Equipment List: Canon 600D with lens and battery, SD Cards (16 and 32Gb). Black electric guitar with strap and plectrum. Ipod with portable speakers. Drum with home made straps. Drumsticks, Microphone. 3 pieces of red ribbon. Tripod. Steadicam. 25metre track and Dolly.
Costumes provided: Two pairs of braces, beige Mac coat. Embellished white hat.
Cast and Crew: Myself: Cameraman/Director/Producer. Band members: Emma Trim, George Atwill, Will Garden. Roger Finn: Driver and Assistant Producer/Director
Today was the biggest shoot i'd have to do in terms of logistics and equipment needed. Having made last minute decisions about costumes the night before I was concerned that whether with so many variables in play i would forget something vital that prevented us doing the shoot. I tried to take heart from Pete Frasers example of students who were forced to improvise on the day of filming due to difficulties implementing original idea for shoot and promised myself that no matter what, i'd come away with some good, usable footage. The only real moment of panic and stress came at the beginning when picking up actors for the band. I had George's postcode but not the number of his house or his mobile and so at 5 past 6 in the morning i find myself in the car driving slowly up and down his road desperately searching for any signs of his whereabouts. Luckily i had his home number and resorted to call it and we were away.
It had been extremely useful doing the rechie the previous evening as it meant I could begin work immediately and take control in an efficient manner. I had discussed with my dad a strategy on how best to be time efficient when working with the heavy duty equipment of the track and dolly. I knew i would have limited time filming as I had another commitment i needed to keep at 10am that morning and also from my experience from the previous shoot, we only had approximately 2 and a half hours of battery life. While he loosened the straps holding the track onto the roof, i briefed my actors on what i needed from them in terms of performance and sorted out costumes and distributed instruments.
I'd discussed the positions where i wanted to set up the dolly on curved or straight track with my dad at the rechie and so after marking the spot where i wanted to capture the first dolly shot. I let him unpack the curved and straight track while i set up the band on the band stand. I draped each piece of ribbon trailing from one of the instruments or the microphone over the edge of the bandstand, hooking it around the pillars to frame it in the background of the shot. I got the band to stand towards the back of the bandstand facing the steps up to it because the ribbon would have been too taught otherwise. I didn't want to restrict the movements of my performers, particularly Emma, too much and having looser ribbon meant it could be catched by the breeze and add to the atmosphere and colours on display for the band performance. I felt it was important to make sure the ribbon, as running motif, featured prominently within the bands performance so that like in the Sleater Kinney video for Jumpers it is the details in the aesthetics of the background that link the band to the narrative.
For opening shot of the band I wanted to use a disguised jump cut with the trail of ribbon followed from the mid shot of Tom's character in doorway right into a trail that becomes the lead for George's guitar. In hindsight for a sequence which i knew would be technically challenging i should have really given it more thought and preparation. At Tom's house i'd used a skateboard as a way of cutting between locations but I was unable to bring the same skateboard to this shoot partly because of logistical reasons and partly because at the time i couldn't see past the point of how out of place this object would look next to the band stand. Like before I used the steadicam to track the ribbon and was reasonably pleased with the results, i liked the end framing of the guitar neck in and out of focus. Though looking back at both clips in the edit suite there were problems with one shot tracking the ribbon forwards and the other one tracking it backwards. It will obviously require an extra effect such as a fade to white to properly make it work. My concern with this is that it will feel too against the tone of the quiet build up of the opening of song. I did a similar shot for the drummer but tried to successfully capture the moment the singing comes in by catching the moment with the camera swinging round from mid shot of drum to close up of singer, after several takes I was reasonably satisfied i'd got what i wanted.
|The steadicam proved versatile in not just capturing |
dynamic movement shots but also allowed for quickly
capturing well held low angle shots.
|Shooting from behind the bandstand to harness|
the light shining onto the band.
I was surprised at the speed in which we captured footage both with and without the dolly and i decided i would capture the band walking away from the bandstand. I still wanted to give the illusion that their trail of ribbon was never ending and got them to tie the ends on to the edge of the bandstand and walk towards the camera (which was on a dolly) while they were framed in a three shot, their ribbon trailing behind them. Looking back at the shoot i think that one of my greatest mistakes might turn out to be asking Emma to not acknowledge the camera. In some ways this conforms to the conventions of indie music videos of not pandering to the audience but at the same time i think having that disconnection might mean some of the emotional weight of the performance will be lost. What often works so well in female artists tracks such as Florence is when the performance is given exclusively to the viewer, the power of this cannot be underestimated.
With the sun above the estuary, light shimmering off the water the quality of the lighting pushed me into making an improvised decision to not film the band walking down several different streets around christchurch and then at a separate shoot at Allum chime but to keep things simple and have them just walk up to the waters edge and look out.
|Actors eh? what are they good for..|
At the end of a long morning filming, i wouldn't
have managed to capture the amount of good footage
i did without their incredible focus and discipline.
Although it was a squeeze at the end I think i can classify today's filming as a success as we hopefully caught all the footage we need of the band, though i still want to keep filming at Allum Chime as viable option.
I think my main concerns with the sequences now are not whether we have enough material to cover the video but whether lip syncing will undo me. I didn't have tight structure for what shots would be used for which lines as i felt it to restrictive a way of filmmaking while holding the same shot for the full length of the song seemed counter intuitive when we were on such a tight time schedule. The wide shots and close ups of instruments should help with this though and knowing that half of the video footage will be covered by the narrative eased my worries a little.