First Impressions of the DJI Ronin-M

IMG_0076This week my partner and I bought a DJI Ronin-M.
I am filming a feature in a few months and the director and I realised we wanted some smooth steadicam-like shots so it only made sense that we buy a gimbal so I can have plenty of time to practice and master it.

I had never used a gimbal before so I thought I would share my first thoughts of using the Ronin-M. I will follow this post up with a tutorial and full review.

Unboxing

Upon first opening the box it’s somewhat daunting looking at all the pieces. However the quick start guide that it comes with is very helpful.
I think that the packaging that the Ronin-M comes in is great, everything has its place and I’m pleased that the case is padded and sturdy enough to transport the gimbal as I won’t be able to get a pelican for it right away.

Getting Started

Initially I had a few hiccups with using the Ronin-M once it was set up. The DJI app wouldn’t work on my iPhone with ios 9 and so I had to frequently borrow my partners. This made it difficult to practice. DJI have now resolved the issue.

I also found it hard getting the camera perfectly balanced at first and getting my head around how to customise the Ronin-M to do the kind of shots I wanted. I can’t imagine how people could get highly skilled with this kind of gear unless they owned one to practice with regularly.

I watched a great tutorial which shows how to set up the Ronin-M and also shows balancing the camera and in depth use of the DJI app which I found very helpful.

My First Week

Since getting the Ronin-M I have practiced each day getting used to the weight, how to move with it and testing out what kind of shots I can get with it. In this time I also shot a short film for Tropfest and tried out the Ronin-M for a few of the shots.

I really loved the freedom it gave me to be creative with my shots. There were absolutely some shots I couldn’t achieve without the rig.
Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 5.42.13 pmEven though it is a fairly lightweight device, over time it can take it’s toll on your back and ones you start getting sore it can be harder to keep the shot steady. To try and help with this I am thinking of getting a camera support system such as the Atlas.

Over all I have been very happy with the Ronin-M so far. I felt it was very flexible when it came to one or two handed control and even flipping it upside down was great though I’m not sure it’s good for the device. I will need to look into that further.

I have also been very impressed with the battery life, it was fantastic.

Personally my main struggles were due to not having the right accessories to assist when shooting with it.
I was shooting with an A7s with a metabones adaptor and using the Atomos Shogun to get 4k.

12084102_10153166495957960_999819452_nThe Ronin-M unfortunately doesn’t come with a monitor mount so this meant I had two choices. I could shoot internally at HD which is alright if thats the output you want, however I found it was very difficult to see the LCD monitor on the camera. This made it hard to frame the shot.
To achieve 4k I trialled using the Ronin-Ms single grip and holding the monitor in my other hand. This is obviously not ideal. I found that the cable between camera and monitor was easily dislodged and it also limited my movement, the camera balance and control of the Ronin-M. So it is clear to me that to use the Ronin-M you need a monitor and a monitor grip.

The Ronin-M also comes with a wireless remote control for a second user to assist controlling the shot. I think since I will tend to be out in the field with this by myself it will become imperative that I get the motorised thumb controller.

I still need to play around more with controlling it’s movement through the app and getting the balance right so it doesn’t overwork the motors or throw the camera into a tilt.

So far I really enjoy using the Ronin-M and look forward to creating some amazing shots with it. I think it will be great for films but also live event work which I do.

Keep an eye out for my next post doing a full review and tutorial on the Ronin-M

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”

Fork in the Road

4 years ago I quit my job as a waitress determined to be a freelance cinematographer. What ensued was two years of freelancing and getting as much experience as possible and building a network around me. Welcome to the world of volunteering… which sadly did not pay the bills. So I took the plunge and got a regular day job to help me out while I figured out how to steer my career back into the direction I wanted.
Today I find myself thinking about what direction to take next. Fork in the road

On one hand I can juggle a part time job and fit freelance work around it until it builds to the point where I can afford to quit.
The other is to embrace being a full time freelancer and just make it happen. It seems fairly obvious to me which sounds like the smart option in getting on track with my career.

I want to be a cinematographer. So lets just go ahead and do that.
Cue applause.
Now how to do that…. properly.

Ehran’s Checklist

Here is a list of things I have found helpful in the past and some new things that I plan to do to further my career.
Perhaps this can be some inspiration for you if you’ve ever found yourself wondering when it’s going to happen for you.

Get back to the blog

I have long known the importance that blogging has played in my career. People can get to know me, join me in learning about new gear and I can also showcase what I have been working on. I left this blog 2 YEARS AGO (I’m so embarrassed). So many things have happened in that time that I could probably write two pretty gripping features about it!
Instead I thought I would return to my blog.
If you yourself are just starting out or wanting to share your experiences, you could try creating a blog too. WordPress is just one place you can start, but there are so many.

