Archive for November, 2013

Kickstarter total at time of writing: £2,323, 51% funded

Day 2: Our house

The half of the cast required on Sunday were far happier to see me in our warm flat at 11:00 rather than the dark morning at Lambda. We had five scenes to shoot that day, and in the process Ant got flour all over my bedroom, Bill created a Harry Potter hovel under the stairs, and Matt used the phrase “Johnny Depp wanker” about thirteen times. The “office” scene used a five-person setup to shoot: Chloe holding the camera, perched on an office chair; Bill and Kiera moving the chair from one side of the table to the other (finally, successful tracking shots!); Ant acting as a “wipe” (i.e. holding a black folder for the camera to emerge from behind); and me with my ‘clapboard’ (letters written on my script).

Hood Kickstarter Video

Photo by Cédric Hauteville

One of my favourite things about this shoot was having a production photographer. Chloe is normally my go-to for photos so having her preoccupied as DP was a hindrance to this, until I managed to rope in Cédric, a fellow roller-derby-ist of the Surrey Jammerwockies. Good-quality production stills are important for marketing (of both your product and yourself), but having behind-the-scenes footage was also an extra-special treat.

The Edit

So we turfed all of the actors and comic writers out of our house and apologised to our housemates for moving all their furniture around. The shoot was finished. The plan now was to go through and label all the footage, then to pick up Bill’s Mac to begin the edit on Tuesday using Final Cut Pro. Sadly, as it turned out, Bill’s Mac, recovering from recent repairs, had been wiped of Final Cut and was therefore not available for exploiting. I ended up running desperately to Kiera’s sister Jemma, who agreed to let me borrow hers “for a short while”. (Fact: Jemma is awesome.)

Tuesday evening was taken up by a combination of long car drives, formatting hard drives and watching Jesus Christ Superstar on repeat while trying to shoehorn the footage into the Mac. By Wednesday evening I had a six-minute rough cut and was feeling pretty pleased with myself. On Thursday I bought myself Pokémon Y but still managed to dedicate the evening to the edit somehow. But Friday rolled around, and it became very clear that Jemma wasn’t getting her Mac back that day. I pleaded another day of loaning and promised its return on Saturday morning. The good news was that I did finish the cut on Friday night as planned. But what I hadn’t bargained on was how difficult it is to export anything ever. Bill and Kiera popped over, the former to help with the export and the latter to borrow my rollerskates, and I finally had the Mac back to Jemma early Sunday afternoon (with, of course, a box of chocolates, which I asked her to share with Robin to make up for, you know, the tights thing).

To be continued…

HOOD - the Kickstarter

Click the image to pledge to Hood!

Read part 1!

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Kickstarter total at time of writing: £1,565, 34% funded

Those of you following me on Twitter will have seen copious usage of the hashtag #hood for the last three weeks. That’s because in that time, Flashcards have been working on a video for a Kickstarter promoting Hood, a graphic novel written by our mate Anthony Jones. You’ll have heard me talk about Ant before – I first met him when he sundered our nation and led us into civil war (disclaimer: events may not have actually happened). He’s a graphic novel writer, among other things, and the Kickstarter will be funding the creation and publication of the second half of Hood. The Kickstarter went live at about 7pm yesterday, and smashed the first £1,000 in four hours.

There are just under four weeks left to make a pledge to Hood. In that time you can read about the making of the video itself, Flashcards’ fourth shoot and second finished product to make it out of post-production.

Preproduction

A month or so before everything kicked off, Ant proposed the idea of shooting a Kickstarter video with the brief “more interesting than some geek blubbering into his webcam”. He’d had come across this video which had the style and feel he wanted to emulate. His deadline was pretty tight: once we’d settled on a weekend and Chloe had shuffled around her schedules to accommodate, we had three weeks from shoot to release.

The script presented challenge after challenge. The whole concept was built around tracking shots, which we didn’t have the gear for. We needed an indoor location because of the weather, but had no lighting. There was a lot to shoot in two days, and the sun set at 16:00. And we needed a man to wear tights. That was probably the biggest headache.

Thankfully in my arsenal of crowdsourcing and collaborating I had Kiera Gould, who is not only a remarkably resourceful and supportive friend but is also the sister of fight choreographer Robin – which solved our man-in-tights issue in a way only siblings can. Making shotlists and schedules is one of Kiera’s countless talents, and by the end of an afternoon we had a solid plan. On Saturday we’d return to ‘Lambda’, the location from Announcement, call time 07:00, and Sunday would be pickups at our house in Surrey from 11:00. The following few days were spent scraping together props and crew, and suddenly it was 05:00 on Saturday and I was off to cram Cédric, Phil and a wheelchair into my car.

