I?ve been wondering about practical and creative considerations that might help one make the most of their precious film stock.
In practical terms, are there any prep tips that have proven invaluable or potential stock hungry pitfalls that at all costs should be avoided? For example, if using a spring wound be sure to wind after every shot so as to avoid wasteful retakes.
Creatively speaking, what are some ideas or common avenues to explore which traditionally call for small amounts of film? For example, if you only have a 100 ft of say 7218, use it to shoot a compelling trailer for a project you don?t have the stock to make in whole.
Edited by Buddy Greenfield, 18 December 2007 - 11:36 PM.
I am guilty of previously asking like 4 things at once in this particular thread, then giving examples which derail my own questions, and hoping for 1 answer, sorry.
I read a post in which Jedi Master Mullen advised a 7 to 1 ratio of stock to useable content in regards to making a feature (which I am obviously not trying to do, but in keeping with that ratio..), if I have 200ft of film should I lock my creative radar onto coming up with something that would conservatively be around 30 seconds long upon completion, or are there other common creative avenues I should consider exploring to gain more content from my two hundred feet of stock?
I hoped to make a horror short that was like two minutes long, but I just don?t know if that is even possible with only 200 feet of film. If it isn?t, then I would like to learn what I should be aiming for that would help me make the best use of that 200 ft.
My 7:1 figure only really applies to people shooting conventional dialogue scene coverage for a sound movie (masters, overs, singles, multiple takes, etc.)
In a silent short film, it should be possible to work with smaller ratios like 3:1. My first assignment in film school was to make a 1 minute movie from a nearly 3 minute roll of film. Of course, even 2:1 is possible, even 1:1 (whole project cut in camera, no mistakes -- I did a Super-8 short film like that once.)
So shooting 200' of 16mm to make a 2 minute silent short (as in no dialogue sound, just post added sound effects and music) is possible. You'd want to plan each shot carefully, like with a storyboard.
Having a storyboard or carefully thought out shotlist will save you. People like Hitchcock or the Coen Bros. are good examples of careful storyboarding. There's very little left on the cuttingroom floor with their films. "Vertigo" and "Miller's Crossing" have some great storyboard to screen comparisons if you're curious.
In your case, this is mostly for moneysaving purposes it seems, but it'll also help you creatively to have a firm idea of what you want to capture once you get to shootin'.
Write a good script so you have something interesting to put in it.....perhaps. You can also maximize your film content by adopting Hong Kong cinema techniques of in camera editing (cutting to another angle and changing lenses and moving the camera mid scene as opposed to shooting an entire master, an entire 2 shot an entire ect. ) this takes complete storyboarding and/or a steadfast confidence in your vision of the scene. Shoot several cut-aways to cover flubs and mistakes. If an actor makes a mistake, change angles and start the scene from the mistake rather that shoot the entire scene from the beginning. Check lighting, exposure, the gate ect. meticulously so you don't have to do another take because of technical problems. DON'T let actors have more than a few takes and MOVE ON once you've gotten what you want, actors can be insecure and want to do endless takes so tell them it's great and DON'T let them. Avoid excessive ramping up before calling action, get the cast and crew use to having you say action fairly quickly after you call for the camera to roll, every second you waste while the camera is rolling is 24 frames you won't be able to use and every minute you waste is 90 feet of film (in 35mm, I don't know how much that is in 16mm) lost, Capish?
I didn't see the other two response before I posted, so James and Johnathan, thank you both.
The combination of each of your answers creatively and practically speaking is the exact thing I was driving at.
In my mind there is an extension of push the story forward, show don't tell and word ecnomy that
in conjunction with the powerful electric subtext of lighting, I know I must now strive for in shots.
My gut tells me the limitations of two hundred feet is just the ticket to force me on to the road towards effective visual story telling.
Your responses have been a great help to me in this area.
If you only have 200ft of film to work with, My suggestion is to put a zoom lens on your camera, rehearse the shoot like you would a stage play but including camera rehearsals and shoot the entire thing in one take, kinda like a less sophisticated version of what Hitchcock did in "Rope". You really have NO extra film to allow for cutting, takes, ect. You've only got about 5 and a half minutes worth of footage at 36 feet per minute in 16mm. It gives you the maximum amount of story telling time for the footage. Treat it EXACTLY like a stage play, if an actor flubs a line or messes up, he and the cast and crew just keep an truckin' and you live with it. I'd say a week of rehearsal for 5 minutes should be plenty, have the camera crew and cast hit marks, and know the piece flat. Easy, not stunts, no FX, no complicated lighting or set-ups basically Dogma 95 film making! Try to make the piece abut 4 and a half to 5 minutes long so you can shoot a few cut aways in the event of a catastrophic screw-up and you have no choice BUT to cut.