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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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 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!