Filming My First Feature

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Its been a month since we wrapped principal photography on FSM and I am still reeling from the experience. I live for the days on set – actively filming is my absolute favorite place to be in the world and if I had the choice, I would keep shooting forever. Alas, on a low-budget film, the days are limited and tightly packed with activity.

Shooting this film in just 12 days was a complete whirlwind. Every day was hard work, we had to push hard to keep up the pace and get everything within our short time frame, but I’m proud to say we kept to our 12-hour days and we even managed to release the cast and crew early on a couple of days! We shot all over my beloved city from Kits to East Van, and many, many, many days in my apartment. We were blessed with great weather on all of our outdoor shooting days. Many cast were only needed on set for one or two days but they brought a huge amount of heart and generosity to their roles. I only wish we had been able to have them around more!

For me, the regular world sort of ceased to exist. I had no idea what day it was, what the date was. All I knew was it was “Day 3” of filming, or “Day 9″ or, the real heart breaker…..”The LAST day.” We still have a pickup shoot coming up and I’m eagerly looking forward to it, to being on set again.

Moving from the frenzy and social aspect of filming to the relatively calm and quiet process of post has been really hard for me. I don’t live for the edit room in the same way I live to be on set. Its been a harsh return to reality, back to work, back to the regular ups and downs of daily life – making dinner, watching TV, prepping for classes. Give me the hectic days and nights of a film shoot any time!

After we finished shooting, I actually had a lot of trouble sleeping – I kept waking up in the night in a panic about one shot or another.. or afraid that I had slept through my alarm and was supposed to be on set! On the night we held our wrap party, I went home and promptly dreamt about directing a “goodbye” scene. My friends and colleagues tell me I have “PTFD” – Post Traumatic Film Disorder. Apparently a common experience for filmmakers after the intensity of shooting.

The irony is that during filming I’m certain I didn’t get enough sleep either, but it didn’t faze me in the same way – the lack of sleep melted away as soon as we set up the first shot each day, and by the time I called “Action”, it didn’t matter if I had 10 hours or 10 minutes of sleep the night before – I was in my element. My happy place. This is one of the parts of filmmaking that makes me feel like I am in the right place, that I was meant to do this… because as soon as I get on set, everything just feels right. I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m best at. I love creating things and collaborating – and one of the best mediums to be able to do both at the same time is making films.

I’m making a mental note to, in the future, try to be sure and take a break, a holiday, after filming – because diving straight into life, work and post-production has actually been the hardest part of this entire process. The brain needs time to re-program, to adjust back to the “regular” world again, and I haven’t had that. Post has its own challenges from balancing the budget to selecting music to the never-ending cutting and re-cutting of the footage to find that “perfect cut” and its important that you are able to put as much energy and focus into these things as you did with filming.

Everything about this Indiecan10K Challenge experience truly has been a challenge – From writing the first draft of the script to a COMPLETE film in under 12 months… ? That is the definition of intense!

Just a couple more months of post to go and I’ll be finished! Wish me luck. 🙂

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