The last 3 months have been a very interesting & exciting time.
I got asked by a good friend Director Nat Sharman to come onboard and shoot a Docu Drama on ‘Unexplained’ Mysteries. Nat and I have a long history of shooting Docu Dramas together so I jumped at the chance to collaborate with him.
For me Docu Dramas are a great genre of programme as you get the best of both worlds. Firstly, to shoot off the cuff, relatively unplanned footage in new locations all whilst meeting world experts and sometimes eccentric characters . Then with the drama getting to step properly into being a DP, collaborating with other departments and having the resources to really push the craft of Cinematography.
It took us 47hours 38 seconds to write, cast, location scout, shoot, edit, grade and hand deliver our film ‘Paradise Falls’.
The 48hour film project opened it doors to Dubai for the first time this year and our team ‘The Turtles’ took part.
Filmmakers were given one line of dialouge ‘you can’t leave without making a decision‘, a prop a clock, a character trait which was a human encolopedia, a genera Mockumentary and to use a local landmark we choose Dubai Metro.
We received this info at 7pm on Thursday (which is eqvelevent to Friday in Dubai) and had to physically hand-in the finished film at exactly 7pm on Saturday (which is like Sunday in Dubai – get it?).
Quite a MISSION!
For me it all started after receiving an email from a friend on Tuesday and straight away I knew that I had to take part so on Wednesday I put my Producers hat on and made a few phone calls. Fortunetely a Director friend Nizar Sfair was interested to get involved as well as Acting coach Miranda Davidson. The team then steadily grew with experienced and enthused professionals including Sound Recordist David Thirion and Make Up Artist Marcia Santos, it was so cool these professionals were willing to volunteer and help out, I can not thank everybody enough!
On the Thursday at 7pm Nizar collected the info and we set about brainstorming an idea for the genera we were just given – Mockumentary. The idea grew and took shape in a few hours then copy writer Michael Fillon and Nizar went off to bring these ideas together and write an original script.
On Friday morning with 37 hours remaining and even before the script was finished myself and second camera operator Michael McKelvie (who is actually a professional photographer) were up at the crack of dawn to get some establishing shots of the location in the beautiful fresh morning light. I love early morning light so much, I guess it’s lucky I am a morning person…
Our story was about Karim Mushtak played by Assem Kroma. Karim is a writer who had a best selling book ‘The Bridge of Time‘.
Ten years on nobody has seen him, we found him as the last remaining resident in a dilapidated housing compound, refusing to leave until completing his second novel ‘The Time Travelers Diary‘.
The film took on the style of a Louis Theroux documentary with Michael McKelvie being the voice behind the lens (everyone was multi skilling).
As the film’s budget was coming out of my and Nizar pockets we needed to keep it cheap – I really do sound like a Producer now… As both Michael a I own Canon 5D MKII we decided that was the best choice of format, even though I was offered a RED EPIC I knew post time would be incredibly tight and final delivery requirements were to be SD (yer SD?) so I wanted to keep the work flow as simple as possible.
I shot the film 80% hand held with three lenses Canon 24-70mm, 70-200mm both F2.8 and a 17mm Tilt Shift lens which I borrowed from Katarina Premfors a Photographer friend of mine. I absolutely love Tilt Shift!
When people try to impersonate a documentary especially in Hollywood movies they tend to use very shaky hand held shots with lots of zooms, this is something I really dislike. Having grown up shooting docos I know from years of sweating behind the camera that you try your very very best in the unprecitable locations and senerios you find yourself in, so when brefing Michael who is completely new to video about the shooting style I simply told him to try and keep the camera as steady as possible and avoid doing lots of zooms unless to fit the action in the frame.
We didn’t use any shoulder supports or follow focus systems instead we went old school and just focused off the barrel. I did try and use an EVF viewfinder from Cineroid, but to be honest I stopped using it after a couple of hours as I found it too hard to judge focus from. The main benefit with the Cineroid is that you can feed a HDMI monitor from it, but having worked with Nizar so many times he trusted me to shoot and instead he concentrated on directing the talent. I went back to my tried and trusted Z-Finder. The Z-Finder is what makes a 5D MKII usable for such a simple device it really does make a HUGE difference. Add a fader filter to your kit and shooting is not only quick, but F Stop selection is very controllable. (If you want to get hold of any of this simple yet super effective kit, please click on B&H or Amazon ads here on DOP BLOG).
‘Paradise Falls’ isn’t without it’s faults, but for a film made in 48hours I and ‘The Turtles’ are incredibly proud of it!
