film shoot notes 10 principal photography

The Good Soldier – Notes 10 – Shooting Begins

Just a quick note: principal photography for The Good Soldier begins tomorrow and will continue through Sunday and again on Monday evening.

At this point all I can do is hope that everything is line and ready to go. It will be an early start tomorrow but I am anxious to get going.

Out of fear that I might run out, I ordered 15 more rolls of film today which should be here by Monday. I’m going to have to keep a close eye on how much film I’m burning through. Would be real easy to let time get away from me and keep rolling when I don’t have to.

music notes 9 score super 8 the good soldier

The Good Soldier – Notes 9 – An Update

I am very pleased with how things are going thus far. Each step feels like another accomplishment – one that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to make. Today I met with a music composer about a score for the film. She is very excited and anxious to get started. I will share more about who this person is as things move along – I just want to make sure I have her okay before sharing too much about her. Needless to say I am psyched to have someone that is an accomplished composer and musician working with me on the film. I feel like we are very much on the same page as far as the music goes so I am excited to see what the results are. If all goes as I think it will, the score will give it those brilliant touches that I am looking for.

The costumes have been purchased for the main characters. I underestimated the cost for the costumes. They were about ten times the amount I budgeted for. One of the things they tell you if you are going to make your own film – pick the present day as your time-period. One of the reasons for this is the wardrobe. It is expensive to find vintage or impression WWII era uniforms. I ended up purchasing mine through a company called Top Pots in Sydney, Australia. They refurbish old military helmets. They not only had the costumes I need but they had what I wanted in stock, at a reasonable price, and were able to get them to me in a timely manner – so there you have it – sometimes it just comes down to that.

We have a production meeting coming up this weekend. We’ll get all the cast and crew together (or all that can reasonably make it) and discuss the details of the upcoming shoot. The actual shoot is scheduled to begin on Saturday, August 1 and will continue on August 2 and a couple of days in the following week.

It’s all coming together, slowly but surely.

aaron gibson f47 productions film test shoot notes 8 results super 8 the good soldier yale film video

The Good Soldier – Notes 8 – Film Test RESULTS

I received the processed film back from Yale Film & Video today. I can’t tell you how nervous I have been about this test footage episode. The results of my first film test (using Ektachrome 64T color film) was a mess. Completely overexposed. Completely worthless. So going into this test shoot I feared that I might do one of a number of things to muck it up, namely, screw up the light and overexpose, screw up the light and underexpose, or get everything out of focus. Any one of those things would mean not only a waste of time and money but a need to go back to the drawing board and re-think this whole idea of shooting black and white Super 8 altogether. Given the circumstances, I felt, just prior to watching this film, that I might a) cry if the footage sucked b) cry if the film footage was miraculously gorgeous or c) remain at a happy medium if it was somewhere in between. Obviously, option “C” was the biggest gray area going into this.

It was with some reluctance that I ran the film through my projector and adjusted the picture to the screen height and distance. I paused more than once and might even have said a little prayer (though, truth be told, I don’t really pray, just in circumstances such as these) before twisting the dial to run. The lamp flickered on, the film raced through the projector shutter and then: light. Picture. Clear. Clean, Focused. Utterly beautiful, black and white with a hint of sepia tone. There before me on my old, somewhat yellowed, Da-Lite pop-up movie screen was an image as beautiful as anything I have ever shot on camera before. Everything about the picture was what, and perhaps more than, I had imagined. It was scenario “A.” And for a moment I thought I felt the tears coming. But no – this was just the beginning of the film – the whole thing couldn’t possibly be this perfect.

The second “take” came and it was blurry. The light was perfect but the picture was blurry. And soon enough I realized what had happened – the camera focused, at the beginning, on the slate and not the action/talent, so when the slate was moved I was left with a close focus rather than a further away focus where the action was. This will be an easy fix and one that I will be more aware of during the actual filming. I was feeling closer to option “C” but still with the high of option “A.”

Then I was taken by surprise again, the next scene, take 3, appeared almost more beautiful than the first scene. I picked this shot from the outside of the building looking in through an old window, the glass missing. The light is just such that it accents the actors face through the window and the shadows are still there for contrast. I can’t wait to use this same shot in the film. I was nearing option “A” again.

There were a few more experimental shots that I did, all with good results. Only one of the later scenes had a focus issue – none had a light over/under exposure issue, which is what I was truly afraid of. With Tri-X film there is not much “latitude” in on the film in terms of light so if you are off by an F-stop (or God-forbid, two) then you are screwed.

The pictures I am including here are of still shots taken directly off my movie screen – they probably don’t really do the actual pictures justice as I’m not the best still/digital photographer. But they should give a sense of the scene and the lighting.

All in all I consider this test-shoot a huge success. There’s an enormous sense of relief in knowing that I can do this. I can set up a shot, understand and adjust for the light, depth of field and focus, and come away with footage that it is worthwhile.

I’ll take this footage and get it transferred to digital and mess around with syncing it up to the digital audio we recorded. Given the results, I feel that it is time to move along to the actual shoot. I have pretty much everything I need now, including the re-assurance that this whole thing IS possible.

Next step is going to be a read-through rehearsal and then shooting begins. Thanks again to everyone who was there for the shoot. And a special thanks to Erik, for his willingness to be on camera for this.