We ain't got no budget!
October 17, 2012 7:39 PM   Subscribe

CHALLENGE TIME! You are lent some expensive, professional grade video equipment for 18 hours and told that you may use it as you see fit in the time you have. Assuming little to no preparation beforehand, what do you do and/or film with it? Ideally you'd like the owner (or anyone else who sees your work) to be mildly impressed, knowing that you have no actual solo film making experience whatsoever.

Yes, this is about something that just happened to me. I have been asked to hang on to the following: Sony HVR video camera, Microphone, Radio Mic, and Tripod until tomorrow afternoon* when I meet the lender again to assist them with a project they are working on with important people. Lender totally trusts me and said I was free to make use of the equipment if I wished to do so. I'd like to make full use of this opportunity so that in future I might be allowed to hang on to equipment for, say, a weekend or more. Problem is, It's been a long and hectic week and my brain is shot. I am creatively burnt out and have no idea what to make in such a short time that would be worth showing anybody else. That's where you guys help me out. I'd like any ideas you can throw my way.

Additional facts:

I have used the equipment before, so I know how it all fits together and whatnot.

Also, I have a copy of Final Cut Pro X on this computer with which I am fairly proficient and feel confident I can cut together something nice and professional looking given decent footage.

Finally, I am currently staying in the DTES of Vancouver and own no mode of transport apart from my feet. I have $50 in pocket I can blow on this if necessary.

*If you are reading this after the deadline, feel free to post any ideas you have. I could always use some no budget/no crew film ideas.
posted by Seiten Taisei to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Given your constraints, I'd spend the $50 on some small toys like Lego men or something, and shoot a short stop-motion adventure in your kitchen or living room with them.
posted by gauche at 7:41 PM on October 17, 2012

Maybe wake up early and get some footage of the sunrise and earlybirds coming out into the streets and doing their thing? I don't know the area, but I was out and about in NYC at an ungodly hour this morning and there were certainly some interesting characters/visuals to be found.
posted by hot soup at 7:54 PM on October 17, 2012

Best answer: The equipment will let you capture raw footage. Do you have a script? If you just want the most impressive raw footage, go to the most beautiful picturesque scenic place you can find, Brokeback Mountain, perhaps, and just film beautiful raw footage.

Otherwise, you should already have a script or ideas about what to shoot before getting the camera.

So much of what makes a movie a MOVIE happens in editing and post-production.
posted by shipbreaker at 7:57 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest a documentary on street food vendors - coffee carts, but after seeing the Wikipedea page on DTES maybe you shouldn't risk the camera.
How about a simple instructional video? Cooking, knitting, bicycle repair, improvising a crack pipe, etc
posted by anon4now at 7:58 PM on October 17, 2012

Response by poster: So much of what makes a movie a MOVIE happens in editing and post-production.

Exactly. That's where my talents lie. Unfortunately I did not know I'd be getting all this stuff or else I'd have had a script ready.

after seeing the Wikipedea page on DTES maybe you shouldn't risk the camera.

It's not too dangerous but even still, I agree that it would be best not risk it. I should mention I'm on the edge of downtown, so it's all walking distance.

improvising a crack pipe, etc

posted by Seiten Taisei at 8:09 PM on October 17, 2012

Walk down the busiest street where you live, and ask everyone you meet the same question. Doesn't matter what it is. There was a great project here in Chicago where a coupla nun's just walked up to people and asked "Are you happy?" (Dont rip that off)

Keep shooting till you're out of space. Don't edit a thing.

The guy isn't looking for Star Wars, just empathy.
posted by timsteil at 8:38 PM on October 17, 2012

Personally, if I lent some pricey equipment to someone, I'd want them to tell their own story.

Don't "make a movie", tell a story. More specifically, tell your story. Document your day to day life, document your family, document your friends, document you. Again, please don't try to "make a movie". We've seen billions of those. The vast majority are bad, really really bad.

Vancouver can be a very interesting place, document that. Document daily things you encounter, document interesting people you know.

Good luck, and I sincerely hope you can make something from this.
posted by Sphinx at 8:38 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Totally depends on your interest as a filmmaker, interview pieces are fun. If you want something more focused on your camera work you might try something like this video - it's an object study set on a beach, but you could do something similar on a feature in a park, or a public monument.
posted by dadici at 8:58 PM on October 17, 2012

I think it depends what you want to show off.

If you want to show off your camerawork and your skill at the technical side of film, I'd go shoot really beautiful b-roll at the most amazing place you can schlep the equipment. (Maybe use the $50 to spring for a cab?)

If you want to show off your ability to tell a story, frankly, I think a bunch of equipment and eighteen hours is not a great way to accomplish that, but if you must, yeah, I like the "person on the street" interview idea. Maybe something in the vein of Humans Of New York, but in video form? I like it when he finds siblings or spouses and asks them simple questions like "what's your favorite thing about your [husband]?" People always have really fun things to say that are very revealing.

I think "document your everyday life" is the worst possible thing you could do. Everybody does that. It's boring, navelgazing, and amateurish.
posted by Sara C. at 9:28 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

The camera can do 60 fps right? Is that enough to get a slow motion effect when played back at normal speeds?

You could go to a local skatepark, get some great skateboard footage, and interview kids on what issues are important to them at the moment.
posted by trialex at 9:58 PM on October 17, 2012

Best answer: I'm not a filmmaker, but I would be thinking in terms of your strengths.

I would be looking for a variety of footage, myself, thinking later I could piece together a story in the studio from what seem to be unconnected snippets. I'd want urban, scenery, people, traffic, interiors, whatever...just a big pile of nicely shot footage which you could later plunder, cut together, add voiceover (if appropriate), yadda yadda.

Obviously that doesn't work if your goal is to show someone something when they pick up the camera, but it does if a couple of weeks from now you say "hey, remember when you loaned me that camera? Take a look."
posted by maxwelton at 10:12 PM on October 17, 2012

Best answer: Here is some inspiration in the form of a very positive review post by Roger Ebert of a one-day movie "Idiot With a Tripod" made in NYC during a blizzard with a Canon 7D and FCP. This review was mentioned on the blue.

You'll probably have to work around the lack of a blizzard.
posted by bz at 10:13 PM on October 17, 2012

(Maybe use the $50 to spring for a cab?)

Also, this is a bit cliche, and would definitely require finding the right person (unlikely just by happenstance), but rolling film while asking a cabbie to take you to see something they think you should see and film, and getting them to talk about why on the way with film rolling could potentially be really fun. But, again, that's probably one in cajillion drivers who are going to want to do it, have any sort of charisma and have something interesting to say.

Edit: Don't forget releases if you film people.
posted by maxwelton at 10:22 PM on October 17, 2012

Response by poster: Good news everybody! I now have until Monday!
posted by Seiten Taisei at 10:26 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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