When I Have An Idea, I Stick To It

Posted Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 10:36 PM

There's a risk when you get onto your film set, that you adhere too closely to the ideas you have had churning in your head for so long. Once you've decided that you want, for example, a shot of the actor's feet, a pan up to their waist where they are holding an object, and then up to their head where they have a steely glint in their eye before they exit out of shot, you are determined that you will get that shot by hook or by crook. So you build a rig for your camera that can make the move, you position your actor in just the right angle, you wait for the sunlight to be perfect, your camera operator practices the shot over and over, until finally you film it... and it ends up looking a bit wobbly, out of focus, and you can't even see who it is and what's going on. The shot you thought was going to be so cool turns out to be crap, a waste of time that never makes the final cut.

You have to go onto set with alternative plans, an open mind, be prepared to change everything at the drop of a hat. An idea, perhaps suggested by the location, the time of day, or a whim that your first assistant makes up on the spot, could mean your entire morning is rearranged to accommodate for it. If it's a better idea, then be ready to drop everything and go for it.

A few days before going on set for my Steampunk short film, Eleanor Xandler: Temporal Detective, I drew up some storyboards of about half the shots I had planned. Each one also was intended to have a close up and a wide, and additional shots from the 'B' camera, but broadly the plan was for them to stay the same angle with the same action as I had boarded.

Here are some of the completed shots alongside their storyboard. It just goes to show, when I have a good idea, I stick to it.