I have
worked on film sets over the last three years and still find it incredibly
exciting, usually because I have been involved in the preparation. I can share
some thoughts in four areas: Intensity, Imagined Space, Pitfalls, Psychology.

Intensity

You have been writing, producing and imagining
for a while and by the time you reach the
film set, you will be brimming with creativity, which will spill over into the creative space of others.

The experience is intense and everyone has something to
contribute, so keep listening, but stay with your vision.

The
film set is like a library, which intermittently
unleashes its story!

Silence
interrupted by intermittent noise. Sudden chases. Woodland trysts.

On average, I try to shoot approximately three pages a day and no matter what is written on the page, you finally get to
realize that intensity equals a
collision of action, drama and emotion on-set, oftentimes mirrored off-set. By the same token, sometimes drama that happens off-set, fuels what happens on-set.

Whatever
is going on: DP going through his divorce, leading male’s bust-up with the
love-of-his-life, may yet provide more grist to the mill. Actors draw on their
life experience; DPs have technical skills combined with creative emotions too.
At its best, this intensity can feel like a very controlled accident, with just
enough uncertainty to allow spontaneity to reveal a deeper truth. Intensity
inspires!

Imagined Space

First and foremost, as in my case, Directors use their imaginations, taking written information and just shoving it into 3D, but there are many variable that need to be thought about.

Here is a list of crucial elements for this process.

1. What
happened before this scene?

2.
Where is this scene going in terms of emotion and action?

3.
Beginning, middle and end of the scene.

4. Emotional
arc in scene.

5.
Contrast with other scenes.

6.
Heightened use of props.

7.
Blocking actions to harmonize the story with the set. Is this
the best environment for this scene?

8.
Guerilla-style. You have no idea how you will shoot it till you get there.
Sometimes this is best of all, especially if you have never visited the
location before.

Imagined Space is a shifting landscape, with the story at times held
captive and at other times, freefloating. When it floats free, it means you have not
visualized it on the set satisfactorily. It is looking for its home! A place
where the drama can best be conveyed.

In my last short film”Boxed In”, I
had a key scene midway through the script, which was freefloating. Two charaters finally come
together in strange circumstances. After a few days at the location, I realized
I needed to adapt the scene to another set, the kitchen, as the planned location did not make the scene sparkle with truth.

Immediately,
the shots became clearer, sharper and
greater opportunities arose, which maximized the
environment, enhanced the drama and
created symbolism in the scene. By symbolism, I mean using less obvious images
to represent a deeper truth. In my scene, I managed to make a character look as
if she actually appeared magically from an old box.

Imagined Space (of drama) is for me, intoxicating. It is the
key moment between imagination and┬┤film reality┬┤ when your vision takes
shape. It requires adaptability as discussed and also a constant questioning: What am I trying to say? Why this way?
Why not stage it that way? I guess when you have satisfactorily answered these
questions, the scene is probably in
it’s home.

Pitfalls

Practical stuff can clutter your Imagine Space.
Cables in the background. A dust sheet edge in the frame. Clutter can be left
behind as well. So, make a thorough technical
checklist of what is required to shoot on the set. Batteries get forgotten,
beware! Where is the nearest store if you have to buy provisions in
emergencies. Also, check that all your gear actually works. Clutter gets underfoot. I
have tripped on cables. I have blown lighting equipment. I have learnt to stay
still on set. Find the best vantage point, if you have a monitor, make it your nest and stay put.

Psychology

A director has to be mindful that a film set is a controlled
collision of crew and actors, psychology will get in the
way and a director has to
be mindful of this.

He
should know his team as well as himself, and be aware that shooting is
tiring and stressful and at
times you will need to adapt.

Give
people a break. Listen to a concern. Egos need to be massaged, yours as well!

Some
people hate each other. Love affairs blossom. Whatever is going on, you should
be right there asking the question, “are we going to get the
coverage I need today? Is this going to enhance
or jeopordize all of our investment?” It
might be necessary to have quiet words with people, often times it make all
the difference. Actors get lost in their roles, so they forget other factors, which they need
reminding of.

Disgruntled
creatives may feel no one listens to them. Maybe you have made a mistake and it needs pointing out??
Take time to provide what you think is needed to keep the wheels of the project turning. Personally, I think this is the
hardest part of directing.

Remember, you are never too old to learn
something new. Filmmaking is university for life, with other young-minded
creative students who are a bit crazy, passionate and childlike, so be open to
your education and above all, see your mistakes as
gifts, which will allow your
wisdom to grow.

About Steve Hunyi

Steve has several
screenplays listed on his website www.voodooheartproductions.com

He has been making
short films for two years and is currently in postproduction on his latest
short shot, in June 2016.

Preproduction will
begin on his trilogy of shorts this coming Autumn. Steve’s aim is to continue writing, and to start
working on his feature film projects after gaining experience of directing and
shooting.

www.voodooheartproductions.com

http://aboutfilm.voodooheartproductions.com/#home

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