Today is the day that our film, along with others, was finally viewed and reviewed by our teachers. We were the final group who’s film was viewed and we could not wait. So much work went into doing it that we, at least I, was very excited/anxious to see what would be our feedback on it. So after the viewing out teachers pretty much agreed that the basis of our story was a bit confusing and lacked the accurate representation of the emotional connection between the three main characters, which is true. It was very hard for us to be able to portray, on an emotional level, all the emotional undertones that we wanted to give to the characters in just five minutes. Also, kinda need to be careful using Shakespeare in the future, probably not the best move. They also mentioned that our director and editor’s choice of songs for the film wasn’t quite the best. But now for the good things is that they actually liked the way it was mostly shot and framed while obviously still having a few not so good moments, but it still made me quite proud of myself.
For a first timer, I was proud to have a somewhat decent piece of work to present to my course. And it only made me more excited to continue to train my way around the camera and see what future projects I might have in store as a potential director of photography.
Because I am the DOP, DP, camera woman or whatever you want to call me, I am the one in charge of operating the camera. Original, I know. But the difference here is that I have had no previous experience in working with DSLR’s. So from there, I went through quite a bit of DLSR tutorials: for begginers, DSLR filmmaking, the basis of photography, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. And also I studied on the basic functions of the Canon 600D, since it was the camera we eventually decided to shoot with. Since I didn’t have experience to rely on, I brushed up on my studies and tested the camera out before we began shooting so that on the day of the shoot, I would have complete confidence and knowledge that I had taken the best footage I could take with a week’s worth of online tutorials and camera testing.
In January 2014, I plan on attending DSLR tutorials at university as well as ask for a camera loan so that I can further practice the use of the camera. That and I plan on saving up money so that I can, in the next couple of months, buy my own profissional camera.
So here we are again, and I have a few developments. Our group is well in it’s way in the project of our short film and since the last time I posted, in which I refered that we were discussing which script we would use as our story basis and that we had already named our group as “Mis Amigos” production company.
But since then we spent various days, and various hours, deciding between eachothers scripts. We decide with one of them but after spending around five hours trying to figure out a way on how to translate parts of it on screen, correctly, we decided to change it. After that we did, a lot, of rewritings and changed some of the characters, backgrounds and added a bit more to the original storyline. With the final script in hands, we decided to name our story “Annabel”. The synopsis of the film is that “love isn’t always what it seems”. We don’t always get who we want or they don’t turn out to be who we thought they were. It’s about character change and their acknowledgement of themselves and of others around them. After that our director started sketching the stoyboard, floor plan, camera plan and shot list; the producer started scouting potential actors for the roles, organized a calendar, a timeboard for the crew and actors; our editor/sound designer arranged a soundtrack to give us an idea of which songs we could use in which scenes as well as attending meetings with the director to decide how to cut the film in the correct way and I studied the functions of the camera we decided to use, along with working very closely on the script and respective lists with the director to make sure that her vision is portrayed correctly on screen.
We took a few days scouting for locations which was rough, but eventually our director decided on a nearby park, so then our producer contacted the actors and arranged our shooting schedule. It must have taken us around four hours to do the reshoots as the one’s we did previously didn’t work due to the camera we used didn’t fare well in low light situations as well as we were having problems in recording the sound properly. Next time, we’ll choose a quieter place in Camden Town to shoot, that’s for sure. So in the park, we shot the remainder of the scenes we need with all the actors. On that day I felt more confident with the camera and the image I could get out of a scene. I found myself working better with it, a Canon 600D, and felt that I was giving my best while doing handheld camera work.
Apart from that, we have the schedule to film it between the 10th and 11th of December because those are the times that best suit us and the three actors. And then between the 11th through the 14th, we plan on editing it and hopefully finish it up until before New Year.
