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Filming

On Saturday the 5th we decided to start filming at 10am. We arrived at Lydia’s at 9am to set up before Chris arrived at 10am. The equipment had been mostly set up from the test shoot the day before so we only had to do a few tweaks so we were fairly organised and off to a good start! We had discussed yesterday that the dedo lights we had rented out worked best when aimed at the ceiling, but the weather was different today so we had to test everything again to see if it looked correct on the camera. Fortunately it all looked good so I checked the props were in the right position then before I knew it, Chris was knocking on the door! I answered and introduced myself then took him into the front room to introduce him to everyone else. We had asked him to wear clothes he thought was suitable to that role and it was good to see that he had. I would have picked out something similar for our character. We got him a drink then I talked through the scene we were going to do with him and asked if he had any questions. He was very laid back and happy to do what we asked as many times as we needed. Our first scene was in the kitchen, we had cooked a breakfast which I cut up to make it look like it has been eaten while we sat Chris down and made sure the focus was correct. We could only do the first shot a few times because of the continuity of the breakfast on the plate because he was having to gradually eat parts of it. This is something I think my group did well at, whenever we were setting up a shot we thought about the shot before and the continuity of it because this is something very hard to change in the editing process. We had a few problems with the focus with the JVC camera, unfortunately our camera man Matt had to work so we were unsure how to fix it but we carried on changing the back and front focus and eventually got it to focus right.

When it came to the scene in the kitchen where Daniel is looking through the cupboards, when he opened the cupboard a chopping board fell out! Luckily it did not hit him but it was still bad that it happened. I then went and opened all the cupboards and took out anything that might fall out again before closing them, checking again and then filmed that scene again. This has taught me to check everything before your actor arrives, even the small things you would not have thought of like going over all the actions they will be doing in detail. Whilst we were filming I thought of a few extra shots I would like, to give some more variety to the film, this was mainly more close-ups or just repeating a similar shot in a different way. For example, there is a shot of him walking over the kitchen sink and putting his plate in there. I asked him to stop and look out of the window for a bit before walking over to get the list off the fridge. It was then decided that there should be another shot of him looking at the watch and ring on the side of the sink. I then had a close-up of his face looking at each of these places. We will look at these in editing and choose which one we think is best and more suited to the film. We shot nearly every shot twice, Chris was very patient and willing to do as I asked! At one point, the lighting was slightly darker than I wanted, we are not allowed to get reflectors out at the loan shop and I remember a tutor telling me once that tin foil does a similar thing so I positioned the tin foil to cast light onto the part of the shot that was need.

Once we had finished all the shots we needed in the kitchen, we moved to the stairway. I wanted a high angle shot of Chris standing at the bottom of the stairs so we carried the equipment upstairs and set up. We ensured we did a white balance whenever we did a different shot and made sure the focus was correct. This shot made Chris look small and not having the power which is what I wanted, he had no control over the fact that his wife died and how he was shouting up to no one which makes him look vulnerable. We did a close up of him playing with his keys from this angle for variety. We then carried the equipment back downstairs to do a shot from behind him shouting up the stairs which we will hopefully cut between with the high angled shot. I wanted a shot of him walking out the door to go on the end of these two shots but we were having issues with the lighting because it was so bright outside so when Chris opened the door it was so overexposed. I suggested putting the ND filter on which looked better, it was still pretty bright but you could now actually see what was outside.

We then done a shot of Chris walking in through the door, I went outside with him so waited til I heard Laura telling me to go, then moved and told Chris to go. The first few had too much car noise in the background so once Laura said it was OK to go, I waited til there were no cars before telling Chris to go ahead. We then realised we had forgotten that he was meant to be holding the flowers and a bag of Tesco food so had to do it again but I am glad that someone picked up on it! The rest of the shots in the kitchen went well, we did some good close-ups then thought if we needed to do anything else and decided to do a wide shot of the kitchen for the whole first scene without stopping. I needed one more shot of Chris getting in the car, there was some children outside asking if we were making a film and you could see them in our shot in the reflection of the window but luckily they got called in unless we would have had to change the angle completely. On the first shot the car door did not close properly but the second shot was fine so it was lunch time! I decided to not film the part of the script when Chris is in the car doing a check to see if he has anything. I did not think we would use this in the film and it would have been an awkward shot to film because of all the street noise. If we filmed this we would have needed a shot of the car driving off and it could have been noticeable that it was not Chris driving.