Ray Haddad did such an amazing job of scoring the film in less than 8 hours… Insane! Editor An Nguyen and edit assistant Neda Ahmed from Optix Post Production did an incredible job editing the film they actually went 24hours with no sleep… Optix even let us grade the film in their DaVinci suit. Optix you and your team ABSOLUTELY ROCK! Great job colourist Diane Kuo.
As soon as the 48hour restrictions are lifted I will post the film here on DOP BLOG, in the meantime here’s our trailer
So what are my tips to making a film in 48 hours:
1) Read the rules, there are quite a few and you don’t want to get disqualified for something simple or avoidable
2) Scout your locations and get permissions ahead of time – It’s one thing you can do before the 48hours as well as preselect some actors and make sure your kit is all set
3) Keep the crew small and simple, have clear leaders just like in regular production work
4) Only take on people who 100% want to be involved
5) Remember everyone is a volunteer so look after them, buy lots of water, juice, fruit, and a decent lunch
6) Try not to take the pi*s with time, even though you only have 48hours try and schedule your film as best as possible
7) Once your script is written read it through with a stopwatch and estimate timings of your finished product – 48hour films should be 4-7mins excluding end credits which can be 1min
8) Work out scenes that you can live without
9) Don’t be afraid to try new stuff on location
10) Get the coverage you need, but avoid over shooting
11) Make sure you have some form of narrative, leave the audience feeling something
12) Deliver batches of rushes whilst shooting so your post can transcode them and start the offline
13) Keep an eye on the clock you only have 48hours, put a strict deadline for exporting your film
14) Make 2 copies on two separate USB’s or DVD’s it’s in the rules
15) Leave enough time to safely get to your location and deliver the film – I watched about 10 teams arrive late missing the deadline, what a waste…
16) Avoid on set politics as much as possible. For some reason short films/ working for free does breed then more than normal
17) ENJOY IT! Remember why you got into this industry!
The premier for our film was last night, in total there was probably around 14 films screened yesterday with two additional screenings. Some were very good and to be honest some made me feel a little sick… A short film should have some form of narrative, be interesting, intriguing and slightly entertaining doesn’t hurt either…
Some films were clearly made with great passion, but shot on FULL AUTO – which is especially a crime when the content/ idea is not great either… If you want to record purposeful images then you need to use everything on Manual – that’s PAGE 1. Learn How to Become a Cameraman there’s even a Christmas Special on + 100% money back guarantee if your not satisfied with the info I share. Take a look and download the Free Tips
PS BIG SPECIAL THANKS TO IMAD ABOU-CHALHA GM from Optix who made Post production and finishing the film a reality. Imad is now off to follow his dream and go to Culinary School in NYC – Imad you are a legend and I wish you all the best of luck in your new career! Keep a sofa free for me as no doubt I will come and visit especially if you cook!
I have been escaping the Dubai Sumer heat and spending the past few weeks in the USA, UK and India. It’s been fun continuing the 3x 1 hour documentaries with Darwinist Richard Dawkins on SEX/ MORALITY, DEATH and THE MEANING OF LIFE! What subjects! It’s certainly been an eye opener learning about life with the differing religious points of view from Christians and Catholics to Hindus and Buddhists, oh yeah and of course a good amount of Atheism from Richard thrown in, the chat about life with and without a Supreme Being/ God has been interesting to say the least…
On a safer front, but still a little risky, Richard met up with fellow Atheist Ricky Gervais, yep the comedian famed for The Office and hero from the Golden Globes! I cannot believe how he got away with hosting the awards with that speech – it was a little shocking, but defo wet your pants funny!
Whenever you film with a ‘star’ the Producers and often Directors get nervous, not because they are intimidated by them so much, but because of how the manager has painted their client. I have heard so many times that the ‘star’ is only going to stay 5-10 minuets, you can’t do this or that, they will want to change the lighting or possibly the set up… However way more often than not they turn out to be Kool (with a K) and stay well beyond their time slot and I can count Ricky G in that category too! He was a pleasure to film with, fair enough he had a few dodgy jokes before the cameras rolled, but maybe Richard Dawkins made him a little nervous…
As well as filming for the documentary, I have managed to fit in a few extra days on other productions. Including a graphics/ title shoot for Jamie Oliver’s new 1 hour programme Jamie Cooks Summer, Produced and Directed by my very good friend Chris Faith. I also filmed a festival called the Big Chill with X Factor contestant and I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here winner Stacy Soloman and a days filming on the hit show Made in Chelsea which is a similar format to the Hills or The Only way is Essex.
I have noticed some similarities within the UK television industry since I left the shores in 2008 and some changes too.
The Big Chill was for an ITV This Morning feature about fashion and festivals. I was so surprised when the Director and top lad Sam informed me of the required camera format – Digi Beta! What Digi Beta? Are you serious! I used to love Digi Beta, it used to be the dream format. If you were shooting on Digi you knew you were doing something right.
