Director's Chair: Day One
(dramatic whoosh and gentle piano fades in) (quickly fades out)
So here we are, production day number one. This is the exciting part. We've done all the hard work now, we've done our planning, we've done our pre-production. We have the excitement we need coming into this film. Now it's time to execute. This is gonna be tons of fun. We have our team here. We have Nolan who's helping me produce. We have Graham behind the scenes, and then we're keeping the set pretty small today just cause we want a pretty intimate experience just with Kathy. We don't want to overwhelm anybody with tons of people. So we're keeping the crew pretty small, but yeah, right now we're just packing up. Everyone's been sent the brief beforehand. So now we just go and we execute. We have some fun, we get creative. We see how we can expand what we've planned when we get there (beautiful piano music begins) and be inspired by what we see on set. So it's gonna be a really fun day. We have three days of shooting pla...
nned. This is only day one. So we're just getting started. And yeah, it's gonna be a really fun journey. Excited to bring you along. (car door slams) I don't really get nervous before a shoot, but I definitely feel the responsibility of capturing the story well. You know, a lot of pieces of the puzzle have been put into place. We have to respect Kathy and her time that she's putting in. We have to respect everyone on the team's time that they're putting in. So there's definitely responsibility to shoot this project well. And I feel like I get that with all of the projects. You wanna do it well. And if you don't feel that, a little bit of pressure, maybe you don't care enough, you know? But the planning that we've done helps relieve the stress, cause we've done all the hard work in my opinion. But it also adds the pressure like, okay, now we have to execute this awesome idea that we have. So planning is necessary. And it also brings a little bit of excitement as we're coming into the shoots as well, so. Here we are pulling up to Kathy's place. Hey Kathy! (car door slams)
Nice to see you!
Yeah, you as well! Thanks for having us.
Yeah, no problem!
First things first, when you show up, it's best not to just shove cameras in people's faces right away. We're trying to build an intimate experience with our talent, with their subjects. So just to chat with them, get an idea of what they're wanting to get out of it. Obviously this is all stuff we've talked about before, either on the phone or email or in person, but on the day of, just spend some time with them, ask 'em how their morning's going. Just kind of spend 20 minutes and make sure that's in the production schedule too just to have that time. Just to build some rapport.
This is cozy little studio though, huh?
I mean, it's a garden shed.
It's but it's, it works.
Lots of character in here.
Yeah, it's gonna be a great time. We're so excited just to kinda learn more about your process and-
everything you do.
It's a whole new world for me so I'm like secretly very stoked about this
Oh yeah! (everyone laughs)
So we're getting set up for the first shot. Shot number one is gonna be this one take. We have two ideas. One is with Kathy already in the studio. We're gonna slowly creep in to see her and end up on a closeup on her hands. Option number two is what I'm more excited about. As she walks to the studio, opens the door, gets her tools, puts on an apron and then starts using the wheel. And then we start, end up on a closeup on our hands. So we'll see which one works the best. Lighting is pretty good out here. So it's nice and soft. So should go well, but yeah, right now we're just gonna get that set up. Trying to light this studio, just to get a little bit more light. So we're gonna put a soft box inside. (light clicks on) Because we're doing a one take and it's really bright outside and it's really dark in here, we needed to brighten it up again. So I just set the soft box up and it's gonna help just bring a little bit more light to Kathy's face.
We're gonna try to expedite all of these little steps as quickly as we can.
We need to make it look pretty smooth.
So even if it's like walk in, grab it...
As you're walking, kind of like...
Put it on and tie it.
We're gonna have to do it a couple times just to figure out what can we speed up or even cut out.
Let's see how we do!
Got bright. We needed to, need our clouds back. Okay.
So we're gonna try it?
Yeah, so... When you grab your apron?
I'm wondering if we should almost have it here and you...
Be putting it on and tying it
That's a great idea!
As we're walking towards it.
That could be better.
Once we get this locked in, then we'll get the second half...
Good to go and then we'll do one big take.
So right now we're kind of just testing it.
