I’m in movie mode. There’s no better way to describe it. If I’m at a bar, I’m thinking about the lighting for the film’s club scene. If I’m trying to sleep, my mind gets stuck on fake blood and the self-mutilation habits of a depressed young woman. At work, my mind wonders occasionally to leftover props, the benefits of an increased aperture, how much of a pain in the ass looping sound will be, and so on.
My point is, I’m now a week away from filming what will potentially be the most important artistic venture I’ve ever embarked upon, and I can’t fucking wait.
For this post, I’m going to address some frequent questions people have asked me about Earrings, deliver an amusing anecdote (or two) and give some much needed shout outs.
What am I shooting Earrings with?
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of technical questions I received regarding filming – proof that there are as many film geeks as me out there.
I’m shooting the film with my Canon 7D using 20mm, 50mm, and 85mm prime lenses. I’ll also have a 4.5mm fisheye, and a macro extension tube for limited use. I have filters and soft box lights and titanium tripods and shoulder mounts and portable dolly tracks and, well, (hopefully) everything I’ll need to make production run smoothly.
What am I editing the film on?
I’m an Adobe Premiere guy, so I’ll be cutting the flick on that. I should consider getting into Final Cut at some point, but Premiere suits me just fine.
What is my directing style?
I treat a set like an actor’s sanctuary. Sure, the sound engineer, camera operator and other crew members all have tasks, and in a sense, everyone on a set is performing, but actors are the only ones performing. With this project especially, my lead actress Catherine is lending a lot of herself to the material. The script forces her to go to some dark places emotionally, so I think it’s chiefly important to be aware of the vulnerability an actor is giving to your film.
|Me (right) directing an actor on the set of my first film.|
Aside from giving the actors an insane amount of respect, I like to play games on set. I lie and cheat and laugh in the corner as everything unfolds on camera. For example, four years ago, I was filming Catherine in a technically complicated scene for my first film. The scene was a three-minute tracking shot set in a hotel room in which the camera followed the lead actor, Andrew, through two rooms, paused as he spoke with Catherine, stayed with Catherine briefly, then followed Catherine as she went to talk with the lead actress, Claire, then followed Claire outside on the balcony where Andrew was sitting. Everyone had to hit their cues just right, I had to adjust the exposure while stepping onto the balcony (as to not over-expose the shot) and on and on.
But for Catherine’s brief time on screen, I told her to simply smile at Andrew, then walk away from the guy she was having a conversation with, who happened to be played by Catherine’s real life brother, Chris.
Smile and walk away. Simple enough.
My direction for Chris was a little different. I told him to not only NOT let Catherine leave their conversation, but to hit on her as well. So, during the scene, right after Catherine smiles at Andrew and prepares to walk away, Chris began blabbing about God knows what, leaning into her suggestively, not at all letting her walk away from the conversation. After a few awkward seconds (in which Catherine stayed perfectly in character despite her obvious annoyance), she forced herself to walk away from Chris and the scene continued on.
|This was taken right before we shot the hotel room scene. |
From left: Chris, Catherine, me, Andrew.
It’s little things like having a brother hit on his sister, without his sister’s prior knowledge, that can make a scene spontaneous and authentic. So, yeah, I’m a huge fan of giving opposing direction to actors playing a scene together. As long as they stay in character, greatness has the potential to be achieved.
Other than that, I don’t do a lot of takes, but I do film extensively. I like to let the camera run and have the actor stay in the moment. But if I get what I want on the first or second take, then that’s enough for me.
I don’t like to provide any direction on the first take, I like the actor to let the first take represent their interpretation of what’s in the script, which is a trick I learned from listening to Edward Burns’ commentaries for his films. If the first take isn’t exactly what I was looking for, then I’ll give some specific direction for the later takes.
The Old Mill
Has anyone seen David Mamet’s State and Main? The movie is about a Hollywood film crew who invade a small Vermont town. The name of the movie the crew is shooting is The Old Mill, but late in pre-production, they discover that the town no longer has an Old Mill. I bring this up because I have yet to purchase the titular item of my film.
I know what I want the earrings in my movie to look like – I know how much I want them to glisten, what color they should be, what size, what texture – but I have yet to find them. It’s a running joke that is becoming less and less funny with each passing day. Basically, I have some earrings shopping to do this weekend, which will mark the final major event of pre-production.
I was really hesitant and nervous before posting my first Earrings write-up last week. The last thing I wanted was to come off as a pretentious wannabe filmmaker asshole, but having sucked it up and gone with it, I must say that the support and encouragement I’ve received from people has had a profound effect on me.
I’ve received every text, Facebook like, tweet, retweet, blog comment, e-mail, and so on, and every single one fills me with unspeakable gratitude. I expect nothing from readers in posting these updates, only that I hope they enjoy them, but the added level of support I’ve gotten from my digital family is truly inspiring. Most of the people lending encouragement on this blog and on Twitter are people I’ve never actually met, yet I have no problem calling them my friends.
Thanks again everyone, hope you all have a great weekend!