Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 12

It’s Thursday week twelve and our film has been officially submitted as well as the trailer, the poster, the behind the scenes video. All our team feels relieved even though we are not completely done with this trimester yet.

As I was planning to, I sit with Alexis, Faizaan, and Shahbano to help them with the color. We decided to go for different looks for the first and the second bar scenes to distinguish them from each other. Overall, with color the film looks very different. I can say that I like what we got. Some scenes look more natural while some have more obvious color grading. A lot of issues have been fixed and now the picture looks decent.

I feel a little bit overwhelmed and kind of need a break from this film. I don’t feel like watching it for the next week or so because now I’ve seen it so many times I don’t understand anything anymore. This final week was a little bit hectic because nothing ever goes according to the plan, even though we didn’t have any major issues which could lead us to freaking out. I’m really proud of our team and this was probably the most professional production I’ve ever worked on so far. Everybody did a great job, and the film we have now is something that I will be proud to show to anyone. I hope, our whole team feels the same.

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 11

This week Alexis, Faizaan and Shabano continued to edit the film; apart from that, we’ve been busy with the other project we are making, so we needed to split the work in order to get everything done on time. By the end of this week, the picture is considered locked and tomorrow we are starting to do color. I’ve been feeling the lack of my engagement in the post-production stage (which is reasonable as it now comes down to the director and the editor, but I really want to help them as they have been working really hard). So next week I’m planning to join them for the color grading for at least a couple of days.

The film was cut down to 17 minutes which I consider a good thing as some parts actually seemed to long. Guys tried implementing a lot of experimental suggestions and came to the version they like the most. I can’t wait to see the film with the color grading as right now it doesn’t have that neo-noir visual style we were going for as the picture is desaturated, but I can imagine how the film will be transformed when colored.

The poster and the audio are in progress and everything seems to be on schedule. I suppose the next week might be a bit hectic as deadlines are always somewhat stressful (you always feel something can still be perfected) but I believe everything will be alright.

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 10

This week has been dedicated to editing. Right now, the majority of work is concentrated on our editor, director, and DP, and guys don’t really want us to disturb them as too many opinions can be distracting as well as the fact that they are aware of the majority of changes that need to be implemented. By the end of the week, we have probably like the third draft which is already pretty close to the final one, but still, some major structural changes need to be implemented as Yazan had an interesting suggestion in terms of how to restructure one of the scenes.

The major issue we’ve been facing is the lack of coverage for some scenes (something is out of focus and we don’t have another take, etc). However, guys have been managing to deal with all the issues really well so I believe that the final draft will look really good. Also, you should never judge the film by the drafts because the difference between, for example, the first and the last drafts is huge.

We are on schedule, however, still somewhat limited in time as we have the second project going on at the same time. As soon as guys finish the final draft, the coloring and audio post still needs to be done. Anyway, the film seems to look better and better, we are cutting it down to leave only important things in it (the assembly draft was something about 24 minutes, the current version is 19 and more will be cut) so it is engaging for the audience throughout the whole movie. There are some moments which look a bit overacted and which I hope will be rather removed or changed in the final draft, but overall I’m satisfied with what we are getting.

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 9

The shoot is over! We are done with the two remaining days of filming, and now we are entering the post-production stage!

 

I cannot say that these two days were easy, but we overcame all the difficulties and managed to get everything that we wanted. On day 3 we were shooting at Shahbano’s house. We arrived there at 5 pm and had two hours to set everything up before the sunset (we needed the place to be dark and covering the windows wouldn’t work for us). I scheduled a 12-hours shoot so we had enough time to get everything done, however, after the first two days everyone expected that we will finish earlier. The scene we were shooting – the last one in the film – was not very easy for both the crew and the actors. After it, we had to shoot multiple small scenes (one shot each). I don’t know what affected the process more: the complication of the scene or understanding of the fact that we have the location for as long as we need, but overall it was a little slower than in the previous two days. It was not an easy day for all of us, especially because night shoots turned out to be really exhausting. However, we wrapped almost on time and got some good footage.

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When everybody showed up on set on day 4, everyone was really exhausted. It was less than 8 hours since we wrapped the previous shoot, and not everybody got to sleep for more than 3-5 hours as even after the wrap some people needed to stay to back up the footage, discuss something, etc. We were shooting at Yana’s place and Yana’s mom literally saved us by preparing a good tasty breakfast, after which everybody seemed more alive and readier for the next shoot.

