November 2nd 2016
Today I got to play the role of director. As part of a project at work we have the necessity to create video content, and take photographs of a number of employees. We came across a load of kit, and are taking on the project ourselves. We have the gear, and one employee is a keen photographer, so we had a cameraman. We are trying to get the photos we produce to exactly match ones taken by an agency who came in previously to do a similar task.
The issue being, of course, that we are not professional photographers. I’m learning that a big part of this type of photography is not necessarily the taking of the photo, it’s the setup. With the tripods, the lights, the flash, the filters, the lenses, all needing to be setup in perfection, the actual act of taking the photograph is as simple as pressing the shutter button. The quality of the image comes from the setup of the lighting, the settings on the camera, and the positioning of the model. So, the most important part of photography is not even the ‘taking the photo’ bit.
So most of the time was spent readjusting models, and lighting equipment.
The video was easier to set up, because we did not have to match pre-existing lighting conditions, but it still came with challenges. The difficulty there was the fact that, with the lights and the camera and the action, it’s really hard for the person we were interviewing to speak without pressure.
So, after arranging the lighting, I sat opposite the interviewee and prompted when he stumbled. I asked him to go back to the start of the previous line, I even held up a prompt card made of a Word document typed in size 72 font.
And I sat in my directors chair and watched my vision form in front of me. Or something.
I’ve always imagined directing film to be like being the conductor of an orchestra. You may not be the most talented person in the room, but you’re the one that brings the talent together in harmony. Or maybe harmony is the wrong word for an orchestra. Crescendo? Or something.
It was fun to sit there with the lights and the camera and the action (that’s twice now… really, James?) and feel part of that creative process. A greater quality, higher production quality creative process than I am used to.
Until tomorrow, I could get used to it.