24 July 2011

Day 2 of Paul Osborne's FAVOR

You know how I said it's generally a bad idea to film where you live? Well…here we go again. We're filming at Paul Osborne's house in Burbank, and while it's generally not a good idea, the house has one advantage that may be helping things along: it's at the end of a dead end street, which means that sound is only coming from one direction and traffic is scant.

Never under-estimate the power of good sound in a location.

In the narrative, Paul's house functions as the residence of our lead, Blayne Weaver, and the word is that we'll be at the location for a couple of days. Makes sense.

Fitting in with Paul's minimalist, DIY approach to FAVOR, the interior lighting kit is pretty simple. We've got some LED's that we can gel to whatever we need, but primarily, he's lighting the interiors with soft lights. That means that we're using those china balls and upright lights you buy at IKEA, only with better bulbs inside. It's one of those approaches that either works really well or not at all. They're super easy to set up and move around, but you can't really put a lot of direction into the light source. It's a trade-off. Also, actors like soft lights because they even our skin issues and blemishes.

The downside of these lights can be scary. You sometimes can't control them very well, especially if you want to do something specific (although there are ways around it). But the thing is, Paul knows this. He's shooting the film himself. So, above all else, this is what he wants his film to look like. And that's the most important thing.

I may not be the best grip in the world. Part of the reason I decided to do A Year Without Rent was that I wanted to learn more about how various departments and jobs on a film set functioned. You know, the ones that aren't "director" or "producer". I'm a firm believer that the more you know about what everyone on your set is doing, the better director you'll be. It's common sense, right?

Point being, this is a lighting kit that's well within my range. I know how to use all of these lights. There's no learning curve. And as small as this crew is, this is immediately beneficial. And by small, I mean really small. Joe Pezzula, the sound guy, also seems to be the lighting guy (along with Paul). This is the sort of set where it's clear that "an extra set of hands" might be a bit of an understatement.

We shoot in the living room, which is a little tricky because Blayne Weaver is drinking real wine instead of juice, and after a bit, that tends to add up. Then, some bedroom scenes where the LED lights prove to be a little tricky. We're trying to put enough light in the hall, but it keeps spilling into the door frame, which is too hot. The space is tight, with barely enough room to fit the stand before it ends up in the shot. Not enough room to flag off the excess light. It takes a bit, but we figure it out.

It's indie film. We always figure it out.

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.

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