Fitting the Brief
During 2021, I worked as the Director of Photography on the documentary short Fitting the Brief. This documentary seeks to highlight problematic attitudes and systems within the dance industry, and the effect that has had on dancers. Production took place under the umbrella of Situated Creative Practice, a QUT program where artists in various fields come together and collaborate to create artistic works. I worked as part of a large crew, particularly the director and on set crew.
Director of Photography Responsibilities
Being the Director of Photography for Fitting the Brief involved working extensively in pre-production alongside the director to develop the visual style and shooting techniques for the film. On set, I was responsible for every shot filmed, and they were either handled by me or the Camera Assistant. Before production, I wrote a shotlist based on the script, then before each shoot day I compiled notes and sketches to make shooting more efficient. Making sure the camera was set up properly for each shot was also an important role.
The quantity of footage demanded by the script meant that our call sheets were very condensed. In order to achieve the high demand, I ensured that the camera was set up quickly and efficiently so that other departments, such as lighting and sound, had an accurate reference and knowledge of what was needed. Being able to adapt on the fly, and quickly take the camera as handheld or use the tripod in a cramped environment like the interiors also helped this greatly.
As I was working with a Camera Assistant and needed to communicate with them and the broader on set team, I developed a set of tools to make sure the environment stayed efficient and positive. One of those tools included continually informing the producers what was currently being worked on, with a time estimate, so they could more accurately identify problems with the schedule. Another was using the camera to quickly mock up shots or point out areas that needed attention. Altogether, these strategies for communication helped us run on time.
Maintaining a Positive Attitude
Keeping an upbeat set was a challenge with many of the shooting days, particularly when we were running overtime or facing issues with a shot. On one day when we were shooting at a subject’s house, at lunchtime we were quite overtime and under crunch to finish. The producers called lunch late, so I tried to stay enthusiastic about the project and not let the delays sour the overall mood.