Firstly, we needed to shoot an outside scene in the desert. We drove there in two cars, and as soon as we arrived Shahbano, our DP, announced, that some buttons on her camera don’t work. Considering the fact, that literally nothing happened to the camera since last night, it was unpleasantly surprising. Luckily, we had my camera which was used for BTS. However, immediately after we shot the scene Shahbano and Faizaan headed to Sony to sort out the issue. Of course, we had some kind of a backup option of using Faizaan’s camera, but the quality of the image would differ significantly from Sony a7s II.

While we were nervously waiting for the guys to come back, we recorded some BTS interviews. By the time we were supposed to already start shooting, Shahbano and Faizaan called us and said that they found another Sony camera and were heading to us. It was a great relief as losing the camera on the last day of the shoot would definitely have a negative impact on our film.

Even though we were slightly behind the schedule, we started working quite fast and finished the most difficult shot in 3 takes. After that, everybody kind of calmed down and we continued working pretty smoothly. We wrapped at around 3:30 am, tired but very happy. I was sad leaving the set as it meant that the shoot is over, and we all had great fun making this film. Our work is not done and there’s a long post-production process ahead, but I’m actually proud of our team for doing a good job!

 

Studio 3 Production Diary: Week 8

So, we are done with the first two days of the shoot! We were shooting in the bar which we had only from 8 am to 2:30 pm – initially it sounded like an issue, especially when the night before the first day of the shoot Sally, our contact person, told us that nobody can actually open it for us at 8, so we should start at 9. With all preparations, it extremely limited the time we had to actually shoot. With producers, we decided to remove the lunch break and just have snacks on set for whoever needs it. We tried not to panic, also the director and DOP assured us that it should not be an issue as they rehearsed a lot and are prepared which turned out to be true – we finished even earlier than we were supposed to.

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However, a huge issue turned out to be our contact person in the restaurant – Sally. She was not there when we arrived and showed up at around 12 pm, and the first thing she did was almost yelled at the producers. She was freaking out because we used the tables she didn’t want us to, because we got snacks (“If somebody chokes it will be my responsibility!!”) and basically because of everything. After that, she started giving a lecture to the whole crew AND actors which was incredibly unprofessional. We are not her kids, we apologized for the misunderstanding, we cleaned up the territory she didn’t want us to use quickly, we tried to keep the place as organized and clean as possible. Anyway, after all those words she started watching us shooting the film and everybody felt very uncomfortable as she basically ruined the whole vibe. Luckily, we only had the insert shots left, after that, we packed up and left. Sally was giving us directions so we don’t show up in the main hall of the hotel and was basically treating us as we were doing something VERY bad and embarrassing for her, but okay, fine, thanks for the bar.

I was on set all the time coordinating the crew so everybody is aware of their responsibilities, doing the clapper board, making sure we are on time. I tried to be as helpful as possible and hopefully was but it’s not for me to judge.

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On the second day, we tried to follow all Sally’s directions no matter how weird they were (no food on set? You want us and the actors just dye there?). Yana was making sure there’s not a single thing not on its place, and to be fair when Sally showed up she seemed pretty satisfied. But the second day brought us more difficulties. We were given this bar for the shoot, we were given particular timings, we arranged everything. However, at approximately 11 am stuff just decided to do their most loud work. Construction going on, people coming and going, speaking on their phones, washing the dishes or whatever they were doing but it made so many sounds we literally couldn’t shoot. Every single take was being ruined by some people. We kindly tried to explain to them, that shooting is impossible with loud sounds at the background. The workers were actually helpful; however, we met no sympathy from the managers – at some point they started to make even louder noises when I was standing right in front of them begging for at least 30 minutes of quietness so we can finish and leave and not disturb them. All in all, they just made the suffering longer for both sides as we were unable to move on and were forced to stay there even longer. They literally hated us and the only question we had – why did you let us shoot here if you are not ready to cooperate anyhow? We would have found another location, it would be much easier for all of us instead of what was happening.

Anyway, this blog probably should not have been so focused on these moments, but it literally pisses me off. The best part is that we managed to finish even earlier than we were supposed to, the footage looks really nice, and we are ready for two more days of shooting – now in private apartments, thankfully.

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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.