Josh’s Anti Littering PSA

So, after several aborted attempts due to weather (snow in March!) and with a looming deadline, I offered to meet Josh on Friday and head down to an orchard near his house to film his PSA.

The plan was simple … a guy walks through a park, throws an empty bottle into a bush and the bush fights back.

I had just taken delivery of my new Ronin-M … so I thought this would be a great opportunity to fire it up and give it a test.

Josh only wanted to film in 1080p, so I reduced the GH5 to the lowest quality it could do (150MB/sec 1080p) and off we went.


An hour or so later we had more than enough coverage for his PSA, and job done.

An easy, painless and fun shoot with Josh and his better half Sarah.  

Getting the footage (11GB) to Josh proved slightly problematic as Google Drive ate the footage, however, I threw it onto an SD card and dropped it around to his house on my way to Bamba’s shoot on Sunday.


Oh, and Josh had to learn how to colour grade as we were shooting in VLog-L … but the end footage looks quite good!

The Power of Max – Sound Recordist

  • Directed by – Josh Farrell
  • DoP – Julian Deane Jon Morby
  • Boom Operator – Bamba Diop
  • Camera – (Josh’s Friend)

Josh’s shoot was the easiest to get to by far, just a mile down the road from my house.  The snow caused problems for some of the crew (notably Julian who dropped out at the last minute due to fears over trains), although Orlando made it in and he lives in the same area as Julian.


During the day I saw some flashes of brilliance in the directing, mainly editing in camera (which I think Josh’s friend, who is also editing this, had guided Josh on in their rehearsal a week earlier).

There were some logistical issues in Josh’s kitchen due to a huge centre console, however, we worked around them.

As Julian pulled out at the last minute, Josh asked me to step in and act as DoP/Cinematographer, which I was more than happy to do.  

We got to use fairy lights, and Josh’s redheads which he’d acquired on eBay a week earlier.  

I brought my sound gear, including my brand new Rode NTG4+ which I had literally only taken delivery of the day before (Julian had been scheduled to bring boom pole and an NTG2)

The shoot went well, it seemed like a cast of thousands, all very well choreographed and scheduled.


Hat tip to Josh, with rehearsing the week before, and pulling in some professionals to steer the ship whilst also employing several HND students, the whole thing went very well and was a fun shoot to be on.

Lenore – DoP/Camera

  • Directed by – Julian Deane
  • DoP / Camera – Jon Morby
  • Sound Recordist – Alex (who left due to allergies) and Jon Morby
  • Boom Operator – Bamba Diop
  • 1st AD – Josh Farrell?
  • Script Supervisor – Josh Farrell?
  • Grips – Sammy OA, Hamed and Orlando Bryant

Lenore was the first of the student shoots, Julian had managed to sneakily schedule his shoot as an overnight shoot the weekend before my 1st day of shooting in Covent Garden … it was going to be “fun” doing an all night shoot, having Sunday to recover and then going straight into a 2 x 12 hour day shoot for my own project, however, I had agreed to assist, so here I am! 🙂

Rush hour traffic through Wimbledon was fun, and once there, finding Julian’s mansion was a little difficult, however, we were soon there and went through a quick briefing.  I will commend Julian on his preparation work, and the storyboards which his mother had drawn up.  All very professional.


I did originally think Julian had gone a little overboard with the equipment rental, including two 2k HMIs in the back garden, a Black Magic Ursa, as well as his own kit (Redheads, Strobes, etc), however by the end of the night we had raided the boot of my car for additional LED panels as Julian actually didn’t have enough lights to complete the scene as he had wanted it.  Thankfully, I had packed lights, camera, reflectors, etc just in case (what self-respecting DP turns up to a shoot empty-handed?!)

The shoot went reasonably well, although the sound recordist had a serious allergy to cats which meant he didn’t stay for long, the other help Julian had been promised from the local school failed to turn up, so I doubled up as sound as well as camera and lights for the night.  I did miss one reflection, which is annoying, especially as we can’t pretend it is moonlight due to the angle / position of the windows vs the picture that is reflecting the light.

Owing to the size and nature of Julian’s shoot, we really could have benefited from walkie-talkies for communication.  As it was I was cueing strobe effects on a countdown (3 …  – silent 2, 1) … and in the latest rough assembly, you can hear me shouting to the lighting guys outside … you can also hear the strobes “beep” as Julian had been unable to turn off their alarms, however, this should all be fixed when Julian completes the sound design and foley.

