Memories Of A Film Shoot – The Good, The Bad And The Tennis

It’s a week after the shoot and my film – The Good, The Bad And The Tennis – is in the home straight. It is about three years since my last film and the nerves preceding this shoot seemed to have helped enormously. Never have I planned so well for a shoot. Even though I knew the script and what I wanted to see – I did write it after all – having decided to use non-actors in all the roles, I knew I had to be able to get my ideas across clearly.

Having put out feelers for a camera and sound person on the initial response was not good. Acting as the producer – I pay for everything – I offered a middling to low fee for both roles. For those who have never had to deal with getting a crew together, let me assure you it is both very easy and extremely difficult.

It is easy because there are loads – and I means loads – of talented people out there who want to make and be involved with filmmaking. Finding a competent camera person who is prepared to work for a fraction of their daily rate is relatively painless. Also, because one can easily look at their past work, it is easy to see if you like their work or not. With sound, it is more awkward. I have worked with both good and bad sound people. A good sound person is worth every penny of the hard earned cash you give to them. Make no mistake, bad sound will ruin your film no matter how good the story, camera work or acting.

It seemed to be going smoothly. I put out the calls for the two positions and begun to receive responses. The first response was for the sound person. The would-be applicant pointed out – no doubt he felt helpfully – that the pay rate was too low. He did not get the job, but I did raise the pay rate. I got a couple of replies from camera people and after settling on one, I was hoping I would be able to focus on a creating a storyboard. He quickly fell out of the project. As did the one after him.

When people start dropping from a shoot, it makes you question whether you have a viable project. I was beginning to panic a little as I had already got the actors and had set a date, but I had no crew. As luck would have it, the cameraman I used on my first two shorts got in contact with me. Having worked with him before, I knew what to expect. I still did not have a sound person. My camera guy came to the rescue again. He could supply the sound person. My crew was locked.

Besides the storyboard, I also decided I would create a shot list. A shot list is exactly what it says; a list of all the shots that will be used. The shot list serves two purposes: it reduces the amount of unnecessary coverage – very popular in the digital age – so one does not end up with so many shot options that the edit becomes unwieldy. It also allows you to keep track of the shots. (On my second shoot I had to call everyone back because I forgot to shoot some scenes.)

Another thing the shot list does, is it forces you to do is edit the film in your mind beforehand. When it came to the actual edit, I had completed a rough edit on the same day as the shoot, with the shots ninety to ninety-five percent locked.

The coloring, look and music are probably the things that have taken up the most time. Just finding the music has been a real job! As I did not employ a musician – I am not independently wealthy! – I had to use that vast and brilliant library known as the internet. We, filmmakers, are somewhat blessed in this digital and internet age, in that we can utilize the talents of people from all over the globe, that in times past would not have been available to us.

With my film now close to completion – need to shoot one more scene…! – and the trailers and promo stuff out, I am trying to ensure that my next project is not three years hence! Fear and laziness have kept me from pursuing my passion for filmmaking for too long, which is a terrible waste, as I enjoy the entire process immensely. I have two more short projects that are ready to go and many a written work on the go. Time to get back to the filmmaker dream.


Bloggus Interuptus

I have not been blogging with my usual regularity. Life has got in the way a little bit and I decided that I wanted to get some editing practice in, just as a way to keep in with the ‘I’m a filmmaker’ narrative I keep telling myself. is my go to for lonesome film practice needs. Their site has great information for a would be filmmaker and they also have a load of RAW film clips to work on – editing, colour, effects – take a gander.

