29 July 2007

It’s Done

NZBlogPhoto39-2007-07-29-08-04.jpeg Today I directed my script. Wow. After 8 days of working in all the various roles in the crew today I got to direct my own. It was a whole new experience. After all this time thinking I am not interested in being a director, specially of fiction I have now totally changed my mind. I loved the way the story came alive, the work the actors put in, the crew backing me up and getting my film made, all that was possible, and a supervisor who helped me keep my head on straight. Here are a few of the stills: NZBlogPhoto40-2007-07-29-08-04.jpeg Update: See the final film here.

27 July 2007

5 minute dramas Day 8: Clapper/Loader

NZBlogPhoto38-2007-07-27-08-03.jpeg Today was a lot more fun than I expected, being clapper is a cool job that gets you into everybody’s business. Combined as it is with the job of grip on this shoot it involves a lot of running round at the same time as trying to keep on top of the camera sheets, but at least it’s never a dull moment. Today I learnt that shooting in the street is harder than it looks. Continuity is a huge issue, as are pedestrians who can’t stop looking into the camera.

5 minute drama photos

NZBlogPhoto37-2007-07-27-08-02.jpeg A few photos from the shoot are now on Flickr. I have less time than I expected to take pictures as we were working, every day was so hectic and intense.

5 minute dramas Day 7: Camera Operator

NZBlogPhoto36-2007-07-27-08-01.jpeg Today we are outside. The only person in our crew who was brave enough to write a script set entirely outside, and in a park at that, is Jordan. His chase and betrayal story means that we are running through the woods, the actors are getting muddy and we are spending the day chasing the dappled light falling through the branches. It’s a whole other experience after a week of being cooped up in one house or another. Our kit is laid out on a tarp on the ground, we are praying for sunshine, and we are spread out so much that the 1st is going hoarse with shouting. Today I learnt that I want to be a steadicam operator.

26 July 2007

5 minute dramas Day 6: Continuity

NZBlogPhoto35-2007-07-26-08-01.jpeg I was looking forward to Freddie’s shoot, he is keen on the visual art of film making like I am. So when we arrived at the location, a beautiful huge hall in Massey University, I was excited to see what he would do. And it was pretty amazing. Freddie’s story is of a young boy who commits suicide in a toilet and goes to heaven, only to be thrown out for not belonging. The shoot was all cool angles and totally blown-out images, which made this hall really look like heaven. The black and the white angel really helped, too. Today was one of the first times all the actors were used, so that made them happy. As I was continuity today, my main focus was the monitor and my note pad. Unfortunately, despite reading up on the tasks required of continuity I did a terrible job. I spent so much time concentrating on keeping track of where things were on the screen that I totally forgot to write down shot descriptions and information useful to the editor. I felt really flustered most of the time, although I thought I would be organised enough to do a decent job. Today I learnt that gaffer tape can save the day.

24 July 2007

5 minute dramas Day 5: 1st AD

So there I was thinking that I’d be good at being 1st Assistant Director, the person who keeps the show on the road and everything running like a well-oiled machine. Pah. As it turns out being 1st is like herding kittens, talking to everyone, but no-one doing what they said they would. Very frustrating.

 Anyway, Adrian’s film today, and we are at the house of a friend of a friend of his, so we have to be out by 5.30. Since we only finished at 9pm last night due to the late start of Corey’s shoot, we couldn’t get going till 8 this morning. Something about 10 hours turnaround for crew, John told us. As if we were getting enough sleep anyway... The story is simple, a hostage situation that turns into a backgammon game that turns into something altogether kinkier.

Adrian concentrated on his actors, a good example to watch, and we revolved around him. The room we shoot in is spacious, which is good, as we have to fill with a lot of light, and he wants a lot of funky dolly shots.

Merryl is DoP and has spent a lot of time thinking about the shots, although they always seem to change on the day anyway. But knowing what you want in advance is the key, I think, so that it’s possible to adapt if something isn’t quite right.

Today I learnt that there should always be vegetables for lunch. And sunshine. We spend all day indoors, because there we can control the light and surroundings. It wold be easy to become anaemic.

23 July 2007

5 minute dramas Day 4: Gaffer


Corey’s shoot today, at his house in Newtown, and pretty crowded it is, too. It seems as if all the furniture is in the hallway, and the rooms are still pretty full. As gaffer I am responsible for lighting, but since we are still a few bulbs shot of a full set of lamps, there is little scope for me except to black out all the windows.