But even to a nostalgic DP in 2011 it does seem a little dated but not one to complain I hired a 970, sadly not my favourite 790 as that camera seems to be no longer in existence and headed off to watch Kanye West play. Easy Taught me!
The Digi is what an old school Cameraman would call a real camera, it’s made for filming. True it is heavy, but in all the right places, it’s so well balanced that it is a dream to use. I was back to pulling off 180’s and my signature 360 spin (that MTV used to lap up) in no time.
Now for the change, Sony F3. On both Jamie Oliver’s shoot and Made in Chelsea it was the camera of choice, well actually it seems to be the camera of choice for most of the UK.
So what’s my verdict:
First and foremost it gives beautiful images, that cannot be denied and it has a PL mount which means it can take 35mm film lenses, something I always dreamed about as a nipper. They are the pros, and sadly there are pay offs. Like a lot of cameras in the current market it is a little bit of a pig to work with. With cards directly inserted in the camera it only records 30mbps, so to get higher res 5ombps you need to use a Nano Flash or ‘Nano Gash‘ as they seem to be referred to. It’s a bit of a pain as you have to record on the Nano Flash separately, plus the viewfinder isn’t great for focus and to get the Nano Flash on the camera + additional battery you have to add more bars, which means actually getting your eye to the viewfinder is quite tricky. So on both programmes I used an additional Cineroid viewfinder which is another iteam of kit to add onto the camera, which makes it more bulky and cumbersome and just not balanced and to be honest isn’t that good either.
I love how technology is changing and I believe we are right in the middle of it, with all these new amazing digital cameras and advancements in post being released.
I just read this on Stalk Book ‘He who wants the world to remain as it is, doesn’t want to remain at all’.
You can not keep the world from changing, and regardless of what camera format you are filming on filming on Location remains the same so here’s 7 Top Tips to help you:
1) Before leaving for location check your kit as it will be used, don’t skip any stage of this as the one thing you don’t check will more often than not work. Take spares
2) Make a detailed list of the amount of kit you have including number of boxes and bags
3) If you think you might need it take it. Even if you doubt you will use it, still take it and I guarntee more often than not you will be thankful you took it
4) Take an multi plug adaptor and 4way power extension. This way you will always be able to charge your batteries, phone, laptop without having to sacrifice other appliences in your hotel room i.e. the TV
5) Always take the business card of the hotel your staying at with the address on it and put safely in your wallet
6) If abroad learn some very basic words, ‘hello, thank you, yes please, excuse me’
7) Be aware of your location and potential hazards
It is a really exciting time at the moment, so enjoy whatever it is you are filming and if you want over 50 more Top Location Filming Tips then you know where to get them plus find out the key to becoming a highly successful and in-demand Cameraman/ DOP www.howtobecomeacameraman.com
NYC, Philly, Joplin, Kansas City, San Fran, Vegas and now LA. It’s been a busy 10 days to say the least as I have started filming 3x 1 hour documentaries with the Evoloutionist and famous Atheist Richard Dawkins.
I like to do one big landmark doco every year so when long term collabroator Producer/ Director Molly Milton asked me to DOP the series, how could I refuse? Especially, when the subjects are… wait for it… SEX, DEATH and THE MEANING OF LIFE, with the theme of a life without God, I was like ‘What is this..? This will be nuts, it’s essentially the core of our existence, I need to do this project’.
We found ourselves in some strange situations, from an Orgasm cult in San Fran, to witnessing the devastation of Joplin, Missouri. At times, it was sad, others fun and often just plain strange… but that’s what life can be and listening to Dawkins and the contributors views has been an eye opener… That’s not to say I agree with him on every point, but I can see how and why science plays a very important role in humanity and sometimes it’s easy to find meaning in everything or be ‘deluded’… I like the science argument, but being an old romantic I still like the idea of fate and believe in belief; whatever that belief may be is completely up to the individual and that should be respected. Dawkins gets a lot of bad press (especially recently), but he’s actually surprisingly cool… I’m not here to defend him, just film him. So I will tell you about the experience.
With the amount of locations and minimal crew the shoot has been a little hetic and quite a tough few days! Our days have included pack kit, drive, film, drive, film, film, film, lunch, film, drive, film, pack kit, fly, dinner, sleep!
The production company Clear Story (owned by Molly and Russell Barnes) where keen to shoot on XD Cam. So we choose the Sony PDW 800 that shoots MPEG HD422, 50 Mbps 1920×1080 25P (as for UK PAL region). It was my first time using this specific camera and I have to say it’s decent. Over the past couple of years I have mainly been filming on RED, 35mm or HDSLR and it’s rare that I use a traditional camcorder so to speak. The shape and weight reminds me of my days filming for Nat Geo and Discovery.
