How to make a short film : Production and directing (part 6)

Copyright Stanley Pickle

Finally, the production period has begun. Also known as principal-photography, you are now on set making the magic happen.

As a director, your managing skills are very important in dealing with all the on-set issues, from personality clashes to re-takes. One thing is for sure; you will never be able to anticipate a shooting day. There are so many factors of risk that affect your film that you should never take anything for granted.

Each department must have its focus for the day and clear instructions from you, whether the night before, or in the moment. You are the decider of the on set action, and you must earn the respect of your crew. Your decisions will affect how people work together, so they must be thought through.

Acting talent needs to be taken care of, and with the same level of respect, your crew. Meals need to be delivered on time, and breaks must be as relaxing as possible.

As you rehearse on set with your actors, try to give them as much freedom over their movements. Actors will find it difficult when movement is restricted, and become self aware, however this is also part of the illusion of filmmaking! There will often be times when there is not enough physical space to put your crew, camera and actor the way you want to, so talk with your department heads and find a cheat to create the same effect.

Editing which will be discussed later should also be considered as you choose your camera angles and go through the all-important shot list. Getting the best coverage does not always mean getting the most takes. Sometimes you need an ultra close up of a teaspoon to cut away from something else. If you have spare time on set, get your DP to find you inserts. If you re shooting digital, get as much detail as you can. This is useful to you in the edit and can work wonders!

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