Okay, so I really don’t know how to start this, but I have decided to start a new section on the blog called “diaries.” This year has really been busy and I have gotten lazy with my blogging attempts and anything else besides work that pays, so I decided that I document some important experiences I have been having on the job so far.
Tuesday the 4th of February saw the CEO of DUN Entertainment call me up and start making plans for a shoot I had no idea about beforehand, needless to say we were scrambling around like mice in the dark, but a little planning here and there, some phone calls later and we were set to shoot, not ready, just set. As time goes on you discover that no matter the budget, but especially with constrains on the budget, you are never quite ready or armed to the teeth, so we prepared to shoot a music video for J’odie’s song titled ‘I lost My Mind’ from her African Woman album.
PLANNING: They threw me in the mix at the last minute, and I’m still not sure if I was anything more than a privileged observer/help-get-that-obscure-equipment-guy but I most definitely felt like I was working the whole time so moving on. When opportunity comes knocking you sometimes throw away meticulous planning to seize the fleeting moment before it turns to vapor, and that was what we did on this project, DUN Entertainment, J’odie’s label, had just gotten in contact with an expatriate filmmaker by the name of Bo, CEO of INNOBO VISION-by the way, check them out here, and I think here too, they’ve got a project going on if you’re interested-who had recently worked on the film Against The Grain , which won various awards and was also nominated for the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) 2013 for the best picture in the Diaspora. So did we plan properly? Let me answer it like this, I and my friend shot this video one Sunday afternoon without a storyboard or rough hewn idea of what we wanted to do with two canon 60Ds and a parabolic reflector, and a tripod, nothing more. Great job? Definitely not. Bad job? Let me just say we got a couple of other paying contracts after pulling that off.
So it was that point where opportunity collided with desire, and caused everyone to swing into action ASAP.
LOCATION: If theres anything that has constantly plagued film shoots, whether music videos or movies, it is the securing of desirable locations for a shoot, and like all productions, this one would not be complete without a tale or two of location woes. We had managed to get a good location for one of the scenes we intended to shoot but as time wore on, light bulbs fizzled out and extension cords blew their fragile fuses and wires and we were suddenly scrambling to make the minutes count when suddenly, the manager of the swanky establishment we were using decided to turn off the generator mid shoot and then announced to us that our time had been exhausted. Bo wouldn’t have any of it, and while Mr. CEO tried to renegotiate with the bar’s management, he had already decided to move to the next location for another scene, basically, we had to reshoot ALL the bar scenes the following day at yet another location, so thanks a lot ‘swanky bar’ place for all the extra expense and stress incurred.
Our next location was a hotel room where we had the most fun with breaking into absolute shards, a large mirror, provided by us of course. Shooting at high frame rates for the purpose of slow-motion, and championing the talent, J’odie, to go all the way and aim that shot glass at the mirror we erected in the bathroom and finally screaming at the picture perfect execution as the tumbler connected and totally brought down the mirror, pure bliss! I can’t wait for the final edit, and plus nobody got hurt filming that shot.
The night scenes were beautiful , Eric Moore, Surulere by anything past 11pm is a beauty to shoot on film, dazzall, as long as you have got some really decent glass(lens) which cost the same as the canon 70D, then you really are onto something, but more on that later .
TECHNICAL: I decided to appropriate both the use of equipment and professional talent together, seeing as they say that the equipment is only as good as the user. First off, it’s not because the director is an Oyinbo, I mean if you come with credentials that say best film at so, so and so film festival/awards event, that’s a pretty good recommendation regardless of skin color. The director opted to shoot with the canon 5D mark III instead of his RED EPIC and it paid off, the mark III is not as big as the RED and as such handled deftly in some instances, of course we can scream and shout about lack of RAW or anything higher than 1080p resolution, but who cares? Okay so while I realize I shouldn’t be flippant about resolutions beyond 1080p – we are getting there, eventually, slowly, grudgingly but surely – the thing is, properly edited and mastered footage shot in 1080p comes out great at the end of the day. In addition, most terrestrial and satellite based broadcast outfits still haven’t conformed to the full HD 1080 standard, and while it’s now a marketing buzzword here among our Nigerian videographers – and some of us are thinking of touting 4K/ultraHD – TV on this side of the Atlantic is yet to get the memo. On a personal note, I don’t want the kind of resolution that allows me see the pockmarks on someone’s face on a medium shot from five meters away on a 42 inch television, just my personal preference though.
Lighting was a minimal affair as we were aiming for high contrast shots seeing as it was going to be edited in black and white. All that’s left now is some great editing to bring together the wonderful mosaic of storyline and performance shots into one big artistic expression, keeping my fingers crossed on that one for sure.
EVERYTHING ELSE: So this is where I put everything else I can’t properly label, which basically is human behavior, my non techie opinions and everything else (?)
We started shooting late for starters, and I came onto the set and saw Oyinbo and was like “really? They had to drop some white guy onto this set for what? some sort of Super cool and Super-Legitimate stunt? I actually spent the first hour following his moves with my eyes and going “If I had a storyboard too I could do better with this sef” until I got a chance to listen to him talk about his love for Don Jazzy’s work on Wande Coal’s ‘The Kick’ and listened to him sing his favorite part of that song and other Nigerian acts he liked. Basically, what started as a cranky, stressful , nearly frustrating endeavor had us bonding in no time, cramping ourselves into the car to catch a bit of the Lagos nightlife here and there, share a production tale or two, exchange numbers, arguing over which establishment made the best sharwarmas and just plain ribbing each other, and we took that into the second day, regardless of the little problems and hiccups we were going to experience on the second day of the shoot thanks to the location fiasco from earlier on. Basically, it was like a lot of the good productions I’d had the privilege of being on set to witness, the kind that left you feeling like the shoot should never end. There are also those ones you want to run away from the moment you step into the location but that’s another story.
This is the fun stuff I do for a living, its not always as fun, but the past few weeks have been fun, and I thank God for it, whether its sitting in front of a computer for ten straight hours editing or being on location or running around preparing to go on location, there’s beer, laughter, good conversation, camaraderie and a sense of achievement I so dearly love, it’s fun.