Posts Tagged ‘a russian affair’

I wanted to write a note to the team and also blog about yesterday and today, so here’s my combination of the two.

The plan for Saturday was thus:

  1. Ceri ingests and organises footage, then puts together a rough cut; simultaneously, Drew syncs the audio and video from the interrogation
  2. Ceri locks off the edit with the synced audio, then delivers the cut to:
    1. Drew, to write the music
    2. Phil, to record a foley track
    3. Chloe, to colorise the footage
  3. Aforementioned members of the team return their work to Ceri, to assemble and export a final cut and submit the film

There were a number of problems with the plan straight off the bat. I only pitched the idea of Chloe colorising the footage at the last minute, and although she was up for it, she’d have to come to me to use the Mac, which she wasn’t used to using – and she has a Real Job on Monday, so I couldn’t keep her up. I was the one who could stay up all night, but no one else could start work until after I was done. On top of that, Drew and I ran into issues with syncing the audio and video, which were exacerbated by his software failing to work and my failing to understand my software. Long story short, we didn’t lock off a cut until gone midnight, and Drew didn’t finish the soundtrack until around 3am. (Shoutout to Drew who had work in the morning and another project with a tight deadline to be doing.)

  • Phil, sorry I left you in the dark and was terrible and keeping you up to date, but sorry more that I couldn’t get my shit together quick enough for you to do any foley.
  • Chloe, sorry I couldn’t sort myself out in time to do any colorising – it would have been fun to work together on it.
  • Drew, sorry I kept you up late, woke you up early, and was generally difficult to work with. I owe you some croissants.
  • Also, Tull, sorry you couldn’t be involved. For what it’s worth, I think our method from last year – where someone who couldn’t make the shoot began the edit on Saturday night – would have been a huge help this year. Let’s do another Sparkle next time.

All of this would have been fine – we locked off the edit, with music, added vocals and even a tiny bit of colorisation from me, at 11am, two hours before what I think the deadline was. But it turns out even two hours wasn’t enough to save us from the ever-loathsome trap of export times. Getting the right export type caused enough hassle in itself, but coupled with the length of each export trial, then the issues of re-uploading it for submission, turned it into a minor disaster. We finally submitted, by email, at just gone 3pm. I’m still not sure whether we made it in time for judging, but they have been lenient in the past.

As I’ve said before, for my part at least, I’ve only ever entered SFL48H for the experience, practice, and deadline pressures it offers. I am immensely proud of everything we’ve come out with for this contest, but I don’t believe we’re in league (budget-wise, for starters) with the shortlisted entries just yet. That’s not the point. The challenge is not to compete, but to complete the film. We’ve done that, so I call that a win.

Where I feel like I fell down this year was on collaboration. Since we left a lot of the preproduction to the last minute, I ended up dictating roughly what I wanted us to do, rather than crowdsourcing ideas. And thanks to the aforementioned mini-disaster yesterday, post-production fell to two people, rather than the five or six people who could have benefitted from the experience (and enjoyment). Having said that, it is worth noting that we had more space for collaboration last year – the post-production Sparkle party wasn’t something we could have repeated this time round.

HOWEVER – big however – I’ve come away from this on a massive high, now that everything is done and dusted. I want to sit down and learn my software properly and get to grips with exports and teach myself some colorising. We did the bulk of our writing within the 48 hour constraints, which is kind of new for us, so we’ve got that going for us. We had what I felt was the hardest specs we’ve ever had before, and I love what we did with them. Most of all I love the film (sound issues aside). I’m super-psyched for Crossroads next month.

I hope, despite my ramblings above, everyone enjoyed themselves, like the final film, and felt that they gained something from the shoot. Better yet if that ‘something’ is two bags of apples. That’s another thing I gained. Whole ton of apples.


I’ll write up the weekend properly later.

Here’s a list of things I’d like for this project next time:

1. Photographer. I say this for every shoot, but we’ve never yet been able to secure a production-stills-only member of crew, even when we have plenty of people on hand.

2. BTS cameraman. This one’s harder than it seems – we got some behind the scenes footage this year, but it immediately filled up my card and I don’t think it’s as easy as it seems to do this well. Again having a dedicated person would be good.

3. Credits. On Sparkle I had to lock off before finishing the art effects I wanted on the credits, and in ’13 and ’15 we’ve had to forego them completely, just because it’s always left to the end. We tend to have a list of participants well in advance; there’s no reason someone artistic with a vague knowledge of FCP, iMovie etc. couldn’t be doing this on Saturday, and make them super-fly.

