Duet – Hotel Shoot

This morning Will (Sound Recordist) and I (Camera Assistant) arrived at The Thistle Hotel to meet with producer Matt and director/dp Alistair. We all instantly clicked as soon as we met making the entire filming process really enjoyable. Matt having written the script was playing the featured actor. Having uploaded all of the kit from the car we scouted for our first shot.

The idea was to film in the hotel’s bar to start the day, however with breakfast in full swing we opted to shoot the corridor sequence of the actor walking to the hotel room door. I instantly made myself known when I suggested a different corridor than originally arranged, thankfully Alistair loved my recommendation starting a positive representation of the way I work. Relying on the natural ceiling fixtures I found myself ensuring lights kept on (as they were motion activated) and holding back traffic during the takes.

As the nature of the film was indie we were working with a wide variety of gadgets and budget equipment. Using the term ‘budget’ doesn’t mean cheap or low quality kit by any means, but something that is more of a domestic market than a professional production company. Shooting on a Canon 5D I found myself assisting with assembling tripods, monopods, shoulder rigs, etc; alongside setting up lighting (KinoFlo 4Ks) and focus pulling. I really put all of my efforts into the role, as the shoot progressed I gained more confidence and gaged I could suggest some creative input to Alistair.

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Following from the corridor we went back down to an empty bar for a sequence of shots of the actor drinking at the bar. Once again setting up some grip equipment, noting technical specs and acting as clapper loader. Following the end of this sequence I was introduced to the female actress and makeup artist before taking all of the kit up to the booked hotel room for the rest of the days shoot.

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Alistair opted for two 4K KinoFlos to softly flood the entire room. The idea was for simulated daylight using full CTB gels and half diffusion, some sequences had these gels removed for a shifting perspective in reality and fiction in the narrative. These lights didn’t have to be shifted often as we were very restricted for shooting space, so I would have to make subtle changes every so often. I continued to slate for these scenes along with assisting with lens changes, noting technical specifications and pulling focus in shots.

Additionally my gaffer gear I have built up over the past few weeks proved extremely useful. Everything I had found a use, the fact I had all of them on my person instantly gave a professional appearance to myself and my craft. For example when asked to gel up lights I was able to go ahead and slice off strips rather than needing to ask Alistair or another crew member and slow down the entire process.

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Once again I was able to prove my ability as a practitioner by suggesting some additional cutaway shots (i.e. close up of feet), and nailing the focus pull when the scene changed as it unravelled. Alistair was really impressed by my ability complimenting my work ethic. I am glad to have had such a positive impact on the shoot, I felt like I was on top of my game throughout and had my fullest abilities to offer to the shoot. Following the hotel scenes we were able to call it a wrap for the day, there is another shoot that is yet to be scheduled and hopefully Matt will arrange this so Will and I can collaborate again.

The shoot was really enjoyable and successful, it was great to do something a little bit different from the usual university shoots. Matt and Alistair were really nice guys and good at what they do, it felt like a professional film in the work ethic despite running on indie stylings. I think I really impressed both of them, we are eager to keep in contact so hopefully I will get opportunities to collaborate with them again. Alistair was great as a DP and I felt the two of us worked extremely well together, by the end of the shoot we didn’t even need to talk to one another to know what was going on – i.e. lens changes, turnover camera, etc.

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