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class="style5" Shooting Behind The Scenes

>Published : 3rd July 2005

>I am looking for advice from anyone who has shot "behind the scenes" for a union feature. Any important do’s/ don’ts to think of?

>This is the first time I am going to shoot a making of. The director of the making-of wants me to use digital video, as well as 16 and S-8.

>What about flicker-issues with S-8?

>I was thinking of trying to contact the camera dept. of the main unit to find out their ASA’s, so I could get the same (or as close as possible) for the film cameras.

>What if the director wanted to do interviews? Could I use lights and grip from the main unit to set up an interview?

>Anything else I should really be aware of?
Thank you for any reply.

>Caroline Brandes
www.luminist.de


class="style8">>What about flicker-issues with S-8?

>*24fps should be fine, they'll probably be shooting tungsten or flicker free.

>I was thinking of trying to contact the camera dept. of the main unit to find out their ASA’s, so I could get the same (or as close as possible) for the film cameras.

>*If you do that you'll be ok when you point your camera at a lit set, but not when you point it elsewhere. Surely you want to shoot the huddle around the monitor, and the actors hi-jinx off camera, where they show us how down to earth and fun they are. (when a camera is pointed at them!)

>What if the director wanted to do interviews? Could I use lights and grip from the main unit to set up an interview?

>*You should bring your own. Assuming others will light for you is asking for trouble. If they have time and you ask nicely then I expect they'll help out, but they could be busy lighting the movie. At least if you bring your own stuff you have an option.

>Dan Bronks
DP
London


>Hi,

class="style8">>Could I use lights and grip from the main unit to set up an interview?

>I'd think not. The main unit probably doesn't have enough time to do the things it's supposed to be doing, let alone lighting interviews for you.

>A few years ago, I was shooting a 'behind the scenes' for a big TV drama. I lit an interview with an actress on one of the sets. The crew were at lunch, so we used their Fisher dolly and Arri SR3 as a background detail. Guess what happened.... Yep, the interview went on twice as long as expected, the crew came back from lunch and the selfish buggers wanted their camera back!

>My advice is: 1.shoot as much as you can - it's always the unguarded moments that make it into these programs and 2. keep quiet and out of the way - there is nothing more embarrassing than ruining a rehearsal, or worse, a take, because you were trying to get that perfect shot of the clapperboard.

>Stuart Brereton
DP, Bristol, UK


class="style8">> I am looking for advice from anyone who has shot "behind the scenes" >for a union feature.

>I have found the best thing is stay out of the way. Talk to the Director, DP and Lighting Grip BEFORE shooting begins. Ask them how you can do your job AND stay out of their hair.

>Most shows will help you light a small corner intvw setup if you ask politely.

>I soft key and rim light intvws. Use the lighted sets as the background as much as possible.

>Tom McDonnell
Dir/DP
New Orleans, La


>The real gatekeeper and the one who you should make best friends with first is the 1st AD. I used to shoot a lot of behind the scenes stuff here in LA and the 1st is responsible for keeping the set running and moving forward. If he/she is of a mind to help you do your job, you'll have great access, or at least as far as the director/DP/actors will allow. I always get an introduction to the 1st as soon as I get on the set. They also have info on the people to stay away from, tension level and various personalities on the set.

>As for using their gear, NEVER use something without their express OK. The DP in often sympathetic to the BTS crew's position and will be the last word on how close you can work around the camera dept. Lighting gear belongs to the gaffer and his best boy can be invaluable when you need a power drop or want to "borrow" some juice from one of their existing runs. Definitely bring your own lighting. If you need a 4x4 solid to help control your light or theirs your new best friend the key grip will sometimes help out with a loan. Don't count on anything though.

>Above all be polite. There's a lot of politics on some sets and if there are big name actors involved their personalities will dictate what you can shoot and when you can be on set. Remember, no one, except for Dana Garvey, wants a camera in their face every minute you're on the set.

>Keep moving and be alert to signs that you've worn out your welcome.

>There's a subtle art to knowing when to shoot and when to put the camera down. Otherwise the word will be passed up to the 1st AD or publicist that you're a bother and you'll be very restricted on what you can and can't do. "You can only shoot the 3rd rehearsal, and then only if it's a Tuesday and we're on an even numbered page of the script."

>Good luck and enjoy the chance to watch the DP and gaffer do their jobs. You'll probably learn something, I know I always did.

>Randy Miller, DP in LA


>Caroline,

Matching ASA on your "making of" is a good idea, contacting the camera department is a good idea, but don't expect a lot of time or attention from anyone. These people are more than busy and are probably short of sleep as well. That being said, I've always found that the DP and electrical department will usually be happy to help you set up an interview area if they have time. I would bring my own lights and be prepared to be completely self sufficient just in case. And definitely stay out of the way!

>Marty Mullin
DP
Los Angeles


>All really good advice :

>Make friends with the first AD other wise you are toast.

>On a two week shoot doing one of these things years ago we ran afoul of the First early on and things were rocky till we smoked the peace pipe. It could have been an even longer 2 weeks if we hadn't cleared up the situation.

>Don't depend on grip/ lighting for anything. You may actually get something from them but you should never count on it. Again on the shoot mentioned above we brought all our own lighting and used it quite a bit, but there were times when the key grip generously made things happen that we never expected "where would you like the 12x silk?"

>If you ask up front you can kind of expect to be ignored, but things can change.

>Mark Smith


class="style8">>I was thinking of trying to contact the camera dept. of the main unit to >find out their ASA’s, so I could get the same (or as close as possible) >for the film cameras.

