Shooting The Short

I just finished filming a “short”, (an under 30 minute film).

What a challenge.  The worst of it was seeing me from all angles.  Ugh! I thought I looked ginormous.

Because I did the camera set up and would have to run and take my place, I saw,  a view of my backside, way too often.  I felt like the girl in the new film, Brittany Runs a Marathon . Not huge, but she thought so. Help! fix me!!!

Still in the editing “room” ( my son’s iMac), it (the caliber of the film) appears to be less than I’d hoped for. I don’t know why I thought I could turn out a Steven Spielberg or Tarantino my first time out but… Seriously, no I knew better, but one can only  hope… hehe.  It was my first film wearing all hats. It was so much harder than I expected than when you have a pro film crew.  My camera of choice was my iPhone mounted on a Moza Mini MI Gimbal stabilizer and a standard tripod. The Moza Mini has features I thought would be great for a one man show, but for some reason, I was doing good to get it to “stabilize”.  I watched several YouTube videos to learn it’s application, then discovered that it worked best on my son’s iPhone 6 than it did on my iPhone 7Plus.  On his phone, he was able to get it to follow the subject.  The only downside is that when we used the clapper, after setting it to our subject, it got confused and the camera decided to follow the clapper instead. So, that obviously wasn’t working, so for expediency sake, we called out the scenes and takes.

My son was instrumental in figuring some of it out, but since he didn’t have time to really work the bugs out, we did what we could.

Afterglow 4

Any professional reading this is probably saying to him/herself, humorously of course, “Idiots”.  I’m not ashamed.  Everyone has to start somewhere. (If anyone reading this knows what I may have done wrong, please tell me.)

To say the least it was a bit rough going. Then as an added bonus, my phone’s storage filled up and we lost a good deal of footage that we had to re-shoot.   Sometimes, it was at the cost of losing an exceptional take.  After that and before resuming, we of course, transferred what we had to the iMac editing program.  We are using Final Cut Pro. I have friends in the business who have all the skills, but I was determined to do this on my own, so I didn’t call them. I may rethink that in the future.  After all, why have friends in the business you can’t call?  Plus, they have all the good pro equipment, not a measly iPhone.  I know films have been shot using various phone camera’s, that’s why I wanted to try it.  Plus, I figured, it would be less gear for me to haul up to SLC, where most of it was shot.   Other obstacles were weather. The weather did not cooperate, as we got thunderstorms and high winds, which made shooting trialsome. What’s more, they were not in the forecast when I looked. I did check.

Then there were the microphones.  I didn’t have booms, but I got some lavalieres for clearer sound, but didn’t remember to use them until the end.  Duh.  I’m not sure they made that big of a difference when I used them for close in dialogue.  My actor daughter, in GA, said she had a small mic and boom for iPhone, which she used for audition tapes, but we didn’t find it until the last day. I wasn’t gonna start all over for that.  Most of the sound was decent anyway.

My crew was made up of family, who all had day jobs.  That was tough. The “actors were also family plus my actor daughter’s boyfriend.  We used his law office as one of our sets. He stood in for my daughter who had a full schedule as an RN and couldn’t do the part I’d written for her.  Here we grownups are goofing off.

Afterglow 1

My little grand daughter and grandson were absolutely amazing.   When I directed my grand daughter to play dead, she did.  She is only 7 and no matter how I shook and called out to her she kept in character and didn’t break, lying there all distorted like a wet noodle. Of course, that was on the second take, because on the first take, she did get the giggles, until I clarified her part. When I yelled “cut” and praised her, she was exhilarated and I was so proud.

.Afterglow 2

Something I need to say on this account.  When you talk to a child, especially one on an autistic spectrum, remember to tell them it is only pretend.  When I first arrived, I made the mistake of telling her we were making a movie and she would die.  The first couple of days after my arrival, she stayed clear of me and was terribly moody. Generally, this little bit of sunshine is all over me, so I suspected something was up. Then it dawned on me why, so we had “the talk”. She was great after that.

It brought back memories of my daughter, Tina, at age 4.  My husband had decided he wanted to adopt her.  At the time, we were unable to locate her birth father and I knew those two had bonded beautifully and he’d been a part of her life since she was two. When we asked her how she felt about that, she sounded very agreeable. Two weeks later,  she broke down and cried and told us she didn’t want to be adopted.  She cried and said she adamantly told us she didn’t want to live with anyone else but us.  We cried with her and tearfully explained to her what we meant and reassured her she was going nowhere else to live, but would stay with us forever. How could we be so stupid?  What’s worse is she stewed about it internally for two weeks!!

So my advice, is when you work with little ones, please be sure they totally understand what is going on.  As I said, once Ally understood, she was great and did her part.

My 9 year old grandson, on the other hand, took to the whole thing like a pro.

Afterglow 3

When we got done shooting a scene, he wanted to see what it looked like, then he would say, “No, no, let’s do that again”.  “I (him) need to be doing …” this or that or put the camera here or there. He already has plans to do his own YouTube videos.  I think he’ll do well. These kids are so clever.

All in all, we had to do more retakes for me,  than anyone else. Acting is something I haven’t done in a long time and I couldn’t believe how stilted I’d become.

You may ask why I did this. Two reasons.

One: I have a friend in the business, who a couple of years ago, told me, the best way to test out my writing, is to film it, so I did. My friend was so spot on correct.  I’ve got a long way to go yet and seeing what I crafted on video was eye opening.  It really taught me a great deal. I found myself re-writing so much of what I’d originally written for something that would sound more natural, more believable.  You can see the scribbles on my script!  Is that normal?thumbnail_IMG_4216

Two: I need a reel, both for myself as an actor and as a writer. I have friends that are always wanting me to submit for parts and I have nothing. I thought I’d aged out, but from what they say, older women parts are being created and well, we could all work together.  Ya think?  They might think otherwise after seeing this. lol

Finally we will need music. Oyvey!

In the end, I’ve decided to ask my friend if I can hang out with his film crew and see how they do get the shots I so sorrily attempted to do.

As film viewers and armchair critics, it’s not as easy as you’d think. Trust me.

Oh yeah, while I was there we did the SLC FanX Com.  Here’s some pictures from that.

Ah yes and for ally’s birthday I did a repeat of my Grandma Tala, which the kids absolutely loved.

9 thoughts on “Shooting The Short

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