Tag Archives: Gaffer

Professionalism in Practice – Gaffer on “Hand in Hand” Music Video

Originally I was not involved in this production in any capacity, but when Fred changed producers halfway through the year and brought Amnah on board, I was brought on last minute as gaffer as no crew had been sorted out by that point.

I was only involved on two shoot days, one which involved shooting a party scene which was tricky to light and the second which involved an exterior rain scene and interior bedroom scene. The party scene was tricky to light as there was a section that was outside in a patio that needed to be lit, but there was no visible light source in the space. To combat this we decided to put fairy lights around where the principal actors will be in order to lighten up the area and augment that light with the rotolight kit. The effect we achieved was that of a nice soft light on the actor’s faces that made it clear to distinguish them but it was still obvious that it was night.

Lighting the space with fairy lights.

Lighting the space with fairy lights.

The interior was a lot tricky however as I had to light a room that would traditionally be quite dark as it was a party scene. To address this, I merely used one rotolight and bounced it off the walls at a low brightness which added as a mild fill light for the rest of the room. James (the DP) had a light attached to his Panasonic GH4 and used that as a key light which helped capture the party scene atmosphere nicely.

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For the second day of shooting, I did not really need to be there as most of the shots did not require any lighting at all. I couldn’t even get into the bedroom scene because the space was so small. For that day I mostly acted as a 1st AC and assisted James whenever I could with the camera, although he didn’t really need much assistance as the shots he needed get were simple enough for him to get on his own.

Overall, this shoot wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, taking into account it’s troubled production history and the fact that the producer changed halfway through pre-production. The result from the rough cut screening was a pleasant surprise and I look forward to seeing the finished version, as well as Fred’s second music video.

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MDA3400 Secondary Roles

As part of my dissertation assessment critiera I am required to participate in at least two of my cohort’s productions in a secondary role. I have managed to attach myself to five projects this year, each of them requiring me to adopt a different creative approach to filmmaking.

The five projects I am a part of are as following:

Screenwriter on “Cellular”
Co-writer & 1st AC on “Tony”
1st AC on “Cigarettes & Alcohol”
Editor on “Dancing out the Dark”
Gaffer on “Hand in Hand”

For the short film Cellular (directed by Mantas Beginskas and produced by Andre Meehan), I’ll be writing the screenplay from a story devised by Mantas. This ties in with my pathway for my dissertation as it would allow me to improve upon my screenwriting skills. Mantas is a filmmaker with a very strong visual sensibility, so his direction would be a key learning experience for me to write the screenplay for his film in a very visual way. In the past, I’ve had the tendency to overwrite dialogue and not focus on the visuals that much but with this project, I’ll be setting a challenge for myself to overcome this habit.

For the short film Tony (directed by Killiesha Bancroft and produced by Amnah Pervaiz), I’m attached as co-writer along with Killiesha. This film is a social realist drama focusing on the effects of mental health. This project would challenge me to write a mentally ill character as realistically as possible, therefore I would need to conduct research around the mental illness that would be portrayed in the script in order to represent it as accurately as I can. This links to my dissertation script in the amount of research I would have to do; most screenwriters working in the industry today have to conduct research to write about topics they are unfamiliar with so this would be a valuable experience for me.

On both Tony and Cigarettes & Alcohol (directed by Nick Toth and produced by Andre Meehan) I’m attached as 1st assistant camera. I have never been a 1st AC before so this would be a valuable experience for me to learn what it’s like for camera operators to work under a DP.

For the documentary Dancing out the Dark (directed by James Land and produced by Emily Mitchell) I’m attached as editor for this entire project. I’ve always enjoyed editing and it was one of the pathways for my dissertation I was considering along with directing and screenwriting, but ultimately chose screenwriting as I could not figure out how to pitch myself as an editor the best way I could. Dancing out the Dark follows the story of how transgender man Kay J Browning uses his art (poetry, hip hop, dance) to express his lifestory and experiences. This documentary isn’t a conventional one in the sense that it isn’t just talking heads with intermittent footage. This project would involve me trying to construct a story using an assortment of archive footage, photo stills and captured footage centred around Kay’s aforementioned artistic outlets. I’m very much looking forward to cutting this film together as I’ve only ever edited one documentary before in my first year at my prior university which was more straightforard than this one. I feel that this project would help me grow as an editor as I would have to approach cutting this film with a different sensibility as opposed to cutting a narrative film together of which I have a good amount of experience.

On the music video “Hand in Hand” (directed by Fred Iyeh and produced by Amnah Pervaiz), I’ve been attached as gaffer. During second year, I had a fair amount of experience lighting different projects (Tremors, Ordeal etc.) so I feel confident about lighting the different scenes required for this music video. Drawing on what I learnt from Ian Liggett’s lighting workshop last week, I’m looking forward to trying out the different techniques and theories that was covered during that workshop.

