My experience of shooting films has led me to believe one simple truth, there are no individuals, there are only teams, united by a common goal of creating something, it doesn’t matter if you are writer, director, sparks, clapper or runner, everyone has a place on set and must do it with conviction as it is that, the coming together of people that enables everyone to leave with a finished project.
My first class was nothing if not disastrous, I had never taught a class before let alone a class full of kids so while I was trying my best to be all business they were slowly breaking me down with chatter, questions and stories. We discussed films and as the class went on I realized that these guys were just like me when I was young, a love of movies and an interest to learn how it all works.
As the classes went by things became way less formal, I got to know these kids, they would tell me about their plans for the future and we would talk about different films we’d seen each week all the while honing down our plans for our short film.
It was coming up to Halloween and it seemed only right to do a horror film. I had talked briefly about the limitations of what we could achieve and thankfully they all got it immediately, what we had was an old building and day-lights savings hour deficit. The Hub has an incredible look and feel and for the most part the building seems warm and inviting, given to the fact that so many great activities take place here throughout the weeks but film can be an incredibly deceptive art form, and with different angles and a hint of movie magic colour grading we could turn our vibrant Hub into a horrific house of horrors.
I scripted the piece based on informal discussions in class about what the film should be about, thankfully horror is a relatively easy thing to pull off, suspense and fear can be built on nothing more than sound and implication. Once everything was scripted we had a read through to make sure everyone was happy with the product, then we storyboarded everything and had a good long class on production process.
Everyone got a chance to play their part on the various roles of crew, and some people excelled in their interest, I can honestly say that Cheyenne Brennan could easily make a name for herself as an assistant director, John McAllen too struck me as someone with a keen interest in camera operation asking all the right questions and Mark Kennedy was particularly adept at building tension throughout scripting and storyboarding.
Finally it came time to shoot and it was an arduous process to say the least, a classroom setting gives people a sense of place and while people can have fun and joke about in class it is a much more difficult thing to control a class outside especially when we are MAKING MOVIES!, I still get excited whenever I walk onto a set and know that all that planning finally brings us into the fun part. While come guys were happy to watch intently or be directly involved others would rather mess and run around, we were outside after all but once the crew calls and the line “QUIET ON SET PLEASE!” was roared by Cheyenne everyone adhered to my first paragraph, we were a team, a team with a mission to produce a short film in a small space of time, silence held their attention and filming began.
For 4 days we toiled over shot lists and camera angles and at the end of it all we were all a little bit tired but excited, the film was in the proverbial can and all we had to do now was edit, a process which took time and care. As stated above horror films can be easy enough to shoot but the magic really happens in editing where sound plays a major factor. I edited as I went so as to get a clearer picture of what was needed for the following shoot but the sound edit had to be left for last and this took the bones of a week to produce, once finished I showed the product to some a colleague Aaron, who also has formal training in film production, and after some minor tweeks everyone seemed very happy with the end product but my real fear came from what the kids would think. This was, after all, all for them, if I had not satisfied their appetites it would all be for nothing.
As the night of the screening approached I was as nervous as my first class, I had a brief chat with everyone to see if anything needed changing for future classes but they were all happy with how things went, they boosted my confidence by telling me how much fun they had had over the past 6 weeks and interest in filming had not let up.
As the parents came in to view the screening I gave a small introduction to the room and thanked everyone involved, it surprised me at how much I had grown fond of these kids, it was not something I had anticipated primarily through nerves but as the weeks went by we got to know each other, we enjoyed each other’s company and they taught me as much as I taught them. These kids were the real champions, in the end they formulated a great short film and taught me that kids are nothing to be afraid of, they are enthusiastic young adults who sometimes get overly excited with prospects and ambition… nothing that I cannot say I am guilty of too from time to time.
There is a Happy Land
A Learning Hub Limerick Production