This week I worked on the set of Chris Caswell’s new short film, More (2017).
Chris’s film is centered around an obsession with the practice of Trepanning and looking at where that obsession can lead.
Although I was mainly working as a runner on Chris’s film I ended up fulfilling several other roles on set too.
Initially I helped to set up camera and lighting equipment and then, as our actors and make up artists arrived on set, I greeted everyone and ensured they felt welcome and had everything they needed.
It was great fun getting to observe the professional make up artists at work making our actor look as if he really had drilled directly into his skull!
Once filming started I got to work as an extra camera operator using both the Black Magic Ursa Minis and the Sony SF700. I had never used either of these cameras before and as they are quite different to a DSLR I had always been quite nervous to film with them. Working on More has really improved my confidence for working with unfamiliar equipment and I now hope to book out the Sony SF700 to film some slow motion footage for a future project.
I also got to help the gaffer by holding reflectors and dimming lights etc. This was an unusual role for me as I normally direct on the set of my own films. But it was a really helpful insight. While holding the reflector I realised how uncomfortable this role can be. You are expected to hold the same exact position for long periods of time, while everyone else on set tries to decide the best way to position lights and cameras around you. On future films I will try to ensure anyone holding a reflector is the last person to be set up before filming so they are not left holding the same pose for an uncomfortable amount of time. The same consideration needs to apply for actors too, as they are often asked to stay in the same position for long periods of time which can lead to cramps and muscle pain.
When I wasn’t assisting with filming or lighting I tried to be Chris’s ‘right hand man’. Taking on any tasks I could that freed him up to concentrate on directing. So sometimes I would do the food run, or check on external crew, clean lenses, book out additional equipment, check continuity during filming, take behind the scenes photographs to document the film’s progression or even just mop up spilt milk- literally. You’ll see photos of this later 🙂
One of my favorite moments working on the set of More was getting to work with sugar glass. There was a scene in the film where our protagonist knocks a glass of milk onto the floor and the glass smashes and then intermingles with blood from his bleeding skull.
After several attempts during test shoots, with normal drinking glasses, we realised we couldn’t get the smashing effect Chris wanted either visually or safely. So Chris purchased 3 glasses made from sugar glass from a specialist company online.
The sugar glass was amazing to film as it smashes so perfectly when dropped and is visually very impressive, especially when filming in slow motion. This fulfilled a childhood dream for me as I remember watching a programme about the making of Adam Ant’s music video Stand and Deliver (1981), when he smashed through a large window into a room and they explained that this was able to be done with sugar glass as a replacement for the real thing. I could only have been 5 or 6 at the time yet, I was so impressed with the magic of sugar glass that, I still remember the story today. So it was really nice to get the opportunity to work with sugar glass myself on a film set.