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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How to Make a Movie in 5 Days: Put a Ring on It-Day 1




Keep your locations minimal. This movie was written to take place in 5 different locations. We found one house that could double for four locations and a restaurant.

1st day of production was at the restaurant. This was day was our lightest (page wise), but it was our shortest (time allotted at the location).

Call time was 6am. EVERYONE WAS LATE. The head_Pa/all around cool guy and I arrived at 5:30am. I expected at least a few others to be early. No such luck. People started arriving between 6am and 7am. We didn’t have the full crew there until a little after 7am. Call time was 6. We only have the place until 3. I was a bit worried. But we pressed on.

In italics and bold is my original shot list.

Scene 19
start on outta focus c/u dolly and rack to reveal scene.

Scene 21
static insert of batter being scraped (maybe tilt to cook tasting)
static insert of over door being opened, cake put in oven.

Scene 23 – Ronny Directs.
7 set ups. Inserts of cake being prepared.


Here was my 1st mistake. Scenes 19, 21 and 23 are all no dialog montage scenes. Simple close ups of a cook baking a cake, putting a ring in the cake and giving it to a waiter. Simple right? So I assign these “simple” scenes to 2nd unit. (by 2nd unit, I mean the DP and AD). This frees me up to set up the main scenes for the day and rehearse the actors.

I thought I was clear about the coverage we needed, but apparently not clear enough. Upon reviewing the footage the next day (no time during the shoot day) that the 2nd unit failed to get 60% of the scripted shots and instead got several wides of the actors performing the baking duties. It’s mostly unusable. In editing I had borrowed pre-shot footage from a cooking show a friend of mine shoots.

Scene 48 (audio only) sound adr Luke at bbq

This one went just as planned. No troubles.



Scene 24

inserts and coverage extras. (4 set ups - various)
cover waiter picking up plates, eyeing thea, moving over to the chef to grab the cake.
Ots Thea – waiter gives cake to young couple.
Dolly – slow truck with waiter towards the table. (shots will be cut extremely short. We only need like four feet of track. Reset and repeat dolly four x’s each time punching in closer on the waiter and finally the cake.
Dolly – Thea exit (end of scene)
Dolly – Jamar enter (scene 18)
2 shot – Eliiana and Luke (scene)
2 shot profile (jamar and thea) specific line. Ask me.
Single thea
Extreme close up. Thea watches waiter approach.
Single Jamar
Insert – waiter lays bill on table

Here’s where I really started learning the ratio of intended shots to what you actually have time to shoot when you’re shooting a feature in 5 days.
I figured the inserts and extra coveage would take about a half hour to both light and shoot. It took about an hour and a half. It was interregnal to the scene and was planned only cuz it was going to give the scene more “flavor”. In retrospect, I’d have cut these shots completely or simplified them much more to allow for more coverage on the main scenes.
Due to time constraints we couldn’t get the dolly shot exits/enters of Jamar and Thea. And the dolly shots of the waiter and cake did not come out at all as I had intended. I found out while shooting these shots that the camera package did not include a zoom lens. (word of advice potential indie-moviemakers; if you’re trying to shoot a feature in less than 10 days, you better have a fucking zoom lens. If you work with fixed lens, you have to wait a minimum of 3 minutes every time you switch set ups. It sucks)
We also missed the bill on the table insert.

Scene 22
1. 2 shot thea and jamar – luke and eliana in bg

Stick to your plan. While setting up this shot the DP discovered a single that looked stunning on Thea. So we decided to cover this shot in singles, which while cool looking was not as expedient or story practical as the intended shot. I realized this upon shooting the 2nd shot, but we were behind and couldn’t back track.

Scene 20

static master 4 shot.
2 shot Eliana and Luke
Single Thea
Single Jamar
Insert Thea’s leg bounce under table. Jamar grabs her leg.
Insert thea pushes plate away
Jamar talks to waiter away from the table.


This went pretty well, however we did miss the inserts. We had planned to pick them up at the house locations, but ran out of time. Don’t put things off. These inserts would’ve taken 5 to minutes and we never found the time to come back to them.

There was a lot of pressure at the end of the day to finish up. We had to wrap shooting before three or the production would be charged double for the location. This is why we had to lose coverage. Maybe if we had started on time and hadn’t had tech difficulties (production grinded to a halt for over an hour when we discovered one of our camera batteries was bad) we would have got everything.

But we did get the shots necessary to tell the story. It just would have been better with some more coverage (and this wouldn’t be the 1st time this would happen).

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