To funk up the imagery I decided to use prime lenses. Tradittionally, I would have gone for a PS Technic Pro 35mm Adaptor and set of primes either Cooke or Zeiss. This time however I bypassed the adaptor and went for a set of Zeiss Digi Primes. The depth of field isn’t as shallow, but the lenses are beautiful and make such a great difference to the image. To take the edge off the sharpness I used an 1/8 Black Promist on many shots especially when Richard was in frame. It helps blow the highlights a little and give a slightly softer & more forgiving image, which helps as many of the contributors have been a little older… One was 108 – yep 108 and he still works in financial industry in NYC… Good genes!
It has to be said that using primes on a doco is not the most practical option, but I decided to do it after shooting Virtual Revolution with Molly last year (Digital Emmy, Bafta). On that series we used primes and it increased the production value so much. VR was a little more set up and formatted, so there was time to change lens. On this project quite a lot of the encounters like with Father Justin in Joplin were on the fly, so hand held was the obvious choice. I probably shot 90% hand held so far, physically moving to change the frame size from 2 shot to single. I think you get better images this way instead of just sitting on the zoom, but your director has to be aware that you can not just quickly pick up a close up of something three meters away when you are on a 12mm.
There’s always pro and cons and with primes – you just don’t get the quantity of shots in the same time period as you would with a zoom, but I am a big fan of quality over quantity – as long as you have enough coverage, that’s the main thing.
We left Richard in Vegas battling with some people about life, science and how he views the world and I took the beautiful drive to LA and now chilling with an old mate, an extremely talented old mate Timmy Qualtrough. We have known each other since I used to rip down snowy mountains with a VX2000 and ultrawide fish-eye for MTV back in 1999. Just seeing him and checking out his work is so inspiring. Tim has Directed videos for Muse, Oasis (which I shot a little on) and recently Pendulum. Here’s a music video Tim directed and I shot way back circa 2004. Try and guess what it was shot on! The first person to guess correct will win all 4x my How To Become a Cameraman books, including Filming on Location, How To Beat The Competition and Lighting for Film & TV. They are all full of Top Tips and invaluable info.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTCDOnGhmNM 576 338]
Here’s some of his recent work. Pendulum – Propane Nightmares. Shot by Denzil Armour-Brown
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2KC1P9s6-Q 576 338]
Outer Mongolia is a place I often heard my Dad talk about when I was a kid. I don’t think he had been there, it just one of names of places that sounds cool ‘Outer Mongolia’, it’s a little like ‘The Wild Man of Borneo’ both seem distant, wild and out of reach. Although, I just found out the latter is a film made in 1941 and also something to do with two dwarf brothers… Not what I imagined…
When Director Robert Wilkins contacted me about shooting a documentary following a Buddhist Lama in search of lost teachings in yep Outer Mongolia – how could I refuse..?
I received the email when I was still in Delhi completing the Bollywood feature film. Rob outlined the doco and explained that the Lama is the 11th reincarnation of another important Lama. He was appointed when he was just six years old by the Dali Lama. Both the Lama which we called Rimpashay (meaning precious learned one) and Rob believed the lost teachings could be in Mongolia and Rob was hoping that the search would make up the final 20mins of the 1 hour programme he and Simon Wheeler were producing for the BBC.
Mongolia, was a Buddhist country, then the Communist Soviet government literally stamped Buddhism out. By the 1930’s most of the monasteries were destroyed and the vast majority of the Monks brutally murdered! It only became legal to practise again around 1994. Now Buddhism is thriving once again and is the main religion in Mongolia. Insane history, I know and I haven’t even mentioned the ‘forefather’ of Mongolia Genghis Khan…
When shooting a fly on the wall doco or Observational Documentary/ Ob Doc (as more commonly known) the crew is generally small. This time it was super small. Rob would be Directing and also Recording Sound a skill he learned a couple of years ago on a doco to Antarctica. Simon Wheeler Producing (Simon amongst many things wrote and produced a drama series called Kingdom shot in my home county of Norfolk featuring Steven Fry) and myself as Cameraman. I never feel comfortable describing myself as DOP for this type of project, as I was not lighting or constructing big shots, I was more just following the action and ensuring there would be enough coverage. It was actually a welcomed change as for the past 2 years I have been mainly shooting Promos, Commercials and recently a feature so for action not to be setup and unfold in-front of camera was fun!
As I knew we would be doing lots of hiking up mountains to film in monasteries and ruins so the kit had to be small and light. My initial choice of camera was the new Sony F3 but sadly due to budget constraints and the hire price of Prime Lenses it wasn’t an option.
