Post-Production :: The Rough Cut

Upon viewing our footage for the first time I was actually really impressed with our footage. Some of our shots turned out great, and others with a bit of colour grading and time would eventually look just as great! It truly was amazing to see what all our hard work had resulted in, and to finally see our story begin to form and come alive. I was also pleasantly surprised with the audio, which had come out really clear, all the outside traffic that was so noticeable on the day barely audible at all!

Of course, there were a few minor issues / unpleasant surprises we noticed with a few of our shots also, such as the boom making its way into a couple of shots and one scene which had a power cord across the floor. The most annoying part was that this shot was such a beautiful shot too! The shot was framed so that there was two door-ways side-by-side action occurring in both rooms simultaneously, both wooden door frames and a bit of wallpaper in shot. The actors both at some point within the sequence walking right over the cord, which we assumed would render a garbage matte useless as at some-point the actors would just be floating.  What made it even more annoying was that the next shot which was framed identically but contained different action, did not have the power cord or fluoro orange marking tape in it; meaning we did actually notice it at some point, just not early enough to realise it would have been in the prior shot! Nothing a little bit of time consuming post-production can’t fix! I exported the sequence as individual frames in order to photoshop the cord out, but at 25 frames a second there is a ton of frames, and it has taken quite a while to do just 5 seconds of this. Paul has since suggested that a garbage matte which turns off as the actors walk through it. This will definitely be taken into consideration when it comes to fine-tuning.

In terms of assembling our rough cut, we had planned it all out so sufficiently and obtained so much coverage that it was pretty easy to piece together. Utilising Paul’s tips from the editing lecture we renamed all our files in regards to what scene, shot and take they were and placed them in separate bins for each scene. We then opted to work on each scene in a separate sequence, as recommended, to make things much simpler. In compiling our rough cut we noticed there were a few shots which didn’t work as well as we’d hoped. The initial establishing shot wasn’t that great, so yesterday Milly and Gianna went down to Carlton to shoot another. Also, the magazine reveal shot where we had one person holding the magazine close to the camera whilst the actress sat further back on the chair (in order to achieve the required depth of field) did not look at all realistic in some parts, the placement of the magazine not entirely accurate. Luckily we took an emergency reveal shot, so we are planning on combining the two to create some sort of dramatic reveal.

With our rough cut all assembled, yesterday evening during our tutorial we had a rough cut screening; which was sufficiently important as it would be the first and only time anyone would view our film with fresh eyes and be able to provide feedback to help us improve our film. In a sense, it was the moment of truth! The moment we would find out if people would actually get the story and humour of our film.  So along with the members of our class and our tutor Paul; Rachael and Liam Ward also came down to provide us with some feedback with a complete fresh pair of eyes.  I had been so impressed with all the other rough cuts in our class, and was actually quite nervous to show our film. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the film and all got the punch-line and humour, really enjoying the script. The gave us quite a bit of constructive criticism which we will definitely try to take on board to make our film as good as we possibly can.

They suggested:

  • That we Need to include the sound of dog footsteps, or the dog coming inside before Barry walks away with pierre in his hands
  • That he title shot could possibly change. Particularly because there is a pretty obvious continuity problem where Lois is leaning back in one shot and then leaning forward in the next shot.
  • That the toy dog is confusing – perhaps it can be cut out completely or maybe we should  just get rid of the audio. “is that you under there”
  • The sequence of barry looking for pierre can be a lot shorter and not quicker.  Perhaps, there should be more footage of Lois not looking for Pierre.
  • The kettle within the shot is not a whistling kettle and is not needed
  • The establishing shot of outside the house doesn’t NEED to be included, but we should have a look at the new footage all the same.

They gave us a great deal to think about. So we definitely still have a lot of work ahead of us, including colour grading, fine tuning,  the addition of music and the recording of audio for the radio which definitely helps the story make a lot more sense. We are also hoping through the use of sound-effects and music to allude to the idea of the magazines being porn magazines, in order to make the magazine reveal that much more dramatic.

It is all coming along really so far, and with a bit more time and hard work before the final film screening; I truly think we could have a really good film on our hands.

