Just Us

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This week I was lucky enough to join the crew of the film Just Us (2017).

My main role on set was to be the film’s Continuity Supervisor. This is not a role I have undertaken before so I did quite a bit of research into what it would entail before I started work.

I also spoke to a few friends who had looked after continuity on other sets and they gave me a lot of helpful tips. One insisted I “photograph everything from several different angles“, so I always had a clear photo of my actors and their previous scenes to refer back to. This advice proved invaluable as it is very easy to forget exactly what props were in each shot, or which exact way an actor was sat, and having photos on my camera to check really helped.

Another friend advised me that “Tape and chalk, anything that won’t blow away, are also useful for marking first and last positions if you can do it without the camera seeing it.” Again this was great advice as the crew needed to mark the trees in the forest so they knew exactly where to return to the next day and we ended up using tape to do this. I also brought tent pegs with me which could easily be pushed into the ground to be used as an actor’s spot marker but wouldn’t be noticed on camera.

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I also had the opportunity to be gaffer on a few scenes, which I really enjoyed. Six months ago I was totally clueless about lighting, but after working on so many different films this term, I’m now a lot more confident lighting a set and feel like I have a much better idea of where to position lighting to make it as natural looking as possible.

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Law Conference

While filming for the DMLL I was approached by a Law lecturer who needed a film crew to photograph and film an upcoming conference with a visiting speaker. I jumped at the chance as this was the opportunity to do similar work to the events I had helped film for the University but I would get the opportunity to produce the whole thing myself.

Knowing I needed a talented and reliable team I immediately contacted Dana, Lavi and Victoria. Three extremely talented people who I reguarly work with and who are at the top of my recommendations list whenanyone ever asks me about the best people to work with.

Victoria was going to be out of the country on the day of the conference but was happy to edit any footage we captured and Dana and Lavi soon set to work outlining all the equipment we would require.

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Arriving at the venue we were quite surprised by the shape of it. The lecture theatre was very different to any in Ellen Terry as it was very steep and circular. This meant we really had to reconsider where we would position out cameras and where we could stand ourselves and not obstruct anyone’s view or end up on camera.

I think we really could have benefited from a meeting with the event organizer a week or so before the scheduled filming date to survey the venue and discuss any key points. This would have prepared us for the venues unusual shape and i would have maybe thought about bringing one more camera or even incorporating some 360 footage in using the Ricoh Theta to take advantage of the circular space.

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At one point Mitch, the visiting speaker, was presented with a gift Brethertons present to him and it would have been great to have had an opportunity to both photograph and film a simple shot of the gift before the conference started so we could have cut to it when the box was opened so viewers could also see what was inside.

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After the event I managed to speak to one of the partners and request his introductory notes from the opening of the conference. I am so pleased I thought to do this, it wasn’t planned and was just an idea that popped into my head at the time, as it really helped with putting names to faces in the edit and giving everyone their correct job title so it is something I will definitely try to do from now on.

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I really enjoyed photographing at the after party as everyone was so more relaxed, laughing and smiling and I felt i could capture a lot more natural interaction between the guests.

It wasn’t until I had a quick flick through my first lot of photos that I realized a lot of them were unusable as people either had cheeks full of food or had been capturing pulling some rather unattractive faces while eating. To counter this I concentrated on photographing the tables of food and wine and people’s hands and plates until people had finished eating.

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The other thing I had not considered was people shaking hands. As this was a business conference hand shake shots would be particuarly useful but as they are so fleeting it seems to be that as soon as I focused on two people’s hands meeting I’d already missed the shot. Next time I would get my videographer to film these shots and then we could use stills from the hand shakes instead.

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Fire Drill

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A few months ago I took some portraits for the Health and Safety team and now they have come back to me to ask if I would be able to put a Health and Safety video together for them.

They don’t need the video completed until later this year so I can start on it once my term finishes but they asked if I could capture some photos and footage of the university’s annual fire drill this weekend to put in the film once it’s finished.

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I normally would have liked to have one or two other people with me for a shoot like this but as it was over the Easter holiday most of the other students had returned home so i had to film alone. I took two cameras, one on a tripod to film with and a second to capture photos and any close up moving shots and I would have to sacrifice sound and add it in with foley.

I set my tripod up where the fire engines were planned to pull in so I could get a good shot of the them arriving and waited with my other camera. What none of us had been told was that the fire crew were being followed by another camera crew as they were having a documentary made about them. This made it particularly difficult for me as there were two camera people and they seemed to always be stood where I wanted to film or in shot filming so stopped the scene from looking natural.

