On Thursday we did our shoot for our short film ‘International Affairs’. As producer my main role on the night was helping the actors feel comfortable and I helped make sure that everyone was happy and that we were keeping on track with the time schedule. I also occasionally helped Sam out with directing, giving her a second opinion on shots and how scenes should be acted out. Even though everyone had their specific roles I thought we all worked great as a team helping each other out to ensure we got the best looking film we could. A lot of the time I was accompanying Shaun on the camera, watching what he was filming and, when needed, giving my opinion of how I thought the shot could be changed and what we could do to make it look even better. During the shoot we had two JVC cameras running at all times, in order to capture different angles of the shots, so that we had plenty to work with during editing. I think that I helped organise the shoot on the day as well, getting people ready for the next scene and going through with Sam where the cameras and lighting needed to be so that we were ready to move straight on to the next shot.
I worked closely with the actors during the night, ensuring that they were all happy and had enough tea/coffee to keep them going during the wee hours of the day. I felt bossy quite a lot of the time, and didn’t want to appear to be “mean” to the actors. Quite often when the crew was discussing the next scene I would go over to the actors and tell them to keep rehearsing for the next scene, so that they were fully prepared and so that we could capture the shot efficiently without having to do many takes due to it being un-rehearsed. As for actors, Colm (our Simon) was an excellent actor, and I thank him for being so co-operative and professional the whole time. I feel that he really understood the character and that we got the most out of him during the shoot. Madara (our Elina) was also great, and she delivered her lines well. One criticism of her is that she didn’t use her facial expressions enough. Sam and myself frequently told her to express her emotions and confusion via her face, as the film has little dialogue. However she didn’t seem to fully grasp this concept, and often we had to re-do scenes because there wasn’t enough emotion in her appearance. Despite this though she acted out Elina very well, and looked the part.
Nicolay (our Marek) performed the role very well, and I think was identical to how I pictured Marek to be. He was loud, aggressive and had over-powering mannerisms, which made Elina look intimidated. We were very lucky that Gergana found him (thank you!), and that he happened to physically look exactly like we pictured Marek, as well as being able to act him well. As Nicolay had to leave early at 2am we had to get all of his scenes shot before then. I am very proud of all of us, as despite the power failure we still managed to shoot his scenes on time. Go Panthers! Finally there was our supporting artist- Andy. Andy had originally come in to audition for the part of Simon. However we felt he was not suitable for this role, so did not cast him. Andy had told us that he had never acted before, so if he did not get the part he was up for being an extra so that he could see how a film was made and to get some experience in the industry. This worked out very well for us as in one of the scenes we needed someone on the tills for Simon to take over afterwards. Andy was patient with us and very grateful that he could be apart of our film. As we were happy he was there too, everyone was a winner!
During the shoot we encountered a big problem which was the lights going out. We tried every switch in the building and even pressed things on the circuit board, but still nothing happened. In the end I helped Vish ring the main power-board line and got them to tell us how to manually switch it back on. After a few minutes of panicking that we would have to set up the lights, and thus re-do the previous shots to keep consistency, the power came back on. Luckily we figured out how to work it and we were back on track with filming. At first I felt that we were all a bit confused as with what to do, and how to begin approaching the shot list. This was expected though, as none of us had ever done this before. When I was there I really felt like this was no longer a Uni project, and that this was like real-world filming. We were completely by ourselves, and had to rely on each other to work in a team to get things done.
We all worked very well together though, and everyone managed to accomplish the best they could with their roles. During the shoot I also took the role of photographer. Having booked out a D90 I went about documenting the whole shoot so that we could reflect on it later and possibly use some of the shots for the DVD/Poster cover that myself and Shaun will be making soon. I enjoyed photographing the filming, and think that I got some really nice shots of the actors and us as a crew. I am particularly proud of the photographs that I took of the picnic scene. The way the candles are dotted in a line makes the frame look really beautiful, and the black background makes the flickering light stand out even more.
We ended filming at 6am, having practically filmed for 8 hours straight with a 10 minute coffee and sandwich break. Sam was an excellent director for this, and took the role professionally and creatively. Shaun and Gergana made a brilliant team on the cameras, logging every scene as well as getting beautiful shots throughout. Anca was great on sound as well, capturing the dialogue and sounds of the shop perfectly. As for me I felt i did as best as I could as producer, and am loving the role so far! We finished literally just in time, with the main lights coming back on 5 minutes after we finished filming and staff beginning to arrive in the shop. The schedule and shot list seemed to work perfectly right up to the last second, as we even managed to get all our ‘extra’ shots done, to use as possible filler. The coach arrived at 7am and drove us all to the Ellen Terry building, where we waited (and slept) on the sofas until the loan shop was open. Gergana very kindly went back to hers to get her laptop and captured the footage, thank you for doing that G, I know the tired walk back must have been horrible! Once the equipment was handed in we all went back to ours and had the longest sleep a Panther has ever had. Well-done team!!