The production had already been using an EX1 (a camera I had never used before) so I decided to combine that with my 5D MKII. I used the EX1 as the main camera for all the fly on the wall coverage and then picked up the 5D for all beauty shots and additional coverage where sound wasn’t needed. Ideally, I would have shot everything on the 5D, but I didn’t want to give Rob the extra headache of syncing the sound. I know there are new software programmes that can make this easy, but sadly there wasn’t time for the production to fully test them, sometimes it’s most sensible to go with what you know works.
About five years ago I shot an episode of Jimmy’s Farm also for BBC directed by long term collaborator Producer/ Director Nat Sharman. We decided right from the get go that we would never ask Jimmy (farmings answer to Jamie Oliver) to do anything twice abiding by the true hardcore rules of documentary and we stuck to that! It was a great way to work. So much documentary is staged and acted out, with Jimmy’s Farm we wanted to avoid that, if we got it, great we got it, if we missed it, we missed it! I decided it would be the best idea to take the same Dogma approach with the filming in Mongolia. The Lama had his own mission and I felt it was my duty to document that. I can proudly say I didn’t ask him to do anything twice.
I had to completely change my mind set from the Bollywood film. I didn’t light anything in Mongolia, but just relied on natural light which sometimes worked beautifully and sometimes required a different way of thinking and working. Mongolia has amazing natural light and without a doubt the clearest skies in the countryside I have ever seen. There was stars upon stars – it was so amazing it honestly didn’t look real!
When I film documentaries I like to move around as seamlessly as possible (until I bump into something) so the contributors are not intimidated by, me the camera or rest of the crew. From experience I know it’s best when the crew literally become part of the environment and as much as humanly possible and don’t get in the way. When you are holding a camera in front of your face and waving a ‘guessing stick’ aka Boom around it’s hard to be invisible, but by just getting on with filming and following the action you can achieve as close to it as possible.
I shot the project 85% hand held and only used the tripod to pick up GV’s (General Views or as someone once called it Geographical Vistas). It allowed us to get what we needed quickly. Rimpashay, didn’t like to hang around especially if he thought what he was doing wasn’t advancing the search.
Now to address the Director doing sound. It’s not a common thing except if your Nick Broomfield (Legend). But for this project, where the budget was beyond tight, the locations often very similar it allowed Rob to be in the correct eye line for the questions and practically for all of us to travel in the same vehicle, as we drove deep into Mongolia. Luckily, Rob had enough experience to be able to do it (and not get in the way, or dip the boom into shot – too much), but I know for a fact on his next project where he has more sensible budget the Soundman is already booked!
Working with Rob, Simon, Rimpashay and the Monks was a fantastic experience, there was always constant banter. Although, the content was fairly serious on these type of programmes you need to have a good time. I truly haven’t laughed so much in such a long time!
My 11 Tips to shooting Dogma Style Documentary:
1) Have your kit 100% prepped and ready ahead of the call time. Once your contributor knows that they can go about their business you have to be ready to capture what they are doing. They will not wait.
2) Having all you need on you. Spare batteries, stock, white paper for White Balance is essential/ or the knowledge how to scroll through degrees Kelvin to select the best colour temperature.
3) Being able to quickly, change your cameras settings. Allowing for the lighting conditions you are moving from and two.
4) The ability to follow focus and exposure on the fly is essential (and something you can only learn with experience/ practice – So practice!
5) Having a steady hand. With small cameras like EX1 or Canon 5D MKII (without shoulder rig) you have to adapt your body position so you can fluidly operate and remain rock steady during long off the cuff questions from the Director.
6) Making mental notes of Cut Aways as your filming, then picking them up asap. It’s so easy to forget to pick up a close up of something that was talked about. I avoid moving on until I have grabbed all those relevant CA’s, even if that means missing something else. It’s much better to have one complete sequence than several bitty ones…
7) Knowing exactly what shots will cut with what and making very quick decisive decisions. How to frame the next shot, from which angle to shoot. With this style there is no time for discussion with the Director.
8) Preempting action. Having a good idea where the contributor will turn, move, walk.
9) Being nimble, fit and quick on your feet. So you can physically get ahead of the contributor to pick up shots of them i.e. entering or exiting buildings/ frame. If you are unfit and shooting hand held the camera will move if you have heavy breathing.
10) Ensuring the sound is correctly calibrated to the camera and you have a good solid working relationship with your Sound Recordist. You are a team. The Sound Recordist can be your eyes and save you from potential dangers.
11) Knowing when to cut. You don’t have to film everything, over shooting is never a good thing. You just need to know what is valuable to the production.
