Beyond the actors, locations, costumes, and props, there is the necessary step of acquiring equipment to capture the action. I was very lucky in this respect. Around 2002/2003, one of the companies that my Dad sold insurance for had a terrific rewards program. My Dad sold so much that year that we won several items, including a keyboard, a 5-disc DVD/CD player with a 5.1 surround sound system, and Sony Digital Camcorder like the one pictured above. I used this camera for Star Wreck, the big difference this time is that I discovered how to get it to record in a 1.2:1 pixel aspect ratio (16 x 9) and to create an anamorphic squeeze, using the preset "slim" effect (ironic, considering the title of the movie). 2 other friends volunteered the use of their similar cameras, and we figured out how to get a comparable look across the three cameras. This meant that the use of the cameras were free! The expense came from buying the tapes needed for each camera (yes, they still used mini tapes). At the highest quality settings, each tape could only hold up to 60 minutes. By the end of everything, I must have had about 30 different tapes.
For lights, my Dad had a high-powered light for working with hardware, this could be handheld and easily redirected. My friend Mike's Dad had a single industrial light on a stand which could be redirected between shots. My friend Alissa's Dad had a similar model but it contained two lights. Being the smart guy that I am (ha ha ha), I decided we would use lights even for outdoor scenes. These came in really handy, especially when trying to film around and inside tents.
For sound recording, my friend Annie, who used to work in broadcasting, had a high quality microphone that she let us use. The nice thing about this microphone was that it had a long handle. It was easy for someone to hold and point in the right direction or, it could be set down on a table (and for a couple scenes) on top of a picture frame.
Before filming, I gathered with my friends Mike (Director of Photography) and Chris (Lighting Director). We began the session by watching Citizen Kane (1941) for inspiration! We not only drew storyboards for each scene (and by that I mean the scenes I had written, see earlier posts about writing), but we drew out the blocking of each shot so we would know where to place the cameras, lights, and microphones before we got to the location. In order to save time, we tried to use more than one camera in each take. This way, we could get wide shots and close ups at the same time. I can be smart when needed! With all these preparations in place, we were ready to begin production.
To Be Continued...