Shoot Part 1: Prep day and house scenes

On 30th April, we had a prep day to clear the storage room we would be using in the house, load in equipment and prelight the house scenes. In the morning, we collected equipment from screen academy and brought it to the house location. As the house is in Merchiston, this wasn’t too challenging, just a lot of loading and unloading! Kat and I then went to Portobello to collect the bed from my parents’ house and a rented generator for the forest scene. This took quite a bit longer than I had expected – in hindsight, I should have sent someone else and stayed to have more time for lighting tests.

While Kaitlyn and Emma cleared a section of the bedroom and began set dressing, Jack (our gaffer) and I did some lighting tests in the hallway. The wide shot, combined with Emma’s preferred blocking which has the cast quite near the back wall of the scene – means that it will be quite challenging to light. Ideally, the cast would be quite backlit, or at least lit as far away from the camera side as possible. In the end, we were able to use a lightweight Aputure 120T on an extension arm to create this effect, though it was quite hard to control spill in the small, light-walled location. We completed the scene by adding light leaking through doorways and up the stairs to create the effect of a party going on throughout the house. We also had to block out a large window (behind the camera in the wide) to ensure lighting consistency and make sure it felt light a night scene.

Once we were happy with this scene, we took photos of the lighting positions and began prelighting the bedroom scene (we were able to leave this setup overnight for the next day). This scene was easier but the wide meant that we had to use the same trick of balancing the Aputure on an extension arm. At the end of the day, we shot the scenes of blood pouring into water. We got a few decent takes but we may need to reshoot this as the blood had quite an orange tint to it – I’ll see what I can do to correct this in DaVinci…

I also spent some of the prep day checking over camera settings, cleaning filters and lenses and practising using the Easyrig (which thankfully lives up to its name!). I also did some more data wrangling tests which went smoothly. Overall the prep day was a bit hectic and I’m quite anxious for tomorrow! I’m very glad we had the extra time to prelight and set dress!

Photos from our prep day (roughly shows before and after of bedroom set dressing)

1st May was our first shoot day!! We shot Scene 11 (Bedroom scene at the end) first as we had prelit it on the prep day. This was quite a simple scene with only five shots, only one of which was handheld. Lighting was also fairly consistent throughout. It did take a while to refine the performance but we had scheduled taking this into account and we were able to move on in plenty of time.

The hallway scenes (7 and 9) were more complicated in terms of their blocking, the number of shots and the lighting setup. It was a bit of a challenge to create perceived darkness through contrast, particularly with cast often quite close to the wall. There were also a few changes to blocking and I sometimes felt unsure about what action Emma was hoping to capture in each shot. Emma and I had a chat about this afterwards and agreed to work on our communication – aiming to stick to the agreed plans while accepting that the lack of rehearsals may sometimes mean we need to make alterations. Overall though, I’m pleased with how today went and I think our preparation paid off. It’s a relief to be finally shooting something and have a day go smoothly (particularly compared to our test shoot in November!). Roll on tomorrow for the field scenes…

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