The Good Soldier – Notes 7 – Film Test Shoot + THE CAST

Today was a good day – as far as I can tell. When shooting film it can be tough to tell until you get the print back and get to see whether you metered wisely or F’d the whole thing up and have to try it again. In any case, it was a fun and worthwhile day of arranging the set and positioning the lights to capture the angles and images just so. I had a lot of help – very valuable help in the “crew” that I have. These guys are amazing at what they do and fun to work with to boot.

The purpose of today was to test out the lighting conditions and a few of the actual scene setups using the camera and film stock that I am going to shoot. In addition, we recorded audio using an Edirol R-09 digital recorded and wireless lavaliere microphone. The plan is to examine the footage and work on syncing the film footage with the captured audio. It can be a tricky process especially since the film speed can vary and the digital audio speed remains constant.

I received all of the film stock today for the film; 30 rolls of Kodak Tri-X Reversal. That’s 2:30 min of footage per roll (50 ft) when running at 24 frames per second. That gives a total of 75 minutes of footage for, what is to be, a 20 minute film.

Today I am officially announcing the main cast of The Good Soldier:
The Soldier – Brian Gililland
The Commander – Jack Hays
Miss June – Leah Trafford
Soldier 1596 – Erik Schultz

I haven’t nailed down all of the “Extras” just yet – there are about 4 or 5.

I need to give a big thanks to Magna Talent Agency in Oklahoma City for helping us out and sending us some great actors for the audition. The two main characters, Brian and Jack, are both represented by Magna.

So what’s the next step? Get the test footage processed – make sure it looks good. Then rehearsals. Then the first day of shooting.

The Good Soldier – Pre-Production – Notes 1

The Good Soldier is a 15-16 minute short film that I’ve been working on with the goal of shooting and submitting to the Sundance Film Festival of 2010. The initial story idea and script development began in December 2008. Since that time I have a complete script, some of the locations, some of the cast, a basic budget, some of the production equipment, and an ever-evolving vision in my mind.

The Good Soldier is the story of a young man ordered to hold an observation post in a remote location. After nearly a year with zero activity he becomes dismayed at the purpose of his mission, for little has been revealed to him. As a result, he’s driven by an ever-present urge to uncover the true reason for his mission. Not everything is as it seems. What does the future hold for this good soldier?

Things have been coming together a bit more lately. I made a big investment in purchasing a light kit. I decided to go with a Lowel Core 44 because it has everything I need for this shoot and I’m sure I’ll be able to use it for future projects. Of course I debated between renting and buying but it came down to an issue of time – how much time I thought I would need a light kit – and convenience. It’s so much easier to have a light kit right when you need it.

I’ve been reading a lot about film stocks, trying to pick the perfect film for the locations, lighting, and scenes in the story. I’m almost positive that I will shoot on B&W Tri-X for interiors and PLUS-X for exteriors. Reasons for this are that the story would benefit from having it in black an white. Plus, I feel that b/w film holds a high place in motion picture photography in terms of style and professionalism. And it will be fun to shoot.

I’m still pretty confused about camera settings and light metering – I wish I was more knowledgeable in this area. I’m trying to make better sense of it so that when it comes time I know, based on the amount of light in the room, what settings I should have the camera on. If anyone has any advice in this department that would be great. I’m sure much of it is just getting out there and burning through some carts of film but I’d like to know a little better what I’m doing before I pull the trigger. More research to be done!

I’ve made a few contacts along the way and some of those relationships are in the early stages right now so I can’t really say what will become of them until later. Hopefully, I will have some help in the casting, scheduling, lighting, and sound departments. And I still need a main character. I will be putting together a bio for the main character shortly and hold a casting call.

After the initial test-shoot (which I wrote about in a previous entry) I learned quite a bit about what will work and what will not. I was also reminded of the unforgiving nature of shooting film. It can be difficult to get it just right. And with film it’s not like you can go back and delete it – once it’s on there, it’s on there. And you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s been processed.

The plan is to shoot the rehearsals on HDV, get the performances down pat, and then shoot it on S8.

Got to go for now….more later…