I put my hand up (well, on Facebook) to offer my services for a short film being made in the Bay of Plenty by BOP Film. The film is called Just 3 Girls, directed by Anton Steel, written by Daryl Belbin, filming by Chris Kirkham, Steve Lawton, Jared Something, and Andrew Taylor on camera assist.
There are loads of other people to name, including 100 extras who volunteered their time for one of the action scenes.
I’m on productions stills and photographing behind the scenes. I think I whittled it down to about 50 shots each from the 3 days, and then whittled that down to 10 from each day that tell the story of a bit of the film, and some shots showing off the awesome teamwork present on set where everyone helped out the other guy and chipped in, if required people threw on a hi-vis and directed traffic, people grabbed gear, others held reflectors or dried off headphones… whatever it was, someone volunteered their time and energy to make it happen.
Those are some giant pictures.
So, this wasn’t shoot all about lighting and post production and fancy stuff, it’s about recording what’s happening on when the actors are doing takes. I didn’t shoot at all during actual takes, and tried to get myself out of the way of the cast and crew, for a couple of reasons:
1- you’d probably be in someone’s eyeline when they’re doing a scene, something always better avoided. It’s not fair to the actors and honestly if you’re just looking, you don’t need to be there and the cast/crew need space to work.
2- Unless you’re using a sound blimp to completely remove shutter noise there’s a chance the booms and sound guy will pick up your shutter sound. There’s a strong chance they won’t hear it, but you’ve got like 6 rehearsals to grab the shots so it isn’t generally worth the risk to have shutter sounds on the final recordings.
For 90% of the shots I used the trusty 24-70 L. No fuss, it just works and takes rather nice pictures, it can focus really close, is pretty wide on a full frame camera and focuses fast. It’s a true workhorse. I also packed the 50mm 1.4 and 135 f/2 but used these sparingly, or when I wanted to compress the field a bit more or pick something out of a crowd. Or someone can give you the finger while you’re thinking about your lens choice.
I wish there was more to write… but honestly the whole thing is capturing what’s happening in front of you, the majority of which comes down to decent positioning and timing so you get the shots you need when they happen. There’s a saying in sports photography: “if you see it through the viewfinder, you’ve missed it” which is entirely accurate here: you gotta snap as it’s happening, not afterwards. This means you need to watch the rehearsals, listen to the DOP or the stunt coordinator or the director or whomever else is calling the shots and anticipate who’s going to be where and then think where do you need to be to give yourself the best chance of getting the shot.
There’s a huge massive gigantic amount of talent packed into that last shot. You’ve got stuntmen from LOTR, Karl Urban’s body double, martial artists, prop makers, set designers, wardrobe, makeup, hair stylists, runners, actors, stunt coordinators, fight choreographers, screenwriters, runners, coffee makers, traffic directors, production crew, social media gurus… all of whom volunteered their time to spend 3 days making a movie to put BOP Film on the map and draw the eye of moviemakers to the region. A region which is studded with incredible scenery in a reasonably central location and with an awesome abundance of world-class dudes and dudettes right on the doorstep. Here’s to many more projects.