Friday, August 20, 2010

Learning From My Latest Filmmaking Adventure...

We just wrapped on filming our latest low budget short film, "Liza." Here is a list of things learned from this newest shoot:

  1. A Tight, Strict Shooting Schedule Leads to More Productivity
  2. Always Be Ready to Improvise
  3. An Organized Filing System is Key (when offloading video from the camera)
  4. Be Careful Where You Place Valuable Equipment!!!

Allow me to explain...
1.) We decided to block off a four day weekend to shoot the majority of footage for this newest film. Previously, we would play it by ear and on a weekend when everyone's schedules fell into place, we'd shoot on a Saturday. With this new style of getting it all filmed quickly, we were able to build momentum and hold onto it for days. I tend to lose focus if I go too long between shooting days on a project, so this was an extreme advantage.

2.) As for improvising, this is the main ability necessary for a no budget filmmaker. We were shooting a scene in a small park in town that required several extras in the background, and there were three or four families of people that had agreed to be part of the scene. When the day came, all but one family had changed their mind. So, what should have been a scene in a park full of people lounging and reading and picnicking became a park with about six people, not counting our principle actors. We basically ended up using anyone in our crew that wasn't operating a camera, which was everyone but me, in the background. I still don't know how that scene is going to turn out, but by using everyone we could get our hands on, and not using many wide shots that would capture the emptiness of the park, I think we did okay.

3.) Organization is always one of the most important parts of the filmmaking process for me. We used a different camera this time that stored video files on an internal hard drive. Those files then had to be ferried over to my laptop. As I moved the files, I got in too much of a hurry and ended up having half a dozen folders, some with sub-folders, with the files scattered throughout. The main reason was that I was extremely tired by the time we got to this point, and just didn't take the time to do it right. Mistake!! Now I'm having to sift through all those folders to make sure I get everything. Some files were even doubled up in different folders. What the hell was I thinking?!

4.) Lastly, always take caution with your equipment. I had set up a little viewing/file copying station on a dining room table at the location, between set ups. I had my laptop and my 1.5TB external hard drive set up, copying files and feeling good about myself. I had also strung the power cord from the hard drive across the walkway behind the table to an outlet in the wall, thinking "no one will run into this cord and cause the drive to come crashing down onto the hard wood floors." I was mistaking! And it was all my fault, for not taking the time to set up properly. Lesson learned!

Here's a little stylized video behind the scenes of "Liza."