Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rained Out

I had hoped that this weekend would be the final shoot for Dinosaur World. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. I spent most of Saturday in a field building a fire pit. If you watched the video I posted last time you saw a section of the video I entitled "fire light test footage". The scene too be shot is to take place around a larger than usual camp fire. Since we are shooting on Mini DV lighting is crucial in order to get the correct exposure, that is to say we need to be able to see what is going on. Typically we light everything. If it's an interior location, no problem, we can usually have the lighting done for an interior location in less than hour. If you're shooting outside things become more problematic but not impossible. If you're shooting a night scene outside things become even more problematic. To shoot a night scene you have to have light no matter what. Obviously the goal in any movie is to make sure the lighting seems natural, you don't want a harsh 1000 watt light source blasting your characters in the face if you're characters are meant to be standing in a dark alley or a field. If you're shooting on a front porch or a parking lot, no problem. You can take some time and position your lights in such a way as to fool the audience into the thinking the light source is natural. A street light for example. A street light doesn't give off enough light to successfully light a scene for shooting, but you run a 1000 watt light up a pole and angle it so that it LOOKS like it might be coming from a street light, no one will know that it's not.
However, shooting in a field in the middle of the night artificial light becomes a lot harder to hide. If everyone is meant to be basking in the warm red-orange glow of a camp fire, you don't want a blinding white light shinning down from out of nowhere lighting there faces. If you're making a movie with money you can purchase certain add on fixtures for your lights. They have lighting kits specifically designed to simulate fire light called flicker boxes. Or you can use array of colored gels to make your artificial light seem like natural fire light. Unfortunately we are not making a movie with money. Our budget for Dinosaur World falls between the ranges of 0 dollars to whatever amount I can afford to withdraw from my checking account that week which is usually a pretty small sum. So the only way around it is to actual build a fire and use all natural lighting.
The test footage was an experiment to see how much fire I would need. I built that fire in a charcoal grill behind my house and had my actors stand in various locations in proximity to the fire. I concluded that I would need a huge fire, close to bonfire size. The point of this overlong explanation of lighting on a budget is to say that we didn't get a fire started. We didn't even get the equipment out. After spending the day begging for the rain to let up long enough to film, I dragged all of my cast and crew to an empty field only to say we had to cancel. I'm pretty sure I was the only person totally disappointed. I wanted very much to be finished with filming this weekend but it just wasn't in the cards. So instead we had a PRE-WRAP wrap party. Which basically consisted of me and the cast and crew playing rock band until the wee hours of the morning and thinking very little about the movie. It turned out to be a nice relaxing time with zero stress involved.
Of course now we must rally the troops and try it one more time. Which we will. Nothing can stop a group of penniless, desperate, and determined artists. Not even mother nature.

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