Film school is amazing. It’s perfect. It’s everything I’ve dreamed it would be. It’s even better than I imagined…True. It’s also hard work. Running back and forth. Getting dehydrated. Choosing between eating and sleeping. It’s stressful. Do not build any type of emotional attachment to anything you plan to film, attempt to film or actually end up filming. A number of things can go wrong and will and that’s not even a joke. It happens.
Last night, my team of four set out to film a scene which was assigned to us as homework. I was in charge of sound. Before we even got started, the sound equipment was down. We set up lighting and camera while we waited for the other team in our school to finish with sound so we could use their equipment.
The other team took so long that our staff suggested we just go to the office, learn how to use the older version of the mixer, and go from there. I got to the office and was greeted with bad/good news. The other team was done so I could walk back and use the new sound. All the way back.
When I got back to set, we had to set up the sound. I vaguely knew how to use (read: I didn’t know how to use) it from our brief session in class . One of our crew members showed me how to do it on set and I started winging it from there.
Everything was ready, except we didn’t have one of our main actors. We didn’t have time to find someone, it was already past 10pm. We were meant to start filming at 9. We began to film and our first take didn’t have sound because I said “Sound speed” and forgot to press record. Once I realized, I started pressing record every time I was required to. Ah, the first day. Our sound cord would give off a strange static noise if I moved the boom mic in even the smallest way.
The next few shots seemed to go well. Then a fire truck pulled up right next to the shot. It was outside of the frame, but it cast red blinking lights onto the front of the car we had in our scene. Amazing. It eventually moved and we continued. Rain kept starting and stopping so we were constantly praying against it.
While doing my best to capture sound, a group of about twenty goats started casually walking by next to the fence behind our set. They were loud enough to be picked up on the mixer. I just laughed and recorded the sound because there was no way we were gonna get anything finished if I waited for those goats to go.
Part way through the production, I realized my director was calling “Roll camera. Mark it. Sound.” This doesn’t make any sense. The whole reason the mark is there is to sink the audio with the video. It should be roll camera, sound, then mark it. I told the director and he said I had a good point. He only ended up doing it once more.
One of my favorite parts of the night was when our DP (Director of Photography, Cinematographer) was trying to get a handheld shot of one of the actors. He was walking low to the ground, and one or two of the other crew members would get shadows in his shot. He told them to keep their shadows out of the shot and they agreed to stay out. Next take, they were in again. He turned and said, “You guys have one job, and that’s to not be shadows!” He was kind of upset but it was funny because we were all stressed anyway. He ended up apologizing afterward because his own shadow was in the next one.
We had been filming for a few hours at this point. It was about 1am when we realized the rain was going to start. Director called for the last shot and once he said “That’s a wrap,” the sky released a downpour. We rushed to the equipment and tried to get it all safely to dry land. We were able to rescue it all by the grace of God.
We have to finish this project tonight. Now we have the actor that we were missing for one of our main roles. Our sound should work fine. Hopefully it won’t be raining. We learned a few good things last night. Our director still has to edit everything sometime between when we finish shooting tonight/tomorrow morning and… tomorrow morning at 8. He doesn’t plan on sleeping.
Welcome to the beauty of filmmaking. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.