Tuesday, 3 November 2009

On location #8

Out and about today, which is always the best fun.

Our first shot of the day was to be a locked off shot, meaning the tripod is placed in one position and the camera is locked into one position mounted on it, in front of two wrought iron gates. They were then to swing open slowly and our character would walk through. This shot was to depict the thought of coming to a dead end as a carer, daunted by the journey ahead, with no easy way through. When the gates open and the character walks through this depicts a possible way ahead, a new path.

But we couldn't do it!

We were to shoot in the rear car park of a certain art gallery in Edinburgh, but the bureaucracy of the organisation clogged the works. So much fuss and unnecessary complications muddied the way and we lost the shot. Such is the frustrating nature of film making.

We forged ahead to film establishing shots of a council building and the old Scottish Government buildings in Waterloo Place. It's at this point that I must digress and remind other indie film makers out there to always remember a scene from a Robin Williams movie called Dead Poets Society. In one particular scene he asks his students to stand up on top of their desks, to reinforce his notion to always try to look at things from a different angle. I, quite literally, adopted this approach for these shots. We had arrived outside the main council building, parked up, and walked toward the council offices.
At this point we could have simply shot it from street level and that would be that; an establishing shot of a council building. However, by just standing there and looking around we realised we could walk round and up to a higher viewpoint that would look down on the building, which became a much more dynamic shot. As a bonus, when we arrived there we had a wonderful view across to Calton Hill and the back of the old Scottish Parliament buildings on Waterloo Place. A much better shot than had we gone round to the front of the building, especially as the sun was on our side. In addition we saved some production time and could take a relaxed pace to get our shot.

There were a number of other general shots to achieve, one of which was a gas van. This was scheduled to be picked up another day, but when we arrived in Portobello to film the front of a bank I spotted a gas van parked in front. So I approached the driver, and by sheer luck it turned out that I knew him from my Boy's Brigade days! Sometimes in film making all it takes is a polite approach and a bit of charm and you can mostly get what you want.

Around mid afternoon we set up our steadicam rig in George Square. We then assembled four religious leaders; an Imam, Rabbi, ley Hindu leader and a christian, then filmed them in slo-mo as we walked along in front of them stood side by side.

Last shot of the day was going to be a hit or a miss, at first. We were to park up at the entrance to the Royal Infirmary emergency department and await the arrival of any ambulance that might come in.
It was freezing cold by now, and we could have been stood there for the hour we had, and nothing arrive. So I decided to approach one of the ambulance drivers that was already parked there, asked him if I could set the camera up in front of the vehicle, have him put all his blue lights on, and drive away. Job done.

Sometimes directing is about thinking on your feet and not being too stuck to the script, and taking the opportunities when you see them.

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