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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

••◊ Practice, Practice, Practice...

Here in San Diego we have the 48 hour film making competition coming up at the beginning of August.  Teams are starting to form.  Equipment and locations are being reserved.  Producers are bracing for the financial strain.  All I know if that I'll need a good night of sleep on that Friday before the contest.  Typically the filming lasts anywhere from 12-18 hours on Saturday; possibly longer with less experienced teams.

To get ready we started practicing and experimenting with film making.  Not living in LA, my film projects are spread out and so it's difficult to keep my skills sharp.  Ellen (behind the right soft box), a local improv actor and writer, offered to host a practice session consisting mostly of improv acting.

Some things we learned include:
  1. Try not to rely on improvisation.  It takes too long and is too difficult to film properly.
  2. To save time, optimize the shot list around lighting moves.  In the photo you can see that we only had the ability to optimally light one person at the table at a time.
  3. Daylight moves around and changes color - often.  Even the iPhone has a sun tracker app for filmmakers.  Don't count on natural light (which I don't usually).
  4. Keep a list of shooting basics.  When you're filming fast it's easy to forget and produce something that you are forced to use, but makes you otherwise cringe.
  5. You will likely need more physical room that you think at first.  For instance, an over the shoulder shot in this tight space at 24mm makes the foreground person look like Andre the Giant and the background person seem like they share a stature with Danny Devito.  Plus, lights and other gear take up space which makes it hard to move around.
  6. One thing we couldn't do here is use an optimal work flow because of the improvisation acting.  Block, light, rehearse, shoot.  That should be the mantra if you want to pound out footage on schedule.
We have a few more practice sessions, hopefully of a more formal nature, coming up.  If nothing else, this allows our crew to get some practice working with one another.  Last year the San Diego winner was accepted at Cannes, so wish us luck.

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