Create a Website

I plan on creating a website by the end of the year. A simple site to view my showreel, contact information and options to view recent work and link back to my blog.
A website is so important in showcasing yourself, it’s just crazy I haven’t done it yet. Keep your eyes peeled. IT WILL HAPPEN!
If you are thinking about creating one there are a lot of templates that you can use such as wix.

Cut a New Showreel

As a DOP it is your job to work with directors creating their vision. So naturally it’s a good idea to have a reel showing off some of your amazing shots. My reel is very old. Bad Ehran. So, this is a 2015 goal.
I also realised recently that it is a good Idea to have a few reels, one with creative shots, one showcasing scenes and even a corporate TVC reel. Something to think about…
If you are cutting your first reel it’s good to have a look at other cinematographers and see what they do (and also learn what not to do do).

Do More Networking

In the film industry it is career suicide if you don’t network. Who will give you a job if they don’t know you and your abilities?
I have definitely not done as much networking recently and need to give myself a big kick to get back on the bandwagon.
Here are some areas I am starting with.
I recently became a member of The Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) as they have monthly meetings to network as well as quarterly magazines (which I’ve even had an article in) to keep myself informed on what’s happening in the industry.
Friday On My Mind at AFTRS is also a great FREE chance to learn and also meet people in your field.
There are a lot of groups and event opportunities. You just need to seek them out and motivate yourself to go. In an older post I have written more suggestions that you can check out.

Social Media – Your Online PresenceIMG_2213

It would be silly of me not to branch out across the internet. FacebookTwitter and Instagram are obviously key places to get people following you but here are a few others.
LinkedIn is a professional network so if you are wanting make new connections in the industry it is a great place to start.
Also having a profile on creative sites such as Loop. Loop is great as you can apply for industry roles directly from the site and employers can see your profile.
My goal would be to have a strong internet presence without relying on Facebook. Be warned though, social media can become a full time job.

Get more PAID work

I shoot all the time. Usually corporate videos, weddings and short films. Short films are a great opportunity for me to be creative, to practice, learn and spread my wings as a cinematographer. They are often ‘indie’ projects though and therefore unpaid. So the question here is how do I get paid to be creative? In Australia this means getting into the professional league.
So I joined AusCrew, a booking agency for film crew. This way my details are available online for people to find but I also hear about more opportunities in the professional world.

Writing

Ehran doing some serious writingNot all cinematographers write. I however quite enjoy telling stories and it has the added benefit of being an opportunity you create for yourself to make another movie. I did this with my film Beehive. So if you have some cool shots you want to try or some gear you want to test out, write a little script and make a short film. Why not?!
So I am currently buzzing with ideas. Somehow I naturally leaned towards one idea and so now I am in the process of writing my first feature. I’m so excited.

Keep in the Loop With Gear

CinematographyNew cameras and gear are announced all the time and it seems completely overwhelming to learn it all. Where to start?
The answer is easy. Just start with one. Then move to the next.
If you get the chance to try gear out at rental houses or trade shows then go for it!
Otherwise I found that watching tutorials and reading reviews, though not as good as hands on experience, was still very helpful.
I have found relaying my learnings through a blog was a great way to get my head around things too. So this is my way of saying I will be doing more tutorials and gear reviews soon.

Build and Exercise Your Skills

seinfeldI recently read an article about Jerry Seinfeld. In it he talked about why he does stand up even though he is a highly successful and skilled comedian. He said the following:
“I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life.”

Though I have been working for years I can feel when I haven’t used a camera or had to light a certain scenario in a while that I am rusty. So it’s important to try and find ways to exercise your skills so you have the confidence and ability to perform on set.
So I am starting by doing a short course for camera assistants at AFTRS which will brush up my skills but also be a chance to meet other assistants.

So as you can see, I have a lot to do. So, stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”

Beehive Trailer and Crowd Funding

It’s been a year since I finished writing the script for my short film ‘Beehive’ and now we are nearing the end of post production, excited about sending it to festivals and sharing it with audiences. We are just nearing the end of our crowd funding campaign.

The Trailer

Where did Beehive come from?

Beehive LogoBeehive is a short film which I wrote a little over a year ago. I had been freelancing for 18 months and was looking for an opportunity to push my creativity further than what I was able to on other projects that were operating on a shoe-string budget. I wanted to overcome my fear of writing and create something that would be visually stimulating as well as, at the core of it, have a solid story filled with great characters.

