is all about LOCATION. Location for a scene is key, and is a vital choice due to its effect of the audience, the atmosphere and tone of the piece. It’s important to get right and so I took the time out to do a few test shots in areas I thought had potential for my group for use for our film.
Although a Ford Escort RS 2000 will be use for the scene, I had my car play the model for my photos and first set it up amongst a local car park. The location is nice but the surroundings lack the atmosphere I end in mind for the scene. Going from such a dark room of the theatre to a sunny area might be confusing, distracting and perhaps too big of a jump for the viewer, which may distance them from what’s happening in the film. This isn’t what I want but despite this, I continued to experiment with angles.
I moved the car around to experiment with the lighting. The Sun was directly behind the car when I first set up however, I attempted shots with the Sun to the car’s side. I think this gave a nicer, more dynamic look with the shadows however, these may be a problem if they hide areas of the actor’s face.
Another issue I had premeditated concerns the car’s surroundings not being quite as I wanted. However, this can be solved with a shallow depth of field through a lower aperture. I shot these images below at F 2.2 and to balance the exposure I set the shutter speed dramatically fast, but it looks like it works to some-what hide the background and focus on the foreground of the car.
Next, I moved location to a more industrial side of town. I really like the atmosphere within this area as it seems to add to the isolated atmosphere I wanted for the scene through the tall fencing and the structures in the background that seem to tower over the vehicle.
With this location I also admire the position of the Sun as well as the effect of the fencing as it casts shadows over the car’s interior to suggests something more sinister or perhaps underhand; a technique often used in film noir.
I then tried out another location and tested a variety of lenses to experiment with the look of shots. I had been using a Canon 50mm prime lens however, I whipped out a Tamron 55-200mm zoom lens to see how certain close-ups might look. The Tamron lens has can’t achieve a very wide aperture which is a problem in getting the right exposure but it’s certainly a lens to use for a isolated, caged-in scene like this one.
I then went out to shoot some night photos in similar locations. I really wanted the scene to be at night to capture the dark tone of the film but it will make things increasingly difficult due to light and to shoot at a high quality.