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In the Company of Strangers

Director's Notes - Directly from the "From Script to Screen" seminar (check out "Tom's Blog" page for more notes)

One-Man-Band Shooters Tip.

This is a post for the “one-man band” videographer shooting a play or other theatrical production that has an established series of entrances and exits.

I shoot these kinds of events all the time and I typically do it as a single operator with two cameras. I like to have the capability of being able to edit a nice, clean, multi-angle version of the production so I do this very simple trick.

When I go to watch the dress rehearsal and familiarize myself with the show, I also record the entire event with a wide shot camera which will catch all the entrances and exits. Then I go home and watch the taped event with a digital audio recorder in hand. I “narrate” the entrances and exits and note when I should be shooting full screen or a tight single, two-shot, three-shot or small grouping. I will go so far as to describe action on stage as it happens in my wide shot video.

When I go to shoot the actual production on subsequent nights, I plug one audio recorder earbud into my ear inside the headphones I use to monitor the live or house sound for the event. I start the playback on my audio recorder about 5 or 10 seconds in advance of the actual event so I can hear myself explaining the action that will be occurring on stage (based on the recording from the dress rehearsal). A technical note - I also know how to fast forward or pause my digital audio playback in the event the live show I am recording lags behind a bit or is moving more quickly than the dress rehearsal did.

In essence, my audio recording is serving as my “director” as I shoot the live event. As long as the pacing stays the same (or relatively close), I know, from watching and recording the show just the one time, when events on stage will be happening. Of course, I also go back as many times as is required to get a good recording of the event. I do this as much for the performers as I do for myself as I want them to have the best record of the best overall performance they offer. The bonus is that it also gives me a chance to learn the show more completely each time I shoot it. I use this technique when shooting plays as well as dance and music recitals.

It works like a charm and I save a ton on extra camera ops. And in most cases, all I really need is two cameras - one for following the important action and the other (the wide shot) as my “go to” camera in the event I miss something happening elsewhere on stage.

No pay but credit and copy.

A lot of first films are made as a “no-pay, IMDB credit and copy” experience. There is nothing wrong with this. We all have to start somewhere. However, it’s really important for the no-pay filmmaker to follow the “rules” of filmmaking. There is a common misconception that a no-budget film allows you to get away with a lot of shortcuts. You really shouldn’t. Even with a low or no-budget indie film, the extent of your preparation will be reflected in how smoothly your days go and how well you stay on schedule.

Sometimes the more money there is available for a film, the more waste there is. Conversely, the less money, the less waste as long as you, as the producer, are very well organized and ready to go. Follow all the steps just like you were making a bigger, financed film.

For most people agreeing to work on a no-pay film, it’s going to be a learning experience more than anything. Show your cast and crew that you respect them by taking the time to figure out how to make the film correctly and ensure that the learning experience is valuable for everyone on the set.

You'll learn this and a whole lot more at the "From Script To Screen" 18-Hour Seminar. Keep an eye on this site for Seminar dates in your area. Check out the seminar information on the home page and REGISTER TODAY!!

Contact Tom

Check out the website for the film that won the awards listed - www.inthecompanyofstrangers.com

Click below to reserve your seat with your registration fee of $249, a group of 10 for $2,490 ($249 each) or a down payment of $100 to reserve your spot - class tuition is fully refundable if the event is cancelled by MidWestGuy for any reason.

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Here's just a sample of what you'll learn at this 2-day seminar. This is from the screenwriting portion.

Here are some samples of Tom's previous work.



This 60 second spot was done for a National Competition. It was awarded the first place prize (and was written, shot and edited by the two actors in the spot - truly a "small crew" project).








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