Sunday, January 29, 2006

Little Filmmaker Lessons

I watched Timmy again today. There were some things I learned when I was behind the camera, but I couldn't remember them so I had to watch it again. Here's what I got from this guerilla- (and sometimes gorilla-) style short:

1. Lingering. Andrew and I both process things to quickly. Visually, this gives the viewer little more than a flash of some images. Our establishment shots are usually long enough for us to think the viewer will know where we are, but when we view them they aren't. We can linger with the camera a lot longer and it would probably be just enough.

2. Lighting. When we shot Timmy, we had no plan of action. We grabbed the sock puppet and the camera and headed for Touristville. There were too many people right in front of Grauman's for us to shoot our Grauman's intro there. Andrew wanted to get a shot of the roof so you'd know it was Grauman's. The only problem was that the lighting was terrible -- nothing but shadows. What I learned was that if the lighting is bad, go to a different spot. That's the solution in this kind of filmmaking, because I'm not hauling lighting equipment through the crowds in Los Angeles.

3. Framing. Some of the shots are wiggly. I know, it's all handheld except the credits. When we hit Chinatown, I think I'll drag the tripod along. It will make some shots easier. I also need to work on my handheld shots as a cameraPam. I know how to frame a shot, but with a hyped-up tubesock it can be tough to track him handheld. This is something that I'll just have to drill. At least my camera work is better than when I was twelve.

4. Flexibility. When you go out into a crowd with no film permit and no cops roping off the area, you've really got to be flexible. How many people were blocking the cement impressions at Grauman's as we were about to film? People walked past us and laughed. I'm surprised no one really walked through our shots (probably because they were so tight). But we couldn't get pissed at the people because they had the same rights to be there. We had to finish shooting before we lost the daylight, but we had no other pressures. That allowed us to patiently wait while people snapped their photographs together, stared at Harrison Ford's handprints, and stopped to ponder the moon and stars in the middle of the sidewalk.

I'm sure there will be more lessons to come.

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