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Obviously I couldn’t ask them to move as they had a job to do as much as I did so I just tried to ensure that I kept out of their shots while getting the best photos and filming i could from some more imaginative angles.

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I really enjoyed today’s filming. The fake smoke and sirens and the ‘injured’ casualties all added to the atmosphere of the event and I felt like I was on a professional film set, if a little under staffed.

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Today’s filming really taught me to expect the unexpected and that you can’t always control your set. Not only did I have a film crew often getting in shot but also members of the public as the surrounding area was still open to everyone. It reminded me to stay patient and to think my way around things and be quick to find a new angle or subject to focus on.

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Flatpack Film Festival: Birmingham

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Over the past two days I have been volunteering at the 11th annual Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham.

After an initial induction and health and safety training I was kitted out with a lovely red Flatpack Film Festival t-shirt, National Rail guest badge and led towards a very strange mysterious black box on the platform of Grand Central Station.

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Looking like a cross between a bomb shelter and a bike shed I was intrigued to find out what might be behind it’s closed doors. I could hear drilling and hammering coming from within and wondered if it was still under construction or if maybe someone was locked inside.

I soon learnt that the ‘box’, labelled the Kino Train, had been constructed in just a few hours and housed a pop up cinema, complete with a brand new projector and enough bench seating for approx. 10-15 people.

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But why exactly was it called the Kino Train?

Flatpack explained to us:

“In the years following the Russian Revolution, ‘agit trains’ were an important tool for spreading the Bolshevik gospel to workers across the land. Brightly decorated with rousing propaganda, their carriages functioned as printing presses, libraries and cinemas – the latter enabling many rural Russians to encounter film for the first time.

We’ve always dreamt of taking to the rails with a mobile film unit, and our Kino Train is definitely a step in the right direction. For four days during Flatpack 11 you can find us camped out on the main concourse at New Street Station, offering bite-sized chunks of cultural nourishment to the busy throng. The programme will include:”

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(Flatpackfestival.org.uk, 2017)

Over the course of the two days I handed out programmes for the weekend’s events and encouraged shy customers to jump on board the Kino Train and discover some of the amazing short films showing inside.  I met some really talented people volunteering alongside me and running the event, as well as some lovely members of the public.

Working for Flatpack has really raised my confidence levels, and encouraged me to meet and talk to more people, as a simple smile or hello can spark a conversation that can lead to interesting new opportunities.

Next year I would love to return to Flatpack Film Festival and hopefully become more involved in their Marketing and Social Media campaigns after my recent experience of running #YourLibraryStory online.

References

Flatpackfestival.org.uk. (2017). Kino Train | Flatpack. [online] Available at: http://flatpackfestival.org.uk/event/kino-train/ [Accessed 8 Apr. 2017].

Journeys and routine

Making the same journey for the umpteenth time I glanced out the window and wondered if I ever really pay attention to the world going by outside. I normally pass the time on the train scrolling through Instagram, catching up on Facebook or replying to emails and messages on my phone. I rarely bother to really look at the scenery passing me by and it got me thinking about how much we miss on our regular journeys through life.

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Right now in the town where I live many structural changes are being made. Once buildings are knocked down people often complain about places being missed, but do we ever really appreciate the architecture around us until it is gone?

This lead me to thinking about viewing my journey each day a little more clearly and trying to watch and appreciate the small changes around me.

When I view the world through the viewfinder of my camera I notice so much more beauty in every day things so decided to start using the camera on my phone to document my daily journeys. After a few days of taking photographs I switched to filming my journeys, using a small gorilla pod on the train table to steady my shots.

It was really interesting to see the differences each day and I found that on uploading the footage to my macbook each night and replaying it that I noticed even more differences in the journey’s landscape as each day went by.

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While working on this project I came across some photos I took a few years ago when, inspired by the work of Alvin Langdon Coburn, I made my own vortograph and attempted to change my view of the world by photographing places and objects through it.

I wondered if this project was merely a continuation/progression of that last one and decided to attempt to film my next train journey through the vortograph and see what results I got.

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I’d used the vortograph to film through once before in the subway scene of my first film Trip (2015).

I’m hoping that the film I’ve made will help to change how we look at the journeys we make every day, help us to spot changes in the landscape and value the architecture and scenery around us before it, inevitably, disappears.