Saturday, 28 November 2009

Despite the weather...

I just scraped my entry for the 60 second film contest in at the 11th hour. I was much more organised this time, but I still found myself pulling an all-night session trying to get the last tweaks done in time to submit the film.

The contest ran for a month and I got organised pretty quickly, I had a short script prepared and I even used an ancient version of John Badhams FrameForge program to put together some 3d storyboards which I edited together in premiere to create an animatic version of the film. So I knew exactly which shots I needed and from what angles, and all I needed to do on the day was set them up and hit record.

I wanted to have a location that looked like a main road, so I used a section of narrow road out near the M25, it's beside a bridge over the motorway, and the road is a narrow single lane track which opens out to two lane highway for a short distance over the bridge before becoming single track again. By staging the shots carefully, I was able to make it look like the scene was taking place at the side of a main road.

The main problem was finding actors, I had planned to use the same actor as in my previous short, but he is rehearsing a play and was only available on a single sunday morning, and on that weekend it was forecast for gale force winds and rain!

So in the end I managed to find two friends who would come out early last weekend, only a week before the submission date, to help me shoot the film. Of course it rained heavily that day too.

But, despite heavy rain and hail, and the attentions of a passing policecar, we managed to get pretty much all of the shots, and just about enough audio to edit with.

I needed to produce several effects shots for the film, to show a car bursting into flames from various angles, and I had these pretty much done ahead of the actual shoot, using stills from my location recce as plate footage. The two shots I completed looked great, but unfortunately I couldn't match the angles exactly on the real shoot, and the difference in weather also made the shots difficult to use, which meant I had to do all of the effects shots and edit and grade and lay the sound all in five days, plus I was working long hours in the office all last week too.

The sound was the biggest problem area, the wind was blowing hard on the day, and even with a hairy dog on the mic it picked up a lot of wind noise. The final film has really patchy audio, and this really hurts the end result. The levels and background noise changes really lower the quality of the piece, and there are also a couple of soft shots and some grain issues caused by the gloomy weather conditions and the lack of light.

But, perfectionism aside. I got it done, and the film made the deadline just in time. Now it's time to see how it compares to the rest of the entries, and it'll be interesting to see what kind of feedback I get this time.

Next project should be the two-men-in-a-room interview film I have been writing.

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