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.

1 Reasoned Responses:

Dags said...

A lot also depends on how complex a scene is too.

If you have two people sitting a table talking to each other, there are only so many varieties of shots available that will look good whilst ensuring the audience can follow the discussion - lest they be dragged out of the scene by really outlandish camera angles in a quest to be "different".

The advantage of digital sets is that you're not limited by location restrictions and can set up everything the way you want, which is the true expression of freedom. By contrast I've imagined scenes to play out a certain way only to find that on the set location the doors and windows are in a totally different place and I have to adjust my ideas accordingly which is not always a bad thing.

There is definitely a school of thought to strictly adhere to the images in the storyboards and the shot lists, but there is also a place to just let the creative instincts take over and break loose from those confines on occasions - if the time allows it.

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