I recently wrapped on a short film called Bare Facts. It’s a medium length short film, twenty two page script. I’ve been looking forward to shooting this for a while because it’s my first drama shot on the RED Epic. Why Epic? The simple reason is we’ve got a few lying around. No reason hiring a C300 or F3 or Alexa if you’ve got one of these. We used a mixture of Red Pro Primes and Canon lenses. We had two Epics, so one was set up with the Canon mount, the other with PL mount. We rented equipment from a number of different places. Promotion and Panalux did us amazing deals on lighting packages. We had so little money (as usual with a short) and both these rental houses really helped us out with kit. My lighting package was:
2.5kW HMI (I wanted a 4k but it was too expensive)
800w fresnel x3
300w fresnel x3
150w Dedo x3
4×4 Kino Flo
2×4 Kino Flo
Some 200w photoflood bulbs for practicals
It wasn’t a massive lighting package, but pretty standard and I knew I could adapt it to just about any circumstance. We’d also been loaned a Teradek Case system. This enabled iPad monitoring and also the ability to watch back any take you want and place metadata onto it. It’s a truly brilliant system. Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to use much. It really required someone to be looking after it and we just didn’t have the crew to set it up at every location.
The shoot was over six days; Wednesday through to Tuesday. Quite a long shoot for a short, but it was 22 pages and dialogue heavy meaning we’d be stretched for time as it is.
The first day was a half-day night shoot in the offices above our offices, making them look like a newspaper office. This was a relatively easy set up. I used a couple of 800’s to light up the foreground just a little. It was late at night so I lit the lead actress with a practical 150w lamp on her desk. I used a Dedo a couple of times to provide an edge light. That day didn’t run too late and went fairly smoothly.
The next day we drove down to our main production base in Kent, near the towns of Sandwich and Deal. We stayed in these little holiday chalets shaped like toblerone chocolate bars. It was cold and the beds were tiny, but who cares when you’re making a film? I’m sure being uncomfortable is part and parcel of being a filmmaker. We didn’t spend too much time in those though. We settled in, got everything prepped.
Friday was a shakedown day. We couldn’t shoot anything because one of our main actors could only arrive that night. We used the time to show our other actors around the locations. Also the Teradek was delivered and we were shown how to use it.
Saturday we finally started shooting something. It was an early start – 4am. I’ve never happy waking up at that time of the morning (who is?). We were shooting a section of the montage in the film. Basically getting some driving shots of them in the car early in the morning. We also did a nice jib shot from a Ham Sandwich sign.
Then we were at Deal beach shooting more montage. Used a bit of bounce in this scene but not much more. It was fairly simple. Moving on from there we went to the main location: Bernard’s boat in Sandwich. We were doing all the exteriors today. A few things happened to annoy me. First off while we were setting up the sun kept poking its head out, messing up the lighting plan. Initially we had the 2.5kW HMI bounced off a quarter silk to lift one side of the actors’ face. The sun totally overpowered this. Eventually it went back behind clouds, but the clouds were a bit thinner than before, meaning we could take the HMI away and be left with a similar effect.
We shot the first scene and moved onto the second. The sun came out properly then. The next scene was a walk and talk and we had no opportunity to silk the actors. We shot it semi off the cuff. The lighting didn’t match from the previous scene but we were running out of time and had to move on.
The final scene was probably the best scene of the day. This is because by the time we got around to it, it was just about magic hour and there was a cloudless sky. It’s a beautiful scene and worked so well. If we’d been on schedule we’d of been wrapped hours ago, so it’s a blessing in disguise that we stayed out there.
After that we waited for dark, put up the 2.5k HMI with double CTO to replicate street lighting and shot a little scene of someone entering the boat. We wrapped about 10pm and I was in bed at 10.30pm!
Sunday started at 6am, quite respectable. We shot a bit more of the montage. Then the actors went off to the swimming pool with B-Cam to do some underwater action, using the Gates Deep Epic Housing. It’s a seriously cool housing and the stuff we got from it looked amazing.
Whilst they were having fun in a warm pool I was setting up the lights for all the boat interiors. We actually managed to get a really nice lighting setup for this. We used the HMI to put in some ‘sunlight’ through the windows. The 4×4 kino on the ceiling hatch to throw nice soft light into the space and then we accented with miniflos and Dedo lights attached to ceiling brackets.
We did the day scenes then moved onto the night. We used dedos on the ceiling but this time raked them across the ceiling to bounce light off. We also used a few double wink candles to the table. We wrapped about 11pm.
This day was shitty for me. Early in the morning we got down to the boat and did a jib shot coming up out of the ceiling hatch and across to the car. That went great. But that was about it for the day. It was the worst weather ever. The cameras were getting completely soaked as well as the crew. Add to that we were heading out onto the river on a couple of boats. The camera was on a jib but it didn’t help. Just made things worse. Extremely miserable time. I spent most of this underneath an umbrella trying to escape from the wind and spray, shielding the Epic at the same time. It was a really shame because the scene was an important one. We actually managed to get something useable out of it though which is no mean feet.
After that the main camera team had a bit of a break. The actors were doing some pickups with 2nd unit which ended up taking quite a while due to the bad weather. I spent the time in the van getting warm. We did a quick scene down a back alley in Sandwich and then we headed off to the pub location. That part of the day was pretty fun. It was nice and warm in the pub and the scene was funny. Everyone was in a good mood.
The last day, hurrah! We started the day by driving back up to the London to Selhurst Park where the big finale was. The drive made me very sleepy and the last few days caught up on me. But once I got to the stadium I perked up a bit and the day turned out to be one of the best days. We did a nice jib shot and the final steadicam shot went great!
When you wrap on a film it’s always a bitter sweet moment. Usually because you’re so tired you’re barely functioning as a human being but making a film is a wonderful experience. Bare Facts went really well and I was especially pleased with my contribution to it. We had all the problems of every short film – not enough money/time/everything! but in the end we all pulled together and made an excellent film. I was especially proud of Rohan – as a film time fiction director and producer he handled everything with great aplomb and composure. I think we made a really good film on this one.