Iowa - Group Production

Group Drama Deadline 29th April 2013

This week we have been shooting our group drama "Iowa." We started on Thursday in the miserable cold and rained, but finished the principal shooting yesterday in the sun. What a lovely day to finish on.

Iowa is at heart a romance. It is the first time I have ever been involved in filming something where, when the actors play the romantic scene, we all got goosebumps.

Good acting and good actor chemistry is essential. Connor Chambers and Manon Goetschel were fantastic to work with, never got grumpy about the cold and the waiting around and put all their energy into every performance.

Some observations from an outdoor shoot:

  • Have every prop for every scene with you on each shooting day, even if it's not scheduled for that day. You may have to switch scenes around on the day. It's very annoying when you do and realise you left the prop at home

  • Make sure you have extra gloves

  • Use a boom mic. The sound is so much better.

  • Having two separate people on headphones and boom makes it physically easier to move the camera and allows the two separate jobs to be focused on easier.

  • Shot lists are a pain and a hassle. Write them. Even if it's just the very basic. It means that anyone can take over shooting a particular scene and cover all angles.

  • If you can, have someone on continuity. It really is difficult to keep track of changes in scene and costume when you're already thinking about a million other different things. We didn't and there are a few errors

  • Utilise your whole cast and crew - we all had roles but we all helped each other and one of our actors even doubled up as sound guy while he wasn't on camera. 

  • Shoot in good weather when at all possible. The first two days were awful compared to the last and most of that was purely down to the cold making everyone grumpy and wanting to get home asap. A bit of sun slows everything down and makes the set a fun place to be. I would even suggest (unless it's a university deadline) not shooting in any season but summer. Unless the look of your film asks for winter, of course

  • Locate yourselves near a friendly local cafe where you can buy hot drinks for cast and crew. Ours even threw in a plastic tray to boot!

  • WATCH the rushes back EACH DAY. Especially if you don't have a big monitor everyone can see while shooting. Checking your shot scenes lets you know it's all there and tells you whether you should be re-shooting the next day or grabbing extra shots. You will kick yourself if you finish the whole shoot, get to the edit and realise you need an entire new scene

  • If you have a small acting part that is emotional, such as a death scene or a crisis, use a real actor and a  good one. We got the jackpot with actors. Our small death scene was played by Jasmine Granton, who managed to be a huge presence in the few minutes she had to portray fear. Makes all the difference to the whole production.