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Monday, May 08, 2006

Beyond obstacles - First Day Filming

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

The plan sounded simple. Come up with a idea, write an outline, storyboard the concept, take pictures of the location, get a script written, cast, and film the movie. Uh...it wasn't simple (if you are smiling, you were probably on the set…haha).

I expected some minor obstacles...maybe 1 or 2 people not showing up so I prepared for “adjustments” but when we found out 30 minutes before shooting that 12 of your 19 cast members can't make it...well, it got pretty crazy. We had to rewrite parts of the script on the spot and make adjustments. Eventually, after penciling in this, crossing off that, and scribbling in this and that, we soon found ourselves flipping through the script and realizing that the story wasn't making sense anymore.

I didn’t to just call the whole thing off because everyone put aside time of their weekend to do this project. Plus, we had a location and a cast and it would be a shame to just say “ok, everyone go home”. You know, I expected things to come up for some of the people involved, but not the majority of the main characters to be absent. That leaves us 1 day (next Sunday) to try to shoot the entire film and make adjustments. By what we learned so far, that doesn't look like its going to happen. What if the some people show up and some don’t. and we don’t find out until the last minute again.

Alhamdulillah, the sisters that could make it put in a great effort and were very patient. At one point, we found out our external hard drive wasn't recording so we had to reshoot the entire scene (that was a killer). I felt so bad because they scene was in the sun and the sisters were getting hot.

I have to give credit to the Ummah Films staff. They were on que most of the time and every brother and sister involved really made a huge difference in making things go smoothly. Seriously, they were very professional. I learned a lot of what to do and how to make things better. Also, I learned that having a staff a 5 is bare minimum for a project like this, 6 is ok, but 7 is ideal! Delegating one part to each person allowed us to concentrate on our tasks.

I felt like I was the project manager on "the apprentice". The network would eat this episode alive because they could come up with so many what-went-wrong highlights and I could only imagine the promo commercial:
"Tonight on The Apprenctice..."
"What happens when half of your people don't show up...watch 'bad' become 'worse' as a film director is sent packing home!"
cut to: "Your fired!"
fade in Ali in Taxi confession scene: "I didn't know what else to do. I tried to modify the script but we just didn't have enough time. Directing just ainn't my thing."

I have written a script, done editing on a few projects, storyboarded another script, completed some post production work, and now have directed a few scenes in a film. The goal was to try each thing once so I can get a feel of what I can do and what I can't well. I don’t think directing is my cup of tea (sounds English huh?). I feel much more comfortable in the editing room and enjoy that part film making the most. Maybe its because I took on such a big project as my first project. I'm not sure. 19 cast members, 17 scenes and a few hours to film does sound a little insane. Three words of advise for anyone planning to film their first short.

Make it short.
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At May 08, 2006 2:09 PM, Blogger Bilqees el-Ghoul said...

I'm sorry things went insane.

What is with brothers? That is a problem I've seen all over the place (bros not showing up, especially to Islamic lectures and things). :p

At May 08, 2006 2:32 PM, Blogger Baba Ali said...

It wasn't there fault. They was something more important to do and that project required their volunteer assistance. The problem was that they all confirmed with me the previous week that they were going to make it and I wasn't notified of the change of plan until 30 minutes before the shoot.

Also, a few of the sisters which were main charactors didn't even notify us that they were busy. I saw them 30 minutes before the shoot and then they just disappeared.

If I knew ahead of time, it would give me opportunity to possibly make adjustments or even canceled the day of shooting. Most of the crew drove over 30 miles to get there so it wasn't fair for them either.

Either way, Alhamdulillah. Allah knows best why things turned out the way it did. Good or bad, Alhamdulillah. The effort and intention is up to us...the results are in His hands.

At May 09, 2006 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry... I hope it works out next week inshallah.

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