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Erkki

Filmmaking

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Yeah it’s a cool look. I would leave more margin space.

 

On the weekend we did photos based on the storyboard with the two principal actors. I realized that I might have a problem since one of them makes a lot of jokes and then is able to quickly convey different emotions right after, but the other needs the exact opposite kind of atmosphere to get into the role. But I hope we’ll figure it out during a practice shoot.

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I made another video to test out my new gear. Would appreciate any comments about the montage - is it way too slow, should it be more fast cuts like the one with the bike near the end?

 

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I don't think I'd know how to answer that. It depends on your intention. As a sort of travelogue of your area it worked fine, if there was some other goal I may have missed it. 

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No other goal, thanks for the feedback.

 

I had a practice shoot of my movie today. Man, it was kind of fun but also stressful due to time. Firstly, one assistant didn't show due to a misunderstanding, the other was later than I thought they'd be so the first two hours we just messed around with the actors and did some wardrobe tests. Then when we were about to start shooting, food courier showed up and spilled the food, leaving it for us to clean up. Another half an hour gone. In the end, we only managed to fully shoot one scene and walk through another. I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with how it turned out. My lenses and camera combo is not the best as it turns out - the camera makes the lenses a lot longer than I would need so I have to turn the camera to keep actors in frame. I also realized that at the widest aperture on these lenses (F0.95), the color temperature changes significantly. So I might shoot with F1.2 instead, which should be fine though.

 

Initially one of the actors couldn't stop joking around, even when we started a take. But somehow after lunch break, he then managed it and it turned out quite well. But the actors are not very experienced, so their close-ups may not convey emotions as well as we'd like. I'm now thinking whether to try to get a better performance out of them or to skip close-ups... But skipping close-ups might make for a boring to watch movie. But I don't know anything about getting a performance out of actors, especially while also handling the camera, lights and other stuff.

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I'm now trying to edit what we shot today and the close-ups don't seem to go well at all with the wide shots. Maybe because I lit differently for the close-ups...

 

[edit] I edited something together... it has several mistakes in it, but would anyone be interested in seeing? It's really my first time shooting with lighting and actors, so I'm very curious how it looks to others.

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The thing about the actor not being able to stop joking around sounds like nervousness/self-consciousness. Hopefully he got that out of the way in that first morning and will be better on subsequent days.

I definitely wouldn't abandon close-ups. Remember this is a learning experience for you - push yourself to get better performances out of the actors. It sounds like maybe a good thing to try would be to encourage them to go as big as possible - again, perhaps they are self-conscious still and don't feel secure putting themselves out there and risking feeling silly. Once they've done a few big takes, get them to gradually take it down until you get around the right level. This may be completely the wrong technique for these two particular actors, though - you'll have to experiment and find out what works best for you all as a creative team!

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The shooting is approaching fast... in 2 weeks. Meanwhile I found some courses I could take before it starts, including one on lighting for video and one on directing actors. The latter I'm doing as an observer because they wanted the directors to have a 5 minute scene prepared and I wasn't really up to coming up with that long of a scene right now.

 

We did the test shoot for practice, but I plan to do the actual one differently so I'm still not sure if the time scheduled will be enough. In the storyboard I had a lot of different camera angles, but I think I might have to do with less of them, otherwise it will be quite difficult. But there are several variables that might be tricky to balance:

 

  1. Can I get as many angles as I want from each scene? My current undestanding is that the best way to shoot is to do wide shot first, then close-ups of both actors (there are two in most scenes) and also inserts are probably best to shoot right after that so that nothing changes in between. In some cases I might want more than 3 angles, but I'm thinking I can solve it by doing the wide shot with a moving camera* in some cases. A moving camera could make editing harder, though.
  2. How can I save time with lighting set ups? I will have 3 lights and I think I need all of them or at least 2 for most scenes. Can I light the scene once and shoot both wide shots and close-ups with the same light? I think that way it would also look more consistent between wide shots and close-ups. But this means paying more attention that the lighting is already perfect for wide shots, which could be hard in such limited space that I have.
  3. Can I set up the lighting once for all scenes in the same location and then shoot all the scenes in that location in a row? I have 5 scenes in the same office with only one calling for different lighting.
  4. The actors want to have different costumes to visually mark different days in the movie - it takes place over 3 days. For me it's not important (it's a 10 min short after all), but I'll give them that. So if I shot 4 scenes in a row to save time with lighting - they would have to switch costumes 2 times withing shooting those 4 scenes and then probably once afterwards as well. Maybe it's better to shoot chronologically... On the other hand, a costume change can be rather quick compared to lighting change. But what if it also involves changing hairdo style...
  5. I also have one actress playing small parts in several scenes that are chronologically all over the movie. Can I minimize the time she needs to be on set and how do I account for that while considering the other variables... hm...

* actually I had an idea two days ago that maybe I could do some scenes with Hollywood style mix of wide shots and close-ups shot separately, but other scenes could be done more Tarkovsky-like where the movement of actors and the camera is what makes a wide shot become a close-up and so on. But mixing the two styles in one movie could be awkward?