I also wanted this to be a great opportunity for the crew so I decided to put more funds into the project so each department could have a budget to play with to help create the world of the lead character ‘Penny’ as well as have some creative input themselves. What is the point of having a fantastic team of creatives if they can’t bring those skills to your project?!?!

Other than my personal desire to grow as a filmmaker Beehive certainly came from a few things. I had seen moments of a child playing cricket with his mum in my apartment car park, of frustrating customers who don’t appreciate vintage and was all too familiar with women who confidently flirted with men to feel better about themselves but would drop them in an instant. All these and more became moments in the film which shaped the story.

Developing the characters

Character developmentFor some time I had been wanting to write a character that was riddled with flaws and was completely oblivious to it. I loved the idea of a quirky girl who loved to twist, had her own style and was infectious. Once I realised that it was a great tool for her to hide behind, then the story followed shortly after.

The story was of a seemingly confident girl who needed to find courage to be vulnerable and show that she needed someone. Regardless of whether she finds love at the end or not it doesn’t matter, it’s her inner battle that needs to be faced and is the essence of the story. I also wanted to write a very flawed character because people have bad sides to their character and sometimes that can become a huge problem for people if they get caught up being one side and ignoring other parts of themselves.

I also had a good base for each of the men at the beginning of the story who I feel every girl has come across, the confident cocky guy who tries so hard to be cool it’s daggy, the guy who thinks that a few killer dance moves will have the girls begging for him and the one that parties just a little too hard that it ends up ruining the evening. They were fun characters to explore and I couldn’t be happier with who we cast for them.

Angus was a challenge as I wanted to write him as the ideal suitor for Penny. But then he seemed very two-dimensional and with some great feedback from Ted Crosby, who ended up playing the role. He was too nice and needed some bite. So I rewrote him as a bit of an impatient jerk and I think he is somehow all the more charming for it.

Writing the script and building a team.

Ehran EdwardsI worked on the script for a very long time. As I had pretty low confidence in my abilities as a writer I was also facing my own personal battles with it – so it took longer. I hadn’t written in a long time so took time to face the weaknesses I was aware of until I felt I had overcome that hurdle.

In the end I feel very proud of the script and was excited to hand it over to Alastair Wharton who directed it. It was certainly a struggle to let go completely of the script and let someone else bring in their ideas, but I feel better for having done it and am well aware that much of the strength of the film is from the creative input from the whole team. It wouldn’t have been the same with out them.

If you would like to read more about writing the script (and writing tips) check out my script writing post here: ‘The Making of Beehive:The Script’

When the script was almost complete I brought on Chloe Lawrence-Hartcher as producer to help me as I hadn’t done a film out of school, so it was the first time that I had a film from scratch-no supplied crew or gear. So I wanted the best help I could get.

We asked Alastair to come on board, after having worked with him on ‘In Transit’. After which we then talked to him and started filling in the roles. We ended up having an enormous crew but they all played a very important role.

If you would like to read more about how we found the crew and how to deal with finding a team for a no budget project read my post here: ‘The Making of Beehive: Finding a Crew’

Finding the Cast

The CastAlastair, Chloe and I pooled our ideas of people that we thought would be suitable for the roles but we also wanted to reach further to see if there were actors out there that would be better suited. So we had open auditions. We saw about 50 actors of various ages and levels of experience and it was absolutely mind-boggling. For me, this was the first time I had seen my script read aloud and it certainly showed me a few areas which needed work in the script but also highlighted areas that were much better than I had realised.

We all learnt a lot from the auditions and many of the actors gave us great food for thought when it came to shaping the characters. We couldn’t be more thankful for everyone who showed an interest and are so pleased with who we found in the end. We saw some fantastic actors across the board but are so happy with who we chose to bring our characters to life.

If you’d like to read a bit more about the auditions check out ‘Auditions Day 1’

The Shoot

Vintage shop locationObviously pre production was very important. Once we had locked in our crew it was all systems go in regards to finding costumes, locations, set dressing and then of course rehearsing, scheduling, booking and borrowing gear and managing a tiny tiny budget so it could stretch to all the departments. Somehow Chloe and I managed without killing each other.

Finally it was the big day. We got to the first location early and started to set up. We were in an antique store and soon found ourselves with not much room to move. With at least 20 people moving about trying to do their jobs as well as gear being shipped back and forth, it was quite overwhelming. We found ourselves running out of time very quickly. Eventually we got on a roll and managed to get our coverage. So then we were out on the street to do all our exteriors.

Aimee-Lee DruettIt was hot. Summer was on us, the street was busy with cars and people, the air was stale and we had to walk the gear to each new location. I had scouted King Street in Newtown for a range of places as close together as I could. However the heat was making it very hard.
We got through all our scenes and were pretty excited with how they had turned out. The highlight of the day was an amazing shot we had gotten of our lead actress Aimee-lee Druett walking down the street. She looked amazing!

