Over the summer I set out to create a film that was very ambitious for several reasons.  One reason was that my usual number of actors went from, at the most, five to 60 (including extras).  Writing the script was interesting as well because I needed to write main parts for 20 characters.  On top of all that, I was splitting production up into two units with 22 crew members each, and cherry on top was that all crew except for my production managers had never worked on crew before.  That’s not all! We shot seven scenes in 10 hours.

Ok, let me give you some background here.  Back in March, my wife, asst. cameraman and I attended a meeting about a summer camp that we thought would be fun to volunteer at.  Since we live in Japan this camp was designed to bring together different culture groups of kids from different countries help them get to know each other.  While we were at this meeting, the camp director stated that he had no ideas for this year’s camp and left the floor open to any ideas someone might have.  I waited through several minutes of silence.  Seeing how I was the new guy I figured I would let the veterans develop a plan, but no one could think of a way to get everyone to work together and basically forced to communicate with on another.  So, I eventually spoke up and suggested making a short film.  I just thought it would get the ball rolling with other ideas, but they all seemed excited to do something only my wife, asst. cameraman and I had experience with.

So, I ended up getting my whole production crew mixed up in this camp; only this time they were all taking on leadership roles instead.  The camp was three days.  It took me three months to write the script, get it translated into three other languages, draw up the storyboards (Storyboardthat.com),  scout locations, do camera tests, and create a shooting schedule (I got the template for a shooting schedule/call sheets from StudioBinder)

On the first day we would introduce the story and divide into cast and crew.  From there, the new crew members were taught the different jobs and became familiar with production equipment and jargon.  Then they were divided into their teams.

The actors were divided into the main cast and extras. My production managers acted as casting directors as well as running the read-through (I was busy becoming familiar with my new crew at the time).  Finally, I took them through a more detailed look at the story using the storyboards, and the schedule for the following day.

Aside from the filming, which was filled with a lot of success, failures, accidental jewels, and sweat (which I’ll get to in my next blog post), the most ambitious part of the three day camp was that I would have a finished project ready for a screening by end of the third day.  That meant not only the editing but the sound design and color grading as well.  It was a long night of editing that took me 17 hours to complete (One reason I’m so glad I used FCPX over Premiere is the ability to render several jobs at once without wasting time).

Even though I had to cut two scenes from the finished product, and I would’ve liked to have at least one week of shooting (one scene per day), considering most of the work was completed by kids who had zero experience with filmmaking I think it turned out very well.  Feel free to check out what they made, and don’t be concerned that it’s not in English.  It’s English title is The Mysterious Forest .

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look into the production of The Mysterious Forest!

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