All in all, a well-run shoot … Craft services were acceptable, made all the better by Orlando bringing some hot food from Pret which he prepared lovingly in the kitchen during the lunch break.

Momentum – Sound Recordist

  • Directed by Sammy OA
  • 1st AD – Ana
  • DoP – Julian Deane
  • Camera Asst – Josh Farrell
  • Sound – Jon Morby
  • Boom Op – Bamba Diop
  • Runner – Arabella

Today I was co-opted onto Sammy’s shoot as a sound recordist, working with Bamba on boom.

The shoot went reasonably well, although everything did seem a little haphazard and it felt like no-one (including the 1st AD) really knew what was going on.  

Sammy chose to steal a few shots early on that weren’t on his shot list as we were waiting for crew to arrive, and we then found ourselves running behind before lunch.

The shot list, such as it was, was numbered in the most random and confusing way I have ever seen, with shots labelled as 1.1.a.iii and so on … Boy were we confused! 🙂

Sammy stole 15-20 minutes from lunch which started to get things back on track, and by the end of the day, we were pretty much on schedule.

There seemed to be some friction between the DP and his AC (different AC, but again??!) however Josh coped with this pretty admirably and didn’t let it get on top of him.

The location was Sammy’s house, plus a park just down the road.  The internal location was so confined / cramped that we couldn’t always have everyone in the room when needed, and on occasion, I had to assist Julian by making lighting changes or lense changes as either Josh couldn’t get through the bedroom door, or Julian couldn’t get from behind the camera to the lights.

It was also worth noting that Sammy/Julian didn’t allow enough batteries for the shoot and ended up having to borrow my Canon 60D to complete the shoot.  Fortunately, I always have 3 batteries and a mains adapter with that camera … and quite fortuitously I had decided to take that with me rather than the GH5 in case they needed any BTS footage.  As it was, Sammy hadn’t thought about BTS, but as I was now camera-less, I ended up taking what few BTS photos I did manage to take using my iPhone (oh the shame!) 🙂

Charity Beer Festival Promo Video


The assignment was to produce a promotional video for a client, either Raindance or an agreed alternative which needs to be approved by the tutor in advance.


After discussions with the tutor, it was agreed I could create a promotional video for Bushey and Oxhey Round Table’s (BORT) Charity Beer Festival.  I have long had an association with BORT, and have been involved with their beer festival since the inception in 2007 and it seemed right that a charity should benefit if possible.

Traditionally, being charity affairs, Beer Festivals rarely have the funding for professional promotional efforts and are instead at the mercy of the best efforts provided by volunteers.   As can be seen, by the examples below, these are not always the most professional (or stabilised) of productions.  It also seems that, apart from North Leeds, Harrogate and Chester – there are barely any promotional videos out there.


BORT is no different, and to date has only been able to make use of posters and word of mouth marketing.  It has been my goal to change this, and in both 2016 and 2017, I attended the festivals, with camera in hand, to record some footage to use for promotional videos.  Sadly, time and resources meant that, until today, I have been unable to actually complete the task.

The traditional format appears to be to create the video much like a TV news segment, with lower thirds and reporter style commentary.

And sometimes, the festivals do make local news channels – such as “StaffsLive” – Staffordshire University’s media channel created by their BA and MA students.



The videos seem to be, on the whole, considerably longer than the 1-minute segment requested for this assignment.  North Leeds Festival have posted 30+ minute videos showing the festivities including live music, drinking, competitions and more.  Several of the videos I’ve seen were incredibly shaky, handheld, iPhone footage filmed from the back of a crowd.  The few things they all have in common are Live Music, Beer and of course “fun” whilst emphasising the charity nature of the festival.


Having been involved in the Beer Festival for many years, and in fact having been Chairman of Bushey & Oxhey Round Table for a total of 6 years (6 festivals), I have a fair knowledge of the workings of the festival and the “client requirements” which meant that, apart from running through a basic checklist, I only needed to spend the bare minimum of time in research phase.

