Short Filmmaker’s Toolkit Shoot It

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Step 3. The shoot

It’s the moment of truth. You’re going to get everybody and everything you need to the right place at the right time. Then you are going to expose your actors to image capture devices (camera) and record their voices (sound).

When shooting on a lo-to-no budget production, you need to be even more prepared. As Martin Scorsese once put it, talking about his experience on the Roger Corman-produced Boxcar Bertha, “the less money I had to make it, the better prepared I had to be”. To turn a painful shoot into an easy shoot, wee’ve got a few simple things you can do. Sound is also a crucial part, and it’s one of those things that can either make or break your finished product. Chances are you’ll shoot with a small team, but there are a several hacks of cinema 2.0 we could think of to help.

Step 4. Cameras

Consider the camera the way an artist uses a paintbrush, or a sculptor uses a chisel: it’s a tool.

Considerations when choosing a camera

There’s two things to look for in a camera: compression and lenses. The signal recorded by your cell is exactly the same signal as recorded by the big electronic cameras used by George Lucas – HD. With compression, the more pixels the more definition in the final image. Professional cameras allow you to use lenses which allow you to ‘paint’ the picture and add depth where needed. Small digital cameras in cell phones use apps to mimic these effects.

DSLR

Shooting with DSLR is a good compromise between professional, Hollywood-style cameras and shooting with your iPhone. If you know how to use it, it can be very powerful -and it’s really simple. You can also shoot extremely complicated shots and put the smaller camera in tricky places so as to achieve innovative angles, as Guillermo Arriaga (writer of “21 grams” and “Babel”) did in the award-winning short Broken Night which premiered at Sundance in 2013. It was shot entirely with a high-range DSLR. Panasonic  has a very large range of cameras: (more info in the gear guide), and they all capture great images which can match your filmmaking needs.

Super 8mm Cameras

If you like the look of film, Super 8mm is the entry level format. Cameras are readily found in camera shops and on eBay starting at £100.00. The trick is to get the film stock and processing with a transfer to digital to make it easier to edit. A roll of 2 ½ mins/4 mins (depending on frame rate) will set you back £60.00. You’ll get that gritty cool image quality that is all the vogue. Don’t forget you’ll have to record sound separately.

Stabilisation devices

Holding a lightweight camera stable is tricky. Support your supporting arm with a sling or scarf to take the bounce out of the shot. There’s also a number of cheap stabilisers.

[See the list of gear by writing at gearguide@raindance.org]

Step 5. Gadgets

GripTight GorillaPod stand

Fitting all best-selling lightweight cameras, this flexible tripod will grip your device safely and securely to capture footage from various angles and heights. Great for when you’re on the go, it’s compact and foldable and gives the flexibility to create any shot you can think of.

Camera table dolly

Track and pan like a pro with this compact, affordable dolly. With an adjustable friction arm, you’re able to shoot at different angles. Attach your phone by simply clamping it down.

Lighting

Again, light is essential to sculpting the images in the movie, and therefore key to creating a distinctive visual style for your film. There are different kinds of light, which can help you create a given atmosphere, so it’s best to explore a bit beforehand.

Step 6. Apps:

Shotlister

A professional shot listing and scheduling app for your iPhone. Keep it all accessible in one place instead of fiddling around with piles of paper! Also, with the ability to sync your project with your entire crew, add storyboards to every shot, and import scripts to save time building projects, your shooting day is sure to be a lot easier.

Celtx Script

One of the most popular screenwriting softwares on desktop, Celtx has brought everything that’s good e. This allows you to write perfectly formatted scripts right from your phone or tablet, as well as collaborating with others. You can also backup all your scripts for free. With your script on your mobile device, you’ll be far more efficient.

Celtx Shots

Another entry in the Celtx series, you can design shots on your mobile device, and share them with your team. It’s a handy trick that will definitely help you at the time of shooting.

Step 7. Recording sound

The quickest way to ruin your movie is with bad sound. Sound is more important than picture. Unless you have access to an expensive post-production sound facility what you capture on the set will be the sound you are stuck with.

  • be aware of where you shoot. Stay away from planes, trains and automobiles.
  • get a boom operator to get your microphone as close as possible to the actors. No Boom Op? Get a RODE mic you can plug into your camera and point it directly at the actors.
  • Spend some money and pick up some tiny Sony digital voice recorders (under £50) plus lavaliere mics (under £20) you can hide in your actors clothes for better sound.
  • Or, you can go for small, convenient AND wireless: you can capture extraordinary sound up to 50m away with the Nikon ME-W1.

TIP: Mic proximity is what matters.

Cinema 2.0 has its challenges, but also new shortcuts as well, including:

Record WILD LINES at the scene if marred by noise. Pickup the actors dialogue as soon as interfering noise has gone to give you a cleaner sound option in the edit.

Record room tone (30 seconds minimum) of the sound of the set immediately after the scene is wrapped.

Learn to think with your ears as well as your eyes. Tune into ambient sounds around you. Cells, hard drives should be switched off on set. It’s worth the effort to get good clean audio.

 

Write It | Plan it | Shoot It | Direct It | Edit It Show It