And...action! (drawer glides open and shut)
So we ran through the test a couple times. It's looking really good. Lots of really cool details that we're gonna get. I'm gonna put my headphones on so I make sure I get good audio. We're looking for lots of details and sound and just hearing all the trees, the door, the creaking, just so we hear all of that. And then yeah, we're gonna run it through a couple times until we nail it. But for the most part, it's looking really sweet. And...action! (gentle music begins to play) (birds chirp) (zipper sounds)
The toughest part about this shot is just maintaining focus. It gets really dark when we enter in here. So it's a little bit tough for me to use the tools (objects clatter) on the screen cause it's just too dark for them. So we're just doing a few times to make sure I nail the focus, but it's looking really cool so far. (peaceful music continues) (objects clatter)
Cool. Awesome. Yeah, okay. We're really close. I think we got a B take, but we still need our A take. Really close though. I'm not loving like the white greenhouse. So I'm trying to like, I'm trying to compose it without the greenhouse. And then one thing we could also improve is I get so much of her back at the beginning for a lot of the times so, might try to improve that. But otherwise, Kathy's crushing it. And we're gonna nail this next one here. And...action! (drawer glides open and shut) (approaching footsteps) (birds chirp) (wooden thumping noises) (clapping sounds) (thudding and clapping sounds) (water gently splashes) (peaceful music fades in)
Ohh, was that good?
That was so good!
I think we nailed it, yeah.
Yeah, that one actually for some reason felt really like it, smooth and...
Yeah. I think everyone, everything just fell into place, that one.
So, I'm gonna watch it, but I'm excited.
Oh dude. That's like... (Kathy laughs)
Honestly like a rush when you get to the end of a shot, You're like, "Don't screw up, don't screw up, don't screw up." (everyone laughs)
Okay. Kathy, you wanna watch that?
Hopefully the viewer gets a really good perspective into her world. Like this one take is gonna give the feeling that we're coming along with her. Hopefully they don't, they don't even realize that it was one take. Hopefully they just feel immersed with the sounds and even following her. That's the idea behind this is we want them to quickly be immersed in Kathy's world. A couple things to keep in mind when we are walking with handheld. A lot of times I see people, they start to bounce and that's exactly what we don't want to do. For me, what I've found the best when walking handheld is I use my legs to cushion my step a little bit. I go heel toe. So I start at my heel and always my steps goes heel toe. And then I try to keep my chest level. So I'm not bouncing my chest like this, but I'm trying to like, just keep my chest as level as possible. It kind of looks, it looks really funny. I think people call it the ninja walk, but keep my chest level, camera nice and close. And what I'm actually doing is I'm matching my steps with Kathy's steps. So if she takes a step forward with her right foot, I'll take a step forward and it'll match. As our camera goes up and down and her body also goes up and down, it'll match and create a bit better of a feeling. It's not always gonna be perfect, but we don't need this handheld to be exactly perfect all the time. We want it to feel natural. (dramatic whoosh)
So I'm just here setting up an interview now with Kathy. Pretty typical setup of what I usually use. I, most of the time I have a soft box set up. I love two face lighting. So when it's really hard and their face is kind of split in half, one side pretty bright, one side's pretty dark. And I usually tend to gravitate towards shooting my angles towards the dark side. So that's what we're doing today. So Kathy will be sitting right here. This is our dark side. Our soft box is right here. So this side of her face is gonna be lit. And I usually like, I like it a little bit moodier, so we're gonna shoot it from this side. And then we haven't had it set up yet, but we have a boom pull here. It'll just be getting audio. We'll get it as close as we can. You know, about 12 to 16 inches away from her mouth. Most likely I won't use this footage at all. I have no plans of using the visuals from this interview. I mostly just want the audio, but you know, that's our plan, but we're always trying to get more than we have planned. So we did all this pre-production work at the beginning to set ourselves up for success. But if we can go beyond that, any ideas that we have or anything extra that we can get that might give us a little bit more freedom when it comes to editing, let's do that. So I have a 50 millimeter lens on. I'm gonna get really nice and tight on her eyes. And yeah, like I don't want this classic talking head corporate interview shot, I want it a little bit more intimate and close. So I'm gonna try to get, creep the camera in on her quite a bit for this shot. So if I plan on using it, it'll be more of an intimate shot, less of a talking head corporate interview. Yeah. So that's a bit of the setup that I usually use for interviews, whether I'm using the video or not. Usually I'd like to at least get it. (dramatic whoosh)
So before we conduct the interview, it always depends, but sometimes I like to give them lots of information about what we're gonna be talking about, and sometimes I don't. I found that I get real natural answers when I don't send them questions beforehand. So they don't have the perfect answer that they've prepared in their minds. We get more of a natural feel where they're thinking about it. They have a little bit more emotion. I like that. But I've also found success with sending them questions beforehand and it can streamline the process. And it really depends on the person and their ability to communicate, their ability to come off sounding natural. So this one, I didn't send Kathy all the questions, but I sent her a few questions beforehand just to prepare her. So we knew exactly what we were talking about, but this was a, this interview was a long ongoing discussion between me and her. A few phone calls about what we wanted to talk about, what we wanted to portray in this film. This was a collaborative effort. And every time we chatted on the phone or an email, we learned something new as part of the story evolved and a part of the, yeah, like more questions from the interview started to come into place and I'd write them all down based on our conversations. So this interview that we'll be conducting now is kind of a long going process based on a lot of questions I've asked her over all of our communication in the pre-production part. So to make them feel comfortable, I like