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Professionalism in Practice – TREMORS (Sam and Andrija)

For Sam and Andrija’s shoot, I was employed intially as their gaffer. I was unable to be on set during their first day of production as I was in the middle of shooting my film, but I was present on all subsequent days, eventually taking on the role as director of photography after Andrija’s original DP, Sara, could not be available afterwards due to the challenges she was facing with her own project. My first day on set as a gaffer was shooting the house scenes in which I learned on the morning of the shoot that Andrija had fifty shots to get through coupled with the fact that only one day was scheduled to shoot inside the house. This made me have some cause for concern as I wondered why Sam would only schedule one day to cover fifty shots. Then I learned that Sam did not receive any shot list from Andrija until early in the morning before the call time. DSC_0049             DSC_0051 Needless to say, this lack of preparation and tight time frame to work in made covering the scenes in the house feel very rushed as we had to run through so many shots in such a limited time. Ideally I would have liked to have spent more time getting the lighting right for different scenes/shots but the reality was that I had to work faster than I would normally work just so could we get through as many shots as possible. Also, the scenes in the script vary between night and day so at times Andrija would want to shoot day for night which proved impossible as no prep had been considered for this. Had the shooting order in the house scenes been properly scheduled to have the scenes in daytime shot during the day and the scenes at night/evening shot in the evening then that would have been better. Alternatively, if we had to shoot day for night, then we would have needed to properly recce the location and gather the necessary materials (such as plastic bags or foil) to cover the windows to make the interior look darker. All of this made me realise how important is to properly recce a location and to schedule shoot days properly in accordance to the amount of shots needed to be covered as well as the time of the day a scene needs to be in relation to the script. Had this all be done with this shoot day then perhaps we would have been able to get through all the shots Andrija wanted in the house and not have to stop and reschedule to cover certain scenes at a different location and at a different time. DSC_0045 Subsequent shooting days however ran a lot smoother. We shot the bathroom scenes at a different house location and the doctor’s office scenes (both interor and exterior) a few weeks after with little major issues that got in the way of production.

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Professionalism in Practice – LOST AND FOUND (James and Hannah)

lost and found4

As a gaffer on this shoot, I learned the value of utilising natural light in interior settings. As of recent I had it in my head that everything that is shot inside needs to be lit, but sometimes that is not the case as very good natural light can achieve easily what artificial lights can never achieve (or it would require massively expensive lights and rigging to achieve a similar effect).

lost and found2          lost and found

I was not present for the first day of shooting in the house scene, but was there for the remainder of the shoot in the care home/clinic. It was there that I learned to rely less on artificially lighting a scene and more on the natural light that was coming through the windows. It was early April when we shot so the weather outside was very nice, casting very good sunlight that diffused through the windows to create a nice soft light with a clinical feel to it due to the mise-en-scene of the location we were shooting in.

lost and found3

 

There were only a few times where we had to use artificial lights to cover a shot. These were mainly close-ups or shots that had actors positioned in front of windows, so the backlight made them look very silhouetted.

In future projects, I think I will learn to use natural light more as the effect it creates can be very nice, allowing to achieve a degree of naturalism a lot easier than with artificial lights. However I understand that not all environments and locations I shoot in in the future will be camera-friendly lighting wise so I wouldn’t use natural light carelessly; I would still recce locations and judge accordingly what would be the best source of light to use. And of course, shooting during the spring/summer months allows for more flexibility when it comes to lighting as natural light would be more available due to the longer days.

 

 

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Book Trailer – Deborah & Rita’s shoot

For this shoot, I crewed as gaffer as Deborah needed someone who had some experience with lighting. I have only ever used lighting once prior to this shoot so I could not call my self “experienced” per se, but I saw this as a chance to really brush up my skills in lighting scenes. Also considering that this would be a night-time shoot, that added a further challenge when it came to lighting scenes.

book trailer2            book trailer3

 

The lighting did prove challenging, but I believe I got the hang on lighting night-time interiors pretty quickly by utilising a lot of soft light to represent moonlight whenever actors were close to windows and by using any existing light within the space as a credible source of light, i.e. the light from the television set.

Sid, although pleasant to work with, offered me little direction as DoP in terms of how he wanted scenes to be lit so I had to use my own initiative a lot of the time to work out how to light certain shots which in turn proved to be a valuable experience as I believe I developed a better understanding of lighting for the camera thanks to this project.

the ring book trailer shoot               book trailer

I felt that the shoot itself was long and protracted. In hindsight, Deborah did not have that many shots to get through and that shoot could have wrapped a few hours earlier than it did. I suppose this was due to Rita’s scheduling as producer as she buffered a lot of scheduled time for the shoot in order for Deborah to get all the shots she needed to in as many takes as required. While this does allow us to take our time with setting up shots, I felt it also hindered our workflow as in certain stretches during the shoot things got really relaxed and we weren’t working with a sense of urgency. In my past experience working on film sets, when things keep moving people tend to work harder and better as they get into a working rhythm a lot easier. If there are long stretches where nothing is happening however and the shoot stagnates, then that could serve to demotivate crewmembers and cause actors to gradually get grumpy, hindering their performances on screen also.

 

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