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A crew of one?


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#1 Adam Thompson

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 12:41 PM

Ok lets say someone wants you to shoot a project (on 16mm) but you have to be the sole gaffer, operator, DP, loader, AC, grip, etc.? I did it on a short once and I did it on some micro budget feature shooting small 24p cam. but I'm not sure it's realistically possible on this one. Even if I get an AC that will work for $100 a day and some 18yo PA I doubt I can say yes to it.

How many days in a row can you pick up and adjust a fully kitted out S16 cam on a tripod and then rush over to adjust some bare bones lighting set up and keep track of everything without breaking your back or brain?

Has anyone else been faced with this? How rediculous is this?! And why do I keep getting into this kind of thing!? :blink:
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 12:49 PM

I've done it before. It's not easy, but it can be done. did it for 4 days for a promo-video of a magazine. It helped that I owned the S16mm camera, though so I wasn't adjusting much and I loaded as needed.
Also, try to get some of your friends to come along and work for free, or even film students just to help move the equipment. I have done this a few times where I've brough friends (a good friend of mine actually) a lot and just said, put x and y from a or b kit over in that corner, and this over there. Then i'd set up the lights, and get the camera up. Soon enough they had watched me and learned what to do, and then changed their major to film!
Nothing is impossible. It might be a pain in the ass, but if you're getting paid for it, do it! Just bring a lot of advil and realize that it may just have to be "acceptable."
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#3 John Sprung

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 01:34 PM

Working alone, with lighting to do, I've done for inserts. Also stock/establishing shots, no lighting, just get there at the right time of day. Those are situations where it wouldn't be worth anyone else's time to show up and help, because there was so little to do. The whole shoot took maybe an hour and a half.

But in your situation, where there's lots of work to do, there's no reason to work without any help at all. Pretty much every inhabited location you're likely to need is within driving distance of some sort of film school. You should be able to find students who'd be happy to do what you tell them just for the experience, and maybe lunch. There was a time when I did that.





-- J.S.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 02:11 PM

It can be done but it's not time-efficient, and even on low-budget shoots, time is valuable. It's silly to lose shooting time because the DP is reloading film magazines.

I've did a short film where the crew was me and the director -- I did all the camera & lighting work, he did all the sound work, costumes, art direction, etc. But it was not a fast-moving shoot.

The smallest crew for a feature, for me, was probably on "A Foreign Affair" and "Tom's Nu Heaven" - both F900 HD shoots.

On "A Foreign Affair", shot in Russia, there was me, the director, the writer, and a 1st AC, plus a sound man, boom op, two people for grip & electric, plus a wardrobe person and an AD. No script supervisor, no art department.

On "Tom's Nu Heaven", shot in LA, we had me, the director, an AD, and a sound person -- plus three PA's, one to help me on camera (to pull focus mainly), one to help me with grip & electric (we had four lights and only used them occasionally) and one to hold the mic boom. I think we had a make-up and wardrobe person, plus one person to handle art direction. Smallest crew on a feature that I've ever seen sit down for a meal...
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 03:43 PM

Where are you, Adam? I'm sure you could find some cheap help somewhere nearby.
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 04:20 PM

It can be done but it's not time-efficient, and even on low-budget shoots, time is valuable. It's silly to lose shooting time because the DP is reloading film magazines.


Not only does it create long hours on set shooting, but your amount of prep and breakdown for each day is increased quite a bit.

To save time, I've managed to budget for and rent an extra pair of mags to pre-load before the shoot so people aren't waiting on loading. Plus on a micro-budget film, it's very hard to be confident in letting a semi-newbie AC load for you. But having at least one AC, who's able to multi-task can save you a backache or two.
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#7 Bob Hayes

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 05:20 PM

I?ve shot small spec projects with myself on an HVX 200 and someone to help me with lighting and running the boom. I mixed sound on the camera. It is sort of freeing to see what you really need to make a dramatic film work. I must say I found myself stretched really thin. I really wouldn?t think of attempting a 16mm shoot with out and AC to load mags and pull focus. At this level adding a couple of crew people dramatically increases the quality and speed.
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#8 Matt Pacini

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 06:20 PM

I've had some pretty spare crews on a lot of shoots, but the worst, was when I had 5-6 volunteer crew members lined up... AND NOBODY SHOWED!

Luckily, I'm a pessimist, and I always bring a mic boom stand.
Luckily #2, it was a small cafe scene between two people & background extras, so I was able to pull it off just with reverse over the shoulder shots from a tripod, and a couple of MOS handheld shots, but it was absurd, me directing, lighting, loading, doing all sound... it was a long night, and an embarrassing one I might ad!
It doesn't look very professional when none of your crew shows up!

Matt Pacini
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