Howdy Filmmakers! For our third week, we talked about the camera and ways to mess around with lighting, sound, and camera angles/movement to achieve a desired look.
A number of teens had been to film camps before, so we swapped stories (and some horror stories) about film sets and the hazards of film equipment. For instance, on one of the first days of my graduate bootcamp, a fellow student was standing below the lighting grid and was nearly hit with a 200lb light. The light had not been properly rigged and when the grid was raised, the light fell. Had she not stepped back, the light would have fallen directly on her head and most likely killed her. Needless to say, my professor was angry and shut down the set for the rest of the day, citing a "safety concern." Crazy stuff!
We discussed the importance of safety when handling lights as lights are heavy, extremely hot and very dangerous. They should always be handled while wearing gloves and always when they are turned off. Cords should be secured to the ground (with tape) so that tripping hazards can be avoided. When a light is ready to be turned on, the person handling the light will yell, "Striking!" to alert members of the crew to NOT LOOK AT THE LIGHT.
Unfortunately for indie filmmakers, lights don't come cheap. However, this doesn't mean the lighting for your film has to suffer. There are some quick and easy things you can do to ensure that lighting is good in your film. To achieve good lighting:
1. Film outside on a cloudy day: overcast light is GREAT light because it's consistent and doesn't change
2. If you film inside, turn on the lights and avoid florescent bulbs
3. Use Chinese lanterns for close-ups and "soft light"
Another thing we talked about was sound and the fact that it is so important that people often forget it. I did say that right. Sound is often an overlooked aspect on film production mostly because filmmakers think that they can "fix it in post" if sound isn't recorded well day of. This is very difficult to do, so the best thing is simply to get the best sound possible on the day you shoot. There are a couple of ways that you can go about this:
1. When filming, choose a spot that will be quiet such as an indoor space (WHY: an indoor space allows you to control the sounds around you and anything/anyone that could make extraneous noise)
2. Avoid filming outside near extremely noisy areas (train stations, bus stops, etc)
3. Try to film dialogue-heavy scenes in a quiet space
4. Use a separate microphone (separate from your on-camera microphone) and place it as close to actors as possible)
The last thing we talked about was camera angles and camera movement which go hand-in-hand with shot sizes. Camera angles are used to emphasize different parts of a story in different ways such as enhancing character personalities are making us see pieces of a story in a different way. Shot sizes direct WHO we see while camera angles direct HOW we see them. For instance, a canted angle (like the image to the left from Christopher Nolan's "Inception") is meant to disorient the view and mess with perception. This kind of camera angle is often used in dream sequences.
Check out this great link to see descriptions of camera angles and movement.
At the very end of our day, teens split up into groups or worked solo to film a series of clips for a "30 Second Challenge." There were two categories to choose from, each with similar criteria. The goal of the challenge was to film enough footage to be able to edit the following week.
Stay tuned for another post coming next week about our very last session which is tomorrow!
Adios for now!