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I made a big mistake and could use anecdotes or encouragement


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 10:03 AM

Guys and Gals, I need encouragement or anecdotes or something, because I'm down in the dumps.

 

On Monday morning I began shooting my documentary. It's entirely on black-and-white 16mm, and I've been prepping and planning for so long. And the first scenes were terrific and the weather was exactly what I wanted. And I've discovered that in all my efforts to plan and prep, I made a colossal oversight which has rendered the footage completely unusable, the whole 400 foot roll.

 

It's a scene I can reshoot, so I guess it's not the worst thing that can happen, but the fact that it was the first day, and I blew the whole roll on a stupid oversight has just utterly shaken my confidence that I'm the one to tell this story. I feel stupid, amateurish and frankly, a fraud. This story is so important, so deserving to be told as a film, that I feel like I'm not up for it, that it deserves a better filmmaker to do it, especially given my mistake a few days ago.

Can you all give me some advice or tell me a story or something that might give me hope? Because right now I feel like a colossal screw up. 

 

I imagine there are tons of stories of great films that emerged from similar troubled beginnings.  Or maybe you have personal experiences?  I just need to hear something that might tell me it's not so bad, that I could still pull off a good film.

 


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#2 Will Barber

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 10:25 AM

I once shot the first weekend of a short comedy film, scrapped almost everything we shot, rewrote the story to make it dramatic, and ended up making a pretty damn good comedy film, for a couple of freshmen. 

 

On another film I shot last year which my friend wrote and directed, he had an actor bail after multiple days of shooting, stepped into the lead role himself, shot multiple unplanned nights at a sketchy motel, and basically wrote the film as we learned more about how stories work and as we shot it. On top of all that, he had a hard drive failure the last week of the semester, and we had to re edit the entire film based on the exports he had used for class and the backup files.

 

On the film we just shot, our actor got too drunk in a bar scene and we had to reshoot. It wasn't the only reason we had to reshoot, but the second try went so much better than the first on just about every level, and it's now one of my favorite scenes in the film. In addition, our screenings limit is 20 minutes, and the 12 page script had turned into a 24 minute epic short. Our director worked for a solid month on the edit, including major structural changes, leaving me with a golden 2 days to do the color correction. But it's going to be a damn good movie, and I've done my best to make sure it'll look like one, too.

 

 

 

Looking back on it, I don't know if I've ever had an entire film go smoothly. But that's where I find the excitement. It's how you adapt and overcome the struggle that will define you as a filmmaker; your ability to carry on. Turn this into something positive, and not only make up for your mistake, but use it as an opportunity to do something even better. I've made more mistakes than I'll go into detail about, but you can be damn sure I'm not making any of them again.


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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 10:28 AM

I accidentally wreaked my car's gear box when it hit a concealed man hole cover a 100 miles away from home on the first day of a shoot. It involved transporting the car back on a freight train and replacing the gearbox. The filming went ok, but it was an expensive day since it wasn't covered by the insurance.

 

Mistakes happen and having film unusable, for whatever reason, is something that's happened to everyone at some stage. 


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#4 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 10:37 AM

One of the advantages of film is that you can be horribly off in the exposure and it still looks good.  Don't consider it wasted till you get it developed.  Also, sometimes having only the audio  can be an advantage.  Try to imagine other ways to tell the story with the existing audio.  Pictures, animation. etc.  One of our first excercises in film school was to use 16mm  found footage that we had no audio for and make a story.  Reallfy forces you to get creative.  


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#5 Brian Rose

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 10:46 AM

One of the advantages of film is that you can be horribly off in the exposure and it still looks good.  Don't consider it wasted till you get it developed.  Also, sometimes having only the audio  can be an advantage.  Try to imagine other ways to tell the story with the existing audio.  Pictures, animation. etc.  One of our first excercises in film school was to use 16mm  found footage that we had no audio for and make a story.  Reallfy forces you to get creative.  

 

No it's totally unusable.  My stupid, stupid mistake was I left in the focusing filter in the gate, that I use to check the lens collimation and ensure my backfocus is accurate.  It's just a DIY piece of semi opaque material with focus markings on it.  I forgot it was in, and of course I wouldn't have noticed through the viewfinder, since it was behind the prism glass.  I didn't discover it until I took off the mag to change the rolls yesterday.  It was a night shoot to boot, so I might as well have shot with the lens cap on.  Totally unsalvageable. 


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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:03 AM

http://www.27bslash6.com/sad.html


I would tell you about some of my major mistakes, but the language filters on the forum will go crazy.

 

I recall once a story my AC told me about her trainee who dropped a primo. But we all make mistakes, and so long as we make'em just once, I don't see what the big deal is. Hell you'll never make that mistake again.