Flat Tyre number 1At the end of the day, we had packed up. As I started to drive home I spotted Alastair and Chloe at the side of the road unpacking Chloes’ car. It seemed she had gotten a flat and had to unpack the car to get to the spare. Al saved the day and Chloe was soon on her way.

The second day ran much smoother. This location proved a challenge, again because of space, but also for production design. Our designer, Diva Abrahamian had to turn the location, which was a boys bedroom into an extremely feminine bedroom. She brought in bed sheets, fake wall paper, lamps, trinkets and all sorts of pretty things to really give some insight into Pennys personal space. We kept the coverage simple and even in the edit we only used half the shots we got. The performance was enough that it really didn’t need much.

Divas makeoverWe then headed to film a scene with Joseph Famularo and Amanda Wiltshire. This soon became a race against the sun to try to get the performances we needed but also deal with a few surprise challenges. It seemed the car we were shooting in couldn’t open the boot. So instead of filming from outside I ended up having to sit in the car to get the shot. Along with that, the car was very wobbly. So every shake or bump would nearly ruin a take. We managed to get all our coverage even though eventually we ran out of light.

Day 3 was the big one. We had to empty a location which was set up as a bedroom and dress it as a lounge room. We also discovered we couldn’t hang anything on the walls so the art department were stressed. I think what was managed in the end was pretty good. So I hope they can use those ideas for another project.

Aimee-lee was a champion. The poor thing smoked herbal cigarettes the entire day and danced and danced and danced. By 3 in the morning we had wrapped. We were exhausted and people were wrecked. The only thing that kept us going was the fact that we all knew that what we were getting was incredible; the lighting, the room, the mood, the acting;  slow motion and some amazing music. It was all happening and it felt good. Needless to say we were happy when we wrapped.

Flat Tyre number 2We set the house back up and packed the cars. By 5am we were ready to go. Then my car got a flat tyre. So we had to unpack everything, fix it and then finally as the sun was coming up Alastair and I headed off. Ready for a day of rest.

It was a short-lived break as gear had to be returned. To keep the budget low we’d had to borrow things from all over so I spent much of the following days driving things all over Sydney. Eventually my lounge room looked normal again and my attention shifted to the edit.

The Edit Room.

EditingWe decided that Alastair and the editor Alana Greig should spend a bit of time themselves sorting out an edit. It was a bit scary to leave it with them after being so heavily involved but I knew they would be fine. After some time I finally got to check out what they had and it was great. From that point on we had regular editing sessions. Many Sunday evenings of pizzas and Thai takeaway later we had an edit we were pretty happy with.

We took some time to share it with a few friends to get an idea of what they thought and then took on board some of the feedback and worked towards a locked off picture.

The next step – Crowd funding

We have finished the edit but need to do more ADR, sound design – the ever important colour grade – music rights so we can include a huge array of local Australian artists. We found their songs and they are KILLER!!

Cast and crew at the trivia night and trailer launchUp until this point I personally had funded the production but unfortunately need help to cover the expensive costs of post production we started up a crowd funding campaign. We launched the campaign and our trailer at a trivia night. We had 40 friends and family come along to The Vic Hotel in Enmore to show their support for the film but also to have a fun night of trivia. We are now just 4 days away from completing our crowd funding campaign and have about $500 to raise.

We have organised a HUGE array of rewards as a special thank you for your donations. These include a photo shoot with esteemed photographer Stephen Godfrey, Classic bow ties, retro circle skirts, The Rude Heads EP, Handmade jewellery from Sorry I’m Late, Posters and of course a copy of BEEHIVE ON DVD (not to mention our eternal gratitude)!!!

If you would like to help please have a look at our campaign at www.pozible.com/beehive

Check out Beehive on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beehive.film

Beehive - Aimee-Lee Druett

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”

Green Screen Basics

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great GatsbyWith the recent release of Baz Luhrmans ‘The Great Gatsby’ and their behind the scenes video on the use of Green screen work in the film I thought it would be a great opportunity to do a post about shooting your own green screen.

Green Screen is a fantastic tool for filmmaking that open up so many storytelling opportunities. It isn’t too difficult provided you know the basics and is easy to use for your films whether you are making an independent low budget film or Hollywood Blockbuster.

I thought I would start with the bare basics for those who haven’t tried it before or if you are looking to brush up old skills.

Life of Pi Green screen effectWhat is a Green Screen?

A green screen is usually a large piece of special fabric or a studio space that has been painted the same colour. This is a tool that allows you to replace anything green that you have filmed for something else in post production.

