Posted by: novemberfilm | March 18, 2009

Prepping for the Beginning of Shooting

Tomorrow is the first day of nine shooting days. To prep for shooting I like to review the basics and what I’ve learned from previous films. It helps to refresh this in my mind to keep me focused when the chaos of the shoot begins. I thought I’d share what I’m looking at from my previous film, Redemption. I wrote this for myself, it’s basic, but always good reminders.

– Paul Hinson Director


What have I learned from the project?

  • Delegate the work. You can’t do it all by yourself and thats why you get other crew members. Tell them exactly what you want and tell them when you need it completed by. They’ve expressed a will to help, don’t worry too much about making other people work, you just can’t do it all on your own.
  • Know your script. Day 1 was an example of a lack of vision in some respects. Yes, I had storyboarded the script out and I had a pretty specific idea for the film, but I hadn’t adapted the visual idea to the new location which was slightly different from how I imaged it originally. Stick to the script and not the storyboards. Think about compositional shape, color scheme, focal point, etc and get creative. Sometimes you can get so hung up on it not looking exactly the way you see it in your head that you lose opportunities for an even better angle.
  • This is probably the main thing in fact, roll with the script and hold loosely to the storyboards. This frees your attention to watching the actors and making sure their performance is exactly what you need. The more you know the script, the more you understand what visual coverage you need and the more relaxed you can be about deviating from plans to get it. In addition, knowing the script inside and out is essential to directing the actors, if you don’t know how you want to see something its not going to help them one bit. If you can’t quite get it right, just ask them to try something different and see what happens. Getting two different versions of the lines can help you triangulate exactly what you are looking for.
  • If you are using two cameras, make absolutely sure your second camera operator knows exactly what shots you need and how you want it to look. Take a few minutes to go over it and see what they want to do.
  • Start with your establishing shots and move into shots from one side of the action, medium and close-ups then switch to the other side. Simple enough, but try not to move the camera around much, it wastes a lot of time.
  • Write out a schedule for the day before hand. You need to write on the script or make some notes on how you want to shoot each scene. Figure out the schedule and keep it with you at all times. This way when the day goes completely crazy you can come back to what you wrote before in a moment of sanity.
  • Consider dividing the job of continuity person and assistant director. Let some one else take care of the schedule and making sure people are in the right place at the right time. Make sure you let them know exactly what you need and work very closely with them. Let them take care of the loose ends so you can focus on directing the actors and if you are using the camera getting the shot you want.
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