May 3, 2011

16mm film course: week 5 - 7 (that's a wrap!)

So I know my updates on my 16mm film-making class have dropped off in the last few weeks. Apologies for that. In the weeks since last updating you all (and I'm sure you were all waiting with breath that was baited) we've filmed, filmed, filmed. I've done everything from sound to lights to continuity (the clapper guy). Being someone who wasn't specifically assigned (or volunteered) to an area has meant I've managed to jump around a fair amount and have counted myself quite lucky in that respect.

A couple of weekends ago we had a massive schedule of filming. I had foolishly booked myself in for three Showcase films on the Friday night (this one, this one and, oh yes, this one) before a 13 hour day on Saturday. It also rained. No, sorry. It didn’t rain: it pissed down; big, fat raindrops falling incessantly. I was not in the best of moods come 6:30am Saturday. But y'know what? It was a hell of a lot of fun. On Saturday alone I managed to have a go at pretty much everything on set: lighting assist, clapper, 1st AD, sound and camera operator. On Sunday I worked in a cameo performance as a drunk (yes, yes. No acting required. Har-de-har).

Seeing as how it were pissing down on Saturday, we had to change up the schedule a wee bit. The scene that I was filming, that I was camera operator for, went from the first scene shot after lunch to the final scene of the day. By this time of the night – some 12 hours after we had started and with only 4 hours sleep behind me – I was absolutely shartered. We were also nearing the end of the roll of film and the final shot; of my shoot, of the day, was a mildly complicated camera move: a 180 degree POV swing, ending on a character square in frame with a line of dialogue. Ok, so I was paranoid enough about shooting – I was in constant fear that what I was looking at through the eye-piece would have no relation to what was actually shot – and now I couldn’t even see through the damn eye-piece! The Arriflex SRII, being a film camera, has no display monitor; you have a single eye-piece. To see through it, you have to close one eye because otherwise your brain is attempting to interpret two different visual signals and gets confused (also depending on which eye is more dominant). Unfortunately, due to my body just starting to shut down by this time, I couldn’t keep one eye open/one eye closed for the length of the shot. My closed right eye kept popping open and my open left eye kept shutting. Did I get it? I hope so. I’m pretty sure I did. But I’m also 100% paranoid that I totally screwed it up.

I am utterly confident in the camera crew that was assisting me though. Those blokes seemed to know what they were about. And, of course, we had Mr. Alex Funke on set guiding us. It became a tight crew, with absolutely everyone seeming to get along with everyone. Laughs and jokes were had and everyone was keen to muck in and just work to get things done; sound helped with lights, lights helped with traffic control etc. Come the final couple of set-ups on Sunday night, things began to get a little weird (of course). I found myself working up some sort of theme song for the film between takes, seamlessly blending show-tunes with hip-hop (still working on that). Trust me; it was brilliant at the time.

So, come tonight we’ll be watching our rushes from that weekend, as well as previously shot stuff, all synched up with sound. I’m intrigued (and frightened) as to how the stuff I shot is going to come out. Will it be any good? Will it even be in focus? I can’t wait to find out. And it’s gonna be aces seeing everyone and what they’ve shot as well.

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