Really, I suppose this should be entitled “Making Movies, 1″, but I think that the earlier post “Call Me Cecil…” is morally the post of that title. Several days of insanity later (from worrying more about insurance, to locking in locations, worrying we would not get the HD cameras in time, trying to find a PA for the shoot, negotiating with various parties here and there about various things – in between the usual activities of physics professoring), the first big shoot day came. That was yesterday.
It was a day with record (for the date) heat (90+, in F), which was not helpful, but overall it was fun. On Thursday, in my location scout mode, I was to be found popping over once every hour or so to a particular location on campus and taking a snapshot. Why? I wanted to see where the sun would be at what time, so that we could figure out exactly when we could use the location, and for what shots. The sun was too strong on it for most of the middle of the day, and so we decided that we would not be shooting there until after about 4:30pm. (Since my cast is made up of undergraduate students, the idea of an early morning shoot was quickly nixed. ) That left the earlier part of the day (from 11:00am onwards) to prep at a different location and shoot scenes for a different script I’d quickly begun to put together on the bus on Wednesday, the idea being that we can work on two films at the same time (same cast, different roles), saving costs. (Saturday saw me wandering around the fashion district downtown looking for parts of the wardrobe we’d need for this second film.)
Anyway, what can I say? Wow. Yesterday was a tiring day, and it was not really anything to do with the heat. There’s a lot of energy that goes into just controlling the situation, trying to get everyone to coordinate in a way that achieves the vision you’re trying to realize, and simply moving people around. I worked the cast a lot, but they say they had a lot of fun, so I’m happy. They were really excellent, and I hope we can work together again. Here they are:
My role was principally that of director (although I had a lot of help and advice from the experienced filmmakers I was working with – Bob Melisso (my producer -and co-director, I imagine?) and Tjardus Greidanus, my DP (director of photography)), and I learned a lot, and I think we achieved a lot in the collaboration. At a number of points I’d come up with an idea, and Bob and TJ and I would discuss how to implement it. Sometimes, I’d abandon an idea on the fly once the situation on the ground (as it were) meant that it was either not feasible or not worth the effort needed to make it work properly. It might get replaced by another idea that emerged in the conversation, or some other crazy thing I cooked up.
(Photos directly above and above right show Bob, TJ, myself and Anna Krylov of the Chemistry department (the latter being one of the key supporters of the project, and co-writer on the first script, she came for a while to look at what we were doing.) Those two taken by Ram Iyer, our PA for the day, and one of my graduate students who I roped into this craziness.)
A key guiding principle in all of this is that I’m trying to make the whole thing work with no special effects – just photography and editing (more or less) and this actually makes for an interesting approach, some photographic and editing challenges, and – I hope – an interesting and fun final result. We shall see.
There’s much more to do. More scenes to shoot for both films, then I have to look at the (two or three hours of) footage and select shots, takes, and so forth and make detailed notes for the film editor. Then once edited into a near final form (not sure who will do the editing yet – it is a skill I’d like to learn more about, but it will likely be too time consuming to try just now for this project) it has to go to the musician who is composing music for the whole thing to finish her work on the piece, and then back for a final edit… and so on and so forth. I’ll be lucky if the final films are ready before a month from now.
Why am I doing this? In case you’ve not been following along, yes, this is about science, science education, and more…
And yes…. I got to yell “And that’s lunch!” at the end of one take, and “And that’s a wrap!” at the end of the last take at the end of the day. It was all worth it just for that, of course.
Some Related Asymptotia Posts (not exhaustive):