It’s important to always remind yourself that filming comes with its own share of the unexpected. It’s like a lot of other large projects that way. You have an idea of what needs to get done. You create an outline or flowchart so you can better understand the specific tasks that need to be accomplished. You fill out a calendar or timetable so that you can absorb the deadlines involved with your project. And then you go from day to day, attempting to stick with the plan and timetable. Sometimes, you’re able to execute on your original plan. Many times, however, life will throw unexpected obstacles in your way.
This isn’t really something that should bother or unduly stress a film maker. That’s just the reality of how the process works. You do your best to keep things under your control, but then there will always be things that will be outside that control. So you need to have contingency plans in mind, and you need to have a flexible mindset. This is particularly true if you will be shooting in a place that is far and unfamiliar, or especially if some of the shooting takes place in another country.
There will be some wrinkles that need to be ironed out. Is language going to be a problem or barrier? Will there be a need to bring in translators for verbal communication or for written documents? What about money? Will there be a need to shift some of your funding to the local currency for operating expenses, or will firms there be willing to be paid in your own currency? If not, can you find credible and convenient places where you can exchange currency? The list really goes on and on. The important thing is not to be overwhelmed by the changes that take place, and instead have a smooth system in place for dealing with questions, and finding solutions quickly to them.
I was talking some time ago about how important it can be to have a proper backup system for your digital movie files. I got to thinking that, in a way, this kind of idea applies to many other parts of filming and more. The basic principle here is that there are a lot of untoward things that can happen, and many of them are unexpected. So for example, one of the things that a good backup system can protect against is the possibility of fire. Having your studio affected by a blaze is not something that many people think could happen. But the important thing is that it is possible. In fact, every year, there are homes and offices which end up getting burned. So this is something that happens somewhere all the time.
You can extend this to other things. There’s a reason why many people want to get themselves the most reliable water storage tanks in NZ, for instance. They don’t think or don’t expect to have issues with their water supply on a regular basis. But the important thing is to be prepared, on the off chance that it does happen.
If you’re shooting a film, you’ll find very quickly that the amount of footage that you’re taking can be much more than expected. This just makes sense. After all, it’s better to take extra footage while the cast and crew are there, and while you’re at the location. It’s much worse if you’re already back at the studio, or base of operations, and you realize that you should have taken footage that you didn’t. So in a way, taking extra footage is a safer and more conservative way to go about it.
That said, when there’s a lot of footage and a lot of files, it’s easy for these to get lost or accidentally messed with. So you need to have a good system in place for organizing the files, so you can find them easily and you know which ones are the most updated versions. As far as backing up is concerned, you’ll want to have an automated system in place for that too, something like Fast-Backup software, for instance. You ideally should be able to set it and forget about it, unless there’s a data loss incident later on.
When it comes to setting up a location for your film, the props that you choose to set up also make a huge difference. After all, people have a good eye for what appears to be genuine, and what seems to be simply a fake location or setup. This is true even if people don’t quite understand how to describe it, or they can’t quite put a finger on what seems off. We just know that a house will tend to look a certain way, or a shop will tend to have certain items and knick knacks, and so on. If a particular background looks too clean, then our minds will tend to think that it’s just a set, and this can take people out of the experience. So when it comes to props, you want to make sure that you can do enough.
So for example, if you’re shooting a scene which has a wedding in it, do take the time to have someone working on the props, who clearly understands what a general wedding looks like. You should learn more about this too. You can find ideas in all sorts of places. You can check the various cake decorating supplies NZ shops usually offer to clients. You can go visit a wedding taking place nearby. Be sure to do your research.
One of the interesting things about being able to come up with a film is that it can cause people to look at certain things in a new way. After all, people tend to go about their lives from day to day, without taking the time to really stop and observe. This makes sense because the pace at which we live our lives can become rather frantic and crazy. You’re rushing from one assignment to another, one client to the next, and so on. It’s no wonder we don’t have time to just stop and reflect.
Cinema can make us do this though, because the camera can force us to focus on one particular aspect of life. The camera can linger on a particular visual, causing us to study what it is exactly we’re looking at. So, for example, a film can focus on a scene at the local Auckland butchers. It can focus on the color of the meat, or the actions of the butcher, and in that way, it can illuminate that particular scene for the audience.
