Thursday, 24 November 2011

Where will it all stop – Filming

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.


Naturally, it was at this point in production that everything started to go wrong! The first problem we encountered was one that we should have seen coming – casting. The first issue was with the character of Lolly, who we had had problems with previously. The actress we had cast to fill in for Lolly did manage to film all of her material for the Saturday, but was unable to shoot on the Sunday. Jenny (our director) did manage to sort this by getting her housemate to take the role. However, it will create a massive continuity problem in the final cut because we will have two actresses playing the same part!

The second casting problem was with the role of the Bartender and again the actor we had scheduled to do this had to drop out because of work. At least, though, the character didn’t appear in both halves of the script, so we wouldn’t have another character played by two actors. But it did still leave us without an actor to play the role, on the night before we had to shoot it. I suggested that we swap the roles of the Bartender with the role of the Barmaid, so the Barmaid would speak all the lines of the Bartender. Therefore, all we would need to do would be to get a male actor to film the one shot in which the Barmaid was originally to have appeared in. 

Originally, this was the Barmaid's sole piece of action. 

But to make the above issue even more complicated when we came to shoot the film we used the Barmaid for the Barman's part and the Barmaid's original part (above). Therefore, in the context of the script, it doesn't make any sense any more; we should have just eliminated the Barmaid's latter piece of action (above). But I will discuss more of the script changes later.  

However, the casting problems aside, it was when we were setting up to film in The Royal Oak that we received the biggest blow. We were told that, because of customers, we would not be able to use the main part of the pub - the part which we had planned for. The only part that we would be allowed to use would be the back room, which was a completely different layout, had different lighting and was a smaller space than what we had planned for. Our shot list, floor plan and storyboard went straight out of the window!

We were half an hour late getting started because Jenny had to completely redo the shot list and storyboard. But, at least, it gave me (cinematographer) and Emily (sound operator) a good amount of time to set up the camera and sound equipment; while also giving the cast an opportunity to rehearse their lines outside. At 13:30, though, we started shooting; albeit very much aware that we would need to pull our socks up if we wanted to shoot everything in the time we had left.

Technical notes to help with filming

In my mind, the three hours that we spent shooting was incredibly frustrating and stressful. It was frustrating because all of our careful planning had to be scrapped and it was stressful because everything became disorganised and a terrible rush. However, saying this, we did manage to shoot everything that was needed; maybe not to the quality we had hoped for, but certainly to a “useable” quality. I think it is also important to point out that the whole production of Where will it all stop is designed as a practice run and something with which we’re supposed to make mistakes, so that we will be fully prepared for our next production for which we will actually be assessed on. 

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