I guarantee you will learn so much that it will put you leaps ahead in your filming career – IF NOT YOUR MONEY BACK – SIMPLE!
Two prestigious Filmmakers Kevin MacDonald and Ridley Scott together with You Tube and Sundance set up a unique competition. Via the internet they put out a call asking anyone with access to a camera to film somebodies ‘Life in a Day‘.
They even sent out cameras to people in various countries so they could participate. The aim was for as many people as possible across the globe to film ‘a day in the life’…
The main rule was everyone had to film on the exact same date 24th July 2010. You then had a few days to put a basic edit together and upload to You Tube. The successful entires would all be edited together to make a feature film. The film would be a time capsule! I never win anything… Not even the Bingo! Boohhhoooo! I hear you cry, (and probably ask ‘do you really play Bingo?’) but then again I never enter anything! EVER! Inspired by a friend of mine who recreated a World Cup moment (in a comedic fashion) and won a trip to the World Cup, I thought why not give it a go? But who to film??? Living in Dubai I decided I really didn’t want to film any opulence, which is the stereotype! So I decided to document a true working representative of the community.
I found Ayamatti, originally from South India. He has been in Dubai for about 15years and works as a gardner. With the money he earns he manages to successfully support his (extended) family back home and has managed to provide an impressive dowry and wedding for his eldest daughter which he and his family are all incredibly proud of!
I knew the shoot had to be shot in a documentary style, something that I have grown up doing so am very familiar with. To make it easy I needed to keep my kit light and simple, after all this wasn’t a low budget shoot, it was NO budget! I set out with my: Canon 5D MKII, 24-70mm 2.8 and 70-200mm 2.8 lenses, Z-finder, x2 Neutral Density (ND) filters, Zoom HN4 Recorder, x1 Radio Mic, Rode Mic, 416 Mic, Reflector and Set of One by One Panel Lites which I absolutely love! I had the Bi-Colour version which means you can change from Tungsten to Daylight or do a mix of both and have the ability to dim without any colour temperature change. The One by One’s don’t give out any heat as they are LED and can be battery powered – a real must for any documentary filming interior or exterior.
I barely used a tripod as the sytle of the shoot dictated it be hand held and I didn’t even use a rig. Just the Z-finder pushed hard up against my eye and one hand on the barrel of the lens the other firmly supporting the body of the camera. When your used to shooting on large HD cameras with a Pro 35mm adaptor and Primes or the RED the 5D is so light weight that for certain things if you don’t have access to a hand held rig, then I think you can get away without using one – you will have forearms like Pop Eye!
My two good friends accompanied me on the shoot Elisa, who acted as Producer, PA and Sound person (yep she was very busy) and Shezhadi, who speaks Hindi and acted as a translator. We met with Ayamatti at 5.00am which started off with him washing and a cycle to the local Mosque. We continued filming him going about his daily duties until sunset. One of the things that struck me most was when it was lunch time. I asked Ayamatti if he minded us film him eat. He agreed and proudly laid newspaper on the floor of his very compact yet incredibly tidy room. Ayamatti sat cross legged and ate with his hands. This is common in Indian culture, but it was an interesting experience to document especially as he lives minutes away from some of the most luxurious hotels in the world! Ayamatti was an honest genuine person who was a pleasure to film with. He didn’t seem at all bothered by the camera and was happy to carry on his normal duties while being asked a few questions along the way.
Here is a clip of part 2 (3 parts in total).
It is ungraded and (very) loosely edited together with no music which was the requirement. There’s no subtitles on this version sorry…
They said they received in excess of 80,000 entries. My footage got short listed to the last 100 hours and I received an email about 1 month ago informing me that it had made it into the final film (yep I literally jumped for joy!) and was invited to Sundance (I did a double jump – one where you kick your heels together) and would receive a Co-Directing credit alongside Kevin MacDonald (please don’t ask what I did next it’s still too embarrassing)… Have you seen Entourage’s episode set at Sundance titled ‘The Sundance Kid’..? If you have you would probably be as excited as me! It must have been a tough job for editor Joe Walker!
Should be a great opportunity to meet some interesting people and soak up the film making vibe and of course the States! If you want to watch the Premier of Life in a Day it will be streamed on Life in a day Channel premiering Jan 28th 2011. I plan to do a video diary and regular blog posts directly from Sundance! If you have any questions for Kevin or Ridley please let me know and I’ll do my best to ask them.
I can’t wait to meet the YouTube Life in a Day team who have been fantastic at planning and organising everything for us – Thanks!
SALT LAKE CITY HERE I COME!
