One of my goals from 2017 that I'm carrying forward into this year is to share more of the process. Share how things are made and why decisions were made to do things a certain way. So to kick off this year here is a break down on the process of making Brooklyn Doran's I Found A Home...
Brooklyn and I had collaborated a bunch over the past couple of years. I’ve shot her press photos and re-designed her website. So when she approached me to take on her next music video I was stoked because it meant we could build on the world we created for her in the photos we’ve done.
Ideally, a music video of this size would require at least 6 week’s pre production time but since she was heading on tour I had 3.
Things were a bit of a blur from there. I built out the concept and treatment for the video and then we started pitching people to come on board.
TREATMENT - the basic vision of the I Found A Home Video was about exploring how relationships change over time, in an extreme sense since our characters were set to be these three ancient goddesses. How would they interact with each other after a couple millennia forced together? What if they were forced to stay in this one house as well? How would that change the way they treat each other and their environment?
So that was the starting point to the concept. I wrote out a treatment, pulled some visual references, and started working on storyboards.
CREWING - It’s been a while since I’ve done a purely narrative piece and it was important to me that it looked major league great - which meant I wasn’t going to be shooting it. Not that I don’t like shooting video but I’d prefer to be able to direct and produce without worrying about the technical aspects of camera and lighting as well. So we needed to find a DOP. I reached out to a couple film groups I’m in and that’s when I found Alex. I’d say it’s pretty rare that the first person to email you about a post on Facebook ends up being the one but that’s what happened! Alex is a total pro and very patient with the fact that I was a bit rusty working with a DOP (and not working in DSLR systems).
Ok so we booked our DOP! While that was happening Brooklyn was reaching out o some of her acting friends to see if anyone would be available and that’s when laurel and Amanda signed on.
Hair and make up and set assistants were the last pieces of the puzzle and we lucked out with Kestra, Chelene, and Mitch.
LOCATION - the house was really important...and unfortunately where I made a big mistake in terms of being a good producer. While looking for a house I sent a bunch of options over to Brooklyn, all in the right price point except one located in Owen Sound...I sent it as an example of the vision I had but that we’d need to find one in our budget. Well, Brooklyn fell in love with it and refused to look at anything else. This is why typically you have a separate producer and direction, to make sure dreams don’t cause budgets to burst and the client doesn’t get swept away in the big vision of the director.
Because the location was so out of our price range I had to go back and re-evaluate the budget, figure out where we could save some money. The solution was that we’d lose a day of production and use the house as our crew accommodations as well. Definitely something I’ll be more conscious of in the future.
The final bits were wardrobe (thrifted and shopped our own closets), transportation, and scheduling over the course of the shoot.
AND THEN WE WERE OFF.
Our location was found through a bed and breakfast listing site (we emailed them explaining our intentions to get approval and thankfully there wasn't any additional costs to using it as a filming site) so the runs of check in and check out still applied. It made our game plan change slightly. Instead of two full days we now had to film everything in around 36 hours.
DAY ONE - Once the crew and cast arrived around 4pm, we unloaded and had a production meeting. Then it was dinner and setting up for our first scene of the shoot - the bathtub scene. We shot the video in July and the house had no AC and an indoor pool which meant we were not adequately prepared for the humidity. The bathroom ended up heating up to about 38/39 degrees Celsius but we shot as quickly as possible to get both our actor and Alex out of the room fast. Once the scene was done we were done for the night.
DAY TWO - Here's a quick rundown on how the day went since it was a lot of work and not a lot of time to do anything except shoot:
Cast & Crew Breakfast
First Set Up - All the dinning room shots and performance takes
Second Set Up - All the hallway/entryway shots and performance takes
Lunch and Photo Sessions with the Actresses
Third Set Up - all living room scenes
Fourth Set Up - all the sun room scenes
Dinner and Wrap For Day
Summer meant we had more daylight to shoot in but even then we still ran long. The main solution to that I'm keeping in mind for my next project are that hiring more people, while eating into the budget, means more things can get done at one time. Script supervisor would have also ultimately been really helpful for continuity. Once we wrapped for the day everyone ate and enjoyed the pool and house.
DAY THREE - I wouldn't call this a day - more like a morning! We had two things to shoot left: the solo shots in the sun room of one actress reading and the bedroom shots with Brooklyn. We also had to pack up all our gear and put the house back to how we found it. A lot to do in about 5 hours. Thankfully after we shot everything we heard from the owners of the location that they wouldn't be back until later in the afternoon and if we needed to stay a little longer we could. This was perfect because we really needed to clean up and move furniture back to where we found it.
I think after I got home from this I slept for a solid 15 hours. It was an intense schedule and experience and I'm incredibly thankful that everyone was in high spirits the entire time and made things as easy and smooth as possible.
Post was really smooth! Edited the first cut, sent off for approvals, made a couple tweaks, and then we were picture locked!
The approach to editing was that I knew exactly how I wanted it to start and end so I edited those first and then worked through the performance takes. Watched them all and figured out the best shots and put them in order from introductory shots to the most beautiful performance takes towards the end.
After that it was all about crafting the story of the three women. Shifting through all potential moments we shot and crafting together these mini storylines. Tension was really important to me, there always had to be something off between one of the three characters in each scene.
Once we picture locked, the edit was sent over to Alex for some grading and then it was ready for the world to see! Usually there’s a lot more back and forth but I think all the work and discussions we did through the planning and production phase meant that the end result was what was intended.
…and that’s it, the whole process. It was a lot of work with some incredibly talented people who worked their butts off. I’m so appreciative of each and every one of them and can’t thank them enough (if you’re reading this THANK YOU, SERIOUSLY THANK YOU!!!).
Now to spend the rest of the week in meetings and brainstorm sessions for what’s next!
CAST & CREW
Producer/Director - Cassandra Rudolph (www.cassandrarudolph.com)
Director of Photography - Alex Tong (www.alextong.com)
Set Assistant/Grip - Chalene Aron (www.chalenearon.blogspot.ca)
Set Assistant/BTS - Mitchell Roberts
Hair & Make Up - Kestra Illiatovitch (www.makeupbykestra.net)
Cast - Brooklyn Doran (www.brooklyndoran.com)
Cast - Amanda Cordner (www.instagram.com/theamandacordner)
Cast - Laurel Brady (www.laurelbradycreations.com)