At the beginning of my last semester at BYU-I, one of my friends and coworkers, Dallin, approached me and asked me if I would be interested in helping him with a video he wanted to enter to the Rode Reel competition. I always like helping out, so I said yes. He explained the basic plot and sent me a rough script later on. I read through it, and we started discussing locations. We wanted it to have a lot of lava rock, to make it look like it was on another planet, the planet of Kuno. I grew up in south-eastern Idaho, so I knew a lot of good lava flows.
The problem was, if we were going to actually create this foreign world, we needed a LOT of lava rock.
Dallin had an idea, and after talking to some supervisors and up-and-ups, and buying insurance for the equipment and crew, he was able to get us into Craters of the Moon National Monument. If you haven’t been, I wholeheartedly recommend going.
First, we went location scouting. It was a long day, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The sights were great and the photos turned out great (I took some of my own besides the ones for location scouting.)
This last one has the tree that I actually ended up taking multiple photos of, I am currently in the process of editing it now.
After location scouting, we knew what spots we wanted to film at, what equipment we would need, and we had two weeks to finalize everything for the day of filming. Among many things, I helped with props. We used some toy Star Trek communicators. I painted, scratched, melted them to make them look old and very beat up. Along with other last preproduction plans, I was in charge of making sure meals were planned and taken care of, the actress was happy, and other odds and ends that assistant directors deal with.
The day of shooting came, and bright and very early, we were on our way to Craters of the Moon. Unfortunately, our actress was not having the best of days, she was feeling very sick. As the assistant director, I did my best to make sure her needs were met, as well as the director’s needs of getting what we needed to have for the day.
Not an easy task.
We ended up making several revisions to the script and timeline of the video. We had to cut a few scenes we really had wanted to include, but we made it work. In the end, we made a cut that was just under the three minute requirement for the Rode Reel competition. Dallin created the visual effects and dealt with the green screen, and I used Davinci Resolve to color the video. Gabe, our audio guy for the shoot, mixed the audio and put the finishing touches, doing a great job!
Not only did Dallin get the short film itself done, but he also was able to make a behind the scenes video (with the help of Avery on camera 2) for the competition.
I feel like I was able to learn a lot from this project. The organization for the short film, or any video really, is CRUCIAL! We had a script, a storyboard, shot lists, etc. That helped, especially when our plans drastically changed the day of filming. We had made plans, and it was much easier to roll with the punches as opposed to if we had just come with a general idea of what we needed. It was still hard, but it was doable with a plan already in hand.
Pre-production as also huge to get our location. Because Dallin contacted who he needed to at Craters of the Moon, we were able to get the permits required and since we were students, had a lot of the fees waved. Since we had this figured out in advance, we were also given enough time to figure out our needs with insurance for the shoot.
We had one day to film, and it had to go right.
In the future, I most definitely will use these skills and prepping plans for other short films and shoots. I am, actually, in the process of writing the script and shot list of another short film.