Bill Thomas, professional director and all-round top bloke, recently celebrated the release of his first feature-length film FALLEN SOLDIERS, now available to buy at many online and street retailers. It’s best described as “Sharpe” meets “The Walking Dead” and it’s got zombies in it, so you should get a copy.
A few months back when Bill was going through the acquisition process, there became an opportunity to add some special features to the DVD, and Bill asked if I’d like to make a behind-the-scenes featurette and a director’s commentary. Of course I hadn’t been there to shoot anything during the shoot, but there was a handful of behind-the-scenes footage already, and we decided to shoot some interviews with the cast and crew, then stick them all in a room to record a commentary track. Phil set up the camera and Drew recorded the sound externally.
You can see the featurette and hear the commentary on your DVD, and I won’t go into huge detail about the decisions behind how we made it (on another blog, maybe). I did a chunk the edit, and as it got closer to the hand-in deadline, I gave it all to Bill to take over and finish up. As ever, there wasn’t enough time for me to get it as tight as I wanted. When I sat down to watch the final product for the first time on my copy of the DVD, I made a list of things I wanted to do differently next time I have the opportunity:
- Put each interviewee in a different place – even if it’s just the other end of the sofa – to give it a sense of variety and also avoid the sense of jump cuts when changing from one to another in a near-identical shot.
- Vary the background – having a selection of posters, or maybe screenshots from the movie, would have helped instead of always the same one. The white wall also appeared completely washed out and didn’t look effective, so some wall hanging behind would have helped.
- Music – if we’d had time I would have liked music from the movie in the background of the whole doc, either a hash of various tracks or one central theme.
- Jump cuts – when I began editing I tried to make an effort to cover any cuts in the dialogue with other footage or images, but didn’t have time to fix them all. I personally don’t like the effect of the ones which are left so I’d make more effort on that.
- Images – something else I didn’t have time to finish was throwing in effects on the images, probably just simple pans and fades so they aren’t too static or abrupt.
- Camera angle – in future I would definitely have either a) tried the interview setup at home in advance, to work out the best angle and distance etc., or b) turned up an hour earlier than the interviewees to work it out. We could have made much better use of the space and made the look much more interesting.
I love behind-the-scenes features, and I quite enjoy commentary tracks too. My favourites respectively are from Lord of the Rings and Shaun of the Dead. I’d like to get really good at them because it’s something I’d like to do again and be considered to do for other people.
And my favourite part is that the featurette says “Directed and produced by Ceri Williams”. So my name is on the DVD of a feature film which a bunch of people have bought. It’s a tiny thing but it’s exciting to tell people.
P.S. Buy Fallen Soldiers!