Once upon a time I decided that it would be a really swell idea to write a series of articles on the making of my first short film. As you can see from the months that pass between each post, this didn’t turn out to be such a realistic goal. Lesson #57 – making a film of any size sucks up all available time and energy, leaving you with neither of either to put into blogging.
I’m embarrassed to see that the last update is about February. FEBRUARY! That’s practically years ago. So much has happened since then. Where to start?
Oh, I know. March. We’ll start with March.
After a few months of nos, March turned into the month of yeses.
- You may or may not remember that as of the end of February I had found a Director of Photography (DOP), lost him, and found a potential new one. Becky Parsons was really interested in shooting Curtains for me, but was in Toronto and waiting on word from another job that would bring her to Halifax, thereby allowing her to work on my movie. It was touch and go for a while, but in late March she was finally able to confirm. WooHoo!
- I found a great stills photographer, Brian Larter of Aperture Studios, who volunteered his time and studio to shoot my flashback photographs (all flashbacks are being shown through photos instead of live action).
- Neptune Theatre, who already donated props and costumes, also agreed to let me shoot the film in their carpentry studio. Lifesavers!
- Syliva found a lovely lady named Holly to come on board and help us with make-up and costumes. So lucky as I have absolutely no abilities when it comes to either.
- My super talented and creative boyfriend drew about a million (okay, probably more like 30) story board images for me. For those of you who don’t know, a story board is a visual representation of a script. It’s a great tool to figure out how exactly you want to shoot your movie. Each picture represents one shot in the movie.
- After Corey made all of the storyboards, I changed my mind on how I wanted it shot. I spent two nights cutting up his lovely pictures and rearranging them. I felt like I was back in elementary school. Just me and some scissors and paste. It was awesome.
- I needed to find four actors for the photo shoot. As it was for flashbacks, they had to look like younger versions of my lead actors. They had to be union. They had to be available on April 10th. Sound impossible? Read on…
- I smartly had planned a visit to Victoria over the end of March, early April. What can possibly go wrong when I’m across the country a few weeks before we’re scheduled to shoot?
- My wonderful production coordinator Sylvia was voluntold to pick up the camera equipment the week before our shoot. I was under the impression it would be a quick thing – load up the van and away you go. But no, first the equipment needed to be tested, which they thought would take 1.5 hours. And then they discovered the camera wasn’t working! Sylvia was texting me throughout while I was sitting around in Victoria, unable to do anything but worry. If the camera didn’t work we were pretty much out of luck. It would have been really hard to find another available camera in town that I could afford. Almost 6 hours later Sylvia texted to say that they got it working. It took longer for my panic attack to fade.
- Months ago my good friend Andrea had volunteered to do the catering for the shoot. As we got closer to the shoot day, I started to panic about this. Neither of us have a vehicle, so grocery shopping and transporting the food to the location would be a nightmare. I decided it would be better to spend a little extra money and get it catered. So I spent a week trying to get quotes, and in the end realized I’d be spending about three times as much for about half the food. About a week before the shoot I meekly called up Andea. Fortunately she was still “happy” to do it. (Catering is a LOT of work and totally under appreciated. Only very good friends are crazy enough to volunteer for the job.)
- Back in February when Sylvia came on board, we both thought it would be a great idea for her to be the 1st assistant director. The 1st AD runs the set. They know everything that’s going on and keep you on schedule. The closer shoot day got, the more we both started to feel that maybe this wasn’t such a smart move. It’s a lot of pressure for someone who’s never done it. I started to email around. Note: 10 days before you shoot is not a good time to start looking for a 1st AD. I finally found Luke Freeman, who seemed happy at the challenge of jumping on board last minute. Phew! (Spoiler: he was a great 1st AD!)
- I almost had all of my background cast sorted out. Almost. There was one character I just couldn’t find a look-alike for. Then five days before the photo shoot my most important background character dropped out. I was scrambling to find two people instead of just one. As no union folks were available, I begged ACTRA to give me an exception and use a few non-union people. They agreed as the roles couldn’t be filled by union folks. I was able to find two lovely actors who were dead-ringers for my main cast.
With all the pieces in place, we just had to wait for our shoot day!
Story Board Examples by Corey Mullins