'Harlot' - Day One

Morning Shoot

The morning/afternoon shoot went surprisingly well. We arrived on time and started with the 'wedding scene' where Hosea carries Andrea into the house on the day of their wedding. Far from the rain I had been expecting, the sun was out and it was roasting hot. We had to use an umbrella to shield the camera in order to see the monitor.

I tried a few techniques to get different expressions as the actors walked towards the house together. Because there is no dialogue in some ways it was easier because I could tell them to talk about something that had nothing to do with just being married ("tell each other your favourite film") which sounds ridiculous but it automatically loosened them up (they had only just met) and relaxed them because it's something they feel confident to talk about. And it came through on camera. We caught some really lovely moments in the 'lift' where he carries her over the thresh-hold.

Having such an experienced and talented cameraman as Crawford Telfer was a real treat. Crawford used to work for the BBC and his training and experience is very grounding. I was able to concentrate on what scenes were getting shots and how the performance was coming through, more than I have on any productions where I have been self-shooting. I didn't feel I missed any shots like I usually do. Crawford handled the camera equipment and even the lighting which took a huge weight off my shoulders. From now on I don't think I will shoot another film without knowing I have an experienced cameraman on board. I will also say this. Crawford is around the borders of 60 (though he doesn't look it) and he had more energy lifting, carrying and setting up equipment than I have seen in some cameramen a quarter of his age. 

"Harlot" is the story of Hosea who falls in love with Andrea, a prostitute he sees working the streets. They marry, but shortly after Andrea is drawn back to the streets by her need for freedom. Hosea, who truly loves her, decides to follow her onto the streets and simply watch, making sure she comes to no harm, waiting for her to return to him.
It helped having a break between the morning shoot and the night one since we were actually filming the scenes in reverse. Everything in the morning shoot happens after what we shot at night so I was able to have a quick look through the rushes and see what emotion was needed in the scenes we would shoot later that night.
Night shoot
We shot on a street with two street lamps and were confined to shooting under those two lamps. The result was surprisingly clear. Crawford used a little Sony fill light for close-ups so the shadows on faces weren't so harsh. The Sony Z7 is rather good in low light. 
We had a slightly larger crew since some of the extras who were playing Andrea's 'customers' stayed on and doubled up as light assistants and runners. Having a few helpful people on hand makes all the difference. It brings a great atmosphere to the set as well. 
I would say is that it is difficult to direct scenes that are mainly built on romantic 'looks' between characters. Because the actors aren't physically interacting with each other and moving within a space together you have to really work at drawing out the emotion when you're constantly stopping, breaking their performance, moving the camera and relocating. I found having the other actor in eye line even when we were just getting one actor's reaction made all the difference to the emotion on screen. 
All in all I preferred directing the night scenes to the morning ones because this is where the heart of the story lies and it was magical watching it come together.