 

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

On Friday the 10th of May, the day finally arrived, it was shoot day for our film “Where is Pierre?”. Shooting in the first week had meant we had to be super organised and prepared, the week leading up to the shoot super busy and filled with minor dilemmas. By shoot day, all problems were solved, props were purchased, everyone knew what was going on, rehearsals had taken place, our actors had been made aware of the schedule and we were ready to finally see the film we had worked so hard on meticulously preparing come to life. I arrived on set at 7am and the majority of my group were already there setting up at a quick pace in order to stick to be as efficient as possible, as one of our actors Jeremy had to be finished by 5.pm due to other commitments.

As soon as our actors arrived we got them straight into make-up, and due to one of the actors being 15 minutes late to set we asked her if it was possible for her to work as fast as possible, which she was happy to do. The make-up turned out great too, the make-up artist Kimberlee used latex make-up to age the actors since we had cast a lot younger actors than we had originally anticipated. The results were amazing both the actors truly looking realistically much older and wrinkled than they actually were. As the actors were in make-up half of us began setting up the lights, set and equipment, whilst Sarah and I began taking pictures of the dog Bella  who would be playing ‘Pierre’ to place in frames around the house. I had brought a portable, instant photo printer along so this would be a quick job; and so we could get photos of the dog with the actors as well. However, after printing only 5 photos the printer ran out of ink! Our first problem of the day. We decided to just go and buy more ink, we were ahead of schedule, the actors were still in make-up and we had time. So I drove down to Officeworks in peak hour traffic, only to discover the ink for this particular printer isn’t carried by Officeworks any more and can only be ordered online. I returned to set after the unsuccessful venture, and decided we had two options: drive back down to Officeworks and print of the photos using their printer or just use the same 5 photos  we had of Bella all around the house during the various scenes. After all, we had been told that audiences don’t notice these things. So with our 1st AD Steph pushing us to get a move on, we decided just to use what we had and commence filming.

We then got (or more so attempted to) get our actors into their costumes, Helen had a laugh about the daggy costuming and had even brought along ugg boots to complete the ensemble and Jeremy refusing to wear the costume we had purchased  as he felt what he was wearing was more than adequate. Not wanting to begin the day with difficulties we just decided to leave it and get a move on. 9 am arrived and we commenced shooting. We quickly shot an exterior of the house as an establishing shot, then moved into the living room to commence the shots involving the dog as not only did we feel these could be the most difficult, getting them out of the way as soon as possible meant we wouldn’t have to keep the dog Bella on set all day. Bella was a little Pomeranian cross something, dog who was not only perfect for the role, but such a delight to work with. She was so quiet and calm, did not bark once and was happy to be held or played with by anyone. The scenes with her done quite quickly and a lot easier than we were expecting. Who said you should never work with animals?

970568_10152924325155725_1026593330_nThe day was off to a good start, and we were actually running on schedule! We moved on to the living room scenes, majority of the film taking place within the setting. The set was all designed and set up with our props and was looking fantastic, just as we’d imagined it. Then just as we were ready to go for the first take, Jeremy piped up with questions as to why the radio which we had placed on the table was facing the camera and not the actors, as to him it just seemed ‘illogical’. Unwilling to accept our argument that it was more aesthetically pleasing for the shot that way he continued rising, and tensions and stress levels began to rise. At least 15 minutes later, we had still not gone for a take; we all at some point chimed in in attempts to get the ball rolling; which was not the most professional thing to do and we soon learned to leave it to either our director Gianna or first AD Steph to speak on behalf of us all. Eventually, we managed to go for a take, slightly behind schedule and a lot more stressed out than before, but still ready to move past it. At this point we were all hoping that this would be the end of all difficulties, but still worried that this shoot could be quite hard if the actor was going to be constantly arguing and trying to take control. Unfortunately, the latter of the two ended up being the reality of our shoot, which soon became a very stressful and tense environment.

Luckily, we had a very solid, hardworking team and Gianna had a very clear vision of what she wanted the film to look like, one she was not willing to compromise, thankfully!  We persevered throughout the day and learnt how best to deal with the actor being so difficult, it made it a ton better that our female actress was so enthusiastic about everything and such a delight to work with also. Throughout the day we worked efficiently, and managed to fit in all the shots that we had wanted to get, including experimental shots such as a tracking dolly pan, a faux jib-arm shot, and a push-pull zoom. We definitely had a ton of coverage that we could play around with in post that was for sure!