to just tell them it's a conversation. Don't worry about projecting any differently. Just worry about talking to me, RJ, as if they were talking to me at a coffee shop. That's usually why I like to tell them, feel comfortable, feel relaxed. Don't say anything that they wouldn't, you know, say in person, just be natural, as natural as you can. And that's easier said than done. Things are, things get really tough when you have cameras pointed at you. It's really not easy to communicate sometimes when you have cameras and people watching. So I like to just, as much as I can, start a conversation with them. Just hit record and don't even get into like, "all right, what's your life mission? What are you all about? What's your purpose?" Just start casually bringing up the topics that we have written down and we wanted to talk about, but don't get right into the heavy stuff. Like let's warm it up a bit and ease it in. And usually if you can, try to have not a ton of people in the room. Kathy's a pro, she's like so good at communicating and she has a really gentle feel to her. And she's just a really good communicator. So I don't have any concerns about this interview. I think she's gonna crush it just based on all her, our conversations and her ability to articulate. I think she'll do a really good job, but some people have a little bit more time, tough time articulating their thoughts. So just make them feel comfortable. Don't have a ton of people in the room and treat it like a conversation. So when we're doing this interview, we have basically no use for yes and no questions. We're not hearing my voice. So we need to them to speak in full sentences. So that's something I'll tell them beforehand. So if I ask them, "Do you like the color green?" I don't want them to just say yes. I want them to say, "I like the color green, because for this reason" or "I don't like the color green for this reason." So I'll articulate that beforehand so they know exactly what I'm looking for out of them. And as we're conducting this interview, we have a few questions, but we want it to be a conversation, right? We can't just be like, Okay, read question number one, get an answer. Read question number two. That's not what we're looking for, and that's not how we're gonna get good emotion out of them. Our questions are to remind us these are our topics that we're talking about. So we start with question number one, we get their answer, and then we have our response questions where we go deeper. "How did that make you feel? What was it like when you did this?" We just, whatever their answer was, let's be curious about it, let's bring back that curiosity that we talked about that in pre-production and let's go deeper into these topics, go into the feelings, go into the senses. What were you smelling? What were you seeing when they're telling these stories? So that's something that we should be practicing just when were talking with our friends. Let's not end it just at a basic question. "Hey, what'd you do today?" They have an answer. "Oh, how did it feel when you did that? Oh, was there anyone else with you?" Just dig deeper into these stories. Let's not just end at the surface level. That's where I see a lot of filmmakers make some mistakes is there's, they have the questions and they end it there. But our questions are only to remind us that these are topics and we need to get some emotion out of it. So let's dig deep and let's ask questions that we feel are going to provoke some emotion out of our talent. We know that we're finished our interview when we've had our list of questions answered. And during all of those topics that we have written down, or those questions that we have written down, we've made mental notes in our brain that, "Oh man, that's a good line." I have a really good line that touches on that topic. And we're, as we're doing conducting this interview, we're building the story. So if, like for an example in this interview, it's really important that we talk about when we take away from the Earth that we have to give back to it. And that's a topic that means something to Kathy, she wants it to be portrayed in the film. So it's our responsibility to make sure we get a line that portrays that well. So if we don't hear that line clearly, or if it doesn't come across in a way that we think is quick enough or articulate enough, then let's just ask a question that's similar to the first one we asked, but let's change it up a bit. Let's just go deeper into it and make mental notes in our brains. Even if we know, "Oh, I have half a sentence there. I just need a finisher." So I'm gonna ask another question so I have a full sentence. That, it's hard work. It's not just about asking questions. Interviewing is a lot about building the story as we're going and knowing that, okay, I have soundbites for every single theme that we're wanting to talk about in the film. (dramatic whoosh)
We just wrapped the interview, went super well. Got all the story elements that we wanted. Now we're gonna shoot a bit of the stuff in the studio, of the whole processing of the plates. We have to shoot it over a couple days, but today we'll start, we'll do three or four steps. It's such a busy little studio with so many stories and posters and old work. And I'm pretty excited just to get lots of those little details on the shelves and on the walls. And I think it's just, what's makes her studio unique. So that's a cool element that I'm excited to start capturing. I have the 35 millimeter lens on right now. On this camera, It's a super 35 millimeter camera, which means it crops the image in a bit. And it essentially this 35 millimeter is a 50 mil, which like we talked about before is kind of what our eye sees. And with this, I feel like I have the ability to get somewhat close to the subject and get lots of depth of field and get a lot of close ups. I might throw a 50 on and get even closer and just get those hands and those details. But for now, I'm gonna start on the 35 millimeter. (peaceful music begins) (birds chirping)
So peaceful out here, it's crazy. (insects buzzing)
Right now I'm just getting detail shots. I could put this on a tripod and it would work as well. This will probably be one of the only times where I'd use a tripod, but I kind of like the handheld feel, just add a little bit of movement to some of these shots. I just wanted to capture all the beautiful details going on in her workshop. And like even here there's like some spider webs on the books and I think it's pretty cool, so. It's something that, B roll that we can place in over top of her working in the studio, so. (objects clattering)
Okay, so let's start with some mixing. I'll get the shot through the window and then I'll come out and we can do some...
