Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 7

This week was mostly dedicated to rehearsing and scheduling the shoot. The actors seem to get along really well which is great, and we had multiple rehearsals with them so we hope that on set we will be able to work really quick.

In terms of scheduling, one of the requirements for our film is that we shoot the entire thing in four days. We got the bar for two days which is awesome, however, we are only allowed to be there from 8 am to 2:30 pm which is not a lot of time so we need to be very prepared to be able to finish everything on time. The other two days will be divided according to locations (one day is at Shahbano’s, another one at Yana’s). We are planning night shoots for those two days as we need the streets to be dark (faking it would not look good on camera due to some specific issues we have). Also, on the last day Hitesh, our leading actor, will need to shave for our film as we want to show him younger than in the entire film, so it also gives as some restrictions in terms of scheduling. Anyway, I finished the shooting schedule. There are might be some minor changes, but overall the structure is set.

I’m happy with the schedule we have now as it looks like we have enough time to shoot everything. Right now, it is just a matter of preparation so everything goes according to the plan. I am actually very excited about the shoot next week as with this project I don’t feel unprepared (it happened to me before and obviously the problem is the lack of professionalism). I’m very proud of the guys from our team as they are doing their job really great. So yes, next week we are shooting.

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 6

This week we have been doing location scouting to lock down all the locations for our film. For all of them, we had multiple options so we needed to narrow everything down so they meet our requirements.

We were quite lucky to have Yana’s parents to work in the company which has a staged apartment in a warehouse which they use for making commercials but, unfortunately, this location turned out to be not suitable enough for us. Technically, we got the permission to shoot there, but the problem was the lighting: the warehouse has windows which allow daylight to come inside. As our film has a neo-noir theme, we need more dimmed lighting which meant that we would only shoot there at night which was not convenient for both sides.

Anyway, we decided that we will use Shahbano’s house for Isabella’s apartment (it is also extremely useful in terms of logistics as her place became some kind of our base), Yana’s house for Lewis’s apartment.

We are struggling with the bar as the one we planned to use initially doesn’t seem to work out. However, we have one backup option plus enough time to search for others. I’m pretty sure we will be fine as we have almost two weeks to lock this. A good thing is that we are set with actors now and start rehearsing this Saturday. Overall, I’m really satisfied with our progress as the pre-production seems to be moving forward fast.

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 5.

This week was dedicated to castings. We spent two days casting the actors who applied to our casting call on Mixfame, and it was quite a hard thing to do. Apparently, it is incredibly hard to find someone with a proper English accent as most of the people who wanted to come were either from Europe or the Middle East. Fortunately, our story is set in Dubai and we show it vividly, so it should not be a big issue. We found our Parker and bartender Wyatt; however, we are still in doubts regarding Isabella. We will hold extra auditions next week to make sure we find someone exactly suitable for the role, even though we quite liked one of the ladies who came this week.

Anyway, the trimester continues to be really hectic as we need to manage a lot of processes at the same time. Yazan showed us how to use the production scheduling and script breakdown software which is actually pretty convenient. The most important drawback is that we can access it only at SAE so we cannot work on it at home which makes everything much more complicated. We worked on script breakdown as a whole group, but I want to sit with Mera next week to break down the rest of the script and fix everything that was done not properly.

Locations are still next week, so we all hope that they will be actually suitable for our shoots. Personally, I find scheduling the most concerning as there are a lot of different sets needed so I am afraid we will not be able to finish everything on time. From my previous experience, it is crucial to have a perfect plan because plans never work, and if your plan is so-so then the final result will be a total disaster.

Hope next week will clarify locations. Also, we start rehearsing next week. Week 8 is so close.

 

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 4.

This week we had our project presentation which I, unfortunately, missed because of the shoot. For it, I prepared a draft of the script breakdown to get a proper idea of what are we going to need for the shoot. Apart from that, as a part of the art department team, I searched for references for each location we need for the production.

I was told by our team that the script needs to be changed a lot, so Faizaan and Shahbano started working on it. As a result, the concept of the film has changed a lot, several elements have been added to the film. Right now, the scrip looks much more consistent and the story is more logical and understandable for the audience, and in general makes much more sense. However, some changes still need to be applied, so by the end of week 4 we still don’t have the final draft of our script which makes working on the film a bit more difficult. However, we try to go through all the pre-production processes we can. For instance, our producers posted a casting call on Mixfame and quite a lot of people applied for it. We shortlisted the most suitable candidates, and next week we are having the auditions with them.

Also, we found some suitable and accessible locations which we are going to go see soon. With the new script, I have a better understanding how to schedule the production which is a great relief because before I was actually concerned how we are going to fit all the locations into 4 shooting days. I’m not going to create a new script breakdown before the scrip is locked (or at least reaches the stage of the last draft). All of us are very busy with other shoots, so we need to understand how to manage all the projects and keep up with our Studio 3 film. I hope, by the end of next week the scrip will be locked and we can finalize all we need for this production and start actively working on it.

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 3.