PS. Before I head off to the States as promised I will be posting some blogs about Promo work I have just recently done on RED + HDSLR including lots of Top Tips.
PPS. If your interested in becoming a Cameraman/ DOP go to: http://www.howtobecomeacameraman.com and get a copy of my 4 books. There’s also some free top tips!
Thanks so much for all the positive feedback so far, means a lot. If you have already brought How to Become a Cameraman and also want to give some feedback please get in contact info[at]howtobecomeacameraman[dot]com
July 24th could be an interesting day, well everyday could be an interesting day so what’s special about July 24th? It’s not Christmas or any other form of holiday is it..? Nope, but it is the day that the legendary Ridley Scott and director Kevin Macdonald (Last Kind of Scotland) are asking you to film a day in your life.
The project is called ‘LIFE IN A DAY’. The duo have teamed up with You Tube and the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. They aim to make a feature length documentary film out of the submissions you send in and the final product will be entered into the Sundance Film Festival which will take place January 2011.
If your footage makes it into the film you will be credited as co-director and 20 contributors will accompany Ridley and Kevin to the festival.
Sounds pretty cool! Right?
I know a lot of amateur film makers will be entering, but it could be a great opportunity for us DOP’s and the Director inside us or anyone with an interest in filmmaking to go out and make something interesting! If you can spare some time, (or make the time) Why Not..?
I wouldn’t have subtitled you Ridley, I like your accent.
In the words of Ridley Scott ”just do it”!
Didn’t a sports brand use that slogan..? Maybe Tiger took it too literally and ‘just did it’ with well, everyone… so they dropped it..?
Anyway, sometimes its good to just shoot stuff that forces you to be creative and think differently…
“Life in a Day is a time capsule that will tell future generations what it was like to be alive on the 24th of July, 2010,” Macdonald said.
“It is a unique experiment in social filmmaking, and what better way to gather a limitless array of footage than to engage the world’s online community.”
The Life in a Day project will be produced by Ridley’s company Scott Free Productions, and executive produced by the big fella who has directed classics like Blade Runner, Gladiator and the recent Robin Hood.
The closing date to upload to You Tube is 31/July/2010.
So that’s the bobby, so what you you think?
Is it a good idea?
It’s definitely a sign of the modern age, even a couple of years ago this wouldn’t have been possible or accessible for most people, especially without costing them large sums of cash. Now with the onset of HDSLR cameras like 5D Mark II & 7D or even the Flip and desk top editing not to mention the speed of the net/ the ability to post decent res files – it is… Crazy hey!
DOP’s, Film Makers – what are your thoughts??? Is it just a big social experiment, reality taken to the next level? Is it art? Is it reducing the quality of the film industry? A great opportunity? What..?
Well episode 4 of Virtual Revolution went out on BBC 2 and seemed to be received real good! So VERY happy about that!
Another good job educating the world HG!
We’ll, actually probably the first time educating the world EVER! And lets be honest I wasn’t really the one responsible for educating anyone just the bold statement!
All I did is get to have fun shooting really interesting people, places and generally cool things, marvel at how cool stuff looks and how great the light is or isn’t… It’s a fun job a ‘voyage of discovery’…. What a cliched sentence HG! Sorry… I apologize!
However I do shamefully LOVE a cliche… and strive to keep them alive through my filming… Is that a bad thing..? Ok it probably is… but my excuse is the power is ultimately in the edit so (for now) my conscience is clear(ish)…
I’ve veered off the track on my Second Ever blog, before we get into a discussion about ethics of filming really large (and by that I mean over tubby) policemen eating massive donuts and spilling hot coffee on their lap, I just wanted to say I think Dr Aleks K did an Awesome job and I think she is a Wicked presenter! GO Aleks! http://alekskrotoski.com
Aleks is not new to TV and has been on lots of different programmes including one called ‘chicks and joysticks’ – it’s not how it sounds! Sorry for bringing that up, seriously though Dr Aleks does a weekly technology podcast for the Guardian (which I’m secretly hoping to get on…) www.guardian.co.uk and writes for them and does lots of other clever stuff… Aleks wrote about ‘The challenges of filming the Virtual Revolution’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/feb/08/viritual-revolution-bbc2-filming
I would like to point out I’m not the Director of Photography Aleks mentions in her article – I’m the younger, less linear, more handsome one… ok younger yes, less linear maybe, slightly more handsome hmmmm..? Lets Not put that one to a vote…
If you missed Virtual Revolution then you missed a real treat! So go check it out on BBC iplayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00r3qhg/The_Virtual_Revolution_Homo_Interneticus/
it’s only available for 6 more days…
There’s lots of cool stuff on the programme (see my first blog). We did an interview with Ben Parr from Mashable www.mashable.com where he flipped his flip camera on us when we were setting up…
Dave the Soundman found an old bottle of Hot Sauce and got a little excited! Susanna the Associate Producer is in the background setting up really important ‘stuff’ (probably talking to the White House) oh and I am talking nonsense about film lenses. What a Geek! This is what happens when people flip reverse it, and turn the tables on the crew… I think Ben coined it ‘Camera Abuse’…
The BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/virtualrevolution/ ran a competition to make a Mash Up of the show’s rushes (shot footage) which was available online at their website. Which at first I thought was a bit odd, but the programme is celebrating 20 years of the World Wide Web and Now I think it’s really Brave and a Wicked idea! Well that’s now I’m more involved in this world of the Web, rather than only browsing… Where have I been for the past 20 years – not stuck to a keyboard that’s for sure…
Anyway, what Barry Pilling did, is as any self respecting German (under the age of 35) would describe as ‘Super Kool!’
