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.

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