Fun Stuff => MAKE => Topic started by: Jimor on 03 Oct 2011, 17:16

Title: A Short Film I Worked On
Post by: Jimor on 03 Oct 2011, 17:16
I've mentioned elsewhere that I was camera operator for a short film shot over the summer. Well, it premiered on the big screen here in town yesterday, and now it's online as well. I have to say that the one part of the film I didn't run camera for was the underwater shots, for that, the producer was able to get cinematographer Mike Madden, who did the underwater cave footage for the Planet Earth series!

Anyway, I present, Borrowed Time (

All comments welcome, the director and I are very interested in using this as a learning experience to improve our craft, so any thoughts here are helpful.
Title: Re: A Short Film I Worked On
Post by: wrwight on 05 Oct 2011, 16:45
So I got a chance to watch your film. I have to preface this by saying I don't know much of anything about cinematography, but there were some good shots in there. I wasn't a huge fan of the underwater stuff, really, though by the end they made a little more sense, but since you didn't do those, I won't go into detail there.

As a film, I found it to be interesting, but you seemed to raise more questions than you had time to answer. This might have been better as a 20 or 30 minute picture which might have gone some way toward explaining some of the things that just kind of got glossed over. The acting was not superb, but that seemed from an untrained eye to have come more from the actors than the direction they were given.

Overall though I thought it was an interesting film idea done fairly well, and if you did make a longer version of it, I would probably watch that as well. I look forward to seeing anything else you care to share in the future.
Title: Re: A Short Film I Worked On
Post by: Thomas Edison on 02 Nov 2011, 03:28
There is a fair bit in this for a 10 minute film; attempted murder, flashbacks, ghosts and fighting the crooked doctor that's in cahoots with the pharmaceutical industry with energy healing. Because there was so much going on I don't think the theme of the film came through as clearly as it could have done (I think what I picked up from it was "love conquers all").

The shot composition wasn't bad, sometimes the actors had a bit too much headroom though. Watch your focusing as well, there were a couple of shots that were noticeable out of focus.

I thought the sound recording was top notch, I only noticed it dip once in the outdoor pool, and it's rare to find small productions with good sound, so kudos on that.

What kind of camera/sound/lighting equipment did you guys use?
Title: Re: A Short Film I Worked On
Post by: Jimor on 02 Nov 2011, 10:34
We used one of the Canon DSLRs for all of the shooting, I forget which model, but it wasn't quite the "top" one, but close. We had a variable zoom lens that could go down to f-stop 4.5, and a 50mm prime lens that could go down to 1.8 for low light shooting or for when we wanted a nice shallow depth of field. You're right, focus sometimes was a problem because of that, and it was hard to get the actors to not move when it was in play. We used a light meter to get our settings, and made sure to white balance regularly.

For audio, depending on crew availability, we had either one fellow with his own full pro audio rig, or when he couldn't make it, we ran the audio to a 2nd video camera with XLR inputs. I can't recall what brand/model the shotgun mic was, but I believe it was a middle-price-range Sennheiser.

I agree that there was a lot going on, probably too ambitious of a story for a 10-minute film. We had 9 locations! Then add the underwater scene. What also complicated shooting a little was that because we were working with less experienced actors, we shot each scene mostly sequentially to help them stay on track rather than bundling each angle's lines together, so there were a lot of setup changes for each shoot. The director and production manager/editor generally came up with production schedules that reflected that, so other than the underwater shoot which ran to 2am, we were either out on time, or just had short overruns.

It was a good crew, and everybody got along and had fun while making sure things got done. Probably the only "drama" behind the scenes was the tug of war between the writer and director over what to cut, and how to shoot things to make sure the essence of her script stayed rather than the importance of any particular line. This was very much a "say the line as written" type of shoot rather than letting the actors try different things, but given the schedule, that as probably a good thing because we knew when we got what we needed and could move on.

Ahh, I see the others from the festival are online now as well. The last 10 uploads. Only go look if you're curious what other local productions look like. For reference, "The Breakup" won the audience award for favorite, and "The Watering Hole" won the producers' choice award. No real standouts in my opinion, but I thought "Buddies" was effectively done.
Title: Re: A Short Film I Worked On
Post by: Jimor on 24 Jan 2012, 13:15
The director has put together a behind the scenes video for the film. Mostly still slides, but a few video segments mixed in shot from one of the crew's iPhone. It's 30 minutes, so don't feel bad if you don't stick around for the full thing, but you might find it interesting.