Sunday, 21 March 2010

Under pressure

Another week of filming in the can.

We had a large number of scenes to shoot last week, and ideally I would have liked double the amount of days we actually had. However, we only had three to shoot almost a third of the film with two professional actors. Quite a challenge.

Some look at this type of challenge as something to rebel against, but at the end of the day there was no point in bemoaning the lack of time and number of scenes as we had to achieve it all anyway. So much time can be wasted encouraging people to get with the game plan sometimes. And I look on it with some pride that the production company hired this crew because they can be trusted to deliver.

The crew were great, and I drove them hard, shooting scene after scene, taking a shorter lunch at a later time, etc. It can sometimes feel like a sausage factory, as one crew member likened it to, but with careful organisation and thorough preparation on my part, and rehearsing with the actor prior to the shoot, with clear concise instructions to the crew on set, I knew I could achieve the nigh on impossible. If we get it all, and no one notices how each scene is shot smoothly and efficiently, then I have done my preparation well.

It is something to congratulate yourself on, to be able to shoot in this way and keep your eye on the ball all the time, but I also have to accept that there will be compromises to the look of the film. In order to pull it off we kept the camera hand-held and created just one lighting setup. With more time between each shot we could have lit the scene differently and better, but as each very short scene, with one actor and no dialogue, was not appearing back to back, I was confident it would look fine in the final edit.

You'll recall that we were trying out an idea to feed the narration of the script to an actor through a radio earpiece so that he could act his scene out in sync with the script while we recorded sound on set. It worked a treat, and one to remember for the future. They say you learn something every day.

Day one and two were all at one location, with day three seeing us in four different locations. We also had to reshoot a scene from day two at the end of the day on Friday, what we call a pick-up. Rush rush rush, but we still finished ahead of time. It takes a real collaboration between the crew, and though I carry ultimate responsibility to what is shot and when, every person in the crew is a crucial and equally important cog in the machine. It's worth remembering that we are all paid a wage to give of our skills, and we therefore all have a responsibility to our employer to give 100% all the way. And that's what I expect from everyone, and, to a great degree, that's what I get. We all get tired and flag, sure, but that's where the team spirit comes into its own, to keep each other going, and that could be as simple as someone making sure we all have water to drink.

My role as Director is probably the most challenging. I have to know, at every moment, what is coming next, how the scene we are shooting cuts into the one before and after, which props are needed, continuity of costume etc. I rarely get a break. I'm on set first, and if I'm not blocking an actor for their scene, I'm briefing the crew on what's going to happen and what I'm after. In between the crew or the actor get a breather, but not myself. It's constant for ten hours, with just one forty five minute break for lunch. The day after the these three intensive days of shooting I slept for eleven hours!

Two more days to go and then post-production to fit it all together. The pressure is enormous, but for some odd reason that I cannot fathom, I am rarely stressed. Other, smaller things in life, stress me far more. You would think this level of responsibility would tip me over the edge, but it doesn't.

I guess I just love what I do.

No comments: