I've been falling behind a tad on the blogging front lately, mostly because- rubbish excuse, I know- it's been a whirling dervish of activity at the academy recently, and I've been caught in the middle of it. Sorry, I should say away from the academy- because to be honest, despite being involved in filmings, dancings and running-aboutings, I've hardly set foot inside the building at all.
It all started a few weeks ago when I got a call asking to be a third assistant director on Paperskin, one of the grad films. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but a rude 6:30am awakening indicated that it wasn't gonna be an easy few days.
After making my way to Summerston for 8:30 (OUCH!), I spent most of the day waiting. And fetching stuff. And waiting. And fetching stuff. But, in all honesty, I think I learned more in those few days than I have on anything we've shot so far. I guess with it being a graduation shoot, everything had to be done to the highest standard, and it showed. Yeah, the days were looooong and I didn't actually get to do anything filmish, but I got alot of information about how everything worked on the job. All the fourth years were really helpful, even with questions I thought might've sounded stupid or trivial. After two days of shooting indoors in some divine derelict flats, the last day I was there was in my neck of the woods- Cumbernauld. Outdoors. On a sunny bank holiday. Needless to say much of my time was spent bribing children with sweeties to stay out of shot and "quiet"...no easy feat, especially with my fear of young children. There were some, umm, logistical problems which resulted in lack of van, which meant some equipment had to be stored at my house, which I didn't mind at all- I got to show off all the cameras and lenses and other stuff I didn't know how to work to my mum, and she was dead impressed.
After that, I felt well prepared to take on a shot at production assistant on a film by Gavin Laing in second year. Sam, Julia, Lucy and I were all enlisted to troop around charity shops, trying to drum up donations to make the rented shop set look like...well, a charity shop. We found out pretty quickly that, yeah, most charity shops? Not so charitable. I managed to dig out some old railings from work (again showing off why we needed them to someone external, this time my boss- "Can we go and get the railings from downstairs? Y'know, for the film we're working on?")and managed to acquire enough donations to make it look convincing enough for the camera. The first day's shooting was to take place in Eaglesham- I had noooo idea where it was, although after hearing that it was a wee village outside Glasgow, I thought it'd be lovely. I was wrong. Cut to the first day of shooting, and I'm cycling a mountain bike to the location in the rain, waving down traffic in the rain, and squatting in a ditch by the road looking for cars. In the rain.
Soooo, not so glamorous. Still, it was good to see the downside of filming outdoors- you can have the most perfect location in the world, but nothing will protect you from the elements. I was quite happy though; despite my ill-thought canvas Converse soaking up every drop of boggin' puddle water, I got to take loads of pictures of the countryside. I was there to take continuity and production photos, so totally indulged in having a shot of Paul's SLR and got a tad snap-happy. I even got close enough to my biggest fear- a herd of cows- to take a photo of them. Now THAT'S growth!
The crew decided to forego the outside scenes in the city centre for some interior shots of the shop- a wise move considering I'd started to forget what 'warm and dry' felt like. Unfortunately, there was a small problem with one of the REDs...in that it was broken. Or part of it was, anyway. Oops! They had to make do with attaching a handheld onto the tripod... I hope the gamble paid off, because upon reading the script it was a really lovely, well-written story that will make a wonderful little film! The next day was all interior sets of the shop, so I had to make sure I took alot of photos so we knew where everything went! No pressure...but thankfully my 200-odd pictures from the day before were enough to recreate as close to the original layout as we could get...I hope, anyway!
I missed the final day of shooting due to orientation for the Commonwealth Games handover ceremony in India. Yes, INDIA. I wasn't too keen on going initially because I thought I'd missed my chance to apply, and didn't think I could afford to take the time off work, but after a couple of days I'd made up my fickle mind that I really do want to go after all... As long as they don't base their final cast decisions on my attempts at dancing on the Friday morning. I have long been aware that I am as graceful as the wreckage of a car crash, but it was made PAINFULLY aware to me how bad I was when surrounded by dancers, musical theatre students and contemporary performance students. Clearly people who have long been trained in movement without falling over your own feet, constantly turning in the wrong direction and being unable to remember the simplest dance routine. Maybe they could just hide me at the back on the actual day of the performance....?
This week, it's back to focussing on our end of first year films. It's the first proper film we've made from a script written by one of the class, and I think we've got a great little production team to bring Harry's script to life. I landed the role of camera op, and along with Amelie on lighting I reckon we'll have this cinematography thing nailed!...I hope....I wish! It's really exciting being a part of the production in my own class, because I'll actually be a part of making the damn thing in the first place. This is the part where I say "...and I'll take everything I learned on the other shoots with me". Well, I'm going to, because as cheesy and cliched as it may be, I really did learn alot from working on other shoots. Not even just about using equipment, but everything- working with actors, dressing sets, continuity, the ups & downs of location shooting and the endless headache of production responsibilities. I think I'm a little bit closer to finding out what I want to do when I'm all grown up and paying council tax...which can only be a good thing, right?