HND – Assignment 1 / Task 1 / Milestone 2 – Pre-production Update

Risks

  • Still waiting for proof of insurance.  We are required to demonstrate £10m of liability insurance in order to film on location.
  • Most locations are subject to permits and insurance.
  • One private location has not yet responded to my request, I am working on contingencies just in case

Notes

  • Pre-production planning goes apace, and permit requests have been submitted – however, approval is on hold until insurance documentation can be provided.  I first asked Raindance to provide this in November 2017, and have chased periodically since then. 
  • I have found Trello with TeamGantt to be a viable project planning tool and have used this to lay out the basics of my shooting schedule.
  • The script rewrites are ongoing, I am close to a finished script at which stage I can start planning the shots
  • My lead actors have accepted and are currently learning v 1.05 of the script whilst on holiday in Madeira at a family birthday

Reflections

I am sure I must be doing something wrong … people (other students at Raindance)  keep telling me my plans are ambitious and that my shoot is complicated.  At the same time, I look at the plan and the shoot and figure I could probably do the whole thing in an afternoon, but I’ve scheduled two whole days to do the shoot along with a bunch of contingency.  Where I think an outdoor shoot will take 5 to 10 minutes I have allowed 2 hours.  The one thing I have absolutely no control over, however, is the weather.  We need a sunny day for the outdoor scenes.  If the heavens open then we fall back to plan B and we may have to shoot some of the transit scenes either another day (I have actors booked for 12th and 13th Feb, they are also available on the 14th if necessary) – so lets just hope we don’t get downfall of biblical proportions, if it rains at all 🙂

What would people think/say if I told them that for one of the scenes I have an idea to shoot in front of a green screen – now this I do think is ambitious, and may not (probably won’t) work – however I am factoring this in as my contingency and not as a must have for the story/film.  If I don’t do at least one thing a day that challenges and scares me then I am not pushing myself and I start to become complacent.

Worst case, the whole thing can be shot in my local pub’s beer garden (weather permitting), it won’t be quite as “swanky” as I would like, but I have that “rewrite” in the back of my mind if the permits either don’t come through or the cost of the permits is prohibitive.

Thankfully I have been able to secure a small amount of sponsorship/funding for this exercise, should it be necessary, however, I am keeping the powder dry on this option and holding the offer(s) in reserve for future projects.

Most of my cast has been secured, although I may need a few younger actresses for the disco scene,  I can film that with whatever talent turns up on the day (night).  Lighting day for night is something I haven’t done for a while, it shouldn’t be too difficult though – mental note, I need to try and book out the lights from Raindance … there has however been some debate about whether or not the Raindance kit is available for students to use off-site.  (At least three HND students have so far said that the kit can’t be used).  If this is the case, I can see a quick trip to a rental outlet or a last minute Amazon Prime purchase to supplement the LED lights I have currently.

My budgets are on the high side, but that’s usually how I operate.  If I put in a stupidly low figure and it is accepted then delivering is impossible.  I find it always much better to under promise and over deliver, as with budgets, always leave a surplus for next time when you can.

 

 

 

 

HND Term 2 SWOT Analysis Update

This week we had to record interviews around our upcoming short films, my no holds barred reflective blog post on that process has just been uploaded.

We have been tasked with updating our SWOT and SMART goals

 

My original SMART goals were

Short – By 15th Oct – sign up for a Raindance short class

Medium – By 15th Dec – produce a short video blog about my holiday

Long – By 1st June  – Make a short film of at least 5 minutes duration

My short term goal was easily achieved as I had signed up for several courses that week and I have now completed all of those courses (I do need to attend the foundation course on Visual FX as this clashed with Mexico). 

My medium term goal is a little behind schedule, mainly because I ended up taking two holidays, and the first holiday included 3 days of illness, coupled with an admission to hospital in Mexico with food poisoning.  I am hoping to have that blog post completed within the next few weeks now that I am back from a month of R&R in South Africa.  On a positive note, it was nice to be able to spend some quality time with my mum.  I don’t see her anywhere near as often as I should, and having lost my father unexpectedly to cancer in 2013 (having seen him and mum a total of roughly 15 days in the previous 10 years) I want to try to make sure I don’t miss the chance and opportunity to re-connect / spend my entire life buried in work.

The Long Term goal is still on track, although the HND submission deadline is April 20th … hopefully I won’t miss this one! 🙂

Updated goals have been requested as follows

short term 13 Jan
medium term 9 Feb
long term 30 Mar

 

On the basis of limited time, and practicality, I can only really say that my short-term goal will be to have this blog post completed (it is already the 14th Jan at 5 am, so I’m behind on that one) – however as I only have Wed/Thu and Sunday scheduled to work on HND topics, due to “real world” pressures of a day job and running 3 companies, I am still within my own timeframes.

 

Medium Term I will again aim for a completed blog post on my travel exploits.  The footage is finally downloading from cameras and storage devices, and I am starting to think about a script which will tell the story of the trip(s) in a light-hearted and fun way.

 

Long Term, 30th March does not feel like long term, to be honest, and had I not written down the dates from Patricia’s presentation, I would have been certain that I had, in fact, got these dates wrong and that 9th Feb should be short term, 30th March medium term and September long term .. but hey ho.

 

By 30th March I will have hopefully worked out what my short film is going to be about, will have shot the whole thing, and be in the final throws of an edit ready to submit the finished work before the April 20th deadline.