A lot of the movies nowadays, especially shorter films, tend to get done using digital video cameras. It just makes sense for people who are starting out, because they can get their films done, for a much more entry level cost. But even if more of the films that are made are migrating to digital, it’s important to remember that there are still a lot of movies on analog. And one of the questions is how to make sure that these other older movies don’t end up being lost.
This is something that people need to think about sooner. Some movies can be transferred to digital media. But at the same time, it would also be great if the original film stocks and reels could also be preserved. Unfortunately, these can be destroyed, not just by decay over time, but also by the predations of rodents and other bugs. So if you want to keep your reels safe, think about bringing in professionals such as Go Pest control in order to keep your storage space rodent and bug free.
One of the more interesting developments to happen because of the internet is people looking for actual movie locations. It can actually be a lot harder than this sounds. Consider, for example, that even if a movie says that a particular scene happened in one city, it might have been filmed in a different and more convenient one. It isn’t even just cities. Sometimes a film will claim that a particular scene happened in a certain country, when in fact, it was filmed in a completely different country. So if you want to visit the actual location of a favorite scene, it can be a rather daunting task trying to find out its true location.
Some of the more famous scenes will have information on where they were filmed. The internet can be a treasure trove of information in this regard. But sometimes, you’ll have to do some investigating offline to find the particular street or cafe. There are ways to do this though. For example, you may have learned that a particular scene you like was in fact filmed in Christchurch, but you don’t know where exactly there. One of the things that you can try is you can make sure that you stay at one of the best motels in Christchurch. This is important because the quality of the place will mean that they will be able to offer you good customer service. While you’re there, ask them if they have any information about that particular movie. If you’re lucky, some of the crew or cast for the film might have stayed there. Or one of the employees of the motel might have been able to visit the filming for the movie.
Cinematography is an important subject for any film maker to understand. You can’t just leave this to the cinematographer or editor to handle. Part of being a good film maker means that you’re able to see how a scene will be composed, ideally even before the actors and crew members are present. And one of the things that’s lovely to behold in a film is when it contain sumptuous and rich imagery.
Of course, this isn’t applicable to all kinds of films. A horror movie might not benefit from it as much. But then again, I guess that even all movies could use a beautiful scene or two. It makes me think of some of the best Auckland cakes that I’ve seen. I don’t even need to taste them in order to enjoy them. Even just the sight of the decoration, frosting and other delicate decoration on the cake is enough to make me appreciate the people who made it. There can be a similar experience to be had in a good scene from a movie. Hopefully, there will be more of these.
There are more and more outsourcing opportunities becoming available with each passing year. Now, technology has a lot to do with this. For example, in the field of cinema, outsourcing is helped by the increase in available bandwidth in other countries. As the networks are able to handle larger and larger files, it becomes easier for people located in different countries to swap image, audio and video files back and forth.
I touched on this a bit in the last post, but let me add to that. Consider trends in language as well. There are more countries around the world which are making it a point to expose and educate their younger people to English. They do this because they know that familiarity and comfort with this international language will open doors to them. So this will allow film makers to outsource voice acting for animated films to people in the Philippines or Thailand, for example. And again, the logistics of this won’t be particularly inconvenient. It’s not that hard to figure out how to send money to Vietnam or Indonesia, for instance. So if you are someone who works in the film industry, these are developments that you need to keep a close eye on.
More and more, the digital world is intruding into the field of cinema. What used to be mostly analog, is now connected to the digital. This has its advantages and disadvantages, but in this post, I’ll just mention one of the downsides to watch out for. If you’re going to be working on a short film in digital, or if you’re preparing collateral materials for your film using digital media, you need to make sure that you have a good system in place.
This is very important because, one, you will find that there is a need to have a system for collaborating, so that even if multiple people are working on a particular video file or photo, you can keep track of who does what, what changes will go into the final product, and which version is the most current. If you don’t have this kind of system, things will get messy very quickly. Another thing to keep in mind is the need for backups. You might make use of USB backup software. You might back up onto optical media. The important thing is that there should be redundancy. That way, even in the event of a worst case scenario, all your hard work will not be lost.