Hello my name is Harvey Glen. This is my first EVER blog EVER!
I am a Director of Photography commonly known as a DOP or DOPE as I like to sometimes call it… Basically it refers to Camera work, lighting and generally filming stuff!
Anyway, this internet is a crazy place and making the world crazier day by day (or so it seems to me) with all these news sites and Apps continuously popping up! So I’ve decided that I need to get with the times and start blogging… This all came about because I have just finished shooting a Documentary for the BBC called Virtual Revolution http://www.bbc.co.uk/virtualrevolution
It actually airs THIS EVENING Saturday 20th at 8.15pm on BBC 2. It’s all about HOW the internet is causing social change. It’s an in-depth look at the net and includes interviews with the main guys who setup Facebook including Mark Zuckerberg, the computer giant Big Bill Gates and much much more…
It is presented by Dr Aleks Krotoski http://alekskrotoski.com who is quite frankly AWESOME! It was an AMAZING experience shooting this documentary! Producer/ Director Molly Milton, a good friend and long-term colleague who has gotten me into all sorts of odd situations including being waist deep in the Amazon river fishing for candirú fish (yes the fish that can swim up your Johnson… I told you DOPE), bitten by the most malarious mosquitos in the world, almost ravished to death by JoJo the psycho monkey and even filming crickets watching the Tye fighter sequence in Star Wars with electrodes plugged into their brains all for Volvo’s road safety ploy… Listing these they all seem to have animals involved, but not one of the projects was a wildlife programme… Anyway, Molly was the one responsible for pulling me in for this more civilized project. So once again thanks Molly!
We got to go Stateside (which is always a real treat for an English boy) east coast to be exact; New York and Boston. We filmed at MIT and Harvard. All I could think of was the film 21 and Beautiful Mind…
Everyone in Boston is fitness obsessed! Running, rowing and generally in pretty good shape….oh, and really clever. We shot an American football game at Harvard and let me tell you they are not known for their cheerleaders… but if your Ivy league quality I guess cheerleading isn’t your main priority… I think one of them was an Astronaut! Seriously!
We then headed West Coast, not to hook up with X to the Z, Alvin Nathaniel Joiner known to you and me as Xzibit, but to speak to more internet gurus in the home of the internet sunny San Francisco. Where I’m sure like any other excitable 20 something Brit I kept referring to it as CISCO much to Dave, our local Sound man (aka Grip, Gaffer, Fixer extraordinaire) distaste… He must have really liked us though as he took us to the amazing restaurant the Slanted Door http://www.slanteddoor.com where we had a real good cook up …
Television Crew love their food!
Speaking of food the next location had Awesome food and bizzarly METAL chop sticks, yep you might have guessed it – Korea.
In Seoul they love the Internet. So much so that they actually have Internet Rehabilitation Centers… Apparently, a large percentage of offenders are likely to re-offend… Not surprising when children as young as 4 have internet lessons… I promise you. These youngsters all dressed in yellow sit at computer desks and the teacher says ‘first one to find xxxxx’ this time it was us ‘BBC Crew’ and 200 little fingers started tapping away….
They do teach good internet manners known as Net Etiquette, where all the children sing together ‘…don’t look at bad sites, make sure you only spend 15 minuets at a time… if your eyes hurt look away and rub them…’ and so on, all in Korean though…. If you don’t believe me watch the programme TONIGHT BBC 2 8.15pm
For my fist blog I think this is enough…
I’ll leave you with comments from the British Press about the show
”Excellent documentary series which looks at the rapacious spread of social networks like Facebook and Myspace” Sunday Telegraph
”The biggest revolution in the exchange of information since the Gutenburg Press” Mail on Sunday Pick of the day
Got lots more stories on lots of other shoots, so lets hope I update it!