Another FMP – ‘Grandoise’

There has been a strange atmosphere coming over the course as the weeks head ever-onward towards the date of the final hand-in. I made all my plans back at Christmas and placed it all in a timeline, and that was the timeline that I stuck to. It was important to do this, what with trips to Iceland and the like, and this was the reasoning behind not doing a second day of auditions (the first was hampered by snowy weather), doing the shoot over one weekend, and keeping the idea simple from the start. All paperwork was done weeks before the shoot, and this allowed things to run smoother. However, not everyone is in the same situation as me.

Asking around, it appears that actually most students have finished their projects in recent weeks, or are just about to finish filming and are moving on into editing. My own film is lacking in sound design, now with only a little extra editing and a few music tracks to be added. I was sympathetic to others who were still trying to get their projects filmed, and with my camera operating (and newfound DoP) knowledge, I decided to help out as many as I could.

Most of my hands into these projects dwindled due to my own commitments – meetings were missed. However, some suffered from lack of communication – some projects never happened, and I have no idea what took place in their stead. But one project that seemed to need help was that of my previous camera operator’s film about the music industry. He was originally lined up to help me out with mine, but was one of the crew that pulled out before the shoot to film his own. Four weeks later, he was still filming it, so since I had a few days spare I figured I’d lend a hand.

Myself (right) and the director (left) on the set of ‘Grandoise’ (working title). Note the snacks he bought for us on the table – hospitality of cast and crew is always essential.

I had no idea what the film was about, other than it was based around music. I had no idea of the script, the locations, or the actors involved. It turned out it was a story about a man, who’s relationship struggles because of his ambition to become a rock star (at least, that’s what I deduced). The shoot for the day was to take place in a house belonging to a student friend of ours. We did the majority of the shoot in the kitchen.

It was a two-actor production for the day, and the filming set-up generally mirrored my own – one main camera, and one main audio operator. What I was interested to see was the log sheet – I didn’t use one in my own FMP. It recorded the ‘file number’ of every video taken, and what it was of, and then did the same with the audio (this sheet would have saved me a lot of time in my own editing suite). The log sheet did, however, add more time to the filming schedule.

I also noted the storyboards had been done by the director, not to any great artistic degree. Only he would be able to testify as whether they were any use or not – in my own productions, I know I wouldn’t have even given them a second glance! Communication with actors was good, and breaks were scheduled complete with food and drink ‘on the house’.

If anything, this project suffered exactly the same way my own did – I think there were too many people. The two cameras were actually both used more frequently this time around, but again it was probably best for the director himself to be behind one of the cameras, as he knew his own visual style the best, and he didn’t have much else to do other than make some decisions on the script and shout ‘action’ every so often (and to his credit, he didn’t use the broken clapper board!) Although I was pretty busy throughout the day, towards the end I handed my camera over to the other camera operator, as we’d switched to one of his own personal lenses, and I felt I should diversify the workload more. In the end, everyone had chipped in equally, meaning nobody felt at a loose end (like I’m sure some people did at some points on mine!) Interestingly though, we spent the whole day venturing through only two or three pages of script. In comparison, I had done seven pages each on my own day shoots (even the 1st AD seemed impressed at that tally!). Was this project better planned, and if so will that make it a better movie? All will be laid bare soon enough!

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