IT IS FINISHED!
Our production is finally complete and I can breathe easy! Well… until I get my final grade at least. Our hard work came together in full tonight and we were able to burn our films and submit them an hour before the final deadline. I feel like popping champagne and celebrating but all I have is fruit juice so that will have to do.
What I took most from this experience was the fact that producing a film, not matter how short, no matter if it is silent or not, is A LOT of work! I am a TV junkie and I always complain when my TV shows go on these mid-season breaks and the three month breaks between seasons. After going through these productions and getting a small taste of the first hand experience, I will never again complain about the long breaks these shows take. After sitting in position of actor, director and sound editor I can safely say the cast and crew of every film/TV show deserve all the breaks they get!
In the mean time I am going to enjoy my break, reflect on the semester and think about all the areas of film production I actually enjoy.
After a long semester of planning, shooting, quarrelling, reshooting, screening, it’s finally boiling down to the final days of school and hence the final days of production. Unfortunately I won’t be able to rest until the films are fully edited, burned to the DVD and submitted to my lecturer.
In these final days we are putting the final touches on the sound effects, ensuring the colour is consistent right through (as it relates to our day for night shoot), rechecking the names for the closing credits, ensuring once again all our legal documents are in order and editing the opening credits for the films.
So though we are on our final lap, there is still quite a bit left to be done. I only hope we can complete it on time and the end product will be what we first envisioned.
Editing (verb) – the state in production where you realise all your mistakes, all the shots you have to reshoot, all the issues with audio you didn’t realise on set. May also cause editor (noun) to become overly agitated and homicidal.
Yes, it’s that time again. Time to edit and time to see who needs to be fired (except this is school and unfortunately you cannot fire your classmates). Editing is the longest, most tedious part of production. The editor(s) must be people who are long suffering, have a keen eye and ear for detail, and share the vision of the director.
Editing is one of the final steps in production and all the raw footage is passed on to the editor for them to sort and put together in a way that not only makes sense, but tells a great story.
Future editors, you have your work more than cut out for you. Good luck!
A director’s work is never done. I was very happy with my second role in the second production right where I belong – behind the camera. I chose to direct the second film and ended up learning so much with this production. My eyes were opened to a lot of things like how very specific you have to be with actors when you want a specific thing done in a scene.
You can’t just say “I need you to look scared.” You need to say “You need to look like the loan shark you borrowed last month’s light bill from is looking for you and you can’t pay it back and now they’re threatening to kill your family.” Then say “HOLD IT!” when you get the reaction you are looking for.
I also learned that complimenting your actors goes a long way when they give you what you want. When you have a long day of shooting in the hot sun, a simple “well done” goes a long way with actors and they feel more confident about the next scene.
Also as the director you need to know exactly what you want and have a clear vision in mind of what you want the final product to look like. If your vision is skewed you won’t know what to tell everyone else on set. And your film will just end up not being what you wanted in the first place and that’s never good.
Writing is definitely my first love but directing is a close second.
Now is the time when all the pre-production stuff, all you learned in class last semester, all you rehearsed for, all comes down to these days – production. This is when your actors choose whether or not to show up for shoots, producers go missing, and everybody gets at everybody’s throats for not cooperating. This, my friends, is when you see who is serious about their grades versus who will just ride on yours. Did I just say that? I think I did.
For the first film that was shot I assumed the role of Sound Designer and later had to assume the role of the leading lady on screen. Acting has never been my strong suit so imagine my frustration when my face was what I thought “serious” and having my director shout at me “Stop smiling! You’re supposed to be serious!” I kindly shouted back “This is my serious face!” It really wasn’t but I was too frustrated at the time to care. Yeah, not fun. Acting? I can now cross that off my list of career attempts, I’ll pass.
But despite the disagreements and the challenges met on the first shoot, I do think it put quite a few things into perspective for me.
- Team work is always key. If you want a successful shoot you have to be prepared to work together with people you may not like just to get the work done.
- Learn to play the hypocrite. This was probably the most valuable lesson my 9th grade art teacher ever taught me and possibly the only thing I remember from that class. Learn to smile and nod in the face of those who get under your skin and on your last nerve. At the end of the day the goal in mind is to have the work completed and create a successful film, not to make friends.
- Learn and improve. Learn everything you can by watching others who are better than you at a specific area. Learning from somebody more talented will only help you in future. Don’t be jealous of what’s true.
Production taught life lessons and boy did I learn them.
Probably one of the most frustrating parts of production for me, table reads and rehearsals with actors who are doing you a favour and have their own lives to tend to is definitely not the easiest thing. Firstly, as I mentioned in a previous blog, our actors were all from school, acting off of just the pure goodness of their hearts as well as the promise of free food. That being said, calling rehearsal times and table reads where all the actors were available at once was more than a tiny challenge.
Having no rehearsal just led to a domino effect where actors didn’t know their lines or cues, and therefore the time for filming took way longer than we had immediately bargained for. Added to that at last minute one of our actors for our first film fell out so I (who was originally working on sound design) had to take her place. I am not an actor in any way, shape or form so needless to say I was not the most comfortable person in front the camera (the blooper reel was ridiculous). But, when push came to shove we had to do what we had to do in order to get the work done so I took one for the team (in a manner of speaking).
Though it was not the best experience it was an experience nonetheless and so I will take it and take the lessons learned along with it.
After the script is written ensure EVERYBODY on the production team has a copy and is aware of any changes made. This is to ensure everybody is on the same exact page in the same exact book.
Okay guys repeat after me: Props and script MUST coincide. It doesn’t make no sense you have a comedy script with blood and spiders as props. No.
No matter what anybody wants to think, without everybody having the correct version of the script you are bringing to screen your shoot will fall apart. Seriously, I’ve had similar experience. Take from my production experience and mishap. Keep everybody in the loop at all times.