Shoot 1: Verwood
Equipment: Steadicam, Tripod, Canon 600D. 32Gb SD card, 16 Gb SD Card
Props: Letters, 25metres of red ribbon.
Cast and Crew: Myself and Tom
So the first days filming all done and wrapped up nicely in box. I some how managed to get through it despite waking up at 5am even though we weren't shooting until 7am I was so worried about oversleeping! Because I was unable to get permission to film in the petrol station just outside ringwood it meant I had to rethink the opening to the music video. I thought the simplest way to tell the most similar opening to the original idea would be to show a sequence in which the card with the message and ribbon inside would be posted through the letterbox and when he opened it the ribbon would fall to the floor and lead a trail under the door. This is why I found myself in Verwood at 10 o'clock friday night as i thought in order to capture the early morning light it would be best if i stayed the night at the actor's (Tom Verrept) House.
Housing Estate-Morning 7am-9:45
I decided to film the indoor scenes later as it was better to make good use of the light we had. It was a beautiful crisp morning and we started filming at approximately 7am which was before sun rise. The first shot proved fairly challenging to get, using the steadicam to track the ribbon along the pavement with it proving difficult to get the wide angle framing on top perfect when he opened the door. I hadn't really came up with a solution to the jump cut from trailing one ribbon to the other but we tried placing a skateboard over it to see if that could be an effective way of making the jump cut smooth. Looking back however there is no way the skateboard is going to work as it would be something extra to carry to the christchurch shoot tomorrow and just looks out of place and tacky.
I was pleasantly pleased by the shots i was getting when looking back on the viewfinder, the early morning light makes such a difference and although i had accidentally left the white balance on the indoor setting:Tungsten White, it was a happy accident as the blue, cold quality to the shots not only merged well with the mainly blue costume Tom was wearing but it also captured the cold, metallic quality i wanted from this early ribbon following sequence.
Although we really only needed a few shots of Tom following the ribbon it became quite time consuming as because of the sudden change in location i hadn't had the chance to do proper storyboards. This meant for each location within the housing estate we had to set the ribbon in place and then film for at least ten minutes in order to get the movement with variety of different shots using the steadicam to capture tracking shots both from in front and behind and tripod from various angles. I think it must have been the early start because annoyingly i made some real rookie errors such as leaving the steadicam blatantly in shot. Looking back on the footage its frustrating that i didn't notice but luckily i because i shot so much i know i've got enough to cover myself.
With the sun starting to come up i found the switching the exposure from automatic to manual gave the image a far more cinematic look and when looking through the viewfinder i was really pleased with how the camera was capturing the light. Using manual focus as well also added to quality of image and I found myself playing around with it for a few shots going in and out of focus. We captured one shot where a spiders web was in focus and then it shifts to the background and the guy following ribbon. Also being selective about the area of focus brought out some great results such as having just the hand in focus.
The ribbon didn't prove to be a complete nightmare and i was almost surprised it was workable but I still don't know if puts going to work or look convincing. I guess i'll only really know that in the edit. What i found worked best where close ups and medium shots, although i tried a variety of wide shots it just seemed as soon as you went wide it lost its intensity.
The housing estate was actually a perfect location, it made it really easy to convey that human inhabited environment. Yet at the same time what was nice about filming so early was that there was no one about and Tom's journey came across as an isolated one which it what i'm looking for. we could also be inventive about where trail of ribbon went-I had Tom jumping over a wall several times to get one shot!- while I began hanging ribbon over signs to make it more prominent and seem like it was getting grander.
I think i might have got a bit carried away when searching for lens flare, having come to the outskirts of the housing estate i preceded to shoot Tom from in front, with the camera facing the sun just as it was becoming quite bright. There's something about having the sun light partially wash out the image and then go get it back by using the shade of Tom's head. However as i still had it on manual exposure most of those shots were ridiculously over exposed and i probably won't be able to use anything more than a quick cut away of it.
As we were walking to go and film in the next door industrial estate Tom led me down a wooded path and with the battery running low, I thought the best use of time would be to film a sequence of Tom following ribbon through the trees just because the light was so perfect at that time. What we captured was gorgeous. I got a few on the tripod and a couple on the steadicam but what worked best was handheld as it was much easier to keep Tom in frame with the light shining in and out of the trees. After this the camera battery ran out and because i hadn't brought a second one we headed back for an hour while we let it recharge.
Industrial Estate 11:00-1:15
It was very fortuitous that Tom lived in such a suitable area. Filming in the industrial estate might have only been a 2 minute walk from his house but its a totally different setting and would help to get a sense of the journey Tom's character makes. Unfortunately as we were setting up for the first shot the ribbon got in an incredible tangle that took both of us the good part of 20minutes to unwind. When the light is so great and your time is precious its incredibly frustrating when you find yourself held up by these kind of problems.