This week we were given our first BIG, graded, assignment that consists on filming one of our 250 words screenplays (which was the assignment we did for our Screenwriting module) from one of the members of the group we choose. This assignment implies that we need to be in a group of four where we will have to distribute our roles evenly and commit to them completely. Meaning that team work will be the main focus. Can we do it or can we not? That is what will be put on evidence once we present it five weeks from now. Yes, we will have five weeks to complete it fully until January 13th 2014. We need to portray the story as accurately and as closely as possible to the original piece in a maximum length of 5 minutes.This will be challenging but exciting, because we can finally start to think of ourselves as doing something not only for us but for a future audience. Even if our audience will consist mostly of our teachers. This is something that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a long time. And even though I’m terrified, I am eager to start production on it. So my ‘dream team’ and their respective roles are: Jonas, who’ll be our Producer; Carolina, who’s our Director; Laurynas, our Editor and Sound guy and myself as the Director of Photography. And we even gave our production company, a name: Mis Amigos. Also each of us will carry on different roles this time around, which is exciting. And even though I’m the DOP, I’ve never been in charge of the camera and footage in such an intimate way as I will be in this assignment. I might not have as much training as some of my colleagues from the course but that doesn’t discourage me. Meaning I will only study and train harder because this is most of all a learning experience. I will make mistakes and I will screw up, but that’s what is needed to happen when I’m learning something new. A good work does not come easy and I am beggining to understand that even more so.
In the last class, instead of the usual we had a workshop that taught us how to properly plug in, assemble and use the lighting equipment for when we need to eventually shoot our films. So Eddie divided a couple of people between the equipment and gave us free range to try and assemble it ourselves. And after quite a while, we finished assembling it in the best way we could and proceeded to hear Eddie explain the basics of proper lighting. Basically, we learned about the three point lighting where you dispose three lights around a specific area to light up the subject in question.
So the lights are disposed as such:
- Key light, which is the main source of light in the system. It’s objective is to illuminate the scene. And is to be placed on the side of the subject opposite the camera placement.
- Fill light, is a softer light. It’s objective is to fill in the rest of the shadows on the subject’s face caused by the action of the key light. It is to be placed on the opposing side of the camera and the key light.
- Back light, who’s main function is to illuminate the subject and make him stand out from the background. It’s placed behind the subject in order to create an aura of light around him, and it is set up high above the subject’s head out from the camera’s view.
So from here I learned how to set up the lighting equipment properly as well as learning about the safety measures we need to take in order to not either harm ourselves or the equipment when assembling it.
So in this week, we had an exciting assignment in our Film Production module of shooting 10 still photos that needed to represent accurately any idea that we might have. So the group I was in, that consisted of Jonas, Dimitri, Cathy and me decided that she should shoot a drug pickup. Jonas played the drug addict and Dimitri was the drug dealer. It was shot alternately between me and Cathy. The idea of it was to represent in a somewhat comedic way, a drug exchange gone wrong. We had a lot of fun doing it and it wasn’t nearly as easy as we might have expected it to be. It isn’t our best work but I think our idea came across well.
I hope everyone who saw it felt the same way and maybe even cracked a laugh.
This time around we were placed in different groups, as all of us drew out numbers to see who we would get in our team. After that was decided we had to recreate a scene from any movie we choose and to have the scenery, actors, clothes, makeup, hair, props, lighting, sound, shots, framing, length and everything else we can think of, as similar as possible to the original version from the movie. So this was, without a doubt, the hardest assignment we ever had to do. With this one, we had to continue to learn how to work with eachother and the importance of communicating effectively within the group as to express our ideas and opinions without imposing. And this wasn’t easy. We’re all still learning so it was obvious we still needed a lot of practice. We were in a tight schedule and just setting up the lights, fixing the sound, positioning the camera on the tripod, organizing the space, clearing out any elements that wouldn’t look good in the scene took the longest time and we ended up with not that much time to shoot it. I, being the producer once more had to talk to the owner of the restaurant we used to shoot in, to allow us more time to shoot the rest of the film. He allowed us 20 extra minutes, which was quite helpful in the end. So we tried to do it as fast as we could. We barely finished on time but managed to do what we wanted given the time and conditions and proceeded to give the footage to the editor.
From this experience we all learned the hard way, that rushing something will never have a good outcome. We made too many mistakes to count and it was hard to admit it, but alas we need to learn from our mistakes and hopefully improve as we go along in this module.