What Do You Use a Green Screen For?

Green screens are a key tool in a technique called chroma keying. In a basic scenario this may involve a person/subject being filmed standing in front of a green (or blue) screen. Then using an editing program the green colour is digitally removed from the video file leaving the person/subject. A new image/video is then superimposed behind them. If done well it should look as though the person is actually standing in the scenario that is happening in the background.

The ability to chroma key opens up an array of options for filmmakers. For example if you are filming a news story and you need your presenter to look as though they are standing out the front of the Taj Mahal, then you could use this technique instead of ACTUALLY taking a news reporter to the Taj Mahal. It saves a lot of time and money.

Why Green?

There are both blue and green screens. It really depends on what your subject is as to which might be better for you. Green is generally more popular as most video camera sensor are more sensitive to green. Because of this it means that it will produce less noise and will help you create the cleanest key/matte/mask.
Green is also common as you may have a subject with blue eyes or jeans. If you were to use a blue screen for that then their pants would also disappear. Oh dear! 

What you need to get started

Basic Green Screen Setup* A green/ blue screen cloth and stands or wall.
Ideally use a professional standard one though these can be expensive so if you are on a tight budget check out Jeff Geerlongs DIY guide to making your own green screen and frame.

* Lights and stands
Watch the video below for tips on choosing your lights.

* A camera
Choose carefully as some cameras are better suited to green screen, especially if you are shooting something with a bit of movement. (In my next blog post I will be going into depth about choosing the best camera for green screen.)

* A post production workflow
It’s best if you know how to handle compositing in your editing software before you start so you have a better idea of what you need to get a good result. Try practicing with some test footage.

The Basics for Lighting a Green Screen

Ehran Edwards on set 'Five Poison Arrows'

Ehran Edwards on set ‘Five Poison Arrows’

Some great tips to keep in mind when setting up your green screen shoot.

* Ensure your screen is as taught as possible.

* Evenly light your screen so that the colour is consistent.

* Match your lighting to the lighting environment that the subject will be keyed into. Very important

* Ensure the props and costumes are suitable. If either of these things have green in them, BEWARE because the colour may be extracted in post if the colour is similar.

* Tracking markers. If you are planning on having camera movement or you are putting a computer generated background then you will need markers. This may seem quite complicated, but provided you get it right from the start you can save yourself a lot of time in post (trust me, I know). If you haven’t done green screen before then this motion tracking video by Micromedia SA might seem very challenging but it will give you an idea of what tracking markers are used for and the potential of green screen.

Here is a fun and in depth video from WireCast Tube which demonstrates these and also has a few tips of their own. ‘How To Light A Green Screen Effectively

Here is another great video from Adorama TV which is a bit more in depth and also covers shooting green screen with a DSLR.

 

What do You Do Once You Have Finished Filming?

Getting Rid of the Green

Once you have imported all your footage and brought it into your editing software it is now time to get rid of all the green.
Every editing program handles chroma keying differently. There are a lot of tutorials online to show you how to do this.

Here is one example of how to use the green screen functions in Final Cut Pro by Justin Thyme.

What if you didn’t light your green screen well?

All the magic of a green screen happens in editing. But what happens if you haven’t lit your green screen properly? Occasionally you may find your lighting was uneven, perhaps there was a shadow or an unwanted item in your shot. This makes it hard for your program to remove all the green which may mean splotchy blobs of green all through your video or your actor looking like a cardboard cutout. Either way the audience won’t be impressed.

So here are a couple of links to videos I found useful when I was in my time of need.

Machael Stark has a fantastic video for fixing up your bad green screen work using Colourista 2. Click here for the video.

Surfaced Studio shares 5 common green screen mistakes.

Examples

Stephanie Cherote ‘Five Poison Arrows’

This is a music video I filmed, directed and edited. I learnt a lot about green screen through my mistakes on this production. The green screen is featured in postcards. In the video this meant filming the subjects then putting in the background, then placing that inside a computer generated polaroid frame then putting that into the main video to follow the motion of the moving camera. Considering I had no idea what I was doing at the time, I am pretty happy with how this turned out. But i can’t encourage you enough to do as much research BEFORE you shoot as you can save a lot in post but it’s time you could have saved.

Dane Rumble ‘Lights Go Down’ Music Video

Here is a music video I worked on last year which used green screen and motion tracking. Check out the behind the scenes here.

The Great Gatsby VFX

I hope that you have found this post helpful. Good luck with your shoot and be sure to watch out for my next post on green screen where I go into a bit more depth.

