Some MISC. helpful notes - especially for our 30min & 45 min shoots:

1.  Cigarette smoke, Lysol or anything else that gets in the way of, say, breathing....  should be saved for the END of your shoot (when in closed areas) so that the remainder of your is not taking place in an unhealthy environment (and so that your sensitive teacher doesn't’ pass out or gag.)  We breathe in enough toxins, no need to stick our nose in the car exhaust.  (Thank you.)

1.  Always make sure your actors are SAFE – physically & emotionally.  Whenever doing anything that involves physical contact – make sure both actors (especially the women) are cool with whatever goes down.  Do not assume.  And if any violence is to take place – walk through it in slow motion so that every one is clear – and make sure what level of force will be used.  (And if anyone is injured, go out of your way to make sure they are taken care of – I have no idea of our legal responsibility here, but let’s not push that.)
2.  If you’re actor CAN’T REMEMBER their LINES (due to lack of rehearsal or an actor freezing) - you can either SHOOT in SMALL SECTIONS, or have them PARAPHRASE the words (assuming the writer is not present and/or will not have a hissy fit.)


  1. BALANCE.  This exercise is about balancing the work with the actors (i.e. Paying attention to if they are telling the right story) and the CAMERA (i.e. Paying attention to what your camera men/women are shooting.)  that means, if your actors started to tell a different story – you stop and correct it.  To let the cameras run when you see something else is happening (that is either untruthful or totally an unhelpful direction – SAVE TIME & STOP – give a quick adjustment.)  And, The more absolutely clear you are with the camera operator, the less you have to watch the monitor, but if you’re giving them free reign, you ;might want to check to see what they’re doing so you know what shots you’ve got (and thus know what you need.)
  2. EQUALLY DISTANT CLOSE-UPS.  Some of you got some fabulous close-ups – but often it was much tighter on one character than the other.  This is going to slant your story.  The CU’s don’t have to be identical, but be clear on how you want the audience to feel about who in your scene – i.e. Do you want us to connect emotionally more with one than the other?
  3. EYE-LINE close to camera.  Ok, this is a generalization and I’m sure you already know it, but the closer the actor’s eye line is to the lens, the more we’re going to either feel for them or be affected by them.  When they are profile, we are looking at them, but the energy isn’t coming into us the same way.  (And this can help us get objectivity or see manipulation.)  Some of you had one actor’s CU at more of a profile than the other – this will tend to slightly (or largely) distance us from the actor.  That’s fine, just want it to be a choice.
  4. TWO-SHOT.  Whenever both characters are in the same shot, this really helps tell the story (vs. A wide master with singles of each) because it gives us their physical relationship to each other – while also engaging us in the story.  Johnny got some nice two shots when the husband sat on the end of the bed, Aaron got some from the side with his two hit-men.  A lot of you/most of you did this at some point, but those are two examples that come to mind.  In comedy, you’ll probably want more distance than in drama.
  5. When you’ve got 2 cameras – careful about ‘assigning a camera to a character’ - especially if the characters are going to switch positions.  This may lead to odd perspectives in your editing.  Sometimes it’s fine, but you may want to have the camera operators switch characters to follow when actors switch sides.  Again, might not be a problem, just want it to be a choice.
  6. You all know about “the LINE” right?  180 degrees?  Feel free to cross it, but know when you are.  (Again, a DP will tell you, but don’t count on that.)
  7. Always have a SHOT LIST.  Some of you were winging it.  Always have a detailed game-plan of great shots that will tell your story.  You may discard it for inspirations on the set, but you’ll have it incase you go brain dead.  Don’t count on your DP to do this work for you.  (They can offer lighting, lens, composition possibilities; - but start with your idea.  How do YOU want to tell the story.)  Tommy is a good example of someone who had very specific shots he wanted to get, articulated exactly what he wanted to the camera operators, and used his time quite efficiently.  Others did this, too.  If anything, I hope this exercise teaches you the value of efficient & productive use of time.  Not sure you’re always going to want to run through the whole scene, but that’s fine, too, and has it’s advantages.  (And you saw how sometimes this ‘warms’ the actors up.)
  8. Take responsibility for all ART & PAINTINGS/PHOTOS on your set.  A few of you are going to be surprised at the ‘3rd character’ that’s going to show up  in your scene.  Often shots were framed so that it featured the actor with a space to one side – that was filled with the image in a painting as large as the actor and as prominent.  You can make interesting choices doing this, but make sure it’s a choice – and helps tell your story (and isn’t an unexpected visitor hanging out in the middle of your confrontation.)
  9. WIDE SHOTS – many of you are going to have TONS of footage of shots that are so wide that you’ll never want more than a second of two of  – if that.  If the entire actor’s body is a tiny part of your’s not going to be the most effective means of bringing us into their perspective.  You’ll have wished you’d used that precious time & camera to capture something else that you missed.  Remember this for your 3rd scenes.  
  10. Consider shooting things other than the actors.  Aaron got some nice shots of the hands & coffee cup.  You might be grateful for the option to go somewhere else when you edit.
  11. Be CREATIVE.  Some of you just got basic coverage.  Ok.  ....but why not get creative?  Where else are you going to get to try stuff?  (And I think Maria gets the ‘Creative Concept Award’ for her “Circular Camera Dance.”  :)
  12. I thought you all handled using SOUND  well, and I have no problem with that.  My main complaint for the last terms was that when the work was great, the sound made it not presentable.  So, if you want to use sound, as we did today, for your 3rd scenes, I’m all for it.  The extra LIGHTING was ok, too, and we’re never going to be ideal with that during a 30 min (or 45-60 min. shoot), so as long as you can manage the equipment and return it, it’s all good to me.

Ok, that was more than I intended, and I’m sure I’ll forget ever having written this, but I’ve not had as many helpful, informative emails this term due to my schedule, so I’m making up for it here.  Well, hope it’s helpful.

Have a beer & CONGRATULATE yourselves!