Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A busy day of Youtube uploads.

 Today I uploaded  a vlog about the short film, Dead Things, that I made in Ethiopia, a film I've mentioned in previous Blogs;

I've also uploaded both parts of said film. Enjoy! If you're a YouTube member feel free to subscribe and comment on my videos. Thanks.

Dead Things Part I
  Dead Things Part II

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A bedroom scene

Today's shoot- Lizzy's room.
I've just returned from the fifth day of filming. It was, on paper, a short scene. A character sat in her room. A little glimpse into the things that matter to her- items on her desk and wall.

Despite the lack of action, the level of detail I wanted to capture meant that, once again, I'd underestimated the amount of time needed- so three hours became closer to six! Still I'm very happy with the footage we've captured. Some concerns about the sound- the room faces a very busy road. My friend James, who essentially converted his front room into a bedroom set for us, has worked so hard in doing this, right down to the little details and trinkets, that even with the sound challenges I can't think of a more perfect location.

My father as guinea pig when my lighting kit arrived.
Today was a day that almost didn't happen. Lizzy's bus wouldn't start. As well as being my lead actress, she also acts as our taxi driver in collecting cast and crew in the converted bus that is also her home. I, in a moment of sheer stupidity left both a prop and light stand at home. And who was it who saved the day in both cases? Dad.

My father has actually been hugely supportive of my video production. Strange because he was the kind of dad who would ask 'how is this going to help your education?' when I spent money on films or games whilst growing up.

Today's shoot- soiling posters to give them an aged look.
I remember him saying 'i'm proud of you,' after having seen my Ethiopian horror film, and I wonder if that warmed him to the idea of film making as something valid. I was similarly surprised when he didn't freak when hearing I had spent the value of a car on my camera, and the enthusiasm and time he's given me in taking me to locations, acting as guinea pig a I experimented with lighting, and bought food for cast and crew. It's nice to believed in and to have that support.

Today's shoot- Debra in the garden
I think filming is also not just a means to an end but also a fun experience in and of itself. I'm lucky in that my cast and crew are friends and we laugh and joke and have patience for each other. I've seen the confidence of each of us grow as time has passed.

Though I have used storyboards in the past I've found I quite enjoy arriving at a scene and thinking on my feet about what would look best. I hope that's not just laziness, but it also means I share ideas with others about what may or may not look good. It's taken time to stop worrying about not having everything meticulously plotted out, though I also think we're far from sloppy also.

Today's shoot- Lee gets the giggles.
It's a fantastic process but also a draining one. I always collapse into a pile after a filming day, but, more often than not, a pile that feels some sense of satisfaction.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Biting the Bullet

It's strange to think that I'm actually here. That is to say, actually filming. For the longest time I felt destined to be the person who talked about wanting to make a film, rather than actually doing it. Part of the delay was about cost. Video production isn't the cheapest of hobbies and, as a relative newcomer, I was starting from scratch.

First shoot- 13th July 2011- Lee, Debra, Poonam, Carol and Rafi
My only previous experience of video production had been while volunteering in Ethiopia just over 4 years ago, at the age of 26. This is something I'm sure I'll share more about in a future blog as it is one of my fondest memories. It was also undeniably low-tech. I was using the video function on a digital photographic camera. But we worked with the limitations of the camera. There was no external mic and sound was tinny and ugly, so the film was edited as a silent film with subtitles. I'm very proud of that film- 'Dead Things.'
I knew in order to take film making more seriously, it would require investing in some decent equipment. I was quite conflicted about the camera I should get- I didn't want a format that was verging on obsolete, but I had to be realistic about the expense too. It's also difficult to know how much money you invest in a relatively new passion, even when you are earning and saving.

There was something else too. At the end of 2010, I'd saved enough to buy a camera, tripod and sound equipment. I'd found a decent deal on a great camera I'd previously felt was out of reach- the Sony EX1R. But I was paralysed. There was a voice in my head telling me that it was complete foolishness to spent so much money on a hobby. That I should be sensible and put it towards a house deposit. That something bad would happen and I would inevitably regret spending the money.
Lizzy playing the main character in my film.
I think there was also a assumption of failure.

We often hear stories about people who 'always knew' they wanted to make films. Nostalgic tales of being given 8mm cameras or VHS camcorders and the films they would make as 10 year olds. But what of those of us who have discovered our passion later in life? What about those of us who simply want to try, rather than having an innate sense of talent or entitlement?

I went for it and I'm glad. My script's first draft was completed in April and at the time of writing, I have 4 scenes filmed and am preparing for another shoot on Sunday. I'm still hit by occasional moments of blind panic. During my first shooting day, when everyone fell silent as I was prepared to shout 'action' I started sweating and a loud voice in my head told me that I was a fool for doing this, that I should run away.

Me on the first day of filming.
What helped me are the reassurances of friends, who felt I had stories and ideas worth exploring. Watching other low budget horror films also allowed to get away from the idea that visual story telling has to be completely polished and glossy in order for draw an audience in. Camp Kill, Spoils and Hellbride are examples of films that I have a lot of affection for despite, or perhaps because of, the roughness around their edges. I wonder if there's a lesson there about letting go of ideas of perfection, and embracing the possibility to just try. Several scenes in and I have made mistakes, and I'm certain I will make more. But I'm enjoying it. I think I'm even enjoying those panicked moments when I think I'm having anything but fun. Here's to everyone who is scared but tries. Here's to biting the bullet.