My checklist went along the lines of

  • Highlight the charity nature of the festival
  • Make sure Round Table is seen in a good light
  • Ensure the current Round Table branding is utilised
  • Ensure the current Ladies Circle branding is utilised
  • Round Table is a young man’s organisation (18-45), try to ensure that the portrayed demographic includes the younger generation
  • Highlight the live music aspect
  • Highlight the ciders – it is more than just a beer festival
  • Highlight the association with Ladies Circle (this wasn’t possible in the 1-minute time frame, although should be possible in a 90 second or 2-minute promo)
  • Arrange interviews with other stakeholders (this was impractical in the initial time frame due to the loss of 3 weeks with laryngitis).
  • Make something which can be re-used each year
  • Ensure that the venue (The Three Crowns) is seen in a favourable light
  • Highlight that the event is one for all the family, child-friendly beer garden, etc
  • BBQ food on offer throughout the weekend, as well as the usual restaurant menu.

At least for the milestone, I have been unable to arrange interviews with the Ladies Circle Chair/committee.  A mixture of snow and illness (both myself and the ladies) meant that interviews have been cancelled on more than one occasion so far.  I am hoping to be able to conduct the interviews and include them in a longer edit prior to the April 26th submission deadline, however, the 1-minute version is unlikely to change much and is already “packed” so adding content may prove counterproductive.

I will consider doing a Ladies Circle specific version, as well as a joint/co-branded version as the project develops.


Stylistic Design

I chose to run a voice over / commentary by the landlord as he talks about the historic nature of the venue, coupled with images of the beer garden, people relaxing and having fun.  We highlight the live music, as well as the large selection of real ales and ciders that are available, without naming any specific brands.  We show young men standing around, laughing, having fun, whilst also showing the older generation in an unhurried an unrushed environment, enjoying a half a cider.  

The festival covers 3 days, and is a joyful, family experience.  Unrushed, unpressured and it was important to encompass this in the visuals.

We show members of Ladies Circle working behind the bar, as well as the young members of Round Table.  We show a local dignitary turning up for a beer, paying for the beer, and then being invited behind to pour his own beer (used for press coverage after the fact).

What would I do differently?

As with all charity productions, you are limited by a volunteer’s available time.  If this were a commercial presentation, being paid for by a company, then the company would be more invested in the production and they would make their staff available (paid and during office hours) to record the necessary interviews or b-roll.  In this instance, we were hampered by the fact people needed to work during the day, were only available on certain evenings, and then these dates having to be postponed at the last minute due to illness.


The brief was for a snappy, 1 minute, delivery.  The content itself doesn’t really lend itself well to a 1-minute slot.  The whole idea of the beer festival is to spend a relaxing weekend chilling, not a hectic/frantic visit. 

There are issues to consider regarding the advertisement of alcohol, ensuring that we do not promote over drinking or binge drinking.  There is a voluntary code, as well as legal requirements which need to be adhered to.  In this case, I have erred on the side of caution and steered away from any direct marketing of any alcoholic drinks or brands.

For television, the slots would be 15-seconds or 30-seconds and would follow a simpler, more prescribed format – this said, the 30-second advert slot is now effectively dead [1][2], instead, being replaced by 6-second “bumpers” and skippable infomercials advertising products online (Google, etc).

Feedback and Peer Review

We went through a peer review session in class.  Comments related to the placement of the mic on the talent (done this way to avoid pops that we were experiencing), and about a transition at the end of the video – now covered.

There was also a lot of uncertainty about what is Round Table .. something the organisation as a whole does need to combat, however not something for this brief.  Fortunately, our target audience in Bushey is familiar with Bushey Round Table as we do a lot to promote our presence in the community.  Nationally the organisation really does need to do more to promote itself I agree.

Other than that, the feedback related to poor audio due to the quality of the Raindance speakers, and some confusion about whether this was promoting a beer festival, a music festival, or Round Table.  The answer was _all of the above_ so I guess it had the desired effect and brought in those who would prefer music and those who would prefer beer.  Only one respondent said that they would not attend the beer festival, simply because they do not drink alcohol.


  1. Time is running out for the 30-second advert, The Guardian
  2. Time runs out for the 30-second Television ad, The Financial Times

Project Santana – Post mortem

And so ends a rather hectic couple of weeks as I work on the final edit of Dating Dilemmas, part of my trilogy of short films as part of the Raindance HND and associated projects.


