The storm… after the calm.

Para leer este blog en español pincha aquí.

The day starts early for us, but the excitement charges our batteries more than the first coffee of the morning. The Director, 1st AD and Producer Assistant all meet in the office. We pick up the props and head off to North London.

Surprisingly, we get to the location too early. Its miraculous, London transport has for once worked perfectly. We meet the 2nd AD and the director of photography and go to knock Karim’s door. He’s the landlord of the location and wants to give us some instructions: where the actors are allowed to smoke, where we can put all the furniture, the safety measures that we have to keep in mind…

The actors wait upstaris having a chat

The actors wait upstaris having a chat

Some of the actors arrive really early too. They were also concerned about the usual transport surprises and prefer to arrive too early than not arrive at all.  They make themselves comfortable upstairs and get to know each other.  It will be a long wait. The beginning of the shoot is hard to get right. It is the key moment when most of the lighting has to be set up in the proper place.

The actors come downstairs. We start shooting all the “above the glass” shots. Mark Saunders, the director, give some directions and Claire Sharples, the 2nd AD, tell the actors where their initial position is. We still need more time.  We crowd all together around the monitor to see how the shot will look. The overexposed effect is great, but we find several dark “stains”: the edge of one small bulb in the ceiling, one of the rubber tops of the tripod’s leg… we cover all the defects with white tape and eventually we see the clapperboard in front of the camera: Roll 1    Scene 1    Take 1

All together around the monitor, checking the framing

All together around the monitor, checking the framing

Some feelings characterize the first hours of the shoot, perfectionism and optimism. This is not bad, but it can entail some problems: we can easily run out of time.  We all need to focus. The lunch break keeps being put off and people start getting nervous. Finally, we take the break and everybody seems satisfied with the job done so far.

First directions of the day

First directions of the day

The moment arrives to shoot the takes that made us to come to this location: the ones around the glass ceiling. The extras exchange contact numbers and leave the space.

Shots from “under the glass ceiling” work perfectly. Nevertheless, we are using some extra time that we haven’t contracted with the landlord, so we call him asking for one more hour. Costs start to rise, but we can’t let the pressure to drive us to take hasty decisions that will lead to problems in editing.

We move upstairs to shoot from “above the glass ceiling”. Lights are ready, camera in position, actors prepared… and suddenly, without prior warning, the camera switches off. We are already using a second extra hour. Karim, the landlord, arrives to the location. “We are having some technical problems”, how many times has he heard that excuse? Fortunately, the camera starts working again and we are able to take the last shot of the day.

Have we got everything we need? We think so. We tidy up, clean everything, put the furniture in place again… and leave the location. We talk about the day on our way back home. We are tired and a bit worried about having used two extra hours, but this is a normal issue in film production.
The next shooting day will be at Brunel University. We will use their green screen. It will be a quieter day and every take will be more planned because every shot has to be from specific distances and angles. There is no room for improvisation. On the plus side we don’t have time limit to use these premises so there is more time to get things right. It seems that it will be a journey without mishaps, but we won’t count our chickens before they are hatched.

If you want to see the pictures of the shooting, click here to visit flickr.

If you want to see the first samples of the video, click here.

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.



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In a nutshell

Para leer este blog en español pincha aquí.

Everything seems to be on the right track: we’ve found a studio and we’ve decided to get the perspex structure. The studio also offers some extra services that will save us time researching camera and lighting equipment. Perspex has also some advantages compared to the glass: it’s easier to get it and we just need to order it a couple of days in advance (whereas we would need to order the glass with at least 15 days in advance). Summing up: we are all really pleased and “relaxed”. It’s a good time to start working hard on the shoot schedule.

We get hold of the breakdown, we group the shots depending on the actors and on the technical requirements in each of them. It would be perfect if we could work just one day with all the extras and another day with the main characters. Then we could save some money as we wouldn’t need eight extras working during two days when their role of strolling in front of the camera, even if it’s crucial, can be done in one morning. By  “technical requirements” I meant the shots will need the perspex structure. Fortunately, both of the factors are compatible: the shots where we need the extras don’t need the perspex structure.

So we get to the next “ideal” shooting plan (when I say “ideal” I mean “very optimistic”):

  • First day. Morning:

8 extras + main character + 3 background characters (let’s say B, C, D)

Green screen shooting.

  • First day. Afternoon:

Main character + 3 background characters (let’s say B, C, D)

Green screen shooting.

  • Second day:

Main actor + 2 background characters (let’s say E, F)

Green screen shooting and perspex structure.

We are already so familiar with the project that everything seems obvious, but it’s hard to explain with words each shot, so there’s no point in trying to do it. It’s much easier and intuitive to download the shooting plan so you can get a literal view, with color, design, and all that stuff that makes things more user friendly. A picture speaks a thousand words. So if you want to see the first draft of our shooting plan you just have to click here.

If these plans go ahead it will also mean that we would be saving circa £1000 in our casting. But this doesn’t mean that the company would profit; it just means that the money is moving from one point of the budget to another. In short, it’s not bad news, but it’s not excellent either.

Good, good, it looks like the project is up and running. Now we “only” need to book the studio, get the actors there on time, order the perspex and start hiring technical staff. That’s nothing!

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.


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Looking for studio for 13 people. Click here to reply to this ad

Para leer este blog en español pincha aquí.

When you are working on an audiovisual project there are a lot of overlapping issues, interdependent decisions to take, and this makes things difficult. While we are looking for actors, we are also looking for a studio to shoot the video. This is not easy. We have to remember we will need a green background, for the chroma keys, or an infinity cove, to get that white non-discernable atmosphere. We must also decide how many days we will need, where the studios are, which further services they offer, any possible discounts we may get…

Let’s take it step by step and just grab the telephone- a producer’s best friend. We have to be down-to-earth: our English can be a handicap, and our lack of experience doesn’t help. The best thing to do is to know what information we need to get:

  • Hiring price
  • Dimensions
  • Is it possible to paint it green? How much will they charge for this?
  • Is it available in the shooting days?
  • How many days in advance do we need to book it? Do we have to pay a deposit?
  • Discounts

Eventually we have a list of studios scattered all over the city. As we have a very tight budget we have to focus on to the most affordables ones. Once again we are working with words, suggestions, ideas… everything is too abstract. We need to go and see the studio and decide if it fits our requirements (if we really know which our requirements are!).

Oyster Card is popped in the pocket and we set off to Norh London. There we meet the CGI specialist. Coffees, decisions progressing, decisions going back, redesign of some shots… “We should shoot this with a chroma key. No, this one is better with a white background”. Scribbles, deletions, drafts… This video is constantly changing and sometimes it is one step forward and fifty steps back.

It is midday and we head off to the first studio hoping to find the answer to all our questions.

Its too small! Sometimes it seems that we will never shoot this project and all that we are doing is wasting our time, but we cannot get demoralized.

Hopeful, we go to another nearby studio We haven’t made an appointment, but the studio are professional and friendly and answer our questions.

Things pick up, it seems that we have a place to shoot our video. On our way home we write down which shots will need chroma key and which won’t, so we can make the shooting schedule and give them a time and date. We must take the right decisions in order to optimize time and money. We don’t want 13 actors strolling in the studio for 2 days when most of them can do their role in one single morning.

So, what else do we need? Yeah, right, the glass of course…

If you want to get more information about the project “Speak out against discrimination”, click here.

For more information about Spectacle, click here.


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