I had last seen our final cut a week ago when working with our editor Harrison. Looking back, collaboration had been successful due to the “system of effective and open communication”. We were professionals, respecting each other’s technical expertise. Due to the time constraints (matching everyone’s schedules) we only have a 3 day shoot which was no sufficient given the number of scenes we had and that we needed to shoot things during a specific time of day. It was a good learning experience working with such a professional team. Personally it was rewarding for me to work with more actors ranging from amateurish skills to professional skills. This gave me more confidence leading a team, reassuring everyone of their roles by boosting my communication and interpersonal skills. I learned a lot working with more actors and directing them as I continue aspiring towards becoming a better director that can also work commercially for clients.
I always thought Directors had the final say in such matters, but I learned otherwise when working with Alex. Unless it says so contractually, the Producer has the final say (hence in film there’s a Director’s cut, and a Producer’s cut).
So after I had an input, the Producer Alex presented it to the other producer and the clients which were band members from Winter York. They loved some particular parts and were confused by several other parts of the music videos. Thus my job was to make the correct adjustments while still making sure my vision of the entire project still stayed intact and the project didn’t completely fall apart. This allowed me to understand the commercial realities between clients and directors. However my goal is to become an auteur which had artistic freedom. This simply allowed me to understand the difference between the commercial world and the art world and the degree of freedom when working for a client.
We were behind schedule on editing, but working with Harrison, an editing wizard, allowed us to move forward at great strides while still preserving the aesthetic standard that I had set before commencing the project. The rough cut was completed quickly after I had gone home and finalized a set structure of how the 3 stories would be cut and unfold over the course of 4 episodes.
Usually I’d edit my own work when it comes to student short films or recruit an outside editor to do my work. However I learned a lot of technical editing skills from Harrison and he opened my eyes to so many new tricks in editing, colour grading etc… This simply opened my eyes to more creative options that I can inform my future editors or when I edit my upcoming short film I plan to film in Japan.
This marked the first week of editing, and due to everyone’s schedules, we only 1 day this week available for editing, with our next editing day set next week. Even though we had a script, storyboards, I hadn’t clearly articulated how I intended to cut each episode and each story would unfold throughout the 4 music videos. My vision was slightly altered as a result because I had to take each song, the lyrics within each song into account and start piecing it together. This took a couple of hours as we went through the footage and began piecing everything together. This wasn’t an effective strategy, as I had to have a clearer vision of the story and sequence of shots unfolded. Thus I didn’t want to waste anyone else’s time and we called it a day early during the evening. That evening I went home early, looked over the footage and wrote down exactly how I wanted each one cut and sent the instructions over to Harrison. I had to reflect on the overall theme of ‘healing’ that the producers wanted to convey in the music and put this in mind, in conjunction with the meaning of the songs and began visualizing how it would all cut together in the end result.
Filming back-to-back days was really strenuous for all of us, but we were able to pull through. This first day of shooting started really again at 8:30 in the morning back in Alex’s House in Clifton Hills. The crew and cast were early and on time for most part. After the first day, everyone was already well organized, communication channels were well set in place and everyone was all prepared to shoot. We finished shooting a little early as a result that day even though I had added shots in. The actors today were relatively inexperienced compared to some other’s I’ve worked with. In order to draw out the best performances, I sat down with each one of them to ensure that they understood the tone and pace of the music videos, their interpretations of the characters and allowed them to rehearse a bit more. Overall they did great performances.
I felt that the 2nd day of shooting was the day that really tested my leadership and motivational skills as a director. As a director it’s my job to inspire the best performances out of my actors. It was also my job to inspire faith and trust in my crew that our team could pull through and complete our work. I still communicated my vision to the team, but I made sure that I gave people enough breaks in between during the 2nd day to ensure that the crew was still fresh and raring to make this the best music video it could be.
This week we had our first day of filming. I have to admit I was not used to filming from an early hour of 8am til 9pm on a Sunday, but our team and I managed to pull through. During the night before I had some last minute inspirations based on Gaspar Noe’s films and decided to draw inspiration based on the “modularity” of the films and incorporate some of its themes into the music videos.
The following day I quickly discussed this with Harrison, the editor, with the cinematographer and the changes to my 1st Assistant director in order to ensure that some shots I added wouldn’t affect our work flow. Hence Day 1 of filming proved to be much weary than I thought it’d be. I was previously used to working on a short film before, so I was used to the long hours and the stress of being a director and having the overall vision still clear and fresh in my mind. It was hard to keep my focus at all times and to keep my actor focused during the intense scenes, but however luckily for all the notes that my 1st A.D had taken, the editor understood everything that I had done. I admit that a good nights sleep the day before was essential, as I was very tired during the morning of the shoot. I still worked well with my actors, kept that engaged. I worked with my cinematographer to ensure that I captured the shots I wanted, and with my production designer to set up the sets the way I envisioned it. Looking that this was a great work experience for me and really taught me how to lead a team.
We had trouble scheduling a schedule that fit everyone’s timetables, and thus the production manager had to do rescheduling due to the actor’s timetables. But this gave me more time to go over my own notes, communicate the plan with the producer, the 1st A.D, the cinematographer, provide an outline for the editor and the style of editing and cutting. This also gave me more time to go over the scripts and make some adjustments to the storyboards and convey those changes to the A.D so that we’d be able to get it done on the day itself. In retrospect I’m glad we had this extra week for me to consolidate my notes and strengthen my vision on paper.
We had a meeting where key crew members including the director (myself), producer, production manager, 1st A.D, cinematographer sat down and discussed things that had to be completed.
Although I was the director, I storyboarded two of the 3 scripts myself as I found it easier to do this on my own. A lot of shots I chose to implement were extremely experimental, thus my storyboards were a little messy. I made sure to communicate this with my 1st A.D Ashlee very well as she was in charge of drawing up the shot list and keeping track of notes to hand off to the editor. I was also very clear with my editor Harrison as to how I intended to shoot, my style of film, and the overall pace of the music videos and how he should cut it. I also communicated my style, the mood, the tone of what the music videos with my cinematographer so she had a clear idea of how to handle the lighting and framing when we filmed. In total the producer, production manager, 1st A.D and I were all clear that we would need a minimum of 3 days of filming. I worked out details with the production designer as well so that she had an idea how to set up each location set. After relaying this to the rest of the crew and cast, the producer and production manager was able to determine 3 days of shooting over the next 2 weeks.
Pre-production officially began. We couldn’t organize a formal meeting in person, however our “Slack” channel, which everyone on the team was forced to download and use really ensured clear communication between all parties.
We needed to decide on locations before filming, and since I wrote most of the scripts along with Prachi, the producer Alex, Prachi and I went location scouting. With this, we settled on Alex’s house in Clifton Hill, the park in Clifton Hill, a nearby gym, and Prachi’s House in Thornbury as primary filming locations. During this week we also spent the week making sure other members of our team were slowly being assembled.
We wanted pre-production to begin the following week, thus the producer sat the 3 writers down and asked us to finish writing three scripts. Initially the producers and the band members from Winter York had asked us writers to write 4 scripts consisting of 4 stories. But after much discussion, Alex persuaded the band members using reason that 3 stories was more than enough. This week consisted of the 3 writers writing the scripts.
As the director, it was my job to interpret the scripts at the end of the week into an overall vision, to draw out the underlying theme and bring it to life. I proofread the scripts and made sure the three scripts could be linked before proceeding to pre-production. It was good as a director to have a holistic vision and understanding of the scripts and talking to the other 2 writers really consolidated my understanding of their writing.