Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Our Filmed Rehearsal on Monday

So, after work on Monday I dragged my camera case and tripod (they both get really heavy after a while) to the tube and took myself across town to Mark's place in Greenwich. I arrived early enough to meet Brian (aka Clint Coxon, manager of our fictional Juggernaught Records) for a beer and a bite to eat, then we walked to Mark's. It was nice to have some help with the tripod! Once at Mark's, we had from 7 til 10pm.

We mocked up Mark's basement to the orientation of the London flat we'll be using on Sunday (luckily it has many similarities in terms of furniture and door placement). We did a run through of the scene and talked about how we would do things. We probably spent a bit too long doing this because once we finally started filming, we were only able to film about two thirds of all the shots.

I had a trusty shot list, which had the shot number, the camera angle, and room for writing the timecodes and making notes. I had put my list not in shot order, but in shooting order, so I would do one camera setup, film all of those scenes, then do the next set-up, and so on. There were 50 seperate shots to film, and we didn't get them all. In terms of the scene, we got all of the middle, but missed a chunk from the beginning and end. I also had a floor plan with all the camera angles and another sheet which listed all the shots and gave a description of dialogue/action in each shot. I think before Sunday I will combine the shot list with the list of shot descriptions to save me flicking constantly back and forth between two sheets.

We didn't worry too much about lighting, we stuck the camera on idiot-mode and the cast often had a script in hand for some of the dialogue as not all the lines had been thoroughly learned yet. We didn't have much time to strive for perfect performances. Until now we had only rehearsed the scenes from beginning to end and shooting it in bits and pieces, out of script order, was disorientating. I knew it would be, but I don't think I accounted for how disorientating. I suddenly began to realise that while I thought I had a hold on the scene, and where the characters would be, I actually didn't. Fiona would ask me where she should be during a scene and I had no idea. It made sense when we rehearsed it all in order, but filming out of order I often became befuddled. I think I will need to make a much more developed set of floorplans including character movement so I don't get so confused! There was unfortunately, a heck of a lot of standing around and waiting for the cast, even though we actually got through the shots pretty quickly and weren't trying to light each setup. Any notions of movie-set glamour soon disappeared. (note to self - set up a room where people can wait when not needed so they don't have to stand in the corner trying to be small)

Although we ran out of time and I found myself constantly losing pens or sheets of paper or getting confused (despite some pretty heavy - but not heavy enough - planning) the shoot was never stressful and we laughed quite a lot. Everyone was really enthusiastic and they put up with me and my incompetent boobery. I feel especially sympathetic for Neil and Frazer, as they don't even have any lines, they just have to sit there looking interested and not like they have numb arses, which was probably the hardest of all.

We wrapped up shortly around 10.15pm and made our way home. Being far luckier than I deserve to be, I went home to an incredible homemade pizza made by the amazing Dee, whose patience and support has been consistently amazing. Dee, if you're reading this, thank you. x

I spent Monday night with my brain still wired, directing people in urgent but mundane tasks in my dreams until my alarm went off and I had to go to work.

Yesterday (Tuesday), after work I decided to start transferring the video. After a big delay that required me to trash all my Final Cut preferences (the program stopped recognising the camera) I managed to get the footage imported. The lighting is harsh and the cameras automatic mode was pretty ugly. The picture also lacked sharpness and clarity, which I am a little surprised by, but I know it can do better and I only have myself to blame for using the automatic settings and autofocus. I was careful to check my white balance this time, having learned from previous mistakes.

But there was one thing I didn't check before we started filming. Audio levels. In my utter incompetence and inexperience, I shot the whole scene with the volume setting on the camera left on it's previous settings, which was when I filmed the deafening Frau Pouch/Explorer's Collective live gig. Barely a word registers when I playback the footage, and no matter how much I amplify the audio on Final Cut I can't hear a thing. My plan, to assemble a rough cut rehearsal of the scene that we could use to critique direction, camerawork, and blocking, has pretty much crumbled. I am incredibly disappointed, devestated even, given all the work that everyone put in to make this rehearsal happen. This was meant to help us feel utterly prepared going into our filming on Sunday, and all we're left with is a badly edited silent movie. Not that I've had time to edit it together yet, which should be difficult without any audio cues.

God fucking damnit.

On the plus side, if the footage makes sense (all the timecodes for each take have been recorded so assembling it then trimming the fat shouldn't be completely impossible) without audio then we know that visually, our plans are sound. We can also use this dodgy footage to make sure our continuity and blocking works and make changes where we need to. And on the super-positive side, at least I've learned my lesson BEFORE setting foot on the location. I'm really mad at myself for the oversight, but learning the hard way... sometimes it's the best way. I'm making a checklist, so this never happens again.

I was organised on Monday, more so than I have been on any of the music video shoots, but I realise I am still not organised enough. But I'm getting there!

Thanks for reading x

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