links to my own efforts are below.
Bad News

Do The Doing

I have been editing. In an effort to be mildly proactive, as well as exercising some creative procrastination, I looked up the website to see if they had been doing anymore interactive editing stuff. Turns out they have. A while back I found their site through a link and had fun editing some of the raw footage they provide specifically for that purpose.
At that time they had put up a collection of clips for a horror scene. You not only get to edit it but colour and work on sound design as well. It proved very popular, with many edits popping up on YouTube and Vimeo. My effort is here.
Having not fired up the old editing software for awhile – I use FCPX – and not having used it since the last update, some of the interfaces had changed. All the basic edit features were, thankfully, still the same. Most importantly, the keyboard shortcuts are the same, though I believe a lot of the shortcuts are common across editing software.
I found two lots of footage to play with, one a hospital scene with a doctor breaking bad news to a couple. This scene was for the student – me – to concentrate on was is called an L cut. An L cut is when one character is speaking and you switch to see the reaction of the person listening to the point of some relevant information. As the scene is about the talking and the actors’ reactions the editing should be natural and feel unobtrusive.
As I mentioned, I have not edited for awhile and found this more challenging than I would have expected. The actual cutting was not too difficult and the colour work was quite straightforward, sound, however, was hard, not the dialogue, but the mood music, which after four hours of editing was probably not done to the highest standard. You can judge my attempt for yourself here.
The second project was much more to my liking, though I must admit still not easy. An action project, it sees a woman walking into a room, shotgun at the ready. She is accosted from behind by a man, who she quickly dispatches. She turns to face a second assailant, who tries to punch her. Slipping the blow, she knees him to the body. He is followed by another assailant who swings a baton at her, which she evades and takes him down with an elbow. She then pulls out two hand guns and shoots a fourth stooge. This all happens in less than two minutes. The edit is kinetic, to say the least.
I have not even begun to work on the sound or look for music – is my go to for all things sound – and I have only added a Sony LUT that I’ve reduced the intensity of by twenty-five percent as far as colour correction goes. All I have at the moment is a rough edit and rather than rush the work – I must admit that the excitement of editing the hospital scene, dull though the scene is, did have me rushing – I have left the edit for another day.
My meandering approach to becoming a filmmaker – though I have made films, I do not consider myself a filmmaker, even if one only has to eat one person to be considered a cannibal. I’m not sure the same holds true for filmmaking. – I am writing with regularity, though not scripts, the ideas are coming and the want to create is definitely back. I am edging toward doing.
Ultimately, it is only the doing that matters and in this regard – and the fact that I really enjoy it – getting back to editing has been a great step. I very much want, almost need, to write a feature film now. I have always leant more toward television writing as I have more of a love of television than I do of film, but from a creative standpoint – story, editing, colour, directing, production – film is where I see myself going. Just got to keep doing.

A Filmmaker’s Kind Of Movie – Locke

I was wanting to watch the movie ‘John Wick’, as it had not got much of a theatrical release here in Blighty, so checked to see when it was coming to one of the subscription services. Netflix and all the other streaming services had a date of February third. Brilliant, I’ve got Netflix, I thought, i’ll fire up that bad boy and enjoy one hundred minutes of action! Of course it was not available – damn you Netflix! – so I ended up watching ‘Locke’.

‘Locke’, as I say in the title, is not a film for everyone. The entire film is set in a car. There are no chases, crashes, flips or de’er doing of any kind. It is just the story of a good man who makes a life changing decision as the consequences of one night’s, long since passed, poor choice. It is Ivan Locke’s life unravelling. All set in a car.

Tom Hardy, the actor playing Locke, will never be a superstar. He will never open a film, because there is no ‘Tom Hardy’ film. That’s a good thing. In this film he is Ivan Locke. One never sees him as a character from any of his previous films, you just see the story of this man, Locke, on a fateful journey.

So why is this a filmmaker’s film? Even though the entire film takes place in the car, the camera work and editing is joyful. There are things that one may have read about or heard spoken of – the quadrant system as seen here –  the lighting, the overlapping edits, fades and of course, the script. This is not necessarily a big screen film, but, given the lack of physical action, it is still more than a stagy monologue. In fact on stage I suspect it would be quite flat. The fact that he is on a journey, the suddenness with which he has taken the decision and the impact it has on his life, make this a highly watchable film.

As I have mentioned, it is not for everyone, but, if like me, you want to be a filmmaker, this is one not to miss.