A note on radical film making

Shortly before the end of filming my camera broke. While shooting the last scenes of Injustice, one of the producers, Charlotte, had travelled from Brussels to help with the last bits and bobs, bringing her rather snazzy Canon 5D camera.

A friend, John, had agreed to produce an animation for us to film. We set up the shoot but seconds before we were to start I considered the aesthetics of the 5D, with its stylish shallow depth of view – how might such pretty footage appear in a rough film?

At the last minute I decided to bring out my not-so-perfect camcorder, which had been used to film a number of scenes in the film. It has a rougher look and fitted better with the necessary aesthetics of the film.

We set up both cameras in more or less the same position and began to film. Our attention on the 5D had been taken up by the question of how much footage we can fit on the memory card.

On completion of the filming my old friend, serendipity, showed itself. Charlotte’s 5D stopped filming after 20 minutes.

But the aesthetic consideration meant a crisis was averted. The second camera caught the animation and the shoot was saved. More to the point, the rougher aesthetics proved to look more appropriate than the pretty shots.

So, some advice on radical film-making: always use two cameras if you can – the second is there for the fundamental principle of “hope for the best, expect the worst”. Always expect the worst, and always prepare for things to go wrong.

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