Today we had a short class during which the directors and DOPs pitched for their roles. I decided not to pitch for the director for two reasons: firstly, I want to focus on directing the major project; secondly, I’m not really into thriller genre and kind of don’t feel like directing such a film. However, I’m really interested in being the first AD for this production as \ I’m excited to be a part of such a project, and the fact that it’s not really my style makes it even more fascinating. Apart from that, I’m a part of the art department for this film which is also quite challenging as we need to create this neo-noir style in the movie, and art department plays a big role in it as well as other departments.

Unlike the other group, we almost didn’t have any competition in terms or crew roles as everyone is pretty sure about what they want to do. This week we will be meeting to make a presentation for next Sunday when everyone has to pitch for the roles they picked. The first draft of the script needs to be done by Wednesday morning max. Even though Faizaan is responsible for scriptwriting, we are all helping him out to brainstorm the ideas and structure it. Personally, I find writing a script for a 15-20 minute film in three days really challenging, you can’t really put much thought in what you are writing, especially because we are quite loaded with work this trimester. However, it’s just the first draft so I believe that we will be able to perfect it later on.

For the pitch, I’m going to work on part of the script breakdown and find references for the location we want to use. Even though it’s just the first draft, I believe it won’t be too difficult to change the script breakdown in accordance with future changes. Breaking down the script is “ separating and numbering each scene in a script, and then highlighting and listing the elements in each scene as written” (Dellario, 2017). It helps all the departments to get a clear idea of what is needed for each scene. It includes cast, extras, props, locations, wardrobe, special effects, stunts, sound effects, music, vehicles, animals, makeup, hair, and special equipment (Brubaker, 2014). For now, we will make a simplified version of script breakdown as the script is not finalized yet.

Unfortunately, I won’t be present for the next class as I have a shoot with other SAE students for the final project of one of them, however, I will work on the presentation together with my team and present later.

References:

Brubaker, J. (2014, October 9). Script Breakdown and Film Scheduling. Retrieved March 3, 2019, from https://www.filmmakingstuff.com/filmmaking-lesson-9-break-down-and-schedule/

Dellario, F. (2017, July 11). How To Breakdown A Script. Retrieved March3, 2019 from https://pixelvalleystudio.com/pmf-articles//the-script-breakdown

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 2.

Today those who wanted to write a script pitched their stories. All in all, three stories were pitched, by Faizaan, Josh, and Abdullah. All class voted and we chose the ones by Faizaan for our group and for Josh for another one. As I already mentioned in the previous blog, Faizaan’s story is thriller/neo-noir, it is about a hitman who gets a job to kill a woman, but it turns out that he killed her son a while ago it is her who organized everything to kill the hitman and become one herself. Personally, I think that we will need to work on it and elaborate it a little. Apart from that, the story has to be Dubai-centered meaning that we will have to add some elements to it which will link it to Dubai.

I’m a little bit concerned about the neo-part now. It seemed like a great idea, especially because I really love this style, but the more I think about the more I find it difficult to actually make it neo-noir. First, because the whole story is mostly set in daytime meaning that it will be hard to work with lighting in outside scenes. Also, the hitman comes to the boy’s funeral (not the actual one, she organized it to make him come to her) which is also not the best occasion for neo-noir style. I will discuss it with the team during the meeting or in class.

On Sunday we will pitch for the director’s role and I’m still thinking about it. As I plan to stick with directing department and plan to be a director in general I kind of should go for directing but at the same time I don’t feel like directing a fiction film because I’m really into documentaries and that’s what I’m doing for my final project, so I probably won’t go for directing for this project. I really want to be the first AD but we’ll see how it goes.

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 1 (technically 2, but the first for these blogs)

During today’s class at SAE Dubai we have been briefed with our project for our Studio 3 unit. Our objective is to shoot a 15-20 minute short film in one of the following genres: horror, comedy, thriller or noir/neo-noir. We have been divided into two groups, 7 people each, and started working on the idea for the project. For this production, I aim to stick with the directing department as by the fifth trimester I have decided that directing is what I should actually do.

Faizaan, one of our team members, has a couple of interesting ideas for the script which we might use for the film. Apart from that, Nadia has also an idea, but we don’t know what is it about yet. Anyway, on Thursday everybody will pitch their ideas so we can choose the best one. One of Faizaan’s ideas is a thriller short film. According to Danny Draven, a thriller is “a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense” (Draven, 2013). As we were discussing this idea, we came to understanding that neo-noir would also be a good option to stylize this film, especially because, as stated in a book “Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts”, noir/neo-noir films can be in some respects called thrillers as this genre is quite broad (Hayward, 2017). Another option Faizaan has is a dark comedy which is also pretty interesting.

Anyway, I’m waiting until Thursday when all the ideas will be presented to us so we can start developing the one we will choose, finalize our roles, etc. This trimester seems to be more demanding comparing to the previous ones, but I like it because I really want to work hard and make good stuff so I hope it will be challenging and interesting.

Draven, D. (2013). Genre filmmaking : A visual guide to shots and style for genre films. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Hayward, S. (2017). Cinema studies : The key concepts. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com