Chasing Dreams: Making a Short Film

Chasing Dreams is the title of my forthcoming short film. It was shot late last year with two actors and a skeleton crew over several days. The film is now close to being finished and was largely the result of twitter. I say that because both the actors Tristam Summers and Elisa Armstrong both came via twitter as did Hannah Mizon our make up artist. Also a couple of relationships started on twitter contributed to the film, Robin Schmidt who leant me a radio mic and Sol and Matthew at RewindFX who have done the visual effects on the film.

The script for Chasing Dreams was written early last year and and I got  interest from both Tristam and Elisa following ads I put on Twitter for actors. Months past and work intervened putting Chasing Dreams onto the back burner. Then in September Adam at Angelic Films started putting together a short film “In The Mood” he was directing and I was to production manage it. As the pre-production rolled on Adam had found a location and decided to shoot on the Sony F3. Because In the Mood became a two day shoot it turned out that the Kit and Location were free for the first part of the second days shoot. This was due to In The Mood’s second day needing to film late evening and into the night. This resulted in the first days shoot of Chasing Dreams.

As I wanted to construct an interview situation with a plain white background I needed space  and the Ballenger Memorial Hall gave me that. So we set up a simple four foot white colourama up and lit it with a combination of lights that were to be used on in the Mood and Neil Rouse, my Director of Photography set of Kinoflows and I shot what I needed with Tristam and Elisa.

Move on to early December and we had our second days shoot using three locations, my house, inside and out and  Ryan’s Grandfather’s field we did originally plan to another scene which was dropped due to lack of time and daylight.

Camera and kit wise we ended up shooting on my 5D kit and using a few bits of kit I hired in, 2.5KW HMI, and two Gekko Kelvin tiles which we could battery power via a set of V-Lock batteries. Crew wise it was me, Neil, Ryan, Hannah and Anita who was our Art Director with catering handled by a pub in Potten End. The day started and ended at the house location with the exteriors shot first before we moved on to the bulk of the days work driving up and down a track in a field which doubled for a country lane.

Because we didn’t quite complete the days work I had to arrange a third days shooting, although the first was actually more like only half a day. The third days shoot was to be Monday 19th December, not far off the shortest day so daylight was going to be limited. We were to shoot in two locations, a long open sports field in Hemel Hempstead and a country lane in Leavesden. Again we were shooting with the Canon 5D but using only available light and a small LED Hong Kong Light as we call it. It was bought in Hong Kong hence the name.

The weather was ideal in terms of the story not so much work actually filming, it had snowed the night before covering the rooftops, fortunately the lane we were to shoot in had mist out on the white stuff. The filming in the lane involved more car work. We rigged the camera on a Manfrotto stills tripod wedged into the back seat so we could film out heros as they drove along in the car.

The main advantage of shooting over the three days spread out was that it gave me the opportunity to cut the film between shoots allowing me to see how it was going and if I needed anything extra, a rare opportunity unless you have an editor cutting as you go.

Once the car work was done we moved on to the playing field. By now the snow had melted away from the rooftops so continuity wise it would be fine. It was also raining and very cold. As continuity over costume had already been established Elisa took the brunt of the cold and rain as the rest of us we dressed to the nines in our wet weather gear. Even Tristam had a jacket, Elisa was not so lucky. Taking account of Elisa getting cold and the shortness of the day we worked as quick as we could to finish the day with as much speed as possible. I had reduced the days work by concentrating on only shots that featured Tristam and Elisa. All the cut aways could be done at a later date. The advantage of owning the camera kit was no additional charges for shooting the odd shot here and there.

During the first week of January Ryan and I spent a few hours shooting the bulk of the cutaways and run-bys using his car at it was also our hero vehicle. Neil and I also shot a couple of interior shots using his slider. The last few shots of rain falling onto a window where shot in my garden with my girlfriend spraying water onto the window using a spritzer. To magnify the water on the window I used a set of Olympus extension tubes with an Olympus lens with an adapter, to keep the cost down.

Having shot the film and the rough cut of the film  complete it was time to move onto post production further post production. I cut the film using Final Cut and slowly honed down the film to a little over 2 mins forty seconds without credits. It was always my ambition to make a very short film.

Next came the need for visual effects which Nick at RewindFX did, creating a key hero element and creating a camera move transition Now comes sorting out the sound. I recored the sound myself using a zoom h4n recorder and a radio mic and synced it the old fashioned way by listening and looking to see when it was in sync.

Next came a few additional lines of dialogue which I recorded individually with Tristam and Elisa and then a few additional sounds effects, the sound of a super 8 camera, a dip stick and windscreen wipers working, all of which I dropped into the edit before handing over an OMF sound file to a friend Haresh Patel a highly talented and very busy Sound Recordist who is going to mix it properly. And this is where we are today close to being finished just over a year after I came up with the idea. Chasing Dreams is almost finished and I will now be looking at possible film festivals to submit it to.