Throughout the day, we also were faced with a few sound issues. Our location located on a main road which a lot of trucks use particularly in the morning combined with some sort of construction occurring across the road, meant that there was a lot of background noise we feared could compromise the audio we had recorded. We also had a slight problem with one of the cords which was a bit loose, which we solved by switching cords. Another thing we definitely learnt from the shoot was to bring a lot of spare batteries, as we ran out multiple times!

We called it a wrap at roughly 5pm, having achieved all the shots we wanted and experiencing a mixture of emotions; everyone both drained yet sufficiently relieved and excited to see what the footage would look like once it was logged and transferred.

I was really proud of my group, we worked really hard and efficiently on the shoot day; everyone really encouraging of each other despite difficulties. We were also really lucky to have extra help on our shoot, with Gianna’s sister helping as a boom operator, Steph Milsom keeping us all on track and dealing with the actors and a fair amount of hell as our first AD and Hayden helping out as a logger and general problem solver there to fix any thing that would go wrong.

Overall I learnt a great deal from the shoot, and think we can all agree that any actor we are ever to work with in the future will definitely seem easy compared to what we dealt with during the production of this shoot! I think we did a really great job, and actually can not wait to view and begin the post-production of our film.

“It Will Never Happen To Us” – A Lesson in Naivety

‘Locations fall through all the time’.. they warned,

‘Be prepared for everything’ … they warned.

‘It will never happen to us’ .. I thought in response ever so naively.

Sunday night we received the text stating it may not be possible for our filming to go ahead at the location we’d selected this Friday the day we’d scheduled our shoot. Activate complete stress mode… We were all lost so confused! What did we do? Merely days away from the shoot date, do we sacrifice the amazing location so perfect for our script and use a back-up location ( which we had organised )? Would we even be able to use the back-up locations on such short notice? How much work would be involved in re-blocking a new location? Do we reschedule the shoot? Would our actors be able to make the shoot date if we did? And what about our professionalism in front of the actors, would that all be lost?

So many questions, and so few answers. Each of us lost in a daze, unsure of what to do, never truly fathoming that this could actually be happening, and silently hoping that it could just all go ahead…

Thank-fully, It all worked out and we were able to keep our location.

Crisis Averted!

So now surely we could relax, location problems, casting problems; surely we had now dealt with our fair share of problems!

Naivety or optimism, I am not too sure, but I was well and truly convinced that from here on in it would be relatively smooth sailing and stress free ( well not completely free…) We had everything under control, everything was organised.

Once again we were wrong, way wrong….

Problem #1 : Our main actor could only remain at the shoot till 5pm, meaning come shoot day we were going to be rather pressed for time. Not overly problematic, we would just make the shoot begin a tad earlier in order to utilise the maximum amount of time possible. Problem solved. But yet again, this was not the last problem to arise….

Problem #2: The make-up artist was going to require an hour for make-up as opposed to the half an hour we scheduled, and we could not find an extra make-up artist on such short notice. Approximately a thousand calls later, we came to the conclusion that the shoot would have to commence even earlier again, and we’d have to be ultra efficient in all preparatory activities in order to ensure we had max shooting time and everything would remain on track. Problem solved. Time to over-come the stress and relax a little before shoot day…. Or so I once again, so wrongly though!

Problem #3: Then today 1 day before the shoot, our leading lady rang regarding potentially beginning at 11 am due to other commitments, something that was not possible with make-up occurring so early in the day, and also due to the fact we required the morning sun for the shots she would be in, the shots that thus far had been scheduled to be first. After much to and fro, we developed a solution- compromise, schedule all her shots first during the day allowing her to leave early.

A stress filled build up it has been thus far, but fingers-crossed for a good shot tomorrow!! We have persevered and persevered, avoided tears and makor break-downs but its reached the point where I’m not sure how much more stress and wrong-goings we can handle! Can’t things just work out?

It has been an interesting experience though, and a true eye-opener to how things must be in the industry. Its tough work, things go wrong, phone calls need to happen, compromises need to be made and things need to be fixed – its just the way it is. I honestly don’t think I have never made so many phone calls in such few days in my whole life! The content of these phone calls, teaching me valuable lessons in dealing with people; how do you be stern and direct with someone who you still want to have a good rapport with come shoot day? That was a tough one for me! I didn’t want to sound rude or unprofessional, but had to acknowledge that as a hired actress she had made a commitment and things could only be arranged to a certain extent, apologising for any inconveniences. Something even harder when these people are donating there time for free, and we really are so thankful to them for that!