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#7 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:13 AM

My last test roll that made me feel my camera was broken was the result of a shutter timing issue. Funny enough is I recall, shortly before the shoot, checking the gate and the shutter was covering it so I moved the shutter with my finger to check the gate. That caused the problem. $200 mistake. Don't feel bad...there is so much to keep track of, it is a miracle films are ever made.


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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:35 AM

A while ago I shot half of a dialogue scene in +9dB gain on an FS700. There is no option to reshoot it. It will appear as the first major scene in the production.

 

I am a crippling imbecile.

 

P


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#9 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:40 AM

 

I am a crippling imbecile.

 

Phil, I think this thread is proof that you are in much company


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#10 Mark Dunn

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:58 AM

At least you now have a loading roll, albeit an expensive one.


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#11 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 01:06 PM

On my last short I was shooting on the beach.  I forgot that the battery belt was still attached to the camera on one end and me on the other.  I walked a little too far and my Arriflex went straight down into the sand.  The entire day was scrapped and I wasn't able to reshoot for another couple of months due to the actress' schedule.

 

But I finished it and it won two festival awards.  Things with the bleakest beginnings sometimes have great rewards waiting at the end.


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#12 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 05:22 PM

 

......I left in the focusing filter in the gate, that I use to check the lens collimation and ensure my backfocus is accurate.  It's just a DIY piece of semi opaque material with focus markings on it.  I forgot it was in, and of course I wouldn't have noticed through the viewfinder, since it was behind the prism glass.  I didn't discover it until I took off the mag to change the rolls yesterday.  ...

 

 

What camera is it?  I thought you were using an NPR for this.  I'm visualizing your "focussing filter" sitting in the gate in the film plane.  Most people carefully check that the gate is clean (from the back) before snapping on a mag,  even if in a hurry.  So if somehow you haven't cultured that habit or something distracted you,  you need to create/reinforce that habit somehow.  Also,  if the "focussing filter" is sitting where I think it is,  it would have shown on a gate check.  I could missunderstanding what happened,  but those are my thoughts.

 

Bottom line is it's just a roll of film,  just shake it off and go do it again


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#13 Chris Millar

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 07:33 PM

I managed to ruin 400' of a music video by letting a magnet I was using with a hall effect sensor set up get inside a mag.

The playback was so loud I couldn't hear the horrible noises of the film backing up.

The feeling upon realizing I'd have to put a cap on everyones satifsction ... Lost about 1.5hrs and perhaps the trust of the DP
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#14 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 10:45 PM

My worst experiences are actually dreams.

 

One is where I am shooting something and just ommit to set aperture.  Once in the can,  realizing that,  then going into a panic,  trying to remember the light,  would the exposure by some fluke be ok...A theme repeated in several dreams.

 

The other dream,  I am embarking on a personal feature project,  somehow I have money,  I'm meeting the huge crew at the party.  I somehow don't have a producer or cinematographer yet,  feeling unprepared.  Some think I'm a fake.  I'm facing a mutiny.  Part of me thinks I can survive,  why are all these people part of the project, who do I need to fire....


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#15 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 04:58 AM

There's an old saying, what's important isn't how may times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up.
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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 06:05 AM

On the other hand, sometimes trembling in a ditch while mumbling "mummy!" is quite a sensible thing to do until the danger has passed. Then you can jump out of the ditch and bury a knife between its shoulder blades.

 

Bwaha.

 

P


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#17 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 12:54 PM

Oh, here's another...but this one wasn't my fault.

 

I had a short I was finishing up for grad school - shot on digital, so it was all data.  My hard drive (a reputable brand) was all set & connected to the Mac when all of a sudden I hear a pop and see smoke coming out of the back of the hard drive.  Yup!  Lost everything.  I had to reshoot, re-edit, etc.

 

And people wonder why I don't trust the technology.


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#18 Kevith Mitchell

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 01:56 PM

I had an hours worth of raw protest documentary film footage (no way could I reshoot) stored on a drive. I put the drive on  a high shelf since was not using it. One day I'm cleaning house, I move my arm across the shelve and BAM! The drive falls to the ground in pieces. I had to pay $300.00 to recover the footage. 

 

I've gotten in the habit to check, double check and triple check. I don't even take peoples word about things because it's not their film, its mine. And if something goes wrong, I have to fix it not them.

 

So take your mistake as a learning lesson. In another year you'll be laughing about it.


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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 02:49 PM

A couple of the instances mentioned in this thread would not have happened if people had kept backups.

 

If you don't have it at least twice, you don't have it.


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#20 Richard Boddington

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 03:32 PM

The Hollywood studios have spent 150-200 million on movies that crashed and burned at the box office. It's a long list.

 

Even the guy that made Pluto Nash recovered and kept working.  And now I strongly suggest you watch this:

 

 

R,


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