It was promoted as a short film making workshop so I signed up because I do want to develop my film making and I wanted to start small. Three days’ tuition should give me sufficient impetus to take some steps forward not because I want to upload to social media but because I want to get the basics of film making. I also secretly hoped that I would get to do some split-screen film making advice.
Day 1: only six on the course so it should be good. My notes reflect the following:
Chris from the company ‘Suited & Booted’ is very encouraging and has that enviable quality of making everyone feel that they have asked an excellent question and gives really full answers which show his unbelievable depth of knowledge not only of his subject but also of human beings.
Chris emphasised the importance of keeping interest : you have to get the viewer’s attention in the first 10 seconds by telling them this is what I’m telling you – almost giving a spoiler alert.
He listed the shot types:
wide shot: shows all the viewer needs to see which gives a sense of place: it’s an establishing shot, it sets the scene. Although this is pretty straight forward, when you are making a film that has to grab the viewer, the edges of the idea seem to fray a little.
mid shot: if a person is the subject, waist to top of head; if there are 2 people, you have to guess what is going on between them.
close shot: head & shoulders & takes you further into the action & we start to link things up.
Observations on film making
- Making a film is like speaking a language: it has a sentence structure – subject object verb. I wonder at this point if we are talking about rules of engagement. then Chris mentioned that it is not like theatre where you can look where you like and at who or what you want – in s.m. films you direct the viewer’s eye.
- It is time efficient: you don’t have to go round the subjects but place cameras in strategic places to capture all the action / speech.
- You can cut from one shoot to the next and fill in with ‘B’ role films. You can move the camera to a different place and shoot different scenes which may or may not contribute to the meaning or may aid in filling in in the editing process. Chris spoke about clapper boards which are used to synchronise visual and audio elements of the shoot = good insight & info.
- Like all story telling there is a beginning a middle and an end but it doesn’t have to follow in that order.
Shoot 30 seconds to 1 minute of a study of something that was relevant to us – gardening, a building, a person, a work of art.
Take 10 or 12 shots with at least 2 of each shot type. Include: a voice over; text & music.
The expected discussions on music copyright and which sites to use.
Others suggested software:
Premier Cut /Rush = a step above iMovie but it will cost you $10 per month.
Canva – graphics and animated text to add to films
Power Director fo the iPhone which is great, apparently.
Instagram Reels – editing and creating software just for Instagram with square format and 20 second shoot.
Day 2: work on film making & we could drop in on Chris if we had a problem.
Day 3: Editing & show & tell
I presented my film first: it was only when I was writing this blog that I realised that I did not have to have only have 30 seconds of film! I had to describe my process. I said how I had been so anxious about what to cover until I realised I was just going to film what I had planned to do for the day which was to plant out my seedlings. I had also had problems keeping it to 30 seconds. I had used 2 cameras: my Sony and iPhone. I had used all the shot types but I did not have 2 of each – there wasn’t the time.
I put my Sony on a tripod and filmed in the greenhouse. I then took the panorama shot to ‘set the scene’ but, in the film, I put it at the end because I wanted to – the viewer would see the context after the event which, in this case, was pretty evident from the start. During today’s session, Stacey mentioned that a gimbal made specifically for iPhones exists which allows the operator to keep filming steady – I might have to invest in one. Chris also recommended Rode as a reliable brand for microphones
I also took my phone into the greenhouse because it is more manoeuvrable in a small space.
I took over 20 short clips because I was not sure of my title so I was not sure what I was trying to say. As it happened, what I wanted to say was determined by the shots that I liked. At one point, I wanted to call it “Relationships” because of the research I am doing at the moment which references the interconnectedness of trees, for example. I had also filmed myself with a fir tree in the garden to which I am frequently pulled. That did not work well.
Once I had all the material I wanted and once I had finished planting out my seedlings, I sat down to edit the work and that took several hours.
The VoiceOver was worrying me because I did not want to talk about what I had filmed because it seemed to repeat what I had already depicted in moving images. I did many recordings and finally settled on a longer spoken idea which managed to turn it all into a metaphor about how we relate to one another.
What went well: (a) Although I found the restrictions quite challenging , I was very happy to have included all the criteria in the film. (b) I enjoyed the process of developing the artwork in seeing which shots worked together: the roots in the seedlings and the rope worked & echoed the spoken part which used ‘bringing all the threads together’.
What could have gone better: I should have read my instructions better which meant I could have lengthened the credits at the end which were very funny but which nobody saw.
This is the Youtube video link to the 33 second film:
What went well over the 3 days:
(a). I learned about the use of different ‘shot’ types to create specific expectations in the viewer. Although I was aware of the shots, I was not aware of their discreet functions. I also valued the time pressure to create work.
(b). It was good to see what the others managed to do in the time. It was good to work under the sentence syntax constrictions.
What could have gone better:
We could have covered the ground on image construction and composition which I need to work on – but I can read that up or look up YouTube tutorials – which was one of Chris’s parting bits of advice. I didn’t get anywhere near my split-screen creation. Another day.