Things I learnt on a film set: Lauren Louise
Screen and Film School Brighton student blogger Lauren Louise reflects on the things she learnt on a film set and shares her wisdom for future filmmakers.
Filming has finally resumed again for us students and it couldn’t have come at a better time with the longer hours of daylight and film school being open for the summer, this bids us an endless amount of opportunity to create. So far, this year I have managed to be a part of several productions this year, writing and directing two of them and although they are far from perfect, I am proud of the outcome and value the lessons I have learnt along the way. So to save you the hassle of making the same mistakes I did, here is a list of the things I have learnt on set.
Share the workload
Sharing the workload with others can save you a lot of stress on the day of the shoot. Make sure you work on shot lists together with your camera and lighting department so everyone is clear on what the vision is. Have lighting assistants to help your gaffer change lighting in between shots or hold polyboards, or perhaps have two camera operators, because two brains are better than one- plus it will help prevent any burnout after a long shoot day.
Go hard on set design
The best films I have seen from this year’s films are the ones that went above and beyond on their set design. Something I learnt in hindsight from one of my shoots was that what seemed like enough set dressing in preparation of the shoot wasn’t nearly as much as we needed when we watched it back. Take this shot from ‘Last Moments’ a short film I produced this year. The set dressing helps us to fill out the frame and make what the characters are doing even more believable.
Whereas this shot could have been filled out slightly more to enhance the storytelling.
These are all learning experiences and things that will definitely get better with time and practice. So, if you are filming a birthday party and have a dozen balloons, double it. Throw some party hats in there! Along with birthday banners and some party poppers – you get the idea! Sometimes more is more. Take this shot from my semester one short film ‘Losing Teeth’.
The background is full of little details and information about the character without us saying too much, and as narcissistic as it sounds it really worked to develop the believability of our story and create an environment for the character that looked lived in.
Rehearsal are important
Rehearsing scenes and dialogue with your actors can be really helpful for relieving stress on the day of shooting. It helps the Director to communicate the story and elaborate on any meaning behind the dialogue whilst letting the actors familiarise themselves with their lines and other cast members. Having more than one rehearsal will also help build up chemistry between your actors.
Sometimes things need changing on the day, this can be for various different reasons and the best thing you can do is to just adapt. Plans change and things don’t always work out, remain flexible to your vision and your crew members.
With this all in mind it’s important to remember that as much as we put out blood, sweat and tears into these shoots they are just a practice run to help us get better and learn how to make films. Making mistakes is how you learn and grow as a filmmaker.
Are you ready to tell your story?
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