Before I start, I want to thank Lorraine and my dad, from the bottom of my heart, without whom this endeavour would not have been possible. <3
One of my goals for this month (also a resolution for 2016) was to film a scene that I wrote. My requirements were mostly to have someone other than me filming, and to have another actor in the scene with me. This way, the challenge wasn’t just sharing words that I wrote myself, but also asking people to give their time and effort to help me.
This was really scary for me, so there was a lot of procrastinating and delaying. I had written the scenes and shown them to Carolyne probably last year (huge thank you to her and to my mom as well, for a whole lot of deliberating, and support). When I got back from London, I edited them to be easy to film with minimal locations, and figured out which would be the simplest. I decided the scene between two lawyers would be more complicated, so I settled on the scene I took from a much longer story I was writing, about two best friends discussing boys, which completely fails the Bechdel test, but the story itself wouldn’t.
Next came the hard part. This suprised me, because it was having other people read my writing that had initially given me pause, but now it was asking people to be a part of it, then coordinating everything while trying to inconvenience them as little as possible. Lorraine immediately said yes, as did my dad. I know these are baby steps, but this became about building the confidence to be able to film more complicated scenes, with more actors, filmmakers…I am working my way up to another scene, 2 shorts and a webseries.
It didn’t take long to coordinate our schedules, so we met Lorraine close to her work, for very guerilla filmmaking. I had been so concerned with convincing them to participate and figuring out where to meet that I had put very minimal consideration into logistics. Part of it was because I was hoping to discuss it more with my dad, part of it was because that didn’t seem scary enough to worry about ahead of time. Both my mistakes, because I know my dad would have been happy to figure out the shots with me had I asked, and if I had sat down and thought about more than a master and two over-the-shoulder close-ups, I easily could have planned it all out. Luckily, this was my attempt at failing, so I could work hard and fail better next time. Or so I tell myself after doing the bare minimum, when I know I could have done so much better.
Here are some other things I learnt (or didn’t think about, but definitely need to before my next foray into filmmaking):
- Location: Yes, the scene was a simple conversation that could be shot anywhere. However, a good location needs more than just a place for 2 people to sit. I had originally intended to film it indoors, which would have fixed a lot of issues, but as it was, we spent quite some time walking around, trying to find somewhere that would fill the following requirements…
- Sound. My first and ultimate location were the bleachers of a baseball field. In my head, as long as there wasn’t a game going on, we were fine. If there was, I figured we would film it in the car. It somehow escaped me that a location needs to be quiet, so a guy doing landscaping, machines, birds, planes…these are all things that ruin shots.
- The Sun. I was concerned about this one, in the sense that I didn’t want to film after the sun set, because then it would be dark outside. I forgot to think about shadows. Not just how lighting changes as the sun is setting, but how different camera angles bring different levels of sun exposure and can leave half a face in the dark.
Basically, this was a success, because I filmed a scene that I wrote, but at the same time, I was way too preoccupied with getting it over with, and didn’t devote even a quarter of the time I should have into planning it. That’s not true. I didn’t plan smart. I have more than enough experience with filming and being on set to know all of the things I did wrong. I just worked on preparing the wrong things. I had my actor cap on, and my writer’s cap, but not any of the other caps required when you are creating your own work, and leading the project, no matter how small.
I will use my knowledge, plan smarter, and be more open about asking for help and opinions for my next scene, which I am hoping to film some time next month. In the meantime, I will attempt to edit the footage we got into something worth sharing, even if it is just with you guys. Luckily, my dad and Lorraine had ideas and were both wonderful, so it didn’t end up as bad as my planning. It actually looked pretty good 😉
“Done is better than perfect.”
“Always do your best.”
-Don Miguel Ruiz