Making ‘Colton’s Big Night’ by Camille Sainsbury

ImageAfter reading all the scripts, I chose Nathan Gower’s ‘Colton’s Big Night’ because of its comedy factor and the interesting Colt character, which would give me another opportunity to direct a child actor. Also, its interesting to explore the perspective of children and how they interact with the world around them. For ‘Colton’s Big Night’  I wanted to cast a Colton who would reflect the cheekiness and vibrancy of the Colton in the script.

I worked with child actors before and they always bring energy, enthusiasm and spontaneity to their performance so I was very pleased to find Alex who had these qualities in abundance. He adapted to Colt’s character like the part was made for him. As a crew we also developed our own interpretation of the script to show another side of Colt and bring out the boyfriend’s character. Consequentially, we made Colt more likeable and clever compared to Anna’s arrogant, daft boyfriend and gave Anna a bigger motivation to agree with Colt.

I worked with Nathan when I was trying to visualize how to film it, I felt there needed to be a montage at the beginning to set up the film and get us into the head of Colt to show the audience how much preparation had gone into his Valentine’s surprise for Anna. Also I discussed the possibility of filming during the daytime in my garden at some point.  But, in the end I decided to shoot inside because it was better to record audio.

I decided to keep my ‘Colton crew’ to  around 5 people who I could  easily coordinate. We shot in one day which was enough time I think to get everything filmed. Alex and his dad Mark contributed a lot to the production design of the set, Alex bought posters and paper love hearts, whilst his dad bought some expensive chocolates.

I discussed the visual look with my DOP Alex Woodcock we agreed on flamboyant actions from Colt in the kitchen and cheeky winks to the camera. We had some technical problems with the camera as we were not too sure about how to adjust the settings at first, so ended up shooting at 1280×720 instead of 1920×1080.

Mark Williams was ‘sound guy’ with no experience, he did a great job in capturing the best audio we could. I encountered problems in the edit with background noise from outside, but overall when I used Foley and asked my sound designer Marie Tueje to adjust the dialogue and music levels in my second edit, the film did sound a lot better. I did all the sound in the first edit and lacked the knowledge to mix it to a professional standard, so it was great to find someone who could help me out.

If I were to change anything about the shoot, I would probably not act in it, it is better as a director to be focused on that rather then acting in the film, fortunately my DOP Alex had experience working with directors and we worked well together. We directed together along with Mark to get the best performances throughout.

We  were quite lucky to have shot the film on a well-lit day, even though I felt some of the shots were a little over-exposed.But, for this shoot, I did not have access to any lighting equipment only sound equipment. So in post-production, colour grading was essential to achieve good contrast in the footage. Ideally I would have shot at night, but I think my crew and I created a good style for the film.

This experience has been a huge learning curve for me, I am relatively new to the film world. Even though I have always been involved with creating art all my life. With film I have a lot more to learn and I am happy that I faced the 50 kisses challenge with a strong team behind me. I received good feedback from the 50 kisses community and refined my second edit to make it even better. So I hope you all enjoy it!

To filmmakers interested in the next competition, let your personality shine through the film, work closely with the writer and listen and respond to criticism if you have the opportunity too, your film will become only greater.

To the writers, I appreciate the diversity of the scripts that are being produced, I encourage more interaction between filmmakers and writers, the insight is invaluable.

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