Tell me and I will forget. Show me I may remember. Involve me and I will learn. -Benjamin Franklin
This weekend was amazing. As many of you know, I am taking a sponsored class this quarter and one of the deliverables we want to turn in is a branded content film. It took a lot of arguing and fighting but our class has two outstanding … actually that word does not do a justice… more like mind blowing-ly good film students. So after a lot of fighting, we proved to our professor, clients, and fellow students that this film is the entrance to our entire concept. Through all of this we had roughly a week to plan and get things together and then this weekend we shot & that is what I want to tell you all about it, each day was definitely an adventure.
We were shooting on the Alexa camera, which is one of the top of the line cameras for us to be using thanks to SCAD. Along with large Cooke anamorphic lenses from Cineverse in Atlanta.
“My justification for lensing the film in this way is because it allows us to shoot a true widescreen image which to me feels like we are looking in on a separate world (which is a parallel to the concept).” Dumaine Babcock -Director of Photography
One day in the car I was sitting passenger and I had the camera in my lap and everyone kept asking “are you sure you want to hold the camera? its heavy?” But while sitting it was not heavy, well all that heavy… it rested on my lap and I was thinking “ these silly boys do not know my strength this thing is not that heavy.” I then might have gotten a little too cocky and tried to lift the camera off of my lap and failed miserably. I mean I am fairly strong but this camera was heavy. I sincerely could not imaging holding it for a long period of time to film. I also learned that this camera is now the second most expensive thing I ever held. (Right behind the rolex titled “Ice” which has diamonds on every surface.)
That title is a little exaggerated, I learned one of a hundred aspects that it takes to shoot a film. The weirdest thing to me all weekend was the idea that you do not actually focus the shot on the camera, there is a different guy who stands at the director’s monitor to focus. Maybe it is because I spent 3 years in high school studying photography where everything is meticulously focused by the camera operator.
I learned that a film set is not a joke.
I know this lesson seems like I originally thought it was a joke but I could not think of a better way to say it. A film set must be respected in all aspects. Safety being number one. Safety for the crew and safety for the equipment. Not only is everything double or even triple checked that the gear is locked and will not move, that the lens cases are closed correctly, and camera is set up on the rig in the safest manner , but also the crew must always be aware of moving vehicles, rushing, natural occurrences. It might have been the amazing crew I was with, but this weekend I learned that film majors are the safest, most cautious people. Coming from Industrial Design background, I feel like we are like “ya likes just throw this on top of the car, we can rig it down with this string I have in my shoe and hold it…it will be fine.” and film majors are like “ it we can not perfectly strap it down, we will not take it, it needs to be perfect.” Which is awesome.
I learned that hierarchy is uber important.
There are so many skills on a film set. I mean just within film itself there are so many titles and skill sets. On top of that, this crew had a projection mapper, an advertising art director, and myself who is class lead and co-photographer. Which to be fair my role for being on the film set was to make sure that we were going to return with everything we promised we would return with. So who makes the final call? This is why having hierarchy is so important on set. Without Dumaine being the DP and Clayton being the Director, it was easier to have decisions made semi quickly.
“If you have time to lean you have time to clean.”
There is no relaxing on a film set, and if there is time it’s because something is going wrong. I knew going into this weekend it would be exhausting, but mostly because I thought I would shoot all day and stay up at night to do my personal homework. HA. It was wake up at 4:30 maybe 5 everyday to set up for sunrise. (well to be fair I was not always the person to get up this early but shout out to Dylan and Babbit who were always the first ones up). Bedtime everyday fell between 1am and 2am. By the time we were done shooting sunset and cleaned up it was 7:30–8pm and then we had to get dinner and then we had to prepare for the next day. It was arguably one of the most exhausting weekends.
I learned some film lingo.
Speeding is the term used for filming. Speeding comes from the idea of film negatives rolling through the gate when shooting. This term stuck when everything moved to digital. I learned all of the positions of film and what their roles are. I would list them here but let’s be honest, that would be dull.
Crew on set at sunrise. Photo by myself.
I received a text message in class that stated, “ I guess I’ll be seeing you in Asheville this weekend.” from a friend who had already graduated. My first thought was why would you give up your weekend to help us out when you wont get anything out of it. My second thought was how freakin cool is it that people want to donate so much of their time to help us. From what I understand, that is the film industry is this community that everyone wants to help each other out. It still blows my mind every time I write it, these two SCAD graduates, film professionals, donated their entire weekend to help our class for free. Not only two SCAD graduates, but we had three SCAD students who are not in our class donate an entire weekend to help us. That is so unheard of in industrial or service design. Everyone always wants something out of it. I mean maybe I am being naive and I was just surrounded by really amazing people.
Honestly, the best thing I learned this weekend is to appreciate film majors. A lot of people say they are snobby and expect everything to be handed to them and always need a lot of money, but this weekend proved all of that wrong. This weekend, I hung out with the coolest, most down to earth people. I learned that it is so easy to judge from being an outsider, but once you involve yourself in the situation, your eyes will open. This weekend reaffirmed every reason why I love taking sponsored classes. I indulged in a major, I would have never thought of learning during my time at SCAD. I collaborated with amazing students and alumni. This weekend was undeniably one of my favorite, most memorable weekends.
Special thanks to Dumaine and Clayton for allowing me to attend and participate. To Mary Kim, Paul Runko, and Scott Boylston for approving all of this to happen and seeing the value in this deliverable. To the crew for donating your time to help us. To our amazing class for creating an amazing family and collaborative community.
Originally published at www.mpreiss.com.