I have never made a professional short film before, or been on the set of any kind of professional film so this module was a completely new experience for me. I have made short films and documentaries before but these were in no way produced how The Can Man was. I originally applied for the role of director as my first choice but I got my second choice, which was 1st assistant director, after thinking about it this role was much better for me. At first I was disappointed but now after the process has finished I am glad I got 1st AD and would love and apply to do it again.Before any preparations were put in place we needed a solid script, at the beginning we all through around ideas but the one we all agreed on was Ryan Potter’s ‘The Can Man’. The script went through various rewrites and changes, which led to what we have now. To begin with the vast majority of the film was set outside but this had to be adapted due to concerns with the weather conditions in Prague and the health of our cast and crew.
My main duties were to ‘take responsibility for a number of important practicalities so that the director is free to concentrate on the creative process’ (Creativeskillset.org 2016). I needed to be a team leader and motivator, approachable and have exceptional organisational and time-management skills. During the very initial stages in pre-production I was feeling very overwhelmed and slightly out of my comfort zone, I felt I had these characteristics but as I had never done anything like this before and I felt a little nervous. I stuck to my responsibilities and assisted anywhere I could; when we began to get audition tapes in we sat down together and watched them. For the main character Nicolas it was very important we got the right actor for the role, we got a few good actors but as soon as we saw Paul Lincoln’s audition we were all blown away and wanted him as our Nicolas. Unfortunately there was a complication in which he had taken another job, which meant he was unavailable on the 15-17th February, which we had hoped to be filming. As a group we looked at the draft shooting schedule to see if we could still cast Paul and due to not having any location commitments yet this could still go ahead. It just meant I had a shorter time frame in organising when and where we could film. A positive of this was that there was more room to move in the budget.
After finding a few locations for our café scene that were willing to accommodate us I discussed with our director to see if they were in his creative vision. We decided on Atmosferas and after a fair amount of emails back and forth I negotiated a deal that would suit both our budget and their takings. Instead of paying a set amount we had to just purchase food from their menu, I was particularly proud when I received the signed contract as it was the first location set in stone and I felt I had done my role well. Before arriving in Prague we did test shoots to essentially practice how the group dynamics would be on set, these were a massive help as they helped me feel more confident and we all stuck to our roles. This was also to see how we could practically work with the can and string, we worked out that we would need to have someone behind the camera constantly pulling the string. Once in Prague we had a few days at the beginning of our trip before we had scheduled to start filming I wanted to go and view our locations. One of our producers, the director and myself went round the locations we had spoke to just to introduce ourselves and especially with the restaurant scene we needed to confirm terms and draw up a contract.
When filming I had to make sure we stuck to the time frame we were contracted to ensure we didn’t get charged. Often this was difficult as the director wanted to go for another take but we worked together to ensure we kept to time, I was constantly reminding everyone of what time it was and how much time we had left. If this didn’t happen and we ran over we may have not got the shots wanted which could’ve impacted the final film. During shooting hours the group dynamics worked very well together, we all respected each other’s roles and acted accordingly. Sometimes it was difficult to do my role as I made it clear I needed to know where everyone was and/or if they couldn’t make it, sometimes I was the last to find this out, we had a meeting after every day and this was something I brought up and working this way ensured there was no complications moving forward.
I am very happy with how the final film is looking, during screenings of rough edits we received the response we wanted, people found the film comedic and gave good comments about the characters and narrative. Before filming it was difficult for others to visualise what we could all see, now it is a final film others can see what we were seeing and they enjoy it. I have learnt a great deal about short film production while working on The Can Man and I am very proud to be apart of Reverse Faun Productions, we all put in a lot of work and time into creating our final film. I developed professionally in my role which improved my leadership, time-management and problem solving skills. I have learnt about how this aspect of the media industry works and I feel this process has helped my future career in the industry. I am looking forward to continue with this process and hold screenings and see how the film is received. I have thoroughly enjoyed the process from start to finish and look forward to any future projects I will be involved in.
Creativeskillset.org, (2016) First Assistant Director (First AD) | Creative Skillset [online] available from <http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles/2937_first_assistant_director_first_ad> [10 March 2016]