Anyway, all our pre-shoot problems have been sorted and we are all organised and ready for shoot day!

Now to get some rest, It’s going to be one long, intense day tomorrow that is for suree!!

1 WEEK / 7 DAYS / 168 HOURS / 10080 MINUTES / 604800 SECONDS

So as of today, there is exactly 1 week/ 7 days / 168 hours / 10080 minutes / 604800 seconds till shoot day!!

So… let the stressing begin!

In terms of location, props, make-up, catering, and script we are all organised; our folio coming together rather nicely. We are making one final trip to the location on Monday to really assess the location, figure out blocking and to do some equipment trials in advance, to make sure that all goes smoothly on the day.

We have, however, had one MAJOR problem! As of this morning we still weren’t fully cast, the struggle to find an actress proving to be quite difficult!

This Tuesday the 30th we called in all the applicants to the casting call we had posted on Star Now with 6 men coming to audition for the role of Barry and 2 women coming to audition for Lois. The audition process was interesting, it was amazing to see the script begin to come to life. Our auditions provided us with a bunch of different actors from the good to the really good to the just plain weird. We were able to find some amazing male actors, amazed at how different some people were in real life to what would we envisioned from viewing their StarNow profiles. The actors we initially thought looked as though they were going to be perfect for the part, proving to be not so perfect and the ones who we didn’t think looked to suit the part at all mostly due to age, really surprising us with their acting skills and personalities. After much discussion, we finally decided to cast Jeremy Kewley as Barry; despite being in his fifties and a fair bit younger than we had been searching for, we were so impressed with his audition, not only just his acting but also his personality and ability to take direction.

One actor was set in stone! But there was still a problem, despite having had two wonderful women audition, one whom we felt was so perfect in appearance, personality and talent; neither of the two could make the shoot date. So where did that leave us? We had no woman cast for Lois, and only one woman left who we could possibly audition, who after committing to come in to audition today ended up bailing last night. Luckily, Jeremy our other actor contacted some of his contacts and got us in contact with a woman named Helen who we met and auditioned today. Although, she too is quite young looking, she was lovely and a  great actress who had worked with Jeremy in the past, and in fact even played his wife – meaning there should already be a good dynamic  between the two.

So we are now cast, and although the two actors may not have been what we initially envisioned they are really good enthusiastic, actors who will be able to deliver the script with conviction. Besides, we have a great make-up artist and some daggy costuming to age them up a bit!  Perhaps this is even that serendipity Paul so often likes to talk about….

Location Hunting!

Our film “Where is Pierre?” is set within the home of elderly couple, Barry and Lois who have been married for years.  Thus, in the location scouting for our film we wanted to ensure that the setting was reflective of such a couple. The house we were searching for was to be small, quaint, lived in and filled with many years worth of knick-knacks and photographs indicative of the couples lives together. The set up of both the master bedroom and the lounge room, of vital importance as the two key scenes occur in these settings. In our search we have come across three locations, which are viable options, each with their own pros and cons, and all, which could in many respects really work as the location for our film.

After tossing up between 2 locations we have finally found another location, that is just everything we were looking for. It is located in Yarraville and is the home of fellow media student Steph Milsom’s Grandma.  It has so much quaint character to it and unlike the others does not have white walls, rather yellow walls and floral wallpaper within the bedroom. The floor plan of the house in itself is rather amazing, the door ways into the kitchen and living room adjacent which will allow for a great double-action shot with Barry in the kitchen and Lois in the lounge all within the one scene. The lounge room within this house is also quite perfect. It is quite small and cozy, the set-up of two matching wooden couches with paisley printed cushioning, exactly what we were envisioning for enabling the required mood of the piece.The bedroom is complete with a floral quilted bedspread and a long mirror in the corner; the set-up will be perfect in capturing the scene where Barry finds the magazines.

On Monday we will be heading back to the location to map it out, do some tests and truly start thinking about blocking.

Glad to have found such a great location, hopefully everything else just starts falling into place now!

This layout will make for some great shots!

The Lenny Exercises

In the past couple weeks in film-tv 1 we have been completing exercises known as “The Lenny Exercises” , which have proven to be great learning and eye-opening experiences, which will really assist in the creation of our own short films.