>You may or may not get a response. Also, you may get yourself into a little bit of trouble that way. I remember working on a feature as a second AC working nearly all nights, and one night I got into chatting with the still photographer.

>I asked him how he determined his exposures when shooting transparencies, and he said he just bought the same ASA film as the main unit was shooting and matched their F-stop. I thought that was a little dangerous as I noticed the DP was underexposing things by a stop to a stop and half, but I figured this guy knew what he was doing and, being a lowly 2nd AC, kept my mouth shut.

>He was gone within the week. All his shots came back from the lab darker than dark.

>So, yes, you can do that, but double check yourself with your own meters. Also keep in mind that you are shooting behind-the-scenes, and not shooting part of the movie, so the exposure that works in front of the camera may not work for what's behind the camera as well. You're always going to be including bits that aren't supposed to be part of the actual movie, and as a result the exposure may not hold for those elements. You may need to cheat. You're not there to match their photography, you're there to photograph the photographers photographing the stars.

>Don't shoot the movie, shoot the movie being made.

class="style8">>What if the director wanted to do interviews? Could I use lights and grip >from the main unit to set up an interview?

>Hmmm... I wouldn't plan on that. Every time I've shot behind-the-scenes we've brought our own gear. The only time I used first unit equipment was when I had to shoot an interview with Keanu Reeves outside at noon and I saw a 12x12 silk parked on the side of the set. I asked the grips if I could use it. They made it ultra-secure (bagged the hell out of it) and I just put a chair underneath it and we shot. The rest of the time I've always brought lighting and grip on my own. You don't want to bother the crew while they're trying to meet their schedule. The idea is to be transparent, always there to get what you want without anyone really noticing you.

>If you ask for equipment then that's gear that the main unit now has to keep track of, in addition to what their using already. If you don't put it back, or if you don't put it back correctly, or if you forget and leave a C-stand sitting behind a set, you're creating headaches for others and you'll run out of favours pretty quickly.

class="style8">>Anything else I should really be aware of?

>Try to be self-sufficient: bring what you need and don't ask for extra equipment or bug the crew unnecessarily. Introduce yourself to the first AD and just let them know that you're going to be a fly on the wall, but if you happen to be in the wrong place they should absolutely let you know and you'll get the hell out of the way. They're going to do that anyway, but it helps to let them know you're on their side.

>If there's a unit publicist get to know them very, very well. I always worked with a publicist on big shows and they are invaluable. They can also be a bit skittish at times but they're the ones who can smooth the way to get you places that you wouldn't be able to get otherwise. On your own you might end up being annoying if you keep asking to show up here and there, but the publicist is supposed to do that--it's their job.

>Typically the press packages consist of shots of actors. If you see interesting shots of the camera being reloaded (they frequently use that one) or big lights being moved around or the slate being hit it might be worth grabbing that quickly. I was shooting the DP reading the meter on an Eddie Murphy movie, figuring it was interesting for a cutaway, and my producer told me, "We'll never use it. Shoot Eddie." So find out what they really want to see and just shoot that.

>Just be as unobtrusive as possible. The worst think you can do is get in the way and make somebody's job harder. It'll happen eventually, that you'll be standing in the wrong spot at the wrong time, so simply apologize and move very quickly out of the way. You'll be appreciated as long as you show that you understand that the main unit work takes priority. Don't get in the way.

>And have fun. I learned a lot watching big DP's at work.

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
Mountain View, California
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/
Local resources : http://www.artadams.net/local


class="style8">>I always get an introduction to the 1st as soon as I get on the set. They >also have info on the people to stay away from, tension level and >various personalities on the set.

>That's very important. Find out from the 1st or the publicist what the rules are as far as shooting talent. Some are okay with you shooting rehearsals, but some only want you to shoot takes. I remember being told never to shoot Sean Connery sitting down. Some of the rules are a bit odd, and you may think they are silly, but if you violate them you'll be off the set permanently.

>Also, remember that not everything is about you. I felt bad on one feature when the director kept kicking us off the set. We didn't seem to be in the way, but every time he saw us he'd yell, "You're in the way of my crew! Get the hell off!" Turned out he was just a jerk and was known for putting on a
show for executive producers and investors visiting the set. He couldn't kick anyone else off the set (he needed everyone else!) but we were expendable whenever he wanted to put on a show. (He was a jerk to the rest of the crew, too.)

class="style8">>Keep moving and be alert to signs that you've worn out your welcome. >There's a subtle art to knowing when to shoot and when to put the >camera down.

>Absolutely. If there's any strife between the director and the actors make sure your camera is pointed away from them. If they see you aimed at them there's going to be an explosion. I've had actors give me glowering looks at time, and I'll use sign language and try to find out if things are okay or just take the hint and go elsewhere for a while. If they indicate no, or keep glowering, I find something else to shoot, or find some way to shoot them from far away where they can't see me, or go to craft service for a while.

>There will be periods of time when you have nothing to shoot because you're not allowed to, or someone's pissed off. Don't worry about it. It's best to be seen as sympathetic to the causes of all concerned. If an actor tells you they don't want to be shot at certain times tell them you will absolutely respect their wishes, that you're not there from 60 Minutes but there to make everyone look good. If you find yourself really, really restricted talk to the publicist and see what they can work out for you.

>And still... have fun...

>Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
Mountain View, California
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


>And absolutely, positively keep very quiet if and when you gain access to the actual set and the director/DP/1st AD are working.

>Talking will get you kicked off some sets faster than almost anything else.

>Dave Marks, sound guy
Pennsylvania