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”

Beehive in the media – Australian Cinematographer Magazine

Cinematographer Ehran EdwardsGreat news everyone!
I am absolutely proud as punch to share my article about ‘Beehive’ that was recently printed in the Australian Cinematographers Magazine! Woohoo! (Even though they spelled my name wrong hehehe – the perks of having a unique name!)

Aimee-lee DruettBeehive is a short film (written by yours truly) that I worked on as cinematographer and executive producer. The film was shot in February and March over 4 days and has since been in post production where I have been working closely with the director Alastair Wharton and editor Alana Greig to get picture lock off and move the film into sound design.

We have been so happy with how the film has been shaping up and all the support that we have had from the cast and crew as well as our online audience on Beehives official film page (check it out here).
If you would like to read more about the making of Beehive have a look at some of the behind the scenes blog posts I have been doing.

Australian Cinematographer MagazineThe Australian Cinematograph Magazine is a quarterly journal from The Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS), a magazine for cinematographers by cinematographers.
The ACS is a professional society dedicated to the craft of cinematography in the Australian Film, Television & Production Industry. So, as you can imagine, I am over the moon to have this film featured in such a distinguished magazine which is read by filmmakers and cinematographers all around Australia. It’s a great opportunity.

Nicola DaleyI want to especially thank Nicola Daley, an Australian Cinematographer, who I met in late 2011 to discuss stepping out of film school and starting out as a freelance cinematographer. At the time she gave me some great advice (which you can see here) and I have since crossed paths with her on set and at many film related events.
A few months ago Nicola, who is an associate editor for the AC Magazine, heard about ‘Beehive’ from my film page and asked me whether I would like to write a piece for the magazine. Of course I jumped at the opportunity.

If you would like to read the magazine and see the article in high-resolution you can view/download the whole issue here: Issue 58 Australian Cinematographer Magazine.

Thanks again to everyone for their interest and support in the project. It has been so encouraging. We can’t wait to show you it once it’s finished.

To follow ‘Beehive’ LIKE our Facebook page here.
For more about Beehive Writer/Cinematographer LIKE Ehran Edwards’ Cinematography page on Facebook.

Ehran Edwards ACS Magazine article on Beehive

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”

The Making of Beehive ~ Part 4: Production Design

Once upon a time I used to want to do everything. Then I learnt that it’s better if I didn’t.

Broken EmbracesI had a grand vision for Beehive; a short film that I had written and was planning to make within the next 2 months.
I was strongly under the influence of European cinema including strong stylistic films such as Xavier Dolans ‘Les Amours Imaginaires’ (Heartbeats) 2010, Jean-Luc Godards ‘A bout de Souffle’ (Breathless) 1960 and Pedro Almodovars films namely “Broken Embraces’ 2009 starring Penelope Cruz.
I wanted bold colours and shapes, a grittiness yet glamour. My vision for Beehive became bigger and bigger and I realised I needed someone incredible to come on board as Production Designer.
(See my previous post about forming the team for Beehive).

Finding a Production Designer

Diva AbrahamianSo Chloe Lawrence-Hartcher, the producer, contacted Diva Abrahamian, a production designer that I had worked with previously on award-winning web series ‘In Transit‘, The ‘Wear it Purple’ Promo and Sydney band Glass Towers’ music video ‘Tonight’. I knew she had an amazing eye for detail but was also incredibly resourceful and creative which was very useful when it came to my high concept low-budget film.

The first step was for Diva and director Alastair Wharton to meet up and discuss the film and various ideas that we had. Diva then went away, read the script, looked at the storyboards and came back with a pitch for the design and her understanding of what we wanted and how she thought she could make that happen.

Transforming a bedroom by Diva Abrahamian

We didn’t exactly make Divas job easy. Not only did we have a character that was heavily influenced by the 1960s style but she also had to turn a boys bedroom into an extremely girly bedroom, a bedroom into a lounge room and help us manoeuvre around a vintage store filled with insanely expensive antiques and vintage wares not to mention create looks for 10 characters. (Meet the full cast here)

It was a big job for one person so we started to form a team for her.

The Art Department

Olivera JovanoskaWe’d had some interest from Olivera Jovanoska who worked as a stylist and was keen to help out in the costume department for Beehive.
Diva and Oli met to discuss the look and styles of each of the characters. It was then Oliveras job to go and source all the costumes within a very small budget. This left Diva to find all the props and set dressings for each of the locations.

Production Design by Ehran EdwardsBy this time I had created a production design book. This was predominantly to serve as an overview of the project as a whole. It covered the characters, the visual style in regards to lighting as well as production design. This incorporated the ideas that had been discussed and was used to showcase the ideas that the team had so we had something to show people as they came on board the production.