After lunch we went to the graveyard to begin filming for this scene. We spent a while looking around for a quite new grave and ended up filming Chris walking down in between the graves and the trees whilst our driver, Lydia’s boyfriend Matt, looked around for a suitable grave. I felt like there was quite a bit of faffing around here, I was asking people to set up the camera then people were talking during a take. I think it was because we were in a location where we have not been before but after the first shot our group settled back into working hard to get all the shots we needed in good time. It was so pretty in between the trees so we had a shot of just the trees and also did a pan. I wanted come close-ups of Chris’ feet walking so had one shot of him walking out of some flowers then turning right, then another of his feet walking straight down the middle of the trees. I can interlink the last shot to the long shot of him walking. The only problem with this graveyard was the park with children playing in it, but this was only around one side of the church so we recorded some atmospheric sounds where it was quiet. It sounded good on the headphones because of the birds singing. When we found an appropriate grave, we tried to find a position where you could only see the back of the grave and Chris in front of it. This turned out to be quite difficult because it was next to a bush so Laura and Lydia ended up sitting under the bush with the camera whilst I held the branches out the way to get the shot we needed. I made sure we had a shot of the grass on its own then Chris putting the bag and flowers onto that patch of grass for more of a surprise ending. For the walk towards the graveyard, we needed a few shots of his feet and walking through a field so you cannot tell it is a graveyard he is walking towards. To do this we went to the corner of the graveyard where there was just a plain grass field and filmed a long shot of him walking. I had to think about screen direction when directing this to make sure it would follow on from the shot before and after it. I then wanted a close up of his feet walking away so did two of these shots. It then began to rain so we retreated to the cars to do one last shot of Chris getting out the car. I wanted this to look like it was being filmed from the passenger seat so we opened the passenger door and zoomed in til you could only see Chris in the car seat and not the passenger seat.

We luckily had permission from Tesco on the Saturday so we met at Lydia’s house to collect the equipment and be driven to Tesco. Lydia was on work experience with X factor so understandably could not attend todays filming. We arrived at Tesco for 4pm and while Matt waited with the drivers and equipment in the car, Laura and I went into Tescos to talk to the manager to check it was all OK still, which it was, so we brought in all the equipment. I went on a scout of the shop whilst Laura and Matt stayed with the equipment. I then went and done another scout but took Laura with me this time. This helped because when it came to filming I knew exactly where I wanted everything set up. We began setting up the tracking and checking the camera still had all the correct settings on. Chris Skinner then arrived so I briefed him then we started to film after I placed the flowers in the flower baskets. The first problem I thought we would have would be the lighting because I thought Tesco might turn the lights off but luckily only the fridge and freezer lights were turned off so the lighting was sufficient. I was holding the boom pole for the first shot then Kayleigh arrived and took over. I wanted a shot of the close up of the flowers to crosscut with the long shot. We then put down the tracking down and used it to move next to Chris picking up the bananas. The first attempt of this was quite wobbly because of the mats on the floor but we removed these and then tried to do it by hand without the poles on the bottom but this just moved quite dramatically towards Chris so I wanted a static shot just incase these did not look right. We then moved onto the tracking section of having Chris walk past one side of the aisle and the camera on the other side. We did each of these shots twice because they went wobbly in parts. I wanted a close up of Chris picking up food and even though the lights were off the lighting condition was good. We then went to the sweet section to do three different shots each with different speech in. This was because we needed a shot of him picking up something that reminded him of Ellie and saying something about it before calling her. I saw a sweet and thought it would be good to have a memory and asked Chris to say something along the lines of ‘ Ellie’s tongue went so blue after this!’ The next shot we needed was at the checkout with our extra, James Colley. He was wearing his Tesco uniform and knew how to work the til so we were quite lucky. This shot took a few attempts because of small mistakes but the final shot was good. I then wanted close-ups of the exchange of money, packing bags and Chris’ face for more variety in our shots. We then filmed an exit shot of Chris leaving the store with his shopping. Throughout all of these supermarket shots, we had extras walking around because the shop was closed therefore extremely empty. This is good because it signifies the emptiness in his life but we still needed a few people to appear in it. We were now finished filming! We had put £20 into the budget for taxi’s, props, food and £100 to give to our actor to cover any travel expenses, but needed a further £15 each. After we had packed everything away and signed out of Tesco, I gave Chris the £100 and many thanks!

Our filming has gone well, we worked together to cover group absences and got all the shots we needed. Our actor was good and we had good timings with time to spare at each location. I enjoyed being director and helped out in other roles such as camera, lighting and sound. Nothing went particularly wrong and were lucky the rain held off in the graveyard scene. I made sure all the shots written on the back of the script were completed plus more. I have learnt so much whilst filming this short film. I can now use the JVC-700 camera confidently and realised how much planning can help you when it comes to the filming. I have never been a director before, it was an enjoyable experience and something I would like to do again. I have also never worked with an actor before, I was unsure on what his mannerism would be like but he was very understanding and I would like to work with him again.

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