Whilst working on my FMP, I wanted to have some brief materials to document the masses of work that went into the production process, and was a way of keeping track of the crew progress on a daily basis. I also wanted to ‘give something back’ to the crew and cast, for their time and effort working on the production, so I thought that creating ‘Behind The Scenes’ material was a good idea as it covered all these bases, but also offers an easy way for the potential audience to gain an insight into the creation of The Brother Code.
As I do photography for a hobby, I was using my own 5Dmk2 to shoot both the BTS photos and videos. I feel the process if this was both beneficial and a hindrance. First it was beneficial as evidently we had evidence of the progression during the week and managed to secure some decent BTS materials, it also allowed me more room to progress and develop my skills as a photographer/documenter on set and get different material around the action which will hopefully be beneficial in the future on further projects. The downside of also doing the BTS work is that it took time and effort away from the other roles I was picking up on, as I was juggling both Director and Producer whilst also helping Tom Woods to pick up any excess, meaning that I was more stretched than I should have been and I didn’t put as much focus in the other areas as I should have.
This worked out well in some ways, as it allowed the actors a bit more freedom to practice and improvise whilst I took photos and shot some videos in between takes and giving direction, and some of the improv dialogue (such as the joint beach scenes and most of the bench scenes) made it into the final cut as they ‘added’ that element of grounding unscripted humanity and jokes into the film. I feel that my personal progression from planning/shooting the BTS material has been interesting, as my previous experience with it has been working on a huge variety of projects from small shorts to massive film festivals and music festivals, so I took the knowledge I previously had (“okay so just shoot some interesting photos, get some decent individual snaps of the crew members, get a bit of video and cutaways and some interviews) then just applied that. I feel like it worked, as it enabled me to ease the BTS work in with my directing, as there was no excess or further new knowledge that needed applying so it was easy to coordinate.
“Networking and contacts certainly also help… Keeping your ear to the ground and knowing what might be coming up and making sure that your name is in the frame.” Alex Bailey on The Key to success
One of my inspirations for shooting BTS is Jeff Bridges, he does amazing set photos during and around his acting scenes, and most/all of it is shot on panoramic film cameras. It’s not just his material that inspires me, but it is the style of shooting the material as well, as he gets in close to the action and uses the full frame of the panoramic glass to create a skewed image similar to a fisheye that takes in an ultra-wide angle covering lots of action, and also the effect of a panoramic shot taken very close creates an interesting effect that I want to attempt to replicate. Asides from this, I feel that my photography style is close to my film style, as I utilize the same ‘eye’ to shoot so a lot of the things I find interesting including Kubrick’s 1 point perspective and Wes Anderson’s wide symmetrical images make their way somewhere into my work, lots of shallow depth of focus and straight lines or matching images make their way into my BTS shots.
I feel that if I were to improve the BTS materials then I may have either acquired a second camera to pass around the crew and get more stuff, or would have hired someone solely to shoot set/production photos and videos to allow the crew more time and less effort during production. I would have wanted more time to create the promotional material, instead of 10 minutes briefly on top of a cliff top to shoot the poster and flyer images, as I feel that I didn’t get the exact image I really wanted, however I was completely at the wrong angle to get it as I needed to shoot upwards into the sun but the country was facing the wrong way (if I tried to shoot upwards then would have needed to float in the air off the cliff, then wouldn’t have got the sun in, nor the sea). Hopefully the BTS materials will be useful in the future, not only for myself but also for the other members of the crew and cast for their own portfolios and evidence. I’m also using the BTS materials as part of the EPK and my PPP portfolio to create an expanded professional image on my website (and also for press distribution, film festival marketing, flyers/dvd/websites), so whilst it was busy and hard to shoot all the materials, they are all crucial and equally beneficial in small parts to the production process.
Overall, I feel that the creation of Behind The Scenes material for The Brother Code has been an interesting learning curve where I’ve gained more experience and learnt more about managing the crew (or hiring people to fill the roles instead of macro-managing too much myself). There are areas that could be improved, such as I would like more set/production photos of certain scenes as I was distracted in the Director role at times, but overall I managed to shoot the images I had in my head when I first visualized the script.