Day One

  • Director Jon Morby
  • DP Julian Deane Mihaela Obreja
  • Camera Mihaela Obreja
  • 1st AD Orlando Bryant
  • Script Supervisor Josh Farrell
  • Runner Fillipa Sebom
  • Photographer Tomas MH 


  • Anette Martensen
  • Angela Prince
  • Ian Macnaughton
  • Tomas MH
  • Fillipa Sebom

Lead Actors

  • Gin Mar
  • Dima Sol


  • Location 1: The Crusting Pipe
  • Locaton 2: Covent Garden Market


Day One was a shoot in Covent Garden Market.  I wanted this location for the bar scene (Dating Dilemmas) and also an engagement scene (Guardian Angel and the Raindance Valentines short film competition), and had written the scripts with these locations in mind.   I also (mistakenly it seems) thought that choosing a Central London location would have meant everyone could get there easily and without too much hassle on a Monday morning).

During the peer review phase at the end of last year, I had been told in no uncertain terms that my ideas were far too ambitious and that my script (Loves Tragedy – which since became Guardian Angel – 1/3 of the total project) was a £20,000 – £30,000 budget needing a huge cast of extras and multiple days to shoot.  I had always felt that this was, in fact, a relatively simple shoot which could be accomplished in the main with some basic “run and gun” techniques .. and after being told how impossible it was all going to be, I was left motivated to prove everyone wrong.  I knew there would be certain challenges, but at the end of the day, what is the point in doing something if it doesn’t help you grow.  If I wanted to spend the day in a daze, almost half asleep and bored, then I would have stayed in the office! 🙂

Permissions were obtained with relative ease from The Crusting Pipe (one phone call, “You want to film? When? How many? Sure, not a problem.  Just be aware that CapCo can be funny.” … and CapCo (Capital and Counties) who simply needed a RAMS (Risk Assessment and Method Statement), copies of the shooting schedule, a floor plan and copies of my Public Liability insurance.  The latter took the longest to arrange as we believed Raindance were going to cover the insurance, only to find out (after 4 months of asking) that we were, in fact, going to need to arrange our own – which I did through BECTU with the minimum of fuss.  The only problem ended up being that CapCo wanted £500/hour for film shoots with a crew of more than 5.  As a result, I had to do some creative juggling and ended up with a skeleton crew when in “CapCo Territory” and a large crew within the Crusting Pipe (as there were multiple permissions/domains).

Finding actors was relatively easy as I had already half written the script with a couple of friends (professional actors) in mind and when they read the script(s) they jumped at the role.  Finding the extras was a little harder, however, Anette Martinsen (professional actor and producer by day) soon made light work by roping in her son (Tomas MH – also a professional actor) and his girlfriend Filippa Sebom (yet another actor) to fill the gaps and she also volunteered as a runner for the day.  Tomas is also a photographer so he doubled up by providing BTS coverage over the two days.


The 1st AD was really busy planning their own shoot, so I ended up doing all of the scheduling and call sheets myself.   To this end, I found an online application called StudioBinder which for about $40/mo gives me all I need for planning and script breakdowns.  

My DoP / Camera Operator emailed me Sunday night  (11 hours before the shoot) to say that he was going to be unable to attend, and was terribly sorry for letting me down at the last minute.  I had to act quickly and managed to find a friend who, whilst having limited camera experience, was willing to take on the job and who wasn’t working the following morning as she was a school teacher, and it was half term.

What I hadn’t planned for was my leading actors turning up over an hour late due to problems with the trains.  The extras were all early, the crew (except for the 1st AD who was also delayed due to trains) were early, and we were sat around for some time waiting with the clock ticking.  When the leading actors did finally arrive, the 90-minute window we had to shoot all the dialogue scenes had become 20 minutes (we were against the clock as there are scheduled musical performances every 45 minutes from 10 am in the public areas which meant we would lose sound).  I knew of this, had planned for it, and as we only needed to record 5 lines of dialogue in total, it should not have been a problem.  Famous last words!

The crew worked quite well, however, the 1st AD really didn’t seem to know what his role entailed and rather than being my right hand, dealing with queries and organising things as per the schedule, they were rarely there when needed, and at one point they even managed to actually pick up the sound recorder and walked around with it recording in their pocket for an hour rather than having it hidden on set for backup audio/ambience.

