The last one to say 'no'
I got the director's chair in the way these things usually happen in our club - being the last one to say "no." I started by breaking the script down into the actions I wanted the character to perform. It's fairly self-explanatory, in that she gives you a running commentary on what she's doing, but I wanted to shoot from different angles to give myself flexibility when editing. If you have a definite plan as to what the character should be doing, rather than relying on your actors to make it up as they go along, that makes it much easier to choose shots and move cuts around without causing continuity errors.
I didn't bother with a storyboard (I seldom do), and just made a list of the shot types I wanted, noting which shots had the camera in the same position. During filming, we recorded all the shots from one camera position before moving to the next. This saves time on setting up the camera and lights, but requires careful attention to continuity. I think we managed it pretty well - or nobody's pointed out any mistakes yet, anyway.
There are, however, a couple of what IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) calls "crew or equipment visible" - one of the crew is reflected in a window at about 1:27, and a light stand is visible at the right-hand edge of frame at about 1:42 and 1:59.
We didn't need much in the way of equipment - just the camera, tripod and a couple of halogen lights from the local DIY shop. The camera was a Panasonic NV-DS30 - a consumer model, on the high end of reasonably-priced at the time. Editing was fairly straightforward - just a matter of following the script to cut the best takes together. The film is about the character and her life, and fancy effects would only have got in the way of telling her story.
I'm pleased with the performances from both actresses. (The lady doing the voiceover is not the lady in the pictures.) Neither of them needed much direction - just as well, as I don't consider myself a particularly gifted director. Most shots needed only a few takes to get something I was happy with.
Record the voiceover first
If I was to make this film again, the main thing I'd do differently would be to record the voiceover first. It was one of the last things we did, and there are several places where a shot doesn't last long enough for the words it's supposed to go with. If I'd had the voiceover already recorded, I could have timed each chunk of it to see how long a shot had to last - and put in some more action if it couldn't plausibly be stretched for that long.
We didn't have any grand plan when making the film - we just wanted something short and simple that we could enter into the local amateur competitions. We never expected the film to become as popular as it has, and I still can't quite believe that it's happened. I guess it strikes a chord with people - the YouTube stats suggest that many of the viewings come from links in email. Maybe half the viewers forward the video to their friends after watching it. The other half were going to forward it, but remembered something else they had to do first...
- Steve Pemberton
[Webmaster: Steve's prose flows well because he is also a novelist. I recommend looking for Death & Magic - a murder mystery set in a school for wizards, but nowhere near Hogwarts. Find it on Kindle, Smashwords and Lulu for around $1.]