Day 1: Lambda

At 07:00 we arrived at Lambda and met the rest of the team. We left the lads setting up scenes in one of the warehouses while I took Ant, Chloe, Kiera and Cédric around to a field to shoot what turned out to be a completely unnecessary scene due to my misinterpretation of the script. So far so…hmm.

Hood Kickstarter Video

Photo by Cédric Hauteville

But the rest of the day went well. It was the first time I’d needed to work to a schedule, but I’d seen Kiera work her 1st AD magic before, only this time I was the one being hassled by her instead of supporting her hassling from the other side. Drew turned up halfway through the day with a multitude of amazing sandwiches. I’d asked Ant to learn his lines, but Ant is two things: 1) a force unto himself, and 2) very good at ad-libbing, so each shot ended up with almost unique dialogue. Chloe particularly enjoyed being able to move around the site and actually use her camera properly on account of having two hands again. We had a brief downpour which I thought was going to cut the shoot very short, but it cleared up and we ended up wrapping slightly ahead of schedule.

To be continued…

Hood: The Kickstarter, promoting the upcoming coming by Ant Jones and Armin Ozdic

Click the image to pledge to Hood!

When launching Project Flashcards about a year ago now, I envisioned producing short videos at a rate of one every month or two months. Now I look back on my YouTube channel with a minor pang of regret for all the work that’s been done this year but without a great deal to show for it. But I think anyone who gives the filmmaking industry anything more than the slightest passing glance knows that the turnaround for films is inescapably long, and as many times as I add titles to the “Upcoming Projects” section, nothing is going to change this. My attempts to make myself feel better about this include Tweeting excessively while editing and planning shoots, as well as blogging about some of the work I’ve done, either as part of the project or other experience which will benefit the project in the long run. To prove that this isn’t just a post to push all my other social channels, here’s an example.

When I first offered (read: begged) to make a music video for Three-Sphere, my first point of contact to have my big plans and visions put into perspective was friend and film-making mentor Bill Thomas. After setting my budget estimations straight, we went over some of my ideas for sets and visuals, all carefully mapped out in my mind with precise dimensions and chair positionings and surface area of mirror glass. Bill’s responses to my meticulous descriptions all seemed to follow the same trend: “Why does it need to be X? Can it not be Y? I have Y in my garage right now.” Repeatedly I had to remind Bill that it couldn’t be Y, because Y didn’t have the right dimensions or colours or chairs or nearly enough mirror glass. (Fun fact: mirror glass costs a lot of money.)

A few months later Bill invited me to 3rd AD on a docu-drama he was directing. In between chasing actors around a massive stately home and being tied up in the back of a van, I spent a lot of time simply watching Bill and his team. Bill has experience in both directing and art department, so creating visuals is what he does, and he does it in a way that, to begin with, I simply couldn’t get my head around. As an example, the aforementioned mansion was the set for six episodes of the docu-drama, each focusing on a different character spanning several decades and states of America. One of the rooms, over the course of three blocks of filming, served as an army dorm, a school dorm, three different bedrooms, an interrogation office, a living room and several other ideal prostitute-murdering locations. The final footage is still in post, but I guarantee when it hits the TV screens, even I won’t be able to tell which scenes were shot in that one room.

It brought me down to earth a bit. Maybe once I’ve moved to Los Angeles to work on my blockbuster screenplay, I’ll have enough money and sway to shoot in sets made to my specifications, exact replicas of the “in-film” locations they represent. But even big established production companies don’t do this. Indeed, what is the point, when one corner of a room can be a police interrogation room and the another corner can be a psychiatric hospital? Probably the first piece of lingo I picked up on film sets is the verb to “cheat”. It applies to anything – cheat the angle of the room so it looks bigger, cheat the clipboard higher up so we can see it in your hands, cheat that 3rd AD so she looks like a fifteen-year-old boy. And if the local gaming store is offering to hire an upstairs room for half the price of a normal venue and your photographer friend’s grandparents have a barn you could put a drumkit in, it might not matter that the room is the wrong size and the barn has more horses in it than you envisioned – you might be able to cheat.