4. Social media. I like the idea of Twittering mid-shoot, but it always takes up more time than I think it will. I’d love to have someone on hand to tweet pictures and updates as we go along, just for the fun of it.

5. someone to interact with sfl so i dont have to

I’d normally say “Watch this space for the final product”, but why not watch this space instead…


(writing at 11am)

I’m uploading the rushes from yesterday, behind schedule because I forgot to pick up a CF reader from Isherwood last night (or should say early this morning). It’s taking its time and preventing me doing anything else.

Yesterday’s plan:

09:00 – Meet in Guildford, buy costumes and snacks, get specs and make sure we had our prop.

10:00 – Drive to location.

11:00 – Begin filming.

18:00 – Run out of sunlight. Drive to studio, get fish and chips, dress set in record time.

19:00 – Begin filming.

22:00 (aka a reasonable time in the evening) – wrap, strike the set, disperse crew for a nice early night.

Yesterday in fact went thus:

08:00 – Chloe picked up an airsoft weapon from Nat (aka Nataraptor) after we remembered at the last minute that we needed one.

08:30 – Picked up by Chloe and brought to Guildford for tea with Phil, Zac and Olivia and wait for Chris to arrive.

09:00 – Went to Primark (aka costume department) to buy several white shirts and black trousers, while Chris and Zac went to Tesco for all of the snacks. Try to hang around long enough to receive specs in case we need to buy a prop.

11:00 – No specs as of yet. Set off to location.

12:00 – Arrive on location. Walk up and down non-pavemented road looking for a tiny pocket of 3G to check my email/texts.

12:15 – Realise by means of SFL Twitter feed that our specs are not coming by email/text this year, but are in the account.

12:30 – Finally get into account to access our specs. Have a mild panic. Rejoice that we have the prop already on us.

13:00 – Begin shooting on location. We had three cameras – Chloe’s as main, Phil’s as 2nd, and mine for BTS and pictures. We fill it up pretty quickly. Chloe and I share main camera handling as I need to practice operating and using a higher spec DSLR than mine. Phil and Olive shoot additionally on his camera. Highlight was Chloe being a dead body. Thought we got found by passers-by who turned out to be Matt and Drew bringing more snacks. Got fake blood all over white shirts. Nearly cut Chris in half.

16:30 – Ran out of things to shoot, despite it being light for a good three hours more and us having only been filming for about three and a half hours. Agreed that it was more sensible to head back and get a head start on the studio.

17:30 – Crash in various locations for tea. Pick up sound and lighting gear.

18:30 – Reconvene at the studio and start setting up. Send Matt and Chris out for fish and chips. Eat fish and chips.

19:00 – Sit down with Phil and Zac (while Chloe sets up lights and Drew sets up sound). Talk through world facts, the character, what we’ve shot so far and how that ties into a backstory, character motives, etc., in line with our title and line of dialogue.

20:00 – Begin shooting. Chloe on camera, Drew on sound, Phil 1st, Olivia clapper.

00:30 – Finish shooting, and realise we may have missed all the last trains. Drive around a few train stations. Verify that there are no trains. Redistribute actors for crashing overnight. Strike set.

01:00 – Bed.

Our first time entering this competition in 2013 was our third ever film shoot, and the first one I planned without supervision from people who knew what they were doing (i.e. Bill and Kiera). We were nervous and excited and planned for months in advance. I remember remarking in 2014 how less prepared we were than the first year, even though the final result turned out (in my opinion) better, and how we probably shouldn’t end up in that situation again.

I’m not saying that this year we are less prepared than we ever have been, or that we’ve left preparation later than ever before (production meeting last night), but Drew is worried that we don’t have a proper script written yet, and anyone who knows Drew will know that he is the non-worrier in our relationship.

I’m waiting for Chloe to pick me up so we can go into town and meet with the rest of Saturday’s team: Phil, Chris, Zachary Street (whom we stole from Bill’s feature Fallen Soldiers) and Phil’s cousin Olivia. From there we’ll have an hour or so to grab props, costume bits etc., and wait for our brief, then it’s off to location.

We’ll have until sunset to film on location, but are hoping to wrap earlier than that. Then it’s back to civilisation, where civilisation is the home of the highly accommodating Nigel and Louise Williams – my parents – who have agreed to let us turn their dining room into a studio for the evening.

Not running two units simultaneously is new for us for this project – it was the original plan, but now we’ll be doing location first and studio later, rather than at the same time. It means a longer day but it also means more people on hand, more cameras, and best of all (for me) I get to be on both shoots.

Expecting the brief in the next two and a half hours…