My role on the set of ‘What Time is She Coming At?’ was Camera and Lighting, along with another crew member Maria Mitrovic. At the time, neither of us had much experience with cameras, lenses and lighting.
The days before shooting I made an effort through workshops and with tutors to understand the differences between lenses, camera settings, and getting familiar with the lighting equipment.
Unfortunately, I was not allowed to see the locations before filming, and I had to rely on my instincts for a lot of the shots.
I ran into a problem straight away with the outdoor scenes. The first scene we shot was the scene where Damien and Patrick are on a jog. It was an overcast day and I failed to realise the shots were slightly overexposed. This is the same for almost every shot outdoors. I only discovered how overexposed they were when we had uploaded the footage at the end of the first shoot day.
Shot List, scene 1 outdoors
Shot List, scene 2 kitchen
The apartment scene was the second scene we shot. We hadn’t seen the location prior to our arrival and I had to decide on the composition of the shots in very little time. The B footage of the apartment is very poor and lacks skill, the panning shot of Patrick putting on his jacket is not smooth. The only shots I feel proud of in this scene is the mirror shot during Damien and Patrick’s dialogue, and the final shot where Patrick throws his jacket on top of the camera.
Before I talk about the problems I faced shooting this scene, I’d like to mention the parts I am proud of. The first shot of Patrick’s wine being poured was great focus-pulling practice, and I am happy it was included in the final film because it wasn’t scripted, I came up with it myself. I am also proud of the B footage I took of the restaurant; it was atmospheric and set the tone well. I am proud of certain shots: Patrick’s single was well lit with a soft glow in the background; the dirty single shot of the mother between the two men added a comedic element to the dialogue; and the hand holding shot made it more intimate.
That being said, there were many problems shooting this scene. We filmed over two days and had to take down all the lighting equipment. I tried my best to outline the exact placements of each light and what settings they were on, but it was not enough. I can see inconsistencies in the lighting throughout the scene.
In hindsight I can see missed opportunities for better shots. When the mother enters the scene and interacts with Patrick and Damien for the first time I should’ve shot close-ups of each of their reactions to create more tension and intimacy in the scene. I also should’ve shot more close ups of the mother in general, to show her reaction to Damien’s news.
Before filming, we had to fill out a questionnaire to determine what role best suited us. The questionnaire took into account our previous film experience and roles were divided between us evenly. Unfortunately, this caused tensions in all of the groups as the people who were given the roles as sound department were unhappy. Some were completely uncooperative and refused to do their jobs.
On our set, one of the crew members on sound was extremely unhappy. During the restaurant scene he would purposely move lighting equipment and the camera without my permission, trying to take control. I did not want to escalate the situation and had to get the tutors nearby to intervene. I have never experienced a more unprofessional attitude on set, and it took a lot of self-restraint to keep from losing my temper. I now had an added pressure, not only was I devising every shot, I was also trying not to step on someone’s toes constantly.
As I am often in the role of director, I found being on camera refreshing. I was good at focusing solely on my job, and communicating with the director. I worked well with my other camera crew member at setting up equipment and being organised. As for internal crew problems, I definitely will be more vocal about my concerns in the future, there is no room on set for acting-up, unless you are the actor!