I spent a lot of time this semester researching the film industry and professional practice within the camera department. This has informed my preparation for Moonboy in both my technical course of action and the crew members I have been looking for.
I attended a lecture by NFTS Scotland which focused on finding your first job as a camera trainee. The lecture detailed the structure of the camera department on professional feature and TV drama productions, introducing me to some new terms and role names (for example, I learnt that the 1st AC is commonly referred to as a focus puller in the UK). I was introduced to the role of a camera trainee as an odd-job position within the camera department and an important opportunity to learn and make contacts with DPs and rental houses. I was encouraged to find work as a runner as this is the starting point for most film and TV professionals. The lecture also covered the practicalities of finding work on film and TV productions, using agency services, and carefully researching the company and crew members to make a good first impression.
I also interviewed Kit Fraser for my Work Related Learning module. Kit is a DP whose work I admire, particularly for his precise use of exposure and the creation of a surreal, unsettling atmosphere. Our conversation covered several major gaps in my knowledge, particularly regarding professional practice and collaboration. Our conversation also gave me a direction for my future studies and helped me identify areas of focus when developing my technical skills. With the information I have gained, I plan to develop my practical experience with a range of film technologies, exploring the Cinema 4D software, learning how to use a light meter and experimenting with 16mm film. I will support my technical learning through referencing books and camera manuals and by contacting those already working in the camera department. I will continue to develop my professional approach through the way I crew my own student films and by beginning to search for Runner and Camera Trainee jobs.
I worked as a runner on two professional shoots this term – BBC Debate Night and a standup comedy live record with Turtle Canyon Media. Although they were live shows and quite different to our student short films, both these opportunities gave me valuable on-set experience and I was able to observe and learn from other professionals in the camera department when appropriate. I also worked on several 4th year films over the past few years, including as a focus puller on the The Candidate. This gave me experience of the process of planning and shooting a narrative film through closer contact with the director and DP. I also became more familiar with the procedures and workflows associated with professional cinema cameras such as the Arri Alexa.
For the Dreams and Visions module, I watched Ivan’s Childhood, a film which seems particularly relevant to Moonboy for its use of dream sequences to explore childhood trauma. Although it is stylistically quite different to what I am planning, it is interesting to see this different approach and observe the effects of placing the dream sequences at different points in the narrative and the use of spatial distortions to keep the dream sequence slightly ambiguous. The film also contains some powerful examples of a frame-within-a-frame and shows how distortions such as slow motion can be used for powerful emotional effect.