Behind the scenes with Philip Bloom
It sounds like a good idea: Go to Brussels for a weekend, meet like-minded people, talk about filmmaking, and because it is Brussels this will include nice food and a lovely city. In 2012 I went to a little meeting in Amsterdam during the IBC and it was fun (watch it HERE), so I was ready to try it again. Haroun from Filmmakers Corner had organized a workshop in Brussels with Philip Bloom. After 28 years working as a filmmaker I was not expecting to learn a lot from the workshop, but it seemed like a great place to find other people to work with, perhaps on personal projects or maybe even bigger plans.
When the workshop was finished Philip invited me to come along the next day and shoot a behind the scenes video of him looking for a story. This is the kind of shoots I like: a portrait of someone at work, not too complicated and because I’m a total rebel: no tripod.
To be honest: I did bring everything: lights, tripod, several sound options and lenses, but decided to just take the Canon 5DIII with the Zacuto Z-finder, Canon 24-105mm F4 zoom, Sennheiser G3 wireless set with the Rode lavalier and a variable ND. This was probably going to be a short shoot and I wasn’t expecting it to last past sundown.
One man crew of four
With a one-man crew of four: Philip Bloom, James Miller, Ronald Vonk and me, we set out from the Bloom Hotel, yes that is its real name, to find the perfect Brussels story. It turned out to be a fun day, good company, nice food, and some very silly jokes. I think Philip was stationed here for Sky news in the past and knew the city centre, operating as our tour guide with a non-stop stream of puns and jokes.
It must have seemed like I was shooting all the time but in the end, I had only about 46 minutes of raw footage, which, for such a long day isn’t a lot, especially not if you know how much Philip actually talks and you never know when the funny jokes come 🙂
Shooting the unexpected
The usual way of shooting reports: get a lot of B-roll so you can edit things with meaningless shots that are supposed to be part of the story. I’m not big on shooting cut-aways because I don’t like to use them in the edit, it pulls you away from the subject, but sometimes you need them to keep things short. This means: pay attention to whats being said and how you want to edit it later, then shoot whatever you need to cut it together.
The big difference in shooting was obvious: Philip shoots everything from a tripod, the way you should do it really. but I’m not a big fan of tripod shots anymore, these days I like things to move. After almost 20 years of doing it right locked down shots feel a bit like a moving photograph to me, but that is really a very personal preference and depends a lot on the end result. For this video I think it worked pretty well, you grab many different angles in a short time, walk around the subject. And grab some decent steady shots because the Canon 24-105 has decent image stabilisation. It’s nice to make small moves and keep some sort of movement, it makes it easier to edit as well.
Sound was easy: Because this was the Philip Bloom show and he was pretty much the only one talking, I just gave him a Sennheiser G3 with rode Lavalier, the big scarf made it easy to hide the microphone and works as a massive Rycote. Because I plugged it into the minijack on the 5DIII, this is the only sound I got. Not ambience or anything else. But it wasn’t a problem, Philip worked as a non-stop voice-over, the only thing you don’t get is all the people who recognised Philip, including several people who signed up for the workshop the next day. But you expect them to recognise him I guess. The crazy things that come out of writing a helpful blog!
The end result
For anyone who ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes of a shoot, there is a 21-minute first cut I might release as a director cut in 5 years, but here is the 7 minutes version.
5DIII with the Canon 24-105 (borrowed Philips 16-35 F2.8 and 24-70 F2.8 because I left my own at the hotel)
Sennheiser G3 with Rode Lavalier, Sennheiser HD25 headphones.
KOG_theorem – Positron Emoticon
KOG_theorem – The Walk
World tour Track 1
Edited with Adobe Premiere and graded with Film Convert.
For more info on Philip Bloom: www.philipbloom.net