Rest. Reflect. Reshoot.

So a few weeks ago filming began for an upcoming short film titled, Poor Kitty. With a minimal budget, slipping time, and our limited knowledge of the potential each other person had, we started rolling the tape.

A few minutes in, we all seemed to look at one another, wondering what the hell we had just got ourselves into. The equipment was not working, the plans had not been accurate, and we were quickly losing ground for the film. But as it was in our spirits, we pushed on to complete the entire ten-hour shoot.

As the day concluded, and I returned home to review the footage to begin planning my editing schedule, as well as checking if there were issues with the footage.

Unfortunately, most of it was unusable. We discovered noise and grain on many of the shoots (static on the footage), equipment interfering with the lenses path, and just very basic waste of time (and money if we were getting funded for the project).

Attempting to fix the footage from the editor point of view, there was no avail. Everything I had learnt, and been taught to fix such a tragedy simply did not work. And I wasn’t planning on fixing the entire film when there could have been an earlier fix.

After discussing with the director that most of the footage was unusable, he was disappointed but somewhat glad – as too was I. We decided that it was best to reshoot the scenes for various reasons, but ultimately it came down to that we saw our first attempt as the practice run. Moving on from the first shoot we took away some very important lessons that were necessary for our future scheduled filming days.

Filmmaking is still an art, and a passion

Getting caught up in someone else’s creativity is simply bad. You surely can learn from their abilities, but don’t limit yourself to only what they show you. Invent your own path, and push the boundaries until they break. Audiences will admire and congratulate you on something spectacular, but don’t assume it has to be something BIG. Quirky dialogue, or a two second facial expression can be just as effective as an explosion that would have cost more than an arm and a leg.

Don’t cut corners

You have to learn to be precise. Don’t make the audience think about unnecessary things – they are watching to be entertained. Plan out every step, and make sure everybody on set knows what’s happening on that day. Find your own method of how you wish to do it – email, social networks, and debriefing staff half an hour prior to commencing to shoot, etc. Proper planning will reduce retakes, the waste of time (and money), and will allow you to have more time to test your boundaries than taking the ‘safe’ road to completion.

Be prepared

Take time prior to the beginning of filming for everybody to know the script – even if they aren’t on screen. This will let the channels of multiple views flow into the shot, which effectively creates those perfect characters. If you know that there is insufficient light, remember to bring reflectors and a few 3500K lights (natural colour). Plan every last detail until filming it is set out as a recipe.

As I said above, we eventually opted to reshoot, and we planned out every last detail for that day of filming. As the result of making sure everybody knew what was going on, and planning everything correctly we completed the longest scene, and had time to try risky approaches to the scene. A ten-minute plan now, will save you hours in the real-time shoot.