Archangel is my very first attempt at shooting on 16mm film. My focus was more technical with this film. Coming from working with 3D animation so often it was a huge change in thinking. Overall it was a very fun experience in spite of shooting the entire thing without an official assistant and untrained talent! Unfortunately some of my last shots were just underexposed due to arriving on location too late in the day due to traffic. Nevertheless it was a great experience.
Below are some Pre-Shoot and Post-Shoot notes for your amusement!(Click to see all)
I am excited and a little nervous to carry out this shoot. Fortunately my friend from out of town has agreed to stand in the film for me since I can not do that myself. Unfortunately I was not able to get anyone from the class to help me since they all had classes and such during the only day I was able to shoot. My girlfriends sister will be helping us though, and she has had some experience working with TV lighting, so hopefully that will be a big help. I will shoot in two locations, my girlfriends house (Wendell, NC) and Umstead State Park (Raleigh, NC). They are about an hour away from each other but I’ve planned for us to be heading over there at noon, that way by the time we are there the light has gotten better. We will begin shooting at 9am at my girlfriend’s house and get lunch at 11:30. I wanted to do a practice run this past weekend with my digital camera to make sure Trixie (the dog) would hold up ok but due to rain I could not practice. So yeah, I will be shooting my very first 16mm film, with untrained actors, a dog, and no official assistant…could be worst! I think it will go fine though.
Well, things did not go all as originally planned…of course, why would they?! For starters my friend from out of town, Brandon, was supposed to come in for 7am however he didn’t arrive until closer to 9am. I also did not know his current location at any time so I did not want to leave to get donuts for us all until he arrived…if I knew he was running late I would’ve gotten the donuts first to save time. Once he arrived we got donuts and headed to my girlfriends house. I learned that my apartment complex, the area that used to be reserved for visitor parking had recently been revoked; visitors were no longer allowed to park anywhere unless after 5pm Mon-Fri, or anytime on weekends. This was stressful because my girlfriends house is 25 minutes away and we did not want to drive back just to move his car, so we crossed our fingers that he would not get a ticket.
We arrived at my girlfriends house around 10am and although the sun was out it was very windy and cold. I went to Wal-Mart the night before to get khaki colored pants for my girlfriend, fortunately they fit, they were the smallest pair I can find! I wanted her to wear fairly muted colors but also a palette that blended with the forest. I asked Brandon to wear a red top because I wanted to record his shots during sunset. The idea was to use the light as a way to make him seem almost angelic. My girlfriend’s sister, Jasmyn, helped out while we were at their house. She held whiteboards and sometimes a diffuser. From the start I felt unsure of things because I was the lead. Also because no one else knew what I was going to do except my girlfriend. I know that was the only day I could shoot but I really wish someone from the class could of been there, at least for the first half. The shoot took longer than hoped at the house, and when we left to go to the park we ran into traffic which slowed us down. By the time we got there it was around 5:10pm, but we had to drive in a little ways to get away from pedestrians walking in the background. Once we found a place to park we jumped out and started shooting. Everything that took place there happened in about 30 minutes, but we had to stop a few times because bypassing cars and a ranger came by to tell us that we had to be out of the park by 6pm because that’s when they close, literally. If the gates closed and we were still inside we could not get out until morning…so we rushed even faster! The panning shot that followed Trixie was messed up on twice! We done a lot of tricks to get Trixie to cooperate but found that she only responded to Ajia (my girlfriend). For the panning shot (hardest one) Ajia had to walk backwards out of frame, that was the only way to get Trixie to actually walk, because she always runs!
After the park shots were done as best as we could we raced out of the park and made it out JUST in time! Unfortunately the light was too low to get the effect I wanted. The light meter read 2.0 and my lens could only stop down to 2.4. I did not have any artificial lights with me so I just shot wide open and hoped for the best! I thought the film was done but when I went to change it I realized there was still film in it, even though it was at 100 ft. Good thing the next day Ajia was at my apartment, we went to Lake Johnson (Raleigh, NC) and shot there during the day to get the shots of her running through the woods. The reason we did not want to shoot there first was because it is always so populated, and to get Trixie to cooperate was very difficult, even more with other people around. The last shot filmed (close up of girls face in woods) was meant to be a rack focus shot of Ajia looking screen left as I pan the camera screen right to show the dog, as she turns her head screen right to see the dog (with the dog in focus at that point). We practiced it a few times first, but then the film ran out in the middle of the shot! So I used what I could. If we didn’t go to Lake Johnson I do not think the film would’ve worked at all, we needed the shots of her in the woods running to help sell the idea. So in all we shot in 3 different locations, each about 30 minutes from each other. Learned a lot!