I just finished doing principal photography on a short film recently and unlike the other films I’ve done, this one was really challenging to do.

I gathered a lot of knowledge during filming and if I may, I’d like to share some of the insights I’ve gained along the way, so here they are in a nutshell.

We shot using the Canon 5D MII HD DSLR camera using a boom mike in a hot tropical country, so here are some things to keep in mind:


ALWAYS remember to ask you cameraman to bring neutral density filters. The sun in the tropics can bounce off extreme light on your lenses which can cause your backdrop to overexpose and burn. This happens when you’re trying to adjust for foreground subjects. It can help reduce the burn. Yes, stupid me for not thinking about that earlier. 😦


Shooting a car mounted scene WITHOUT the luxury of wireless monitor to check on the exposure etc In this case, always time the drive for the dialogue to either happen in a very shady area or a very exposed hot landscape. DO NOT ever go from one landscape to the another. The light changes and you can’t use your shot.


ALWAYS make sure the soundman is giving you the wavefile numbers when going for a take onset. It also has to be relfected in the logsheet. Even though it’s atmos, make sure his voice is always on the take, otherwise you’re going to go nuts in edit trying to sync audio with video. PS: If you have a slate, make sure it’s on there but I still prefer to hear it on the audio file.


Always get your actors to pause between lines even though emotionally it is harder for them to maintain. As a director, request it from them because it really helps when editing the film. Having a pause in between lines and using facial expression to get to the line also helps. It gives the scene more feeling and space.


A stunt co-ordinator/director makes all the difference to a fight. Let him direct those scenes. Don’t try to act clever and think just coz you’re the director, you can over-ride his wisdom and experience. onset. Explain your scene and what kind of energy you want out of your actors, go on a site recee, mark out the stunt scenes and let the forces play themselves out on the day of the shoot. Got no money for a stunt director for your short film? Go find it. You cannot do without that person, let me tell you.


It’s easy if you’re shooting in a controlled environment. Once you take your film to a busy public area, all hell breaks loose. You will also spend a lot of waiting time waiting for crowds to clear and the area to become fairly decent enough for you to shoot a scene without having one shot filled with 2 people, then 10. In this case, go back to your script and see if the scene can be shot at a quieter location or if you must shoot in those lcoations, to do so really early in the day before the crowds come in or late at night when no one’s around. You will also have to advise you PA to buffer more time on the callsheets for those kinda scenes.


Normal microdolly or Hong Kong dollies which come at a cheaper price may not always work effectively for your dolly shots especially if you are tracking a person and need to do so over quite a distance. Unless you can find a way to rig 2 of these tracks or have a budget for longer Hollywood tracks, think about using a steadicam instead to track an actor walking towards a subject. I made the mistake of not thinking about this. However, never go handheld. It doesn’t give you the mood you want.

Well, those are just some things I took away with me after this shoot and will apply them more consciously in my future projects. I hope you get to do so too. 🙂


About thejellyfarm

In real life, I am a television writer and producer...er no...scratch...a television director....noo, scratch....a media loser.....wait, that doesn't sound quite insulting enough....... OK, ahem. In real life, I'm an idiot box expert with a penchant for the creative. In short, I'm a loser with no focus or direction in life. I just go where the creative flow takes me. Mostly it takes me to clogged up drains and stinky oceans but it's going.......going.....somewhere. And this blog is an expression of that mindblowing roadblock. Creative frustration is a great motivator and here is a result of that.

Posted on October 10, 2011, in Personal. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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