The team at the venue (The Crusting Pipe) were amazing, and even provided a boardroom/large dining room for our exclusive use throughout the day, so we had somewhere secure to locate the kit, for actors to chill in between takes, change, do makeup, etc.

The morning’s shoot overran by an hour, due to the late start, and we then decamped to Pizza Express for lunch.  This was the most costly part of the entire day (in fact the only cost) and lunch for the cast/crew of 12 came in at £122 after a healthy discount thanks to the NUS discount of 40%.

In the afternoon we based ourselves at Raindance HQ and filmed a short “scene of crime” incident near Charing Cross Station as part of my second short (Guardian Angel).  This was the most “fluid” part of the day as this scene was still being rewritten over the weekend and wasn’t finalised until early Monday morning.  

Again there was some confusion, the 1st AD seemed more interested in being in the crowd scenes than co-ordinating the extras, the cyclist, as a result, kept missing his queues (or going early) and each time we had to reset there was a 9-minute wait for traffic flows to be “perfect”. 

During the CPR scene, several passers-by stopped, some thinking it was real, some realising that we were in fact filming – I did have some members of the crew with High Viz jackets (which resulted in some reflections in glass that the camera op didn’t spot), and we had put up some signs to say “Filming” – although they weren’t the most visible of signs I will admit.

The entire shoot wrapped at 4:30pm, some 2 hours ahead of schedule, which meant we had made up a lot of time in the afternoon.  Unfortunately, there were some issues with one of the final shots (high vis jacket reflections in phone boxes, etc), and I may have to go back and shoot some pickup shots when the weather improves (so far on the two occasions we have planned to do this so far, snow has been forecast for the Sunday/Monday).


We then decamped back to my car, which had been parked in the NCP at Covent Garden, only to find that someone had smashed the rear window and stolen my laptop, LED lights and a number of other essentials which were going to be needed for the following day’s shoot.

Problems on the day included the script supervisor losing their copy of the script and all of his notes, the 1st AD being sidetracked performing the duties of the runner, despite our actually having a runner on set, and issues with the viability of sound due to the late start, plus of course the theft from my car  in the evening.

Another major issue was with the release forms.  I specifically tasked the 1st AD with getting every single person on set to sign a release form.  Of the 11 people who should have signed a form, only 4 release forms were actually signed/returned.  This left me running around for a week trying to locate the various cast and crew members and getting them to sign forms after the fact.


Day 2 was therefore postponed while I dealt with the theft.  


Day 2 – second attempt.

  • DP Julian Deane 
  • Camera Mihaela Obreja
  • 1st AD Josh Farrell
  • 2nd AD Orlando Bryant
  • Script Supervisor Josh Farrell
  • Photographer Tomas MH
  • Boom Operator Bamba Diop

The guys at Production Gear – – were amazing.  When they heard about the theft of my lighting kit, they stepped in and offered me free use of anything I needed from their showroom.  This meant that we ended up having considerably better quality lights on set than were originally stolen.  They also loaned Rode microphones, batteries and other assorted tech.  My hat is off to these guys, they are absolute diamonds!

Day 2 was set aside to shoot the internal scenes for “Dating Dilemmas”.  This was my backup script, written when everyone dumped on me saying how “Loves Tragedy” wouldn’t work, couldn’t work and was generally worse than anything created by Tommy Wiseau.  It also plays nicely into an extended/alternative edit for Project Santana, which I am hoping to put together in due course.

The final location we shot in was not my first (or even second) choice, however, we had lost the primary location due to concerns over how the landlord might react to a film crew turning up, the secondary location had a water leak and the builders were in, and a third location pulled at the last minute when they read the script (turns out she was a vegan!) 🙂  The lead actors volunteered their apartment, and whilst it wasn’t perfect, I knew we could make it work – even if it was south of the water and a nightmare to get to by car.

This time it was my turn to be late to set, stuck in traffic, and having to deal with mechanical issues with one of the cars we were using to transport the lights, camera, props, etc.

My DP (Julian) was this time able to make the shoot (he lived 6 miles down the road in Wimbledon, so didn’t have far to travel), however as we were a) shooting a number of bedroom scenes with a half-naked female actress and b) I still wasn’t 100% certain we would see Julian on this shoot either, I had asked my friend Mihaela (who has attended the Raindance Cinematography course and was keen to flex the muscles while the course is still fresh in her head) to be Camera Op and help with lighting if Julian was again awol.  This, I think, was the precursor to the problems which ensued later on.

