Monday, 16 August 2010



The big one.
Today bopped from being exciting and endearing to being unbearable, slow, and a complete failuire. At times I wanted to rip my hair out. All of the big scenes I planned didn't come off anywhere near as cool as I was hoping. Some failed completely. It turns out that we couldn't use the rooms we planned to at Pat's studio so we had to improvise. This curve ball threw me a bit and I did my best to make the scenes work in the other spaces. To be honest, I don't have much experience set dressing and lighting, and it was beginning to show. I was beginning to feel like an idiot. I didn't have my storyboards or more paperwork. I didn't even use my clapperboard. I felt stupid and pretentious using it in front of Ryan, who had come down to the deliver an absolutely incredible robotic hand covered in ragged latex skin. The fingers were articulated and hooked up to pulleys so it could be controlled and it could move around a bit. It was perfect. I was lacking in confidence today. Whereas working with Ryan yesterday was a joy, today I felt a little suffocated by having him overlooking the shoot, and I also felt bad that he had to hang around and watch me fuck up a video shoot beyond repair. It must have been frustrating as hell for him.

Ryan and I are opposites, but very good friends and we go back a long way. Ryan is outspoken and confident, and I am utterly non-confrontational. During the filming of a fight scene I really wanted Ryan to wait outside so I could concentrate on the scene without freaking out, but I couldn't think of a way to tell him that without sounding like an ass. I think we might have clashed a bit on the set. Every piece of advice he offered made me bristle up with anger, and every lighting problem I had or every special effect which didn't quite work made me more and more tense. I had to leave the set twice, just to try and chill out. I passed it off as toilet breaks or getting a drink but really I just had to get some air. I was suffocating. At no point did Ryan try and take control, but I could feel him frowning over my shoulder watching me. I need to man up and speak to people and tell them what I want from them. I have always admired Ryan for being the kind of person who can do that and I need to learn to be more open with people. I felt like I was being a control freak who had no control.

It's not that Ryan and I share incompatible visions or that he was telling me what to do, the worst thing he ever did was make some useful and reasonable suggestions. At one point he recommended that I should have got someone to choreograph the fight scene as it wasn't working and I nearly exploded. I had to leave the room. The shoot was always meant to be a quickly-shot, fluid event, something that we bish-bash-boshed into shape in a matter of days. I didn't want it to be professional, I wanted it to be agile, and I wanted to be in control of everything. It's really early days for me, and I want to make my own mistakes in peace. I don't care if it's a shitty video, as long as it's MY shitty video (sorry to the band who are hiring me!). When I get more confident, I can start working with more people. Until then, I am enjoying running these shows solo. I think the problem was that I had lived this video and the story for months. I knew what I wanted, (I thought) I knew how I wanted to achieve it, I knew what I was capable of and what the limits of my knowledge are. Ryan, having not worked with me before, doesn't know these details, so I found his input infuriating rather than helpful. Had we worked on this together from the start then obviously things would be different, but as he was someone who was only seeing the project on the final moment of it's birth, I didn't want to hear what he thought because I already had mountains of information in my head. I just wanted to be left alone because despite my shaky unconfident demeanour, if I could be left alone with the band, I would get these scenes done.

I guess I just need to be alone with the guys while filming. No help, no friends, no family, no-one. I guess I can't help thinking that they are seeing a (subjectively) better way of doing things. Like doing a Sudoku or playing Minesweeper with someone watching. You just KNOW they're bursting to tell you about something they've spotted and it's distracting.

Ryan and I had a good heart to heart after the video shoot. I think we're cool. I hope we are. (Ryan if you're reading this, I love you man. I got a gift for you and Priya to say thank you!) I reckon my bristly yet silent demeanour drove him a little crazy that day, and I apologise. I really need to speak up for myself and tell people what I want from them. To his credit, this video could not be made without Ryan. His robotic hands and blood/gorework as well as the props he supplied were invaluable. He worked hard and solid. He never actually set a foot wrong. The problem was entirely mine. I was feeling crushed by the weight of the project. More scenes had been shuffled to Sunday, my last day of freedom before going back to full time work, and I was beginning to resent the workload. My confidence was crumbling and I wanted nothing more to fly this ship solo to get to grips with it. I found parts of this shoot to be hellish. Things weren't conforming to my expectations. I was going crazy and I was getting incredibly stressed out. I wanted to put down the video camera and just walk on home.

But I knew I had to get it done. And I did. Some scenes came off a little rushed, but that's kinda how my shoots have always gone so far. We sprayed Pablo in the face with fake blood so much he looked like an extra from Splatterhouse, but it looked good. He kept on with the scene even though his eyes were stinging from the blood. The fight scene looked okay and I think it's gonna work when I put all the pieces together. On their own each shot is a weird little dance but edited correctly it could work. The room was small and it was hard to move the camera around while keeping the subject in frame and the lights and equipment out of it. But I think I got it. Maybe this will be okay after all. But as for the whole shoot, it was very unprofessional, no clapperboard (my beautiful new clapperboard! Sitting in its box!), no notes, I was running everything off the top of my head. The last shoot I did was really organized. This one was crazy. The thing is, I got everything. I had spent so long on the storyboard that I knew every shot. Every one. But it's a jumbled mess. The tape is going to be a bitch to log. On the plus side, maybe that will teach me that it really does pay to be organised. Maybe it would also be less stressful. Maybe I was punishing myself. Pyschobabble.

Also, to their credit, the band were absolutely amazing. Utterly helpful and selfless and amazingly good sports. Even when I bucketed blood in their faces and got them to reshoot tedious shots again and again, they never lost enthusiasm. Even in the face of my crumbling ego. Thanks guys. A very wise man came down to play our mad scientist, Doctor I.M Crazed, and he went beyond performance and actually began to live the character. It was terrifying. The scenes with the doctor all came out really well and I'm looking forward to seeing the whole thing together!

Poor Dee must be forgetting what I look like. She picked me up from Pat's studio late at night completely covered in pink and red blood stains, red hands, ruined clothes, carrying ripped carrier bags full of props and fake blood ingredients
"Those are your new jeans."
"I know."

I got home late in the evening and collapsed into bed again. Ready for Sunday, the day I didn't want to use, which is going to be filled with lots more filming than I ever intended.

So far this week has been a bipolar rollercoaster, jumping from delight to despair. I honestly wonder how some people can do this for a living, and I'm only shooting crappy little 3 minute videos! Maybe I need a team. But first I need to make sure I "play well with others" and that will only come with experience and confidence. But I like the idea of working on my own. It has the romanticism of the extreme auteur. But that's probably just naivety.

Lessons learned? Be more organised. Give myself enough time to shoot everything, because everything ALWAYS takes longer than it should. Don't overstretch. And for God's sake, I need speak up for myself. I need to be able to confidently tell people what to do, overwise I'm going to go mad.

1 comment:

  1. 1) Its great you have a blog to log all this, nice keeping it sly (Although I kept my own blog on the sly at first too)
    2) Its so interesting to see your mind in action and see how the shoot is going when you cannot be there to see it
    3) Your own self will always be your harshest critic.