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I have a first full shooting day behind me now. Overall I have quite a positive feeling, but also some doubts.

 

Firstly, everything took much longer than I expected. And still somehow we managed to do almost as much as I had planned, although we had to switch around the shooting order.

 

I had great assistants. They had no experience, but one was doing excellent job with sound recording and boom pole holding. The other was handling all the things that needed to be handled and I didn't have time to do. She was also the script supervisor and actually also noticed more details about acting that I as the director should have noticed, but I was too busy with also handling the camera. So she kind of took over directing occasionally and I let her, some of the time, if not most.

 

Lighting and camera are really challenging. Most of the time we spent setting the lights so that the faces were lit as we wanted but without having lights or their reflections in the frame. This meant quite a bit of extra work occasionally.

 

I have some doubts about whether the lighting will look ok in the end. In the LOG footage it seems to match, but I haven't checked what happens after applying a REC.709 LUT.

Also the sound, I think we have great quality recording, but we had some heavy AC noise in both rooms where we shot. I hope it is somewhat removable (we did record room noise).

The image is occasionally put together in the last minute because of camera/lens/room constraints. I hope I got most of it right.

I dropped a lot of shots due to time constraints. My hunch is that there is enough coverage and inserts, but I'm not totally sure.

And lastly, I'm still having a lot of doubts about the script. Several people have told me that it's not bad, but I'm still not sure if what I want will come across or it will be a laughable effort at telling a story.

 

But overall, I think we got better footage and sound than I expected from this day. 1 hour 12 minutes or so, about 60GB.

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I think it's great you're doing this. It's very interesting to read these posts of yours.

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I have an even better feeling after the second day. I actually let the assistant director do most of the directing while I focused on the camera. We cut maybe half of the shots and had extras on the set for way less than initially planned. But we shot as many scenes as I had planned and I think we even got enough coverage everywhere except one bit which we will shoot tomorrow. We will reshoot one scene from yesterday as well, due to a continuity issue discovered today.

 

I had booked an extra day for rental gear for tomorrow night and we will put that to use as well.

 

I still have some of the same doubts as before, but I think in these two days we recorded some pretty good performances for the type of movie we are making. And I'm starting to get super excited about spending most of August doing the montage.

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We now finished some loose ends shooting in the main location and now I'm starting too feel kind of depressed. Or at least I was before we did the final shoot. That raised my mood again. But now I'm afraid that I'm going to miss shooting a lot and will start getting depressed. Also as I look through it, I am realizing that there may be a lot more problems with the shot material than I thought.

 

But we still have to shoot about 7 more scenes in various locations.

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I just edited the shot material together without any montage and it looks surprisingly like a movie. Maybe when we shoot the rest, it will actually make a comprehensible story. My only big remaining worry is that if the air conditioner noise can not be removed, it's going to sound as bad as e.g. Hannah Takes the Stairs.

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Almost a week has passed since we completed the first shoot. I have edited the material into a very rough cut, and tried to solve some audio problems. I think it will sound better than Hannah Takes the Stairs at least. I'm now already anxious to switch fully from the director-cinematographer role into the post-production jack-of-all-trades mode, and am learning some stuff about that from various online sources. But we still have to shoot the rest of the movie and ideally we should do it all during next week. I know I won't be able to do it fully next week, there is a stop-motion animation scene I could do any time myself, but will take a long time.

 

I hope we get good music in the end, either licensed or commissioned (I know a few people who do music). The footage without montage really looked very cheesy to me without a musical counterpoint. When I did a rough cut montage and added music that doesn't exactly match what is happening on screen, but sort of hints at some different undertones, I started feeling a lot better about it. Maybe this is not ideal, I feel like I'm trying to solve a script problem with music and montage. But it's ok cause I'm not going to rewrite the script and reshoot what I already have, so now I need to fix problems with other tools. Although shooting some additional scenes is an option.

 

I was not able to shoot even B-roll this week, my mind was not on the right wavelength. But tomorrow we will a close-ups we messed up the first time and I'll switch back into shooting mode and arrange the schedule for next week.

 

And then I'm doing a 3-week short film course at the local film school's summer program, in which we'll shoot another short film. I will try to take some different roles there, maybe something more specific and technical rather than being the driver for the whole short... we'll see.

 

Anyway, after I finish the shoot I'll do another rough cut, which I'll probably discard to start the real editing in August after I've learned some more about editing, sound mixing and so on. If I end up feeling good about the movie, I also want to get it to look good and sound good in a cinema, and maybe send it to a festival.

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This all sounds great, well done! Seems like you're being a bit hard on yourself that everything hasn't gone absolutely perfectly at every stage and suggested pure gold from start to finish. Every film makes compromises and makes lemonade out of lemons, plus this is your first try! Sounds like it's going really well, and like it will work really well in tandem with the course to give you a ton of learning experience.

 

I'd personally go for commissioned music over licensed, as it will likely be cheaper and more interesting, plus if it's giving an amateur or unsigned band some more experience, that feels more appropriate to the production.