Julian did make it, as did Mihaela, and unbeknown to me (initially) there was some friction between the two.  I was, at this stage, more focussed on the fact that I needed the room to be dressed in a certain way, and that I wanted the whole thing shot with the mirrored wardrobe out of shot.  Julian, on the other hand, was insistent that he could shoot the whole thing through the reflection in the mirror.  The Camera Operator also felt that this was a bad idea, and demonstrated repeatedly how the angles were impossible.  I kept saying how the lighting was impossible (we didn’t have enough of it, the dynamic range of the camera wasn’t sufficient, and besides which, it screwed up my entire screen grammar which I had carefully planned out).  We lost just over an hour going through this and the set dressing.

Shortly before lunch, after the issue between the DP and the Camera Operator had been brought to my attention, I stepped in, had a quiet word with both of them, and things seemed to improve in the afternoon.

The shoot went reasonably well, we got all the shots I had planned, although many of them as one-shots rather than 8 short inserts.  I had the inserts planned so I knew we had something to fall back on, and to highlight the coverage we needed, to ensure that we had all the key points covered.  It wasn’t until the following day that I discovered Julian hadn’t properly attached the XLR audio adapter to the camera rig, which meant that the adapter sometimes moved and we ended up picking up audio from the onboard microphones, rather than the boom mic which was plugged into the XLR adapter. 🙁 (and neither the DoP or the camera op were monitoring the sound as they should have been) – the quality of the remote monitor sound was generally bad, so whilst I could hear what was going on through the headphones I couldn’t discern the actual quality.

The kitchen scene was probably the most problematic due to the size of the room, the fact that the fridge/freezer kept making noises, and worse the boiler kept kicking in and we couldn’t turn either of them off.

The Edit

For the purpose of the HND first short assignment, I am submitting Dating Dilemmas, a short (tongue in cheek/satirical) comedy which pokes fun in the direction of vegans.

Editing this has been interesting.  Dealing with the foley, cleaning the audio, trying to do ADR on the missing audio, editing, dealing with bugs in the editing software (the SMS conversations randomly corrupt and the text fails to render) are all eating into what should have been a relatively simple edit process, but it is still quite enjoyable.


Lessons Learned

Working with the HND team is great fun, it is wonderful to work with like-minded and spirited individuals that are keen to learn and create.  This does also lead to some problems, however, as whilst I am used to working with professionals who have man management, project management and time management skills in my day job, the students are still quite inexperienced in these areas, and I sometimes forget and expect them to deliver more than they know how to.  I need to step back, allow more time to ensure I can monitor their performance and mentor them where necessary – and as a result, not expect to get as much done in a day as I could potentially do with a more experienced team at my side.


As a result, I need to allow more time for the shoot.   I also could have spent more time on set rehearsing with the actors.  We had spent several weeks talking online about the characters and performance, however, most of the focus had been on Guardian Angel rather than Dating Dilemmas, and there were some definite issues with the tempo of the performance on the day, which I didn’t pick up until I viewed the rushes the following day.

I am thinking we could perhaps make a “making of” movie, a little like “Disaster Artist” perhaps.  Certainly, there seems to have been enough drama on set/behind the camera to warrant a short movie!

I am definitely used to working at Mach-1 and have, over the last 20+ years, worked in teams where I am usually one of the slower team members.  I am sure that the guys will learn the roles, and know what is expected of them quickly, and we will be back to that situation in no time.  In the meantime, I need to be a little more patient, a little more observant and be prepared to mentor more.  


Other things of note. Whilst I did meet with Josh and discussed the shoot ahead of Day 2 (where he took over as 1st AD), I think additional crew meetings with all “heads of department” before the shoot would have been beneficial.  


In addition, we really needed a kit wrangler. One person/team whose sole responsibility is to check the kit in/out and make sure everything ended up in the right box/bag, and that everything we brought to location actually leaves location at the end. 


On completion of day 2’s shoot  we lost (left at the location, so I need to return to collect) a radio alarm clock, a mirror, and a hot shoe cover from the GH5.