References for Penny by Diva AbrahamianDiva brought on Nick Plummer to oversee the hair and make-up department. Nick worked alongside Aidan Hirn, doing make-up for the cast, as well as Samara Gildea who had the very important job of creating Pennys beehives. (See the rest of the Beehive team here)

Along with the production design notes Diva supplied the Hair and Makeup team with an overview of her vision for the characters and left it in their trusty hands to realise the various looks that she was after.

We then had a team meeting/ dress rehearsal. A few weeks had passed now and we were only a few weeks away from shooting.
Diva and Oli worked with the cast to discuss costumes. Oli had spoken to all of the actors to see if they had any items of their own which may be suitable (a good idea to try when making a film on a shoe-string budget) and so inspected what they had brought. She then created a list of what items she still needed.

Beehive dress rehearsalAimee-Lee Druett (Penny) was the most time-consuming as we had to create so many different looks for her. To save time Oli had done some prep a few days earlier by getting a model to showcase a number of outfit options. She sent these photos to through for Alastair and I to look over. This way Aimee-lee didn’t have to try on EVERYTHING. We brought in a pile of our favourite vintage 60’s mod dresses and she tried one on after the other until we had all out looks. Aimee-lee was then whisked into the hands of Nick, Aidan and Samara for a hair and make-up test.

Diva and Oli making a handbag for Penny on setIn the lead up to the shoot Oli was running around like mad finding bargains to finish off the outfits for the characters. Diva was inspecting every thrift shop and second-hand store to find bits and pieces to help her dress the various sets and create the props we needed.

Diva was incredibly resourceful making many of the outstanding items you see in the film from odds and ends, dressing them up to look more vintage. I was so impressed. If she wasn’t moving a lamp or hanging a picture she was gluing or sewing something else.

Overall the team did an amazing job. They worked well together and I couldn’t be happier with the finished product.
Stay tuned for more ‘Making of Beehive’.

The hair and makeup team on set Beehive. Photo by Stephen Godfrey

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”

The Making of Beehive ~ Part 3: Getting the Wheels in Motion

In film school you generally ended up being a one person film crew. Writer, director, producer cinematographer, first ad, editor… the list goes on. Now out of school, I had finally assembled a crew for my new film Beehive, but I had to actually figure out the most effective way to get everyone started and taking ownership over their own departments.

Pre-Production plan

Before Chloe Lawrence Hartcher (Producer), Alastair Wharton (Director) and I (Writer, Cinematographer, Exec-Producer) started talking to the crew we came up with a pre-production plan. We had a lot to arrange and a lot of people to share the workload around. Of course the plan was even more important as it gave us deadlines to work towards as well as an indication of things that needed to be done by certain dates as some jobs couldn’t be started until another had been finished.For example we couldn’t lock in costumes until after we had our cast which we couldn’t have until we had held auditions that we couldn’t host until we had posted an ad seeking actors.

Pre production schedule Pixie Rose and Johnny Sienna

This is an example of quite a complicated pre-production schedule that I did in 2010 for Pixie Rose and Johnny Sienna, a short film set in the 1950’s, where I had to do everything myself. So having a team for Beehive, a film with strong 1960’s production design, was an absolute dream!

Delegation

Chloe and AlastairOnce we had broken down all of the jobs that had to be done we then spoke to our heads of departments one at a time, Cinematography, Producing and Art Department. Each of these meetings covered what needed to be done and we discussed ways that they could be achieved as well as any new ideas.

It was then their job to meet with their teams and break up the workload even further. So for Art Department, our production designer Diva Abrahamian had a meeting with the director and cinematographer then went to her costume stylist and the head of makeup to pass on what looks we had all decided we wanted and then she oversaw the progress of getting that departments jobs checked off.

Communication

It sounds like it should be the easiest part of making a film; telling others what you need and they run off and get it done for you. Well, it’s more complicated than that. It takes a lot of communication; Emails, phone calls, one on one meetings and more emails. Communication can get messy, either you have no communication and people getting stressed or things are being over communicated, or communicated wrong. It’s definitely an art to making sure you are doing things right and not wasting time.

Overall I was very VERY happy to have a team around me. As I have said in previous posts it took me a little time to get used to it but it is obviously necessary to be able to work as a team if you are going to make it in the industry.

If there was one thing that I would do differently, it would be to establish a clear communication system from the start. Find out how everyone likes to work and come up with a  structure for how this particular project is going to work. There were times where I felt I didn’t know what was going on and I got stressed and upset.  What I didn’t know was that the person responsible thought they were doing me a favour by not overwhelming me with emails and updates and preferred to block larger amounts of info in fewer emails. They couldn’t understand why I was getting stressed and I couldn’t understand why they were upset with all my hassling for information. If we had talked about it at the start we could have saved a lot of stress and may have been more efficient.

