… at least not mine, anyway 😜

In my previous post, I referred to my most recently written short script, ‘Must Not Run’, which I was in the process of entering into the 6th Edition of the Making Films Zero Budget 1 Month Challenge.

Well, I did- but it wasn’t made. Though I received a good number of pitches, mainly from actors, as well as a composer and despite being put in touch with a director, one key component missing was crew (camera, lighting, sound, etc) and that was a hurdle that could not be overcome in time.

But there was still hope.

At the last moment, I also entered ‘Calls’ into the challenge. And that, too, received pitches. There was a little bit of crossover, in terms of those who pitched, most noticeably from a gentleman by the name of Alexander.

Quite possibly the busiest person I’ve ever seen in a networking environment. A literal force of nature and seemingly infinitely connected. He’s acted in both the U.K. and his native Italy and has his fingers in a number of pies.

I’ve spotlighted Alexander this way because like ‘Must Not Run’, ‘Calls’ received pitches from mainly actors but not much from directors. (Actually, I did receive one from outside the U.K. that I will get to a little later. It’s quite unbelievable…)

Such was the determination to get these scripts produced, Alexander sent them among his network of directors and I started to receive pitches and expressions of interest.

I chose one for ‘Must Not Run’ and one for ‘Calls’. The one for the latter is a lady called Julia, who I was excited to potentially work with, having taken a real liking to a previous short film she did.

She liked the script and the tone it struck, and wanted to work on it. I could already sense ideas were forming in her head. There was also a possibility that she had access to a camera operator, so the prospects were looking good for this.

On top of that, Alexander also got someone he had worked with before to pitch for the main female role. Her name is Eleonora, and she, too, is Italian. Having looked at her showreel, and having chatted with her briefly, I offered her the part. I could see they had on-camera chemistry and could bring it to the characters in ‘Calls’

Working with Phil and Cláudia on GIGDGO really taught me the value of good on-screen chemistry (even if the characters being portrayed are not romantically linked) so I was not going to pass it up.

There were a few components missing, such as a professional sound engineer, but thought that with a post or two in the main Facebook group someone could be found. That was lesson number 2…

Lesson number 1 was not assuming that everything would stick to plan. And was learned by way of Julia’s camera operator not being available any longer. The search for a replacement bore no fruit so the decision was made to film using smartphones. No worries, we decided. It’s something to tick off my non-existent bucket list 😊

Lesson number 2 is that you will have to be extremely lucky to find a sound engineer who is available on your shooting day, and is willing to participate in a zero budget challenge in almost every sense of the expression. And no criticism of that, as we’re all in the business of wanting to earn from our skill 😊 In terms of this challenge, we were not so lucky.

Fortunately, Julia had her own portable sound recording equipment, so again, we had potentially overcome another hurdle. We settled on a location that we’d film cleverly so it wasn’t obvious to all who saw it. And lighting was good there as well.

There was a 3rd lesson we were still to learn, but that definitely deserves more of a focus. And it’s tied in to the overseas pitch I received. Still to come…

So the day of filming arrived and we had a fun shoot. I enjoyed it and it was fun seeing my characters and words come to life again. I also attempted to apply lessons learned from the previous month’s filming that I’d just recovered from 🤣

Of the films in the challenge that Julia was dealing with, ‘Calls’ was to be most straight forward to film. It didn’t have special effects and the script set things out clearly. It did have a number of voices that would need to be recorded and inserted post-edit, and in the absence of other voice actors, a rather interesting solution was found. For those who get to see the finished product, it will make you chuckle.

Once the footage was shot, and the audio recorded, I created a very detailed document in relation to how we wanted to have it all put together and edited. And sent it to the editor we chose. And this was our 3rd, final and almost fatal lesson…

Earlier, I referenced the fact that ‘Must Not Run’ received a pitch from an overseas interested party, well it was from a man in another part of the world and no, I’m not going to give his name, or location, as I’m not here to damage it or his reputation) and the pitch was for him to take the script, film it using his friends local to him and produce it. I thought about it, but decided that I’d quite like to be hands on, so kindly declined his pitch, though very much intended to collaborate on other stuff.

For ‘Calls’, when I put an advert out for an editor, he answered it, and having seen some of the other videos he had produced, I offered him the role. His enthusiasm was infectious and I thought the edit would actually be the most straightforward part. The footage was clear, the audio captured and the production sheet thorough.

Barring a couple of format queries, he confirmed he had the audio and footage. The document was sent a day later due to a couple of things on my end. But unlike before, there were no positive e-mail responses. Nothing, in fact. I always factored in the time difference between here and his location.

Given the very quick turnaround required, I assumed he was editing, and all he required was my voice recordings. Once I got time, I shut myself away and did them.

Almost as soon as I sent them, I got a reply from him. To paraphrase, he said he would forward an e-mail he sent to Julia. That arrived a moment or two later and it essentially said that there were issues with the footage, particularly the audio synching and he was not able to resolve it. I learned over the course of the following day that the different software and ‘codings’ used can cause compatibility issues.

Understood.

However, I felt the provision of the audio recording could have covered that issue. I’m still open to be schooled on that.

But the thing that made me pause for thought was his offer of a resolution. To take the script, reshoot it (thus trashing what Julia, Eleonora and Alexander had done) and produce it locally with his mates. Sound familiar? I thought myself too suspicious 🤷🏿‍♂️ and have proceeded on a ‘face value’ basis 😊

Needless to say, once Julia offered to try a rough cut of ‘Calls’ my mind was made up, and we ‘parted company’ amicably.

That left Julia with a day, if that, to edit the film. It being fairly straightforward to do was a bonus. In any event, even if it missed the deadline for the challenge, we now had footage to cut into a good looking film 😊

As it happened, it just about made it, and rough cut or not. I took pride of place in North London a few days later to see it shown as part of a showcase. It turned out pretty well and got the story across.

There are absolutely things that can and will be improved on. I might even have to re-record my voices. Oh joy 🤦🏿‍♂️

But we have more than enough footage and audio to take our time and make it look and sound as good as can be. And I’m excited to be able to share it, and possibly even place it in festivals 🤞🏿

Not bad for the smallest scale production I’ve seen or been involved in. And I must thank Julia for pitching and bringing her technical skills to filming and editing.

Eleonora for bringing charm (and unexpected sass) to the character she played.

And to Alexander for not only his acting skills, but for bringing us all together through sheer force of will.

And ultimately, with me not identifying our erstwhile editor, no reputations were harmed in the making of this entry 🤣

Thank you for reading…

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