I tried to restrict myself to the functions of my role as the DP during the preproduction. Each person brought their own varying degrees of preparation into class for discussion and consideration but the process was often stalled when team members didn’t attend. I know that I have a natural behaviour to lead and take charge, and I really tried to resist this beyond shot choices in light of directorial decisions. However, even with this interrupted preparation, we didn’t organise a time to meet outside of class to resolve anything that hadn’t been decided. I felt like we lacked the unifying organisation of a producer or production manager, but I’m not sure if this is necessarily the responsibility of those positions.
A lot of our focus was on shot construction and how we would cover the scene, it drove most of our discussion about the scene. I approached it from a location perspective, taking photos of the potential angles and using these photos to make a storyboard:
I found this really helpful for figuring how to best capture the location. I had an idea of how the actors could look in the space but I was never going to be able to be 100% certain if the lighting would work or how to best capture the two of them together.
We had other storyboards in the group that were the opposite, sketches of heads and bodies and the relationship between the actors but without the relationship to the location. We really needed to combine them both and spend a bit more time playing with other options. Next time, as a crew, I would like to capture the scene almost in the same way that we did for the shot construction exercise, trying to capture a scene in a single take but each time trying to do it differently to the person who had done it before. This way we would have a range of different angles that we could choose from and refine. Maybe we would have stumbled upon that great over the shoulder that Zexi captured in her Shot Construction / the Next Stage take.
I was definitely worried that we wouldn’t have enough time to capture all the shots that we wanted to get and again without a production manager I was worried that we would have issues with costumes, blood and cleaning. I needed this plan to help keep me on track and know how much time I could spend thinking about a particular shot and how much time we had if we wanted to try to squeeze something in.
I didn’t refer to this much on the night but it is was definitely helpful to quickly look at and see how we were progressing in terms of time. I had also ordered the schedule in terms of the importance of the shots, as I saw it, so at least I knew that we were covering the necessary moments.
Again, I felt like I held back urges to lead the crew, trying to focus on what I needed to do. Partly because I hoped that others would take control and to allow space for others to feel like they could step in and make suggestions. I don’t know if I would do this if it wasn’t an exercise situation. I have seen a gamut of leadership dynamics on various sets, some with the DP is driving the day, others where everyone looks to the 1st AD and some where the director is really holding everyone together. I would like to be one of those people who helps everyone do their job better, who feels like that they are an integral part of the making of something. I think this comes from encouraging input and supporting independence. However, working on a tight schedule like this assignment creates pressure and I definitely felt like we just needed to go to get it done in time and it did take us a little over three-hours to shoot.
Getting into the editing room is definitely where I started to question the effectiveness of our preproduction. I could envisage the first two scenes, how the characters meet and how they part. But, how to put together the conversation was the difficult part. Each take has lines following one another really quickly so it was hard to know which moments to allow for reactions and where to find moments of characters finding their thoughts. I still don’t think I have effectively found the rhythm of the conversation.
By focusing on the shot construction and not the story I also found it difficult to make a choice about which music to use. I had two different tracks one version that is much lighter like everything was an unfortunate series of events and one that was much more sinister that felt like a plan had gone horribly wrong. After talking with the director in the edit suite we decided to work with the more sinister soundtrack for this version of the scene.
This rough version still needs refinement of the audio files and the inclusion of atmos. Most of my time has been spent finding the rhythm of the scene. After playing with a few versions I liked the idea of having Sharon’s scene first. I intend to find a sound effect of a distant gunshot for her to react to when she stops and turns around, allowing us to capture the moment that Lenny is shot.
I also played briefly with using a wider aspect ratio. I think this works really well for some of the shots, particularly during Lenny’s entrance, but it creates issues with headroom once we introduce the box at the end of the scene.