The official writeup of my recent on-set shenanigans (part 2)
Because Part Ones are supposed to be followed by Part Twos. Don't blame me. Blame the people who decide how numbers work.
If you read my previous post in this series, I left off with a cliffhanger about explaining a bit about the rhythm of shooting in a studio environment. Or, really, the rhythm of shooting in general. No reason not to delve into that now.
Starting with the big picture probably makes the most sense, right? Right.
The big picture
Whenever I’m trying to learn something new, I find I can understand it best if I start with the thousand-foot view. Forget details at first; instead tell me the WHATs and the WHYs … and only then zero in one the little stuff that supports those larger goals.
So for filming, I’d start by examining my own experience of watching something on TV or the big screen. What makes the shows I see on my TV different from (and superior to) home movies shot on my iPhone … or, for that matter, from poorly-made amateur cinema?
(It’s worth mentioning that the process of filming a movie is, by my admittedly limited understanding, pretty much the same as filming TV when you look at the big picture. There are of course some differences, but those differences are in pace, budget, and the business of TV vs. film, not the whole pointing-a-camera-at-things-and-recording-them part. One example: a full season of a frugal TV show might cost $10-20 million to produce. A moderately frugal movie might cost about the same, but the movie only has two hours of content to create using that $10-20 million instead of ten hours. For this reason, movies take their time relative to TV. Movies might shoot a page or a page and a half of script in a day (using bigger setups, bigger-budget effects, and generally taking their time) whereas Reginald shoots 6 or 7 pages a day because it’s the only way to get it done within budget. (More days shooting = more cost.) But again: the mechanics of shooting TV and film are close to the same.)
I’m starting with my own experience of watching TV because the qualities that make a show or movie feel “filmic” (which in amateur parlance means “professional enough to be on a screen”) isn’t always obvious to me. I know that all of the shows I see on TV look and feel like they belong on TV, but I can’t always explain why. And we’re talking about the technical stuff here, not story quality or acting. Even the shows with terrible stories and acting still LOOK AND FEEL like real TV shows.
And so I asked myself: Why is that? What makes the difference? I spent a small amount of time trying to make indie films myself, but it didn’t take long to figure out that I couldn’t come close to replicating that same look and feel. I was sure the professional cameras being used were part of it, but that couldn’t be everything, could it?
There’s a reason that TV is able to turn normal-looking scenarios into something pro enough to watch. Let me explain.