Filming in the industrial estate proved harder than in the housing area. I found it difficult to capture mechanical, urban expanse that on a saturday morning looked like a wasteland. It looked like it should be very photographic but whenever i tried to capture i wide shot with Tom and the ribbon it just looked amateurish. I have a feeling it might have been due to the fact the sun was almost at full brightness. In the end what worked best was singling out smaller architectural features such as big steel containers and framing Tom against that. I got one nice shot where i took the camera handheld and filmed from the other side of some giant metal collectors capturing him in the gaps between. This slight detachment and awareness of the close proximity of these man made industrial materials juxtaposed against the delicate red ribbon seemed to work alright,
Tom knew of an alleyway that lead down past two of the buildings with a clump of trees at the other end that could look like the entrance to a forest. It seemed perfect and there was box like structure at its entrance that i managed to get on top of and attempted to imitate a crane shot using the steadicam. I started by framing Tom in mid shot, with myself crouched down on box, then sweep the camera up and round standing up and point it down alleyway from high angle.
This was very tricky to get right and because of lunch commitments i never got the perfect shot. I am aware that i tend to rush everything too much, for example that would of been a great shot that i would of definitely used but i didn't have the patience to properly test it, set it up then have several takes at it. Although i don't need to use that much footage of Tom following the ribbon, i'm aware that i need to film him in many different locations to convincingly convey the concept that he is journeying all day. Its about trying to get the balance between making sure you have enough footage to fill your narrative structure for it to make sense and also taking time to get good quality shots. My brain seems to work as if i'm in the editing suite already, capturing 4 seconds of one shot here 3 seconds there, i need to train myself to hold shots because there's no use having all this footage if you can't use any of it!
Alleyway+Forest 1:45pm- 3:20pm
Went back to alleyway to finish ribbon boy's journey from urban to forest. This time we were on bikes as I was aware of time restraints. I'd decided i wanted to mainly shoot this last sequence handheld or with steadicam over the shoulder or other framings either behind or in front of him. However i thought i'd get at least one more risky shot….
Filming using the steadicam in those running sequences looked effortless once filmed, i particularly liked where i tracked his feet and when i filmed in front from the ribbon's POV.Unfortunately the steadicam which was already wobbly, broke completely when the top came off.
Although i got a few impressive high angle shots none of them looked right for the music video, more suiting the style of an action chase sequence but it might look different in the edit.
I wanted Tom to become more and more frantic in his following of the ribbon and also for his tie and blazer to become looser and more messy. I realised this could cause continuity issues particularly when going back to the house to film the earlier indoor scene but i'd captured a photo of him in his outfit at the beginning of the shoot so we should be able to make it work. However one directorial note i should have given to Tom would of been to not peak yet. I really needed that to happen in the forest but he was already running like Jason Bourne!
The second hidden jump cut i planned to do involved Tom running out of alleyway towards trees as the camera tracks with him and then behind a block of wood. This was a tricky shot to get right as he didn't have much space to keep running without cutting himself on brambles and i kept getting him stopping. Eventually we got there with the camera going behind wood and then out of focus ready to come into focus behind a tree in another location.
We cycled a little way to get more out to the forest and a place next to a lake Tom knew of. We were so lucky with the timing as it was just reaching golden hour and the light was brilliant when the sun came out from behind the clouds. We found I tree where could track out from however one of the problems we had was that we were confined to track from right to left because of previous jump cut.
It was a real shame the steadicam was broken and for some reason i'd forgotten to take the tripod so ended up filming all handheld. With such uneven forest terrain it proved difficult to get quality when tracking Tom in mid shot despite the sensational light. However i got at least one great, we came up with the idea of cycling on a bike whilst filming ribbon boy run. This worked surprisingly well, with the light reflecting off the trees creating ascot that had that pace and energy to it that i wanted towards the second half of the music video.
Interior Verrept's House 3:35-3:45
Its amazing how quickly time goes when your filming and by the time we'd got back from the forest, i had to leave in less than 20 minutes to do a rechie in christchurch for tomorrow's filming. It was very rushed filming the opening scene before the music will come in, i'm slightly concerned that the footage won't be good enough to use the sequence. I got enough shots to cover it and the close up of Tom opening the card was quite nice. I also liked filming the letters coming through the letterbox and the guy coming down the stairs a few seconds later in the same take from the same angle. My problem with filming indoors with little lighting is that it just ends up looking grainy and cheap and i don't necessarily want to have bad grainy footage as the opening first impression the video makes.