Any film is more or less set up around a character which has become the basic ‘go to’ principle of every writer and director. Characters need to be built up strongly to portray the theme of the film on the screen definitively. And the locations in which the scenes are shot have a strong effect on the character build up as well as the mood of the story. Location singlehandedly, on a larger extent play with the theme of the story and compliment the story with creative inputs. But, location is also the one aspect of filmmaking that costs the director’s fortune a bit.
So how does one shoot his/her story without any of the big production houses backing them up and yet, maintaining the authenticity of the script?
Mozhi is a good example of how cleverly the locations around can be used in a film to bring out its true essence. The film’s director Aravind Chandrasekar had time constraint and fewer funds to play around with. Not wanting to compromise on the creative bit, he pre-planned his entire shoot and scenes.
Go out and Scout!
Location scouting is a vital process in the pre-production stage of filmmaking and commercial photography. Once the scriptwriters, director or producers have decided what general kind of scenery they require for the various parts of their work that is shot outside of the studio, the search for a suitable place or a location outside the studio begins.
The director along with his/her cinematographer and the writer should scout out and hunt for locations that don’t compromise with the feel of the scene on a whole. It’s important that the crew has a clear understanding of the scene and how they are going to go about it as the short filmmakers are mostly aspirants or students wanting to have an exposure to the world behind the lenses. Fund raising and lack of knowledge are the most often problems dealt with.
Know What your Scene Demands!
The director of the short-film Mozhi had also worked on similar lines. He used the locations around him to his utmost benefit. Having written the script, he knew exactly where he wanted to shoot the scenes and his expectations of each scene. Wanting to show the slum areas, he shot the entire film in a street and a single room in which his friend resided. Having a financial crunch to produce the film and time constraint, he had an eye for intricate details and sense of understanding the location which led him to shoot in a street. They had done pre shoots of the scenes in a room, noting down the positioning of the camera and the setting up of the angles.
How to Tackle the Barriers of a Location?
Shooting scenes in real life locations, outside studio has become a tedious job. Directors and producers now-a-days chalk out strategies to shoot with zero commotion. For aspiring short filmmakers, real life locations and the barriers that come along with it have a huge impact on their pocket. Mozhi’s director says, the following steps can be used to shoot in a public street:
They used Student Id cards and approached as a student.
They used minimal Equipments (like Tripod) with very less crew on the location to give the feel of amateur.
They shot in a familiar slum to circumvent queries from neighbors.
They paid off 5k-6k to the families around for the electricity for each day.
There is always room for improvisation….
Improvisation on real life location to one’s own creative comfort is important and should be ideally dealt with. Having a location to change into something totally opposite is what Art directors are known for. But again the curse of Low budget and no team to back, Short film makers need to rely on their instinctive skills and creativity to go about a scene. In the film, Mozhi, the director successfully portrays the poverty through the little child’s room. He used the following steps to bring out the poor economic conditions of the family:
They shot the entire scene in a room and improvised it to a slum area room.
They covered the A.C on the windows using a torn bed sheet as curtains.
They placed wooden stools and worn down furniture.
Put a cot in the scene to avoid the expense of bed and also to highlight the state in which the family resides.
They shot in a very small room and removed almost every hanging from the wall.
They pre- shot certain bits of the scenes in the street at different hours of the day to record which compliments the most to the story.
A location shall be counted in as a significant visual enhancement for a movie – being the single,most powerful and persuasive emotive feedback.