7th day - Shooting

The shoot day started really early for me: 2 a.m. to be precise. I went to bed at 10 p.m. the day before because I was completely knackered after an entire week of terrible insomnia. It didn’t get better today, as I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep anymore.

I spent my time reading most of the course booklet, which I didn’t have the opportunity to read before.

At 7:30 I was at the entrance of our headquarters, Portimão Museum, with all the other students. We waited for the course staff to come and unlock the doors, we loaded our cars with all the equipment and crew and we went to the Fortress of Sta. Catarina, our filming location.

 The Fortress of Sta. Catarina

The day was extremely hot, long and exhausting. We had 5 shoots scheduled; one for each pair of students (the other half of the class filmed yesterday), and mine was the last of the day. I kept getting more nervous as we started getting more and more behind schedule. Most of the films were too complex and had far too many different shots and camera set-ups to get done in less than 90 minutes and the tutors were not very rigid about it, which I wasn’t expecting.

In the first shoot I was 2nd Assistant Director and my job was mainly crowd control. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had because each time I’d approach people to ask them to be quiet as they passed by the set, they would think that I was trying to sell something and just waved away and ignored me. Twice I was very rudely shouted at (by a Spanish and a French, respectively, both women) when I insisted .
As a 2nd AD, asking the 1st AD to go away and not disturb the set.

Throughout the day I also had the opportunity to be a boom operator, focus puller and lighting assistant.
I got the focus puller position for the most demanding shot of the day in respect to focus: a racking shot, constantly alternating the focus between the two characters as they spoke. Basil, if you’re reading this, I did my best, I hope it was acceptable (we only did one take and as I said before, when you’re pulling focus you don’t get to see the image, you just measure the distances and use the scale on the focus ring, so I’ve no idea if it was fine or not).

 Boom operating. Always good to remember my shoulder tendinitis.

My shoot started by 6:20 p.m. when it was supposed to start at 4:00. The main problem we had was because of the strong wind and the ambience music from a bar nearby (it was shot in a very exposed balcony), but we asked the bar to stop the music and they acceded for half an hour and the sound crew said they could capture good sound.

 Directing. Now this is what I came here for.

I could get all of my shots done fairly within the timeframe. I had never worked with professional actors before so I’m not sure if I got the best out of them. I’m used to giving a lot of freedom to the actors so the performances seem more natural but in this case maybe I should have been more imposing to them to approach even more the performance to my original vision - because they were great, and I think they would be able to deal with it.

 Catarina Saraiva, the actress.

André McQueen, the actor.
 Paul Kite and Robin Vidgeon, the set overlords, working hard.
Now seriously: my most profound acknowledgment to them, they were absolutely great.

Overall I think it went well but I’m completely exhausted.

I’m sure I’m going to sleep well tonight.

See you tomorrow!

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