Sunday, 19 August 2012

There And Back Again (or, Traffic-Driving Hobbit Reference #103,074)

A tricky one last Friday. Attempting to film closeups to slot into a scene shot three weeks earlier...

I 'd already had one experience of this that made me decide 'never again', but faced with the prospect of getting the same seven cast members together again, this was most definitely the lesser of two nerve-shredders.

The shooting went well enough except for the inevitable weather problems (since I was relying on natural light); it was far too bright - and consistently so when on the previous occasion the sun spent the morning playing peek-a-boo - and having had problems with a discrepancy between the image as it appeared on camera and the image that presented it self to me in the editing software, I was reluctant to take the exposure too far down. But a swift experiment with the footage when I got home seemed to (mostly) allay fears of incompatibility.

A slightly more serious issue was when I realised there was a very simple, wordless shot I could have got which would have been ideal for establishing Caron in the scene. Would have taken fifteen seconds. (Well, okay, this is filming - it would have taken three minutes, but still...)

However, absolute despair being the mother of sleight-of-hand, I then realised that if I order the shots slightly differently I can achieve the same effect with a different shot. You can save almost everything with some thoughtful editing, as long as you have a good cast and you can see them - hear what they're saying (the last being particularly important in my films. What, a visual medium? Where?).

And of course, since I so am dead set against reshooting parts of scenes to fit in with earlier shoots, any rumours that I might have reshot another bit of another scene in the afternoon are totally unfounded abd both actresses involved are mysteriously unavailable for comment. But had we done that, I'm sure it would have worked out fine - even if the location I described as lovely and quiet (oh, why did I open my mouth?) did suffer from low level machinery rumble most of the afternoon...

Anyway, it occurred to me after the last post that I was so wrapped up in the actual shoot, I completely forgot that we now have a trailer online. It was warmly received at the Brighton Filmmakers Coalition One Shot Challenge Screening, but will likely be slightly revised to incorporate some of the reshoot footage.

Oh, and speaking of reshoots, of course I never do them, but if I had decided to reshoot a bit of the countryside footage because we were completely screwed sound-wise by the wind, and if I had been unable to organise it until a month later, we might have had a slight flora-based discrepancy:

So, it's a really good job we didn't have that to contend with, eh...?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Live Poets Society

It's actually easy to believe it's been over three weeks since I posted - partly because it feels like about three months.

It's not that nothing's been happening. Rather the opposite.

My leading lady has moved back to London after completing her final scenes in the nick of time, including the scene that we tried to shoot on the very first day of filming and have been trying to schedule ever since, the climactic encounter with the busker, played by Jo Maultby.

Another crucial scene is (mostly) in the can, but not without several crises on the way; the date for the Literary Ladies had been set six weeks in advance, and principal cast members all managed to keep it clear, and I found four guest players to fill the small but vital roles of the ladies...and then one of them had to pull out due to illness four days before we were due to shoot. So, scrambled around, found a replacement...and then two days before the shoot discovered that an absolutely vital member of the cast was severely allergic to cats (of which there were two in the location we were using). By sheer luck the flat of one of guest performers was suitable and available, so after a couple of days of panic, it all seemed set.

And then on the day itself, less than two hours before lift-off, another vital member of the cast texted me to say she had aggravated her back injury (already responsible for one cancelled shoot) and quite literally couldn't move. In vain I pleaded that all she had to do was sit and speak in the scene - she was not risking further injury, which was fair enough. But what were we to do?

There was no way I would get that cast together again, so I did the only thing I could - I shot around the absence.

It meant no really wide shots, which was a pain; the hole left by Caron/Sabrina was variously filled by Thomas Everchild, the ever-reliable Sophie, and even the director for the readthrough.

The talented Chris Andrew was on hand again, mostly to operate the boom, but he found time to play the role of 'Ninjacam' and take a few photos that nobody noticed him getting:

A shame there wasn't time for him to take individual portraits of the ladies - as it is, I turn up in far too many of the shots.

There is more - much more - to tell about the last three weeks, but that seems quite enough for now...

One thing I will add; the weather was like nothing I've ever seen. Relying as usual on natural light (if we had even tried a lighting set up we would have run out of time before we had even half the shots done), I watched the sun go in and come out about once every two minutes. I have several clips which have thumbnails looking completely different at the beginning and end of the clip on the timeline.

I may dedicate this film to the British Summer of a sort of propitiation.

It may help for next time.

Oh, and that's another thing - a very scary thing. Despite it all, despite the never-ending hassles and the ongoing stress and the very clear memory of what this has cost me along the way in shredded nerves, I am already thinking about 'next time'...