I do already have a project plan, shooting schedule and I have actors lined up (2 leading actors and 5-6 extras) based on my original script(s), however, most of this revolves around locations – which includes some ambitious permit requests – these are being submitted to Westminster Council and the managing agents for Covent Garden.  If the permits aren’t approved (I will find out in another 2-3 weeks) or come back with any financial implications/requirements, then I am definitely on the back foot and working on a plan C (plan B already having been initiated due to the confusion over script design and shooting schedules – First off we’re told to write a script and don’t worry about any restrictions or limitations; then when we’ve done that we’re told we have to film it in Jan/Feb despite my script being set outdoors in the summer – because no-one thought to say “write a script that you can film in Jan/Feb 2018”, and despite the whole issue of the locations the script is set in being heavily permitted locations).

I personally think the initial script writing exercise could have been better explained.  However, it is what it is (and the rest of this paragraph has been redacted).

My SWOT Analysis hasn’t changed much (although I have added more threats), I don’t feel as though I have (as yet) developed any new skills, and as yet I have not really managed to resolve any of my weaknesses, although I do feel I am mellowing a little (learning to vent here rather than bottling up my frustrations) towards other people’s lack of planning/forethought and am taking that more in my stride and just getting on regardless, so maybe I am growing after all? 🙂

 

 

HND – Reflections – Short Film Interviews

Jon talks about Dating Dilemmas, his new short film

 

Term two and we were once again tasked with filming interviews with fellow classmates about our upcoming short films.

This is the second interview task, and we have been asked to reflect on how things went compared to the interviews we conducted in week one of the HND course.

The lighting and setup phase went quite smoothly, and we worked reasonably well as a team.  The initial setup had myself flagged as DP which made life a lot easier as I was able to guide set style and design, and we were also now able (allowed) to use lights and also sound equipment – which meant there was a chance for better production quality.

However, despite my repeated appeals, we were not allowed to record reverses, so the audio production quality is only roughly 50% better than it was before.  The consensus was that we were going to film over the shoulder – although when that decision was made and the lighting designed, we had not appreciated that Patricia was going to deny us the option of shooting the interviewer asking the questions; either with a second camera (which whilst being available was then allocated to behind the scenes shots) or using the single camera as pickup shots.  Not the end of the world, however I still found it frustrating as we were again hampered and limited for the sake of “simplicity”.  We were also instructed very specifically to film the interviews in black and white – something I double checked and asked for clarification on, as again that instruction wasn’t in the written brief, it was casually mentioned at the last second as we were heading out to collect the equipment.  Thankfully I caught this instruction, as when shooting in black and white, you need to light for black and white – you can’t (shouldn’t) “fix it in post” as some people would try to do (something I picked up from Zoran Veljkovic on the Cinematography course last year).

Also, this time, we worked as a single team (with a single set), as opposed to being split into three teams and sent to the arse end of Raindance to try and find a location to film with a mix of iPhones and a D700 (which for my group meant being sent up onto the street in term one and having to contend with a lot of passers by walking through shots and in/out of Raindance HQ mid sequence. (although at least we had half decent/natural light to play with) 🙂

It was nice to see how the group as a whole has developed, and how we were able to work together and not get under each other’s feet, we all knew and understood our roles (which rotated for each of the 6 recordings), and we all had a lot of fun in the process.

Personally, I didn’t overly enjoy being interviewed .. partly because I had not really had any time to prepare or rehearse (while others were thinking about how to answer the questions, I was working on set dressing, lighting and framing for the shots), and partly because even at this stage, I’m not all that sure what the film is going to be about, having had to change my story/script at the last minute to fit in with the shooting and submission schedule (my original idea is set in July/August and revolves heavily around it being summer .. with mild evenings and early sunshine)

My finished interview (shot in one take) will appear below once editing has been completed

Having watched the recordings and edited the above video, I am reminded about how totally exhausted and ill-prepared I was by the time it came to be my turn in front of the camera, having been running around dressing and designing the set, then acting as DP, Director and interviewer before suddenly finding myself in the hot seat, and conscious that we were already 25 minutes behind schedule when it came time to record my piece.  I hadn’t had a chance to run through the answers to the questions or even really think about them, beyond the 5 minutes that morning where I had to come up with answers for a new film, not being the one I have been working on for the last 3 months, but one I have spent about 20 minutes designing.

One of the questions was “why do you feel the film should be made NOW” … My honest answer to that was “because we need to have something to hand in for the assignment” … No real social motivation or desire, despite my attempts at saying something about “a social commentary of the time”.

 

Oh and the sound quality (recorded with a boom mic) is actually almost as bad as the audio from the camera 🙁

 

… It is what it is … or rather it was what it was will probably end up on my gravestone (a la Spike Milligan’s “I told you I was ill”) … uneventful and mediocre (hopefully just the film, and not my contribution to society as a whole!) 🙂

 

Oh and I tried to create closed captions in Premiere .. that didn’t go quite to plan as the srt file Premiere generated had a lot of HTML style markup in, which YouTube did not appreciate … so I had to export the whole thing as a text file, search and replace all the HTML and then re-upload.

I did not enjoy the captioning process … that I found decidedly tedious 🙁

 

Update – We spent the afternoon on Wednesday learning about “click bait” .. and I have now set up a second (more professionally edited) video with an array of subtitles and a “sexy” thumbnail image, optimised SEO.  Lets see how that does over the next few weeks/months.  Final version below

Jon talks about Dating Dilemmas, his new short film

 

I have also setup a website for the film and started working on the poster / artwork – click the image below to be taken to the new website – although I definitely need to work on the WordPress layout / presentation before this goes “public”