16 February 2007

Practical work


Apart from learning some of the basics of film making we also had some practical exercises. On Wednesday we were sent out into the wilds of Wellington to shoot - yes, with real cameras! - a piece illustrating screen direction and line of action.

If you’ve ever been confused by a movie and couldn’t place the actors in the location they were in, it may be that the line of action was crossed. If for example the actor is heading left to right through the frame on their way home, and in the next shot they are walking right to left through the frame, we may assume that they are returning rather than still walking home. That sort of thing. Anyway, a group of four of us headed out to make a little story in Cuba Street - about two friends and the porn shop.

After some discussion we set up to shoot some scenes, only to be moved on by an overzealous street sweeper who told us all about safety on the road. Admittedly, the tripod was off the kerb. Another learning experience was the confusion that resulted from lack of planning. A few storyboards and more thought put into the story line would have helped communication on site.

We were also hampered by the fact that we didn’t really know the kit very well, neither the little Panasonic nor Edward's fancy HD camera, which we used for filming. Explaining the buttons slowed us down on location. We should also have doled out task responsibilities in advance so that decision making would have been faster. But I guess those are all the kin of things we are supposed to mess up on the first shoot so that we make use of that learning experience later.

The other practical exercise revolves around telling a story in 6 still shots. This weekend project finds us handling actual analog film, something I haven’t done in years. Having lived with my trusty Nikon F2 only to discard her faithlessly as soon as digital became viable, I find myself remembering the pleasure of mechanical photography, the sound of the shutter, winding on, threading film, manual focussing. Ahh, the old times ;-)

Anyway, since the light meter was non-functional, I did backup shots with the digital camera in case the slides are under- or over-exposed, so I already had a chance to put a comic strip of the story together. Here are Anna and Stuart acting their hearts out, 1920’s silent movie-style.

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