So, I’m midway through a week that has laughingly been described by my work colleagues as “a nice week off”. Hardly. I’m in the throes of working through the kinks, issues, successes and failures of Saturday’s test shoot on our Straight 8 project “Grey For Danger.” To that end, we had two cameras running. Our beautiful Bauer A512 was there so we could check registration, focus and light metering. My faithful old DV camera was there to capture enough footage for a rough cut that I could sync to the soundtrack that we’d already recorded. Which is where the problems started.
We had shotlisted 65 cuts to fit into the 3 minutes and 20 seconds that is all we have to play with on Straight 8. The Super 8 camera was not capturing all that, just enough that we could see how it coped in various different lighting setups. So, we ended up overshooting. Or at least, some of the actions we had tried out were moving too slowly for the space they had allocated to them.
Put it this way. 65 cuts in 3 and a half minutes means no shot can be over 2 and a half seconds. We had too many lingering closeups and pans. I’ve wrestled together a cut, but I’ve already had to lose some material in the process. And we’re still rewriting the script. Which means we have to rerecord the voiceover and re-tweak the shot list before we hit the shoot itself next weekend. I’m not sure if all this work is necessarily in the spirit of Straight8, but my god, it feels like working on a real film. There’s a point to it all, of course, but it’s sucking some of the improvisational fun out of it.
I had an email from our cameraman Flemming today, wanting to know if the 8mm had come out alright. He said he hadn’t been this nervous since he started shooting 35mm ten years ago. That, to me, says it all. We’re all investing a lot of time and effort in a project, without the faintest idea of how it’s going to look until we get a chance of a screening. My guts are a snarl of knots, just hoping that the film’s actually exposed.
I’m writing this on a train on its way into London. I’m meeting Clive and our make-up girl Sophie, to do a few tests, and probably talk through what else needs doing. Hopefully the 8mm’s developed, and there’s some good news waiting for me at the lab. At the moment everything’s on the cusp, teetering on a knife edge between success and disaster. Just get me to Clare’s birthday, that’s all I ask. Then the film will be in the bag, the sound completed, and I can concentrate on being a human being and a husband again.