She is producing a short 2/3minute film about my photographic practice and why I take the images I do, to be part of the information available on my new website.
The art of filmmaking is quite different, in many ways, to stills photography and there are lots of tips and tricks that Gemma has imparted over the week to ensure a great outcome for the film and me as the person commissioning it.
I have enjoyed collaborating with Gemma and driving her around the Island and sharing some of my secret and not so secret spots, and those in which I spend a lot of my days. We shared some special moments this week – not least four consecutive days of stunning weather. Not in some ways what I wanted, as I did want to share my Skye, one in which you can have four different seasons in one day! We arrived at the Old Man of Storr, on the Trotternish peninsula, with it shrouded in mist and cloud. Gemma just had to trust me in telling her where the big reveal might come, if the weather improved. We spent over an hour taking time lapse shots with two cameras and yes, the big reveal did come, with beautiful sunshine landing on the Old Man from behind us. Another great day was spent at Loch Cill Chriosd taking shots of me working in the field. Gemma used the drone to capture the wider view and flew it low above the water to reveal the reeds I have spent so long photographing. We had a memorable experience as we were driving past Loch Sligachan and saw some amazing patterns and shapes on the surface of the water. We decided to turn around and return to fly the drone.
I can’t wait to see these images. And, on the final shooting day, we went down to capture the Skye Bridge with the Island in the background. As Gemma piloted the drone we watched the warm autumn sun land on the surface of the bridge, lighting up this stunning structure and gateway to Skye.
In terms of making films, Gemma stresses the importance of planning in pre-production. The starting point should be a concept note, and from that, the production of a storyboard and then a shot list. The vision and narrative must be clear before starting the shoot.
There are lots of things that contribute to a successful shoot. For my 2/3-minute film Gemma has done 3 days of footage. She emphasises ensuring continuity of shots on location to achieve a seamless cut post-production. Light and composition are important as they are in stills photography and be sure to capture some “cut away” (otherwise know as “B-roll”) shots to enable smooth transitions between longer pieces of footage. Another term that I learnt in the field of filmmaking is “room tone”. This she used when we were recording the audio for the film. This is recording the ambient room noise in order that when the cutting and editing is done it will not be noticeable.
For this internal work, Gemma used two cameras and two microphones – to ensure she has a back up in case of technical failure. She also uses a camera with tracking autofocus to follow my facial movements during the interview. Again, Gemma is prepared with a list of questions to ask me to gain the audio footage she needs. She starts with some easy open questions that are unlikely to make it into the final cut to put me at my ease. In order to capture enough audio for our 2/3-minute film she records about thirty minutes of sound.
It has been great to share time with someone as passionate about photography as me and to learn from someone who clearly has a long, successful and exciting career ahead of her.