Saturday, August 11, 2012

For Better Or Worse – Short Film Shoot

Actor Adam T. Perkins looking suitably menacing 
I had the opportunity during the week to go on location a couple of times for a short film shoot to refine my highly honed skills of staying the hell out of the way. I was asked a few times how it felt to see “my words come to life” but it’s always a little awkward as my job is done and I’m merely a spectator at this stage of proceedings. The answer is, of course, fascinated, impressed, apprehensive, curious, and generally amazed at all the energy, talent and dedication that goes into turning my scribbling into moving images.

I was brought onto the project pretty late in proceedings to write the shooting script based on previous drafts by other writers. I was also asked to talk to the creative team from the Central Institute of Technology, it being their advanced diploma project. This involved me basically asking a heap of questions about the story, characters, tone, theme and what they hoped to achieve to get a sense of what it was I would write.

The general story stayed somewhat the same but there was a character on the fringes in both previous drafts that intrigued me. So I wrote the final version of what is a nice little thriller idea with that character a far more central player. It was my “in” to try and make the material work. After a few minor notes and a polish, the shooting script was delivered - all in the space of two weeks from that initial meeting. I wish all assignments were so quick!

Actors Ian Toyne (Peter), Clara Helms (Joelene) & Justin Burford (Vincent)
The word was that everyone was pleased with the script which was a relief and I moved onto other projects. It was only when I saw an online request for a featured extra a few weeks later that I discovered the script was going into production. I texted my contact at CIT who acts as a ‘supervising producer’ during shooting and was invited along and later added to the call sheet distribution list.

Clara rehearsing a scene. No blanket come time for a take!
Normally I would have worked closely with the director during the scripting stage, possibly know some Heads of Department and maybe even sit in on auditions. This time, apart from the one hour meeting, I didn’t really know anyone other than the supervising producer. But everyone was very friendly and welcoming so I lurked in the shadows and watched cast and crew go about their business.

Justin in full hero mode!
That was Day One of a five day shoot. I impulsively went to Day Four at Sunset Hospital which is now the playground for filmmakers and a really interesting place - sprawling and disused with long, dark corridors and a maze of rooms. Great fodder for the imagination. This time I came armed with pad and pen so I was writing while watching the creation of a pretty intense scene set in a decrepit old bathroom. By the way, those scribblings ended up being a ten page script that I sent off yesterday so I was working too!

Long, dark corridors at Sunset Hospital
The enjoyable part of being on set is meeting new people passionate about film and visual storytelling so I had great conversations with the actors and members of the crew… whilst, of course, trying to stay the hell out of the way. Oh, and just happened to stay around for a lovely lunch in the sun… purely coincidental of course!

The shoot wrapped yesterday and the vibe seems to be very good. Now we wait as post production takes over to see what it is we have wrought. There is a hard deadline determined by a screening of all the diploma films in November. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product. Oh, and also very happy this is on 16mm not digital so from what I could glean from the locations, the stills, some of the action on the monitor, this should look fabulous. Hopefully I’ve done my job properly and the story is equally as fabulous.

... and that's a wrap, everyone! 
Thank you to all the cast and crew.

For Better Or Worse

Producer: Cathryn Langman
Director: Jacob Kemp
DOP: Christian Niddrie
Starring: Justin Burford, Clara Helms, Ian Toyne & Adam T. Perkins

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