This pre-production stuff is no joke, people. I’m itching to get back to writing, to be honest, as after spending about six hours on the shooting draft and shot list on Saturday, I’m starting to feel a little neurotic.
But I’ll have to carry on as this is week leading up to the shoot. On the to-do list:
1) Arrange for food for cast/crew, which I will call craft service so I can sound like a real filmmaker.
2) Work with my wardrobe/production designer to gather props and clothes.
3) Procure a scooter or similar low-to-the-ground-with-wheels item to use as a dolly.
4) Check in with cast/crew to make sure everyone’s still on board and comfortable with their roles.
5) Go over shooting draft/shot list/storyboards to make sure I haven’t forgotten something that could in turn derail my entire film shoot and thus filmmaking career before it’s even begun.
I’ve been attempting to document my reactions to the process on twitter with my very own hashtag, #LiaE.
I’m going to try and keep it up during the shoot itself because I’d appreciate similar documentation from other short filmmakers. There are so many things you can’t really grasp until you’re in the trenches yourself, but it’s nice to at least have a window, even if it’s dirty and foggy and smudged and only 140 characters at a time.
So, apropos to my middle tweet up there, as a writer of spec scripts, giving myself the opportunity to create a shooting draft was enlightening to say the least. It forces you think about how words on a page translate to real-life and real-time staging. Doing storyboards helped with this quite a bit, but it was, in a lot of ways, a macro version. Plus it turns out I’m a terrible storyboard artist, as more than one of my drawings ended up becoming accidental stick-figure porn.
Camera direction is something I’d thought about only vaguely before, so having to do it in a truly concrete manner kind of hurt my brain. In a good way. Sort of.
In short, a shooting script has numbers associated with each scene heading, thus enabling easier reference for the production team. I didn’t really have much to go off when creating my own shooting draft, so I decided to do what would be easiest and clearest for me and my team. Because of this, I subdivided my major scenes with letters, e.g., 1A, 1B, 1C, etc. Normally, you’d only use letters to denote a scene had been inserted in revisions, but, since I’m not dealing with that complex a production, I decided this would work best for me. I also decided to add headings any time I needed to change camera shots (hence the A, B, & C bits to denote they’re part of the same scene).
Because I hadn’t really thought much about specific camera shots as I was writing it (which you wouldn’t include in a spec script anyway), it inflated the scenes a bit. Here’s an excerpt from both drafts to compare:
Getting that hammered out allowd me to create a shot list, which includes all scenes/shots in the order they’ll be filmed plus the shot type, any camera movement, props needed, and actors. This will help us stay organized on Shoot Day.
So, that’s where the short film currently stands. Saturday, we shoot. And hopefully I will still be (mostly) sane come Sunday.