Either a little bit more mixing, then we'll do some sanding as well. Okay Kathy, you're good to start whenever you're ready. Yeah, you're good. (peaceful music continues) (power tool whirs) (rustling sounds) (object clatters)
It's turning out really good, I'm really excited how this is all gonna come together. Oh, I'm finding clay in all of my gear now, so. That's funny. (RJ laughs) (hinges squeaking)
So sometimes I like to only have B roll and then audio from the interview, but then there's scenes where we can kind of have natural audio where she's kind of just talking to the audience. This is gonna be one of those scenes. She's just gonna walk us through her studio and maybe tell some stories, point out some objects. She's kind of gonna be talking to herself not even really looking at the camera. It's a scene we might use, we might not use it. It wasn't really on our shot plan at all, or our scene plan, but I feel like there's some good stories in there and we might get some really cool stuff out of this scene. And...action.
So this is the studio. There's lots of just odds and ends of things.
Go back to where you were, if you can.
And then... and action! (clapping sounds) So we've shot this sequence about three times now. Once I started wide, the second one I went a little bit closer and the last one I have the 50 on, I'm really tight now. And this last shot, I got a slow motion shot of just the steam. I thought the steam had a lot of movement and I really wanted to capture it, so I exposed a little bit darker so it made sure it didn't get too back lit with the window in the background, shot some slow motion. And I think it turned out pretty cool. We'll see the steam just moving in all the interesting directions and it gives us a really cool option in the edit cause I shot a couple other slow motion shots throughout this sequence. So we'll see how they all pair together, but I think it'll look well.
Yeah, that's awesome!
That's a couple steps so far.
That's pretty good!
I feel like we actually covered quite a bit today.
We covered some ground today.
Yeah, we got a lot done.
So that's a wrap on day one of the shoot. Went so well. We did all the pre-production beforehand and just made it easy, we knew exactly what we needed to get, we knew exactly when we were shooting. what the field, the scene was and that just made it easy. We didn't have to decide in person if our movements were gonna be fast or slow or slow motion or all of that. For the most part today, a lot of our scene was a little bit slower. We wanted to get the details. We wanted to get a sense of the peacefulness that was at the studio. So we knew that coming in beforehand and that just made our jobs a lot easier and it just went super well. And on top of the plan that we set for ourselves in our pre-production, we got tons and tons more other footage as well. Just makes our lives easier in the edit to have more options, we had more inspiration that we didn't even know cause we'd never seen the studio yet. So when we got here, we were inspired in different ways that we didn't plan. And we ended up getting more shots and a couple other little scenes that we could throw in there. So yeah, I would want to encourage you as you're shooting, don't be afraid to go beyond the plan, leave everything out in the field. Don't limit yourself with the plan. Just use it to get excited and to know what you need to get, but let the inspiration of the scene also take over when you show up to shoot, so. [Indistinct]
Getting the details today?
We got the details. (Nolan laughs) What do you mean, yeah, of course!
That's what I like to hear! (Nolan laughs)
We got a lot of stuff and I'm exhausted, it's been a full day, at that.
Oh, it sure has. Get her done.
It's a lot more left, it's what I'm excited about. It's always good after a long day, just go, maybe have a meal with the guys, debrief a little bit, get re-energized and then get recited for the next day. So that's good.
Let's get a beer.
Let's get a beer, exactly.