Preparation is key

Since starting Raindance, one of the key messages coming loud and clear is that preparation is the secret to success.  In a documentary vérité or interview, you likely don’t know everything that is going to happen, but if you have prepared to the best of your abilities, if frees the mind to be able to respond or react in the moment. That might be to a comment in an interview that requires a further probing question, or noticing a little detail in the room that warrants filming to help visually tell the story.  Well that is the theory anyway!

As I near closer to my first short filming project, it feels that there is a daunting amount to think about: is the light good? Does it help to create a 3D image on screen? What about the framing? And the angle I am going to sit my subject? How will I know on set if I am getting good sound? What questions will I ask and what response I am hoping to elicit? Oh yeah, and what should my camera settings be? Over the last couple of months I have been immersing myself in learning about all this stuff but now the time has come to put it into practice, well it is a lot!

I am a mix of nervous and excited.  I have that feeling that you used to get as a child on Christmas Eve when you were waiting for Santa Claus to bring your stocking.  That butterflies in the stomach type feeling.  I am pretty sure at whatever point I take the leap to making a film solo I would be experiencing these feelings, so it is good I am doing it sooner rather than later before this nervous energy gets too much. My first endeavour will feature my husband discussing his research and will feature my friend preforming. This is a good safety net surrounded by people I love and who want me to succeed and won’t be so bothered if (when) I majorly screw up!!

Of course I don’t want to screw up though! I have already sorted the venue and the rental equipment, two important factors without I couldn’t proceed on Sunday.  There is much more to think about though, so on my flight back home I have:

  • Storyboarded what I think the final film is going to look like.  This should help me to shoot with the edit in mind hopefully getting the range of shots that I need.
  • From that I have created a shot list by thinking about the different shots that I will need to tell the story and the technical things that i will need satisfy to achieve that. This is particularly important for the dramatic section of my film. For example, does my story require that some things should be slo mo? And what is the shutter speed I should shoot at for that? Do I want to staccato imagery that can be produced by increasing the shutter speed?
  • Using the story and film treatment thought about what I am hoping will come out in the interview and what questions I am going to ask to achieve that
  • Thought about the visual style I want for my interview and where I will place the camera and lights to achieve that
  • Worked out what equipment and props I need to take with me
  • What people will wear.

The list goes on and on.  I have some more things to prepare before Sunday but feel like I have done a pretty good job in preparing so far.  It has helped me to visualize what I want to achieve and  some of what I need to do to get there.

I am sure on Sunday, when it comes to it, there are things that I am totally going to screw up on the day and realize it, and also mistakes that I won’t realize I have made until I come to edit. I am sure as well of some I won’t realize I have made until I get feedback from my official and unofficial mentors!

I know all these mistakes will affect the output of my film.  I am totally ok with that, this is after all meant to be a learning process. I just hope to be proud of my work knowing I have done the best I can at the current point on my learning curve and that I can reflect on my mistakes and feedback incorporating my learning to make better films in the future.

Watch this space



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