 

And definitely send it to festivals. A friend of mine made a short film with terrible production values, solely consisting of a man eating a fried breakfast then doing a poo in a sink, and got it into a festival or two; the first rough edit of your first scene that I saw deserves to be in a festival more than that film! Also please post it here!

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I think the new version of the scene you saw is somewhat better in the new footage (and slightly worse in a few minor ways, plus I screwed up the focus in one shot, but it might not matter that much).

1 hour ago, Ben X said:

Also please post it here!

Do you mean that one scene from the test shoot or the whole movie? I think I'll definitely post the movie eventually, but I think if I send it to festivals I might not have the right to share it publicly before that? At least I can send it password protected like Patrick did. I might also make a trailer if I have time.

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The whole movie, I meant. I'd be surprised if festivals would be so strict, but I don't really know the (festival) scene...

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I remember some festivals wanting films that specifically haven't premiered online yet, so yeah, don't make it public just to be safe. :tup:

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Most festivals want submissions via Vimeo links and if that link isn't password protected they will be way less interested. But they won't scour the internet to make sure you haven't posted the link accompanied by the password elsewhere.

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Small delay: realized that need help of a choreographer for a scene. Also started looking into music rights and realized the song I wanted to use is difficult to license. Now wondering how to find an easier to license song.

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My shooting is slightly delayed while we figure out music licensing, but now I'm taking this short film course at the local film school. Most of the (international) participants are just out of high school and the teacher is also maybe taking a different approach than I was expecting, so I'm feeling like maybe i'm not the audience for it, but I'm definitely learning something from it. The first week we are concentrating on writing, and so far we've had to turn ideas into concepts and tomorrow we need to submit loglines.

 

As I may have mentioned here I've had a lot of trouble coming up with good ideas and concepts for scripts so I've asked others' help with getting them started from somewhere. But I think writing loglines might be the missing link for me, which lets me get from a very vague idea to a story. I actually wish I had written one for my movie first, instead I've struggled to come up with a way to describe it in one or two sentences.

 

I was also struggling a lot yesterday to come up with concepts based on dreams, but I did my best to remember all the dreams I had this night and right now I turned them all into loglines. They are nothing like the original dreams any more, thogh.

 

If anyone happens to see this today, can you suggest which one would be best to submit for the class for turning into a script and potentially a short 5 minute movie?

 

  • A cynical absent-minded hermit wintering in a hut sees people coming out of the pine forest with bags of oranges. To defeat his hunger, he looks for the source of the oranges and rediscovers something he had forgotten.

    tagline: What neither rhymes nor compares to apples, but can lead to unforgetting memories?

  • A nosy young man looks for a bathroom in the wrong place and has to solve a dark mystery to escape a cult of warehouse workers trying to summon Baphomet and get back to his friends. After coming out of the ordeal, he appears indifferent, even as his love interest tries to connect with him.

    tagline: He wanted to know it all, until he found out too much.

  • A frustrated cyclist is planning a terrorist attack at a popular truck stop, but his plan is foiled by his addiction to cryptocurrency speculation.

    tagline: He pushed the pedals, they pushed him, once too many.

  • A quiet hiker trying to read her favourite book meets an annoying tourist at an isolated camping site and has to continuously explain that she's not the proprietor to escape back to her books.

    tagline: She wants time with her books. He wants service and a fun week at the park.

  • An inquisitive river rat discovers a system of pipes connected to the river and uncovers the hidden secret of her close-knit community to save her sick children.

    tagline: Think you're safe? Did you check under your house?

  • A group of optimistic afro-cuban dancers try to come up with a choreography that would touch even the souls of the indifferent bureaucrats and save their local dance club from closing.

    tagline: Dance the ink away

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12 hours later is probably too late, but I'd go for the quiet hiker. Second place would be the warehouse workers (assuming you could get access to a warehouse, and also acknowledging that the second half of it feels a bit tacked on - unless the twist is that he is now possessed by Baphomet!)

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BTW. I did end up picking that. It didn't seem to fly as it was, now I've developed it into this for tomorrow.

 

Logline:

 

A comedy story of a meek librarian’s annual solitary vacation at friend’s closed camping being interrupted by loud weekenders demanding service. She needs to assert herself to get back to enjoying her quiet time and get others to do what she wants.

 

Tagline:

 

All she wanted was quiet time with her books. Then they arrived.

 

Synopsis:

 

As her annual getaway from the city, a meek librarian arrives at her favourite camping. The owner has gone on vacation and closed the camping, but left her the key to the management room. She settles in to read her favourite book, when a flamboyant social media influencer arrives and demands service. The librarian fails to explain that the camping is closed and lets them have a room. As the influencer spreads the word, a bunch of loud weekenders arrive, each with their own wishes. She settles into the role of camping owner and meets the customers' demands.

After being called to clean up a toilet accident, she realizes that she’s spending her vacation being submissive instead of doing what she wanted. She decides to play pranks on the weekenders and scares them off, except the social media influencer, who's credit card bounced. In the end, the librarian reads the book while the influencer serves her drinks.

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