Friday, 13 November 2009

On location #9 - final day

There's a sense of relief when you get to the end of a shoot, and the nervousness you've had throughout begins to subside as the day progresses. You're no longer worried about whether you're going to get every shot, if the weather's going to be kind to you, will the talent turn up etc.
But mixed with this is a sense of sadness as well, that it's all over. At the end of the shoot day we all shake hands on a job well done, all the tensions and frustrations fade away, you all walk away from set, and it feels a bit of anti climax.

The film now goes into editing, post production as it is called, or post, for short. All the material that was shot is now taken into the computer edit suite, a process we call ingesting. Our editor, Smeegs, now works his magic to create the film I originally wrote. I hand over my master script to him which has all my notes scribbled in the margins from my thoughts on the day of shooting.
We use a type of solid state card to record the footage onto in the camera, similar to the SD cards you may use in your digital camera.
These cards are called P2 cards, and measure roughly 5cm by 8cm, and cost somewhere in the region of £1000 each. We can record true HD onto the cards with no compression, i.e. no loss of quality from what I see through the lens. Tape, and the smaller formats, all compress the information in order to fit it all on. Using solid state P2 cards also cuts down the amount of time we need to ingest it into the edit suite as it is just a case of transferring the files.

They say in the industry that there are three scripts; the one that is written, the one that is shot and finally the one that is created in the edit. The skills of a good editor are paramount to the finished product, and many editors go on to make excellent directors. This is why I took time in the past to thoroughly learn the process of editing so I could take that knowledge with me to set, and thus help my editor get what he needs to work with. There are also a number of graphics and CGi to be made for this film, and Smeegs takes care of this as well. I will not see the film again until he has a rough cut put together.
I find the process fascinating that I can write something on sheets of paper, break it all up into individual shots, shoot them out of sequence, and then see it assembled into an order that makes sense. It will not be until that point if we find out if all the research and preparation has worked.

After the edit we will assemble a focus group and do a test screening which will bring out further alterations that will be made. The post production process can take a long time, and certainly longer than filming. Case in point, Anthony Minghella's film Cold Mountain took just under three months to shoot but eighteen months to edit.

Now, I have started a new film, which I've been researching for a few weeks already, but I have been waiting to get the current film "in the can". This next film will shoot sometime in February next year.

Finally, I must tell you about a film I turned down recently. This was an offer from a published author who wanted to bring his script to life.
He had never worked with a camera crew before and had never made a film of any sort, and here he was striving to make a feature as his first film! I must admit to being concerned about this, but I knew with the right crew, and crucially, a great 1st Assistant Director and Director of Photography, we could pull it off. As well as Producer I offered to do the role of 1st AD.

We met, and he had a lot of nervous energy, and he seemed very determined to succeed. I left the meeting enthused, and late that same night sent out a myriad of emails to crew and equipment suppliers for availability and quotes. I should say at this point that the film had very little money and I had offered to give six to eight weeks of my time for free, which would be roughly fifteen hours per day, six days per week, and would involve me using a lot of favours with people I knew.

As one should, I then informed the "author" what had been done so far to keep him up to date. His reply was, to put it mildly, surprising. Here's an extract;

"I cannot be bothered with these ping pong emails unless you have some results. I'm not here to make friends, I just require you to make this film and not tell me about the film business. The deal is I expect you to schedule the entire film, before any contract is signed, in order to prove to me that you can do this job. I have a budget drawn up but I expect you to do your own. If you feel you want to respond with a two page defense this is not the job for you".

How right he is! That was a week ago, and it may surprise you to know that I was still considering it at one point. But crucially I realised I would not be able to work with him. In film making, even if you have a million pounds to spend, let alone the tiny budget this character had, you must make friends. Actually, should we not make friends with our work colleagues anyway, regardless of the job? I have since learnt he has pissed off and scared away many more people. It is a tall order to try and shoot a feature film in three weeks, but at a push it can be done with a very experienced crew. This guy will be lucky if he ends up with enthusiastic students.

I predict this film will not see the light of day, and I pity anyone who gets involved with this idiot.

The last day of filming was very enjoyable, and there was a nice atmosphere on set. It was busy but everyone did their bit without question, and as ever I am grateful to my producer, cameraman, crew and actors for getting the film finished.

It will be around a couple of weeks now before my next blog as I am away on a fact finding mission in France, which I'll tell you all about on my return.

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