Unfortunately the house is in a bit of a state, being inhabited by three male students, and in order to tape up the windows I have to clean the frames first to make sure the tape sticks. Yuk! Our supervisor today was Charles Edwards, which was lucky, because it gave me an opportunity to learn about how to do much with few lights. The most impressive setup was a scene in the bedroom, at night in the dark. With a reflector board underneath the actor and a redhead pointing into the corner of the ceiling, heavily gelled with blue, the room really looked like it was in the dark, without losing the image of the face. Magic, and something I can’t take credit for.

 Today I learnt that I am more interested in performance than clever shots. Watching the actors work with a difficult script - they were basically speaking their sub-text rather than any real lines - I figured out how important it is to put performances in front of the camera that go beyond cliché.

22 July 2007


NZBlogPhoto32-2007-07-22-07-45.jpeg Got most of the storyboard done today. The work on other people’s film has really helped to understand what kind of shots I can expect to get. I decided to choose nothing to fancy and to tell the story through shot size rather than complicated dolly or hand held shots.

21 July 2007

5 minute dramas Day 3: Unit

NZBlogPhoto31-2007-07-21-07-44.jpeg Unit day, and Harry Potter day, of course. A perfect combination. Derek’s shoot takes place around the train station, so I am parked up nearby and spend my time shuttling between the Landy and the shoot with tea, coffee and snacks. Well, actually nothing much happened until the crew arrived after an hour shooting on a bus Derek has managed to procure (sausage rolls were involved, apparently). Then there was a lot of going up and down the escalators with varying traffic in the background ( I fear for continuity) until lunch. Stuart was a dear and brought leek and potato soup at 1.30 exactly and then dashed off to get our copies of Harry Potter. All in all the day was pretty peaceful. I spent it looking after everyone and enjoyed that a lot. If it’s not my project I think I would be very happy to be unit, everyone loves you when you bring them food and snacks. Plus, the Landy is the perfect setup for unit, as if built for it. With the canopy and the gas cooker, the tables and chairs, extra crockery - why is it impossible for people to remember to bring a bowl and a spoon? - and lot of storage space it’s our favourite unit van. Today I learnt the importance of having a working phone on set, even if it is set to silence.

20 July 2007

5 minute dramas Day 2: Sound

NZBlogPhoto30-2007-07-20-07-43.jpeg Second day, and we are still - again - shooting at my house. Caleb’s story is a love triangle with deadly results, taking place in our living room. Today I am responsible for sound. Thanks to Carl, who did it yesterday and is a bit of a wiz I am all set up with my little mixer, headphones and connection to camera. Phil is booming for me, such fun. As the sound person I am in my own little world, watching and listening for any stray noises that don’t belong there. after the take I write everything down and start again. Simple. It makes me a little separate from the rest of the shoot, but it is relaxing, too. Today I learnt that when you are on a long shoot in a small room with lights on, make sure you bring deodorant.

19 July 2007

5 minute dramas Day 1: DoP


First day, and everyone has been really on their toes. We are all nervous and trying to get it all right. Luckily our supervisor today is Ken Saville, sound man extraordinaire and all round calm guy. The first day’s shoot is Merryl’s, a simple story of two sisters and their reunion, family turmoil included. We are shooting at my house, which makes some things easier, as it’s just up the road from film school and we know what we can and can’t do. Plus, since Merryl has been staying with us, she knows the location really well and we have already spent a lot of time talking through the setups, camera locations, shots we want to get, etc.

 If there is one thing I learnt today it is the importance of checking all kit before you get to the shoot. The tripod head is pretty worn and so can only be set to either very stiff or totally loose. Freddie, the camera operator, did what he could with it, but it was hard just doing a simple following pan. The boom is also in a bad way, so that we have had to tape up the extensions to stop it from sliding down during the shoot. Then we found we didn’t have enough gels to gel up all the lights, luckily we shot all the angles against the kitchen windows first so that we were not so reliant on the lighting.

 It’s been interesting to see the crew get together even though we don’t really know what we are doing. Everyone is very concerned with sticking to their task, although there is a lot of mutual helping out, too. We have a whole bunch of actors with us, too. The first-years from Toi Whakaari, the drama school up the road, were assigned to us as actors, but also to help out on the days when they have no acting roles. We are already grateful for the help with boom swinging, unit and general running we have had from them.

13 July 2007

5 minute drama pre-production

NZBlogPhoto28-2007-07-13-07-34.jpeg I found a location! Vic Uni has two theatre spaces, and one of them is available to use for the day.

08 July 2007

Othello, Too - The script

NZBlogPhoto27-2007-07-8-07-32.jpeg I didn’t think I would enjoy script writing quite so much. But I am pleased with the result, a simple story, something for actors to work with and something that can easily be shot in a day with our resources - i.e. a bunch of film students.