This summary post was originally written for a practical exercise undertaken in the Planning and Making a Film module I undertook in the penultimate year of my BA (Hons). 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.
As a seminar group we discussed how filming for each of the groups had gone and from this generated some feedback points for ourselves and for future students. All the points raised from the session can be seen here. Below I have outlined all the points from the session that I feel would be good for myself to consider when it comes time to make the second short film.
Ironically, being the most negative person in the session this was point that I raised. I certainly took a very negative outlook on things when our filming went bellies up. While my negative outlook didn’t stop me from performing my role it certainly dampened my spirit and stopped me from performing my role to the best of my abilities.
Make sure that everyone knows what their role is and what responsibilities that role entails. I included this point not because I didn’t know what my role and responsibilities were but rather I found very frustrating when our production manager, Sally, kept asking me what it was she was meant to be doing. Therefore, what role and responsibilities everyone has should be made clear as soon as possible.
This was a big one for us because we hadn’t checked properly in advance what part of our location, The Royal Oak, we could actually use. Therefore, it was a blow in the guts when we were told that we couldn’t use the part of the pub we had spent so long planning for! Establishing how much control and access you have with a location is key in ensuring that you can shoot what you want and where you want to.
We had issues with not being able to contact cast members and with cast members dropping out. Here we should have been clear with our cast members as soon as possible in terms of how to contact them, making sure they were available when we needed them and generally keeping them in the loop.
This will save so much time on the day as the cast will know what it is they need to do. If you plan a rehearsal properly, it is also an opportunity for all the cast and crew to meet and become familiar with each other before the shoot.
Make sure your location has lighting that you would be happy to film with and if it hasn’t arrange to have your own lighting set-up. This proved to be a particular annoyance for me when we were told that we would have to use The Royal Oak’s back room, opposed to the one we had planned for, because the lighting in the back room was completely different and worse than the lighting in the main room.
This was something that we really only had a very vague idea about and that was because our production manager hadn’t bothered to produce a proper one. It would also have been helpful if we had allowed for more time than planned, e.g. we had a three hour shoot, but if we had put an extra hour on top of this it would have helped when things started to go wrong with the shoot.
Aside from filming all the scenes we needed to film back to front (our shoot order was: scene 6, 2, 1) we managed to shoot everything that was in the scenes in chronological order. However, we deviated from continuity at some points because we were trying to save time with what little time we had, and I know this will lead to some continuity errors in the finished film. But, obviously, if you can shoot in continuity order then plan to do so; it leads to less confusion, both with the cast and crew, and will allow you stay on top of continuity.
Things can and do go wrong, but don’t panic when they do because it will only make the problem(s) worse. Obviously, planning can help stop things from going wrong, but it you have a plan B as well then you’ll absolutely be set if things start to go wrong with your original plan. Also, if you have a problem don’t keep it to yourself. There is a cast and crew there for a reason and that is because making a film isn’t a one man job, so why should bearing a problem be any different?