In Retrospect: The Stairwell Scenes

In Retrospect: The Stairwell Scenes

We shot two scenes in the stairwell in week 4. In one, I was acting, and the other, cinematography. The first one was the most thought out and planned, i believe. The class before, we planned out the scene, or at least, the director and cinematographer did. It was a tough shoot due to the stairwell location. There were only really 3 areas the tripod could be palced “safely”. I put that in quotations because we shouldn’t have been shooting in a stairwell without some sort of safety run down. I’m not one to ramble on about safety, but when I was in New York, we had to get a bunch of safety forms if we wanted to shoot the exterior of an elevator.

Anyway, I didn’t know what the outcome of that shoot would be like until I went to edit it. I didn’t really like much of it. There were a couple of decent shots, but everything was very mediocre. After a couple of glances of the footage, I decided to edit the other stair scene we shot straight afterwards.

The second shoot was rushed and unpolished. I hadn’t realised that the second one needed to be as polished as the first as the class time prior was so focused on setting up the first shoot that it seemed the second shoot was solely to let different people try different roles. And for the most part it was. The director had a shot list with her, and I threw in a couple of ideas for shots. We only ended up with 7 or so. Many of the shots had similarities to the first shoot, but I tried to make sure they were a bit tighter and looked better. I don’t think that was achieved. Having 45 minutes to shoot something that was just shot in 75 minutes is tough, and we shot something and I had fun so that’s all I really care about.

I slapped together the edit of the second scene in about 10 minutes and it was shit. I liked the idea of having long takes so I chose 4 shots and let it play out. The script doesn’t warrant such an edit, but due to the fact we could not repeat shots, I did ok. And by ok, I mean shit. It got destroyed in class and I don’t really care. That night I went and edited the other scene. I turned it into a shitty sitcom, and the edit was better. Making something funny can often mean that the editing is strong; it can also be funny due to bad editing. I made humour in the unwarranted laugh track and some of the editing.

I think there is some merit in doing these frequent edits, but what I feel would be more useful is giving groups a week of planning. Announce the task on a friday, get us into key roles and let us plan it out thoroughly on the following Wednesday. Then the next friday, let us shoot for 3 hours and make a product with a higher quality. Its getting tedious editing these films because of the standard we’re making them at. A good film can be made in the exercises, sure, but it requires a well balanced group, and doesn’t always seem to be the case. The key is to make people actually put in a strong effort in making these. Put grades on them. Force them to do there best, because at the moment, I’m having trouble enjoying the editing of these films.