Monday, 2 November 2009

On location #7

Ahhh, film making, the sound of the camera whirring, the lights going up and, of course, the exotic film locations.


Early start and we're off north to Polmont and Falkirk today to film a typical day centre and a residential care home for people with dementia. A very blustery, and sometimes wet, drive up, so although I took the motorbike in to the production office in Edinburgh, I was glad I then left it there for the day.

When we arrived the weather was cracking, and we set up in an adjacent park to the care home, the sun streaming through the remaining autumn leaves, illuminating each leaf as if it had its own light source. We used the one metre, tripod-mounted track system to get some beautiful shots.

We're indoors next, to film some of the actual residents having lunch, and later playing a few games.

Having been involved with the dementia team for the past six months I am all too aware of the need for such care homes, but it is still heart-breaking to see those here.
Dementia is an awful disease and to see everyone here, knowing they had full and active lives before this, was difficult not to be affected emotionally. The staff at the home were marvelous, taking care of their every need, and being very supportive as and when they were needed. I'm aware that in many other countries people would be astonished that this is where our elderly relatives end up, as many other cultures take care of their grandparents until their last day. But this is our culture and this is the way we cope with the illness, and we do it well. Looking after someone with dementia twenty four seven is very demanding, and one can, and it does happen, become very isolated as a carer. Day centres, and eventually care homes, certainly help everyone, but it is still difficult to think of yourself, or anyone else you know and care for, ending their days like this.

We only had two actors on set today as the majority of shots were about establishing buildings. It's something we now don't even notice when we watch movies, but it's used all the time. The audience is eased into a new scene or setting by simply showing what we call the establishing shot, which could be as simple as the exterior of a building, to then cutting to inside the building, and possibly cutting again to a room and close in on the characters action. We now accept, without question, where we are.

For our scene we first have our carer walking past the camera and away from us toward the gate of the care home. At this point the actor must remember which foot they were on, and which hand they opened the gate with. We then relocate the camera to within the grounds and repeat the walk, except this time we see the person coming through the gate. And so on, moving the camera several times until we are inside. In the edit it will look as if we shot it in one, using five different cameras, where in actual fact it took an hour for the person to get inside, and we used only one camera.

There is one key factor to remember; we must never "cross the line".
This is a term used to describe where an actor is on screen and the camera position. For example, if they exit on the right of screen, then they enter on the left of the next, and so on. Next time you see two people facing each other watch where they are on screen. If an actor talking is on the right of screen, and you can see the back of the other actor on the left, they must always occupy that space. So when we cut to the back of the person speaking they are still both on the left and right respectively. Sounds simple but if the rule were to be broken you would notice immediately. "The line" refers to an imaginary line, drawn between two people for example splitting them down the middle. You must stay on one side of it.

A nice early wrap at 4pm but then the drive back to Edinburgh through rush hour traffic extended the day slightly. Though the crew headed home I then sat down with the producer to plan tomorrow, then I had to meet someone in person straight after who was organising something for the shoot tomorrow, so my day ended around 8.30pm.

Three days of filming to go; tomorrow, Wednesday and then the following Wednesday, but already I have started on a new film.

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