So keep that in mind, communication is very very important!

Tune in next week!

So much went on in the pre production stage so I’m going to break down how each department was handled in future posts so stay tuned!

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”

Quote of the day #16 – Confidence and Robert Downey Jr

I had thought that once I’d hit high school that I had overcome my shyness and confidence issues. Even when I moved from home and studied at film school, it was a trait I knew was in me but I felt strongly that it no longer had a hold of me. As I’ve become increasingly independent and strived for success in a creative industry I realised I wasn’t being honest with myself and that had to change.

Ehran EdwardsWhenever I reminisce about child hood with my mother she will often bring up a certain anger towards my primary school teachers for always pointing out that I was extremely shy. It took me years to understand why she found this label, which affected how they communicated with me, frustrating. She was concerned that by treating me as shy and introverted or pushing me to break out of it, it would affect my ability to overcome my social awkwardness myself, possibly diminish my natural character (such as a cautious and sensitive temperament which is apparently common in ‘shy’ children) and thus affect me in my adult life. By high school I had broken out of my shell and was quite outgoing.
‘Don’t Call my children shy’ – article by Susan Cain

Ehran Edwards at Karaoke

Throughout my 5 years of studying film I went through the typical highs and lows of a student; struggling to pay bills, juggling two jobs and two courses, trying to uphold a long term relationship and also mature into an experienced and unique filmmaker. At the time I would have called myself an extrovert; I went out dancing with friends, was a HUGE fan of karaoke, would dress up in a whole array of vintage themed outfits, was an enormous chatterbox and a little inclined to super-hyper outbursts, and even though on the outside I seemed quite confident, I was not.

By the time I finished film school, my biggest obstacle was myself. Even though I had managed to get through the challenge of all of the above, I had hit a wall.
I was having a hard time believing in my abilities and even more so at promoting myself. At times I felt I would much rather hide away in my little office writing witty (I hope) and outgoing posts on my Facebook profile than actually exercise myself socially amongst new friends. This is awful (and very common these days – it’s not just me). The worst thing about this is that the less I made an effort to go out and talk with people the harder it was to do just that. Which when it comes to important networking and even making friends, this can be a terrible problem.

Ehran Edwards on set Pixie Rose and Johnny Sienna

My confidence and belief of being a talented, unique and interesting filmmaker (and person) was critically low to the point that I wanted to give up.
I kept telling myself it was “too hard, everyone is more talented than me, they have the guts to speak up more and are more likely to succeed. Why would anyone ever want me?” I was crippling myself (not to mention, being very silly) and if I didn’t let go I wasn’t going anywhere.
(Read another post here about challenges I faced with Quote of the Day #15).

Robert Downey JrI found this quote by Robert Downey Jr, star of Iron man and Sherlock Holmes, who I imagine to be one of the most outwardly confident people in Hollywood. I found his idea on confidence very interesting and if anything a little encouraging. Because of what I had gone through the last few years I felt I could completely relate. I hope that others may relate also and find it reassuring how coming out the other side can give a helpful sense of perspective.

“I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done.”

~ Robert Downey Jr

If I break down his thought process. If I am giving power to my ‘shy’, socially awkward and lack of confidence then, of course, I will be overwhelmed with all the repercussions that go with that behaviour. BUT if I choose to push on and put my focus in my goals then eventually I can look back over everything I achieved and I will have no excuse to say I can’t do anything as the evidence says otherwise. I suppose it’s a mind trick, but it’s a good one.

I was doing what my mother was annoyed at my teachers for doing to me as a kid. By telling myself I had no confidence and I was no good, I was holding myself back and diminishing my opportunities and ability to improve.

In the end I managed to overcome this terrible anxiety. I focused on working and developing my skills (this blog was a big help too). I worked so hard it became easy to distract myself from feeling sorry for myself. By the time I came out the other side I was laughing “haha, how stupid I was”.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Godfreysjgodfrey.com

Photo courtesy of Stephen Godfrey
sjgodfrey.com

I certainly have a few confidence issues still and often have moments where I beat myself up in an instant if I say something I think is idiotic or lame and will allow myself to be affected by little things. I recognise the problem but I think it is much more manageable for me to deal with. I have no issues as a filmmaker other than the typical doubts that creep in from time to time.

The main thing is that I can happily look back and see that even after all my kicking and screaming right out of film school, that I was no good and no one would want me, I then went on and had the busiest, most productive year ever. I achieved so much. Remembering that gives me confidence, so now I just need to train myself to handle my silly weak moments better and then I will be unstoppable!!!

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”