Isobell Roberts

After viewing what seemed like countless shots from test shoots, writing and re-writing scripts, casting actors and booking gear, the official shoot day was here. We had organised to film at the venue for two nights, so we decided to split the nights into each respective film: Blue Moon and The Club. I learned a lot from the experience and immediately afterwards, wrote a list of reflections and things to improve upon.

One of the aspects I really enjoyed on the Blue Moon shoot was having a clear role – director. Rosie had written the script; Sam and Louise had pretty much done everything else. I knew what role I needed to fulfil and I could focus all my energy on trying to do a good job. On the other hand, on The Club shoot, I was directing whilst also juggling the script and the shot list, trying to not miss anything. Consequently some things slipped (an important POV shot to show the kitchen is connected to the dining room). A point to work on in the future is to get better at asking for help.
Other points to improve upon:
Be more confident and vocal. I often see things I’d like to change and only think them. I really need to work on speaking up.
Think the shot set up through! There were a couple of times when I didn’t think the full action of the shot through. This resulted in shots taking much longer than they needed. Take the opening locker scene for example. The action is: Rich tying his shoelaces, turning around and looking through three lockers, before grabbing the orange juices and leaving. When we first went for a take, I described the action as only tying his shoe. It took a couple of takes to realise my mistake. I know these things aren’t major mistakes but they are definitely the things I kick myself about.

This week in class all the groups presented rough drafts of their films followed by a ‘round’ (rectangle) table discussion and feedback. It was really cool to see the progress of some of the groups, and the vast variance of the films. A couple of my favourites were the poem one, the haunted/scary elevator one and the lost dog in the bush one. I can’t wait to see all the completed films again in the upcoming end of semester screening.

When it came our turn for our films to be screened, I was a little surprised with how much I liked the overall vibe we had achieved for each of our films – Blue Moon and The Club. I felt the real star of both films was the location, and I felt we were able to exhibit the beauty and surrealism of the Thornbury Bowls Club well. I believe the exterior shots were vital in conveying this. Coming into the feedback session I was keen to gauge peoples opinions on the appearing out of thin air zoom shot in The Club. This particular shot had been a point of discussion for a while amongst our group. I really liked the idea and the mechanics of the shot. I felt it added to the films surrealist vibe and was a really cool way to introduce Club member Rich into Club member Sam’s space. However, the quality of the footage was quite low and grainy, especially in comparison to the other lens we used. Whilst our classmates didn’t seem to notice the difference too much, I think seeing the shot on a big screen really drove home its imperfections and helped us decide to cut the shot once and for all.

Sidenote: I did some investigating into why the zoom shot was rubbish and the other camera, with a different lens, was great. Turns out, it all has to do with the aperture of the lens. The lens we used for the shot in question was a Canon 18-135 f3.5-5.6 zoom lens, while the other lens was a Canon 50mm f1.2 prime lens. A smaller f-stop means a larger aperture, which means more light is let onto the lens, which means its better suited for the type of low light conditions we were shooting. A valuable lesson to keep handy for any low light shoots in the future.
Other feedback we received for The Club included the sound effects being much too loud; I hadn’t begun editing sound yet, so it definitely was a fair call.

Fig Rig Update
As promised, here is my update on the performance of my homemade fig rig. Unfortunately, when push came to shove, it didn’t really stack up! The tracking shot we used it for ended up being cut due to too much movement in the frame. All in all, I grade sinõr fig rig a 3/10. A little better then just holding the camera, but only just. However, my quest for creating buttery smooth camera movement on the cheap is far from over. After the mini in-class screening, I spied some great looking camera movement in another group’s film. Like a hungry lioness I pounced on the group, demanding to know their secrets. As it were, they had been experimenting with creating smooth camera movement too, by way of sliding a bath towel with a tripod on it along the floor. I was super impressed with their results and their ingenuity. This method is definitely next on my list to try.


My experience with collaboration in this studio has truly been wonderful.
Throughout the pre-production, production and post-production period, I felt our group were incredibly supportive and encouraging of one another. A potentially high stress environment was made enjoyable. Consequently, this created the opportunity to think outside the ‘damage control/lets just finish this’ mindset, to one of creative freedom. When the time came in class to form groups, Louise, Rosie, Sam and I seemed to naturally gravitate towards each other. Just as natural was the process of dividing into crew roles. I expressed an interest in directing, Louise and Sam in being DOP and producing, and Rosie in writing the script and production design. However, unlike past group experiences those roles were not ridged. I think we all felt comfortable contributing all manner of ideas and discussing them into reality.

An epiphany for me with respect to collaboration, was the realisation I should always strive to welcome all input. This was also the attribute of our group that I liked the most. From the ‘grown up’ set experience I have been fortunate enough to gain, I’ve witnessed the mentality of ‘there can only be one chief in the kitchen’ time and time again. I can understand too much input from unlikely people can be potentially counter-productive and noisy; however, in the middle of the shoot when the epiphany struck, I began to think maybe this mentality is limiting the potential of projects? During our shoot one of the actors Chris (Louis’s partner) would chime in now and again with this thoughts on framing and shot construction. As I began to listen to his thoughts and adjustments, I realised they were really good. I began to call him over more and more to get his thoughts on framing and lighting. In conjunction with Louise, Sam and Rosie, Chris’s voice added a fresh perspective, and I’m really glad I was able to utilise it and not brush it off as unwelcome.
I believe this realisation comes off the back of slowly switching mentalities from being the lone filmmaker that would fill every role, to that of a team player (gotta love a good sports metaphor amirite). The purpose of having a crew is to be able to rely on and delegate to them, to be able to create something none of us could alone. Whilst I still have the impulse to do everything myself, collaborating on this project really helped me realise it is better to work as a team. I hope to continue the mindset of encouraging feedback and input at every turn.
Because the worst that could happen is we don’t use the idea, the best, they help make our film better.

Here are some of my favourite shots:


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