Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Eager Student - Filming

The Eager Student was a 1 minute practice film we had to produce for the Planning and Making a Film module I undertook in the penultimate year of my BA (Hons). Told in two scenes, the story is of a student going to her class and realising that she has arrived at the wrong time.

The module's practice was undertaken between October 2011 to June 2012 and it provided me with a hugely enriching experience. For a more detailed overview of the module and the projects I undertook as a part of it, see Planning and Making a Film: The student filmmaking experience.


24/10/2011

First off, I was extraordinarily stressed! Stressed because I had done constrained filming like this before and I knew it would be hectic, even with planning. With The Eager Student each production group was given only 55 minutes in which to shoot it. My group had already drawn up and decided on a shot list, which I had typed up. However, we had not been told which seminar room we would be using to shoot, so we didn’t produce a storyboard. We were fortunate, though, to be one of the groups going second, which gave us 55 minutes to decide on our roles and draw up a floor plan (we now knew what room we would be using). 


The floor plan for scene 2

Sally had already made it clear that she didn’t mind being the actress and Jenny said that she was quite eager to do sound. Whereas, Emily and myself had no preference, so we tossed a coin – Emily would take care of the cinematography; I would direct and fill the production manager’s role.

Overall, the shoot went fine. It was stressful, but we didn't have any slip-ups (because we had planned ahead). What made the shoot go all the more smoothly was how Emily and Jenny just took to the equipment (this is where taking the equipment out on the previous Wednesday paid off). Therefore, I was able to focus all my stressful energies on actually directing the shoot.

The shot list / shooting order

The only shots that proved somewhat problematic were the first two we shot; these being shots 1 and 5 of scene 2. With shot 1, the Very Long Shot for the opening and closing of scene 2, Sally’s actions in the first take looked too staged. So, there on out, instead of her entering an empty room with the lights already switched on we had her turn them on when she came in. But that still looked a little too staged so we did it again with her coming in, walking past the light switch, stopping, coming back to the light switch, switching the lights on and then continuing as the script dictated. It took four attempts to get this just right. However, on the fourth take Mike (our tutor) walked in, so we had to do it one time! With shot 5, the Medium Close-Up of Sally sitting at the table, it took us a few takes just to ensure that all of Sally positioning and actions would match up with the continuity of shot 1.

After this we managed to shoot everything in one or two takes. That said, I was still incredibly stressed with the knowledge that time was ticking away. But, I won’t apologise for this because, if anything, it kept us moving forward and focused on the task.

The final two shots, for scene 1, we did incredibly quickly; because we had barely ten minutes left and the corridor was heaving with students. However, this had a positive effect because it ensured we didn’t waste time trying to set up the elaborate VLS to MS, that we had originally planned. Instead, we did a rough and ready set-up that worked fine. I even managed to persuade two random students to play two random students in the shot. Emily and Jenny suggested that we should do a close-up of Sally, which I didn’t feel we needed, but we did a very quick close up take anyway (just in case). Then we wrapped! 

Logging and capturing the footage on the mac was fairly straightforward. We decided against editing it, because I was completely drained and it was Jenny’s birthday. So the edit would have to wait until Wednesday.  

The whole process was astoundingly stressful and, from a whole hour of directing without any water, I had lost most of my voice. None the less, I still thoroughly enjoyed directing and was positively buzzing for hours after it. So, yes, more! I want more, please!

After the filming, came The Eager Student - Editing

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