Recently, I was asked by some very nice people at the Bristol
'Brief Encounters' short film festival if I would attend a
seminar/workshop for three hours as a mentor or teacher (or
whatever) for a group of (mainly) new film makers before they
set out to complete a five minute film in three days.
Having worked in the film industry in some capacity since
1981, and having made a reasonable living as a drama and commercial
DP since 1987, this still threw up a lot of conundrum wrapped
in enigmas, as it were. What can you teach or advise in three
hours to, at the time, three teams, that would actually be
of benefit to their production.
Whilst being no stranger to such rapid film making myself,
I have always been able to call on my experience, at the highest
and lowest ends of film production, to make whatever limitations
available work within the context of the challenge. However
my dilemma last week was, what should I concentrate on to
motivate and not overwhelm my students and how to avoid appearing
to teach my granny how to suck eggs? I wrote a few guide sheets
covering the subjective importance of composition, eye lines,
basic lighting continuity and theory blah blah blah, but this
ended up opening, as they say, a whole new can of whoopass.
It also reminded me of the countless film theory and practical
tomes out there which I have either bought or skimmed through,
and of their limited use to the reader if he or she does not
already have a reasonable grounding in the theory, science
and art of film making or photography.
Now, I thought it would be a decent (and maybe profitable)
idea to put together either an on-line or printed guide covering
all aspects of film and video production aimed at such beginners,
but also make it professional enough for it to still be a
useful source of advice and reference to more established
lighting and camera people either looking at other disciplines
or still at the early stages of their career, without being
baffling or, dare I say it, condescending.
So, after the waffle, the reason of this posting. What do
you think is or are the most important rudiments of lighting/camerawork?
What advice would you give to beginners (and professionals)?
Would you be interested in contributing to and aiding such
a reference work? Do you have opposite opinions to mine? Is
this idea, in principle, wrong or am I wasting my time?
The amazing contrasts of excellent advice available on CML
proves to me that, with a lot of research and forethought,
this could actually work and be of some actual use.
Looking forward to your replies.
I had a very unpleasant experience at the last beginning filmmakers
I workshop I spoke at. The organizers tried to cram too much
into one day, and I ended up being the heavy.
>What do you think is or are
the most important rudiments of >lighting/camerawork?
You have to be realistic as to what you can accomplish in
the amount of time you have to present.
I would say the two most important things that beginning filmmakers
can learn are to use lighting and use a tripod. Most are under
the impression that if a camera has good low light capabilities,
you don't need to light and if it has image stabilization,
you don't need a tripod.
> What advice would you give
- Be prepared: have a storyboard and shot list but don't be
married to them
- Don't do everything yourself
- Hire a crew and don't try to cut corners
- The more you treat a project like a 35mm film shoot the
more it'll look like a 35mm film shoot.
> ...(and professionals)?
A student is most interested in what you teach him or her.
A student is not really concerned with what you teach the
rest of the class.
>Would you be interested in contributing
to and aiding such a reference >work?
>Do you have opposite opinions
to mine? Is this idea, in principle, wrong >or am I wasting
No, but at some point it becomes re-inventing the wheel. There's
a lot of "how to make a film" books and websites
out there with truly horrible advice.
I've thought about approaching Geoff with the idea of a CML
sponsored book for first time filmmakers (geared towards the
DV crowd because they've been given so much misinformation)
but it'd be tricky to pull off.
I think that this is an excellent idea and this information
is much needed considering the dubious quality of some forms
of tutoring available on a worldwide basis. If you do want
to compile such a body of work we (the BKSTS) would be in
total support and offer any assistance (apart from financial!)
that we can.
Wendy Laybourn - Director
BKSTS - The Moving Image Society
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0NH
>What do you think is or are
the most important rudiments of >lighting/camerawork? What
advice would you give to beginners (and >professionals)?
Can of worms well and truly opened Chris! I don’t think
there are any simple answers as each situation requires a
different approach. I used to teach a ‘basic’
S16 course at Four Corners in London a few years ago, so students
knew what to expect. I taught an award winning short-film
course to students shooting on, of all things, VHS!, again
‘we’ all knew what to expect. More recently I
taught some short-film workshops and what I’ve found
to be the hardest aspect is format. If students know they
will be learning the ‘art’ of making a project
on VHS – then you know what to give them. The same applies
to whatever format you are teaching – and not just acquisition
– genre of course comes into it. Then of course the
sound implications, editing platforms etc etc. I just think
that like a business, once you know your market, you target