Sunday, 19 June 2011

Our first day of filming

It's been a whole week now, but on Sunday we filmed our first scene for the movie.

It was act two, scene three. The band have their first meeting with the record label manager in his plush London digs.

I have never prepared for any shoot as much as I prepared for this. And you know what, it still wasn't enough. But I am gradually learning what I'm doing wrong, and what I'm not doing enough of to prepare.

The whole thing felt strangely anticlimactic, and after arriving and setting up the set (a person's actual home, which lent the whole proceedings a slightly strange air, I was always vaguely aware that I was putting people out) it felt like business as usual.

The shoot went well enough, we got everything in the can, Brian even supplied a boom mic on a grip handle (so you can point it like a gun) that had been sitting around his place for years, most serendipitous indeed, seeing as we were working with capturing high quality sound for the first time. The best thing for me about the shoot was having Dee assist me, she really helped me stay on top of everything and having an extra pair of hands to work clapperboards, lights and microphones was great. Plus there were probably two occasions where time was slipping through my fingers and the task of getting everything filmed felt monumental, and I think I was on the verge of possibly losing all hope a little, but having Dee there kept me sane and kept me together! Thank you Dee, and thank you for the home made scones!

Speaking of food, I was planning for everyone to bring a bit of food along and we could break for a nice buffet style lunch of our own devising, but time was so damned tight that we didn't have a minute to spare. I feel really bad about this as I wanted the shoot to run smoothly and for everyone to have a nice relaxing lunch and chat halfway through the day. Maybe next time I should schedule everything to a timetable, although there is a probability that everything will get clusterfucked after a scene needs twenty takes or I forget to set the sound levels and we have to do it all again.

I've edited together the first 30 seconds or so, and I have some serious audio balancing to deal with because the supposed background silence in certain scenes hums along very loudly in one shot and then disappears in the next (air conditioning or perhaps water boiler?) This will be my first time working to balance audio as well as visuals and so far I think I will have a lot of work to do but I think (hope?) that this is pretty standard fare. The audio capture isn't as sharp as I'd like, voices disappear beneath footsteps and the audio is not crystal clear. I guess I will try my hand and twirling some on-screen dials in Final Cut, shrug my shoulders a bit and then do some googling and see if I can bring up the quality. In future, I need to get the boom mike closer to the actors, judiciously hiding it in the set so it won't show up on camera.

On the plus side, my current concerns about whether I not I kept everything in focus seem to be unfounded, and I got all the footage I was planning to get.

On the negative, I didn't get enough coverage. I never liked the idea of getting coverage, preferring instead to get all the shots on my shot list, but now I'm feeling a little exposed and if anything has gone wrong then it could hurt me later on in the edit. I think I shall correct this in future and get more coverage. I could really use the extra angles, as some of the shots don't quite flow/match up.

The pressure of having the camera in people's faces and being on location, with a time limit, made remembering lines difficult and we went through a lot of takes. I think our rehearsals have had the wrong focus, because we seemed to be finalising a lot of action and acting decisions in front of the camera, and the rehearsals hadn't helped us remember our lines. Admittedly our rehearsals have been mostly sitting around reading the script out loud, when I should have pushed sooner for us to ditch the scripts - although at the time the idea made everyone nervous. Having a script in our hand was like a comforting blanket, and we didn't want to forgo that. I could be wrong but I think everyone probably wishes we had done more to learn our lines in rehearsal, and more to flesh out the scenes, and I take responsibility for that because I really should have been using our time more efficiently. But that's inexperience for you, and this is hindsight. Not much good to dwell on mistakes, far better to learn from them.

I'm looking forward to getting the scene edited together, but life keeps getting in the way. Part of me is terrified that once I put everything together, it's just not going to work (read: it's going to be shittily edited and directed) and we'll have to shoot the whole scene again, without our plush location.

I really should contact the guys and arrange our next rehearsal/scene filming. They haven't heard from me in a week, they probably think I've gone mad with the pressure of putting the first scene together and have shut myself away from the world.

It's taken me a week to get myself together enough to write this.... perhaps they're right.

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