Lenny Exercise 1

This exercise involved taking a marked up script and some footage shot by students the year before and cutting our own version of “The Lenny”. I found this task quite interesting, and to be a good refresher in final cut pro which I had not properly used in quite some time. It was good to have to sit through all their takes and decide not only the best takes, but which parts would use an alternate angle or a close-up; this the process we will have to go through in the post-production stages of our own films. It was also very informative about shot construction in itself, as I was able to see the visual translation from text to screen. I enjoyed this exercise, as editing is one of my facourite parts about film-making but also as it was really eye opening into the process that lay ahead. In watching the takes done by the students last year, I also found myself being rather critical, and noticing little things such as  when the sound wasn’t matching up between takes, when they stuffed up the calling of the shots or when the boom- mic’s were in frame. However, despite these minor faults (which in hindsight, after filming a Lenny I realise should not have been so critical of..) the continuity between their takes was rather spot on.

Lenny Exercise 2

The second Lenny Exercise known as the ‘Four Shotter’ was an edit in camera exercise which meant that we would have to stop the camera where we would intend the first cut to be, then shoot the second shot directly after and so on. The purpose of this being to learn expediency, how to get through all four shots in a short amount of time with just one take. This exercise sounded so simple on paper, but in reality it proved to be so difficult. Shooting outside it was hard to get the lighting and white balance correct, and setting up the equipment for each shot took way longer than expected. Maintaining continuity between shots was also a major flaw in the construction of our four shotter, one mid shot ending with a character walking across frame, the next a wide shot with this character not in frame at all. This exercise proved how organisation and expediency really do go hand in hand, and that our group has quite a bit of work to do in order to achieve expediency by our shoot.

Lenny Exercise 3

The third Lenny Exercise was the most intensive of the three, involving pre, production and post stages. This was a real eye-opener as to how organised we would need to be on the day of shooting. We had managed to get some actors in for the shoot, but had to pick a location and decide on how we were going to shoot it on the fly. Whilst I think we came up with some pretty good ideas and got through the whole script and shots we needed, on  the day we shoot our actual movie we are going to need to be a lot more organised and efficient. I took on the role as First AD for the shoot, which was a rather interesting role, and by the end of it, I managed to call the shots right. We took quite a few extra takes during our shoot which proved to be quite important in the editing stages of the film. The editing stage was a collaborative effort, and I’m quite happy with our end result. I think overall the team dynamics of our group are really good, and the key for us will be organisation and efficiency. If they are mastered, or at least relatively good on the day  of our shoot; it should be quite smooth sailing. (hopefully…)

The Story – “Where is Pierre?”

So alot has happened in the course of film and television 1 since I have last written, this blog a tad neglected in the stress of organisation…. so to avoid one super long post on everything that has happened ever, I’m going to break it down a bit.

First up the story.

We decided we wanted to do a light hearted piece, and chose to go with fellow group member Milly’s idea about an elderly couple and their dog.

Here is the story outline:

“Lois and Barry have grown old together. After having been married fifty-odd years, they know each other like the back of their hands, or so they think. One day whilst Lois is finishing off his crossword, Pierre, Barry’s cherished Shihtzu goes missing. It’s time for his afternoon feed and the old man is searching the house with increasing desperation. As he kneels down to look under the bed into the master bedroom, Barry sees a cardboard box.

Sliding it out to look inside, he finds a stash of magazines. Flipping through the first couple he has seen enough to realize that the whole box is full of them. Furious, he rushes out to the living room and pours the magazines from the box onto the floor at Ralph’s feet. The two have a heated argument. Barry screams that her little collection makes him sick, that he can’t believe she would even dream of looking at such filth after all these years. Lois retaliates – how long do you think I can go without just looking, Barry? You think I get enough satisfaction from that old thing? Barry storms out, slamming the door behind him. Lois reaches down from her lazy boy and picks up one of the magazines from the pile at her feet, revealing the whole collection to be show dog magazines.”

I am really excited about making this film, and believe that in being a simple, gag orientated short film, it could work really well. The script which since picking this idea has been written is rather great, the dialogue which is crucial to the film very funny and contributive to the mood of the piece. With the help of some great props, a great location and hopefully some great acting, I have faith that our film could end up being really good!