Everything depends on the preparation…. or does it?
I am in the process of making a short film and have completed the principal photography and I will soon start the post-production of the same. I wanted to talk about the problems I faced during the shoot and how control is just an illusion in film-making.
Suspension of disbelief is a fairly common term in film-making used to address the ability of our mind to believe the unbelievable, in the case of visual media, fiction films.
But this time my belief was shattered. A belief that pre-production, if watertight, will result in a smooth sail towards completing the shooting part of the film. Now all that exists is a disbelief towards the belief that everything is under my control.
Location for the shoot? Locked.
Backup location? Done
Today I will delve into the location part of it.
You can prepare for a cyclone but it still can it hit you with full throttle or worse yet, surprise you out of your wits. The only thing that you can do then is to react. React fast to the situation or a problem that has arisen.
On the first day of the shoot, we were supposed to shoot at a road under the streetlights. The scene was to be shot for 3 hours and was placed on the first day given it would be an easy one to shoot.
We arrived at the location and found out to our dismay that the streetlights of the area were off. You can’t shoot without lights unless you want to shoot an experimental short film with darkness as your protagonist.
A backup location was ready and we told the security guard of the location that we were coming there in 10 minutes. He refused. On the grounds, that police would come at night and shut it off.
Our heads weren’t low but we were laughing at our fate, laughing uncontrollably at the utter luck that we were fending off whenever we have tried to shoot this film. But a new mindset radiated from us, a mindset to finish the film no matter what.
Off we went to recce for the third location at a time we were supposed to start rolling. We found a better location than the previous two and almost locked it down. Given our luck with luck, we started to find the 4th location just in case this falls through.
Obviously, it did. The owner of the third location tried to charge an exorbitant amount for using one socket from his land. We refused to comply.
The fourth location was isolated, had little chances of police intervention but we could barely see our faces under the light. I had to reorganise in my mind the blocking of the scene to suit the location and I learnt a big lesson that day.
You can’t even prepare for the worst.
You just have to face it and be done with it.