It's the last day of Black History Month and almost the first day of Women's History Month, so I felt it was only right to do a film dedicated the complexity, the range, and the beauty of Blk Wmn.
From the beginning, I knew I wanted to do an audition film, not only for creative reasons, but also for logistics. Instead of having to figure out a location, a crew, and a "story", I could do something more experimental and keep production to a few hours with a simple set up.
Now of course, it was still WORK! The first step was the script. I had never written a monologue before, and after this, I don't know that I ever will again. LBS! It took me well over a week and a little help from a fellow screenwriter to get the tone of it right, make it feel complete, make it succinct, and give it peaks and valleys. It was very difficult because I didn't want the "character" to come off as an ABW. I didn't want her to be easily dismissable. Now whether I accomplished that or not, you be the judge, but that was my intent.
Next was casting. This was TRICKY! Why? Because the film was solely dependent on people showing up for the audition. And, of course, I couldn't say, "Hey, if you show up for the audition, you'll be in the film," because that would completely take away from the experimental/docufictional element of it. It was a challenge for sure. I had one actor ask me about how compensation works and I couldn't be like, "Ma'am, I'm not going to pay you for 10 minutes of your time because the audition is the only time you have to show up." Needless to say, didn't make it out. But I secured roughly 12-13 actors for auditions.
The day of filming was a sh*t show! Is it Murphy's Law that states, "Anything can go wrong, will go wrong"? Well that's how I felt about production day.
Here's a list of all the sh*t that went wrong:
The battery door on my camera broke!
I was running late (only like 5 minutes, but still).
The camera plate for my tripod was missing! (thankfully, Caché came through and was able to procure me another tripod)
I forgot the batteries for my sound recorder. (Caché again, for the win!)
I knocked over a really expensive light. (Luckily it was already broken, but I almost had a damn conniption)
Actors were canceling left and right!
My hard drive ran out of space. (I recorded in a format that created insanely huge files)
The camera batteries kept dying. (I ended up having to temporarily use a different camera for a couple of the actors)
I got behind on auditions (because of the above camera issues)
For all the things that did go wrong I still had such a great time on set. I attribute that wholeheartedly to the people that I worked with. They were able to calm me down when I was feeling anxious and nervous. They encouraged me and kept me on track.
Post!!! I didn’t know it until I sat down to edit, but everything recorded on my camera, was 60 frames per second a.k.a. slow motion! 😩 But did I trip? Nope! It was a fairly easy fix, but it did slow me down.
I also had to do my best to color match the footage from the two different cameras. Not the most fun process but I was able to get that done as well.
To be completely transparent, I didn’t start editing till the week of release...I don’t advise this because it costed me two nights of sleep, but I was able to push through and create something I’m proud of.
Below I’ve listed my lessons learned and things to keep doing.
Get a better battery solution for the damn BMPCC 4K!!! (I knew this, but being cheap...)
Check absolutely all gear before leaving the house (duh)!
Understand the recording formats on the camera in use.
Completely dump your media card before you shoot. (I knew this, but laziness)
Record and playback a clip to make sure you’re recording in the proper frame rate.
Things to keep doing:
Surround yourself with a great team.
Maintain good energy.
Figure it out!
Keep the sound recorder within 3 feet of the actor(s).
Keep the crew as small as possible.
Give yourself ample time before the production to set up.
Thanks for reading. Until next month...