BFI Film Academy 6: Joel Wood

Joel Wood is one of the participants on our sixth BFI Film Academy. Having almost completed their short film Pushing Buttons, we asked Joel what he got up to on the shoot…

Joel’s Pushing Buttons Film Shoot Blog

Pushing Buttons is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. You can imagine it being incredible to be on the film shoot. However, it was an even greater honour getting to write the script and come up with the film idea. The whole group have been excited to finally put our idea on to the big screen. On the down side; it wasn’t going to be that easy. We had only four days and were split into two groups. Fortunately, from my experience on the latter two days, everything seemed to somehow go swimmingly. It was genuinely an uplifting experience (excuse the pun). I have never had so much fun (and so much power!). I was able to try out a range of different aspects on the film shoot from costume consultant to cinematographer. The shoot went as followed:

Shoot Day 1: Pushing Buttons

We began the day by deciding upon our roles for the morning and I got Costume Design. Unfortunately for Ally, our primary Costume Designer, there was a space available on cinematography to which I quickly jumped for. It was incredible being able to use the camera. Despite my content, I don’t think my peers agreed as I had never used the camera before and I soon discovered that I was stuck on the menu screen believing myself to be the next Roger Deakins. Fortune was on my side and I was taught the ropes by one of our group leaders (John). I soon became extremely confident and able to re-position the camera into amazing positions. I was particularly excited when we got the opportunity to do extreme close-ups of the actors. I feel as though the actors would’ve shared my enjoyment if it wasn’t for the fact they weren’t able to move due to a lens being only a few mm away from their faces.

After cinematography, the job of Boom Operator swiftly took my attention. I was again able to use my impressive talent of putting filmmaking equipment uncomfortably close to actors faces. It was really entertaining but quite tricky as you have to stay in the exact same position for a good few minutes. Nevertheless, I ventured on and had a great time doing so.

Continuing in the sound aspect of film, I moved on to the role of Sound Mixer. This involved sitting on an extremely comfy sofa with headphones on, listening to the actors talk (you can see why it was so appealing to me after working as the Boom Operator). Although, this is a very important job! I had to adjust the sound to ensure that it could all be heard and recorded with a good enough quality. It was very fun and great working in the sound department. Sadly, the first seven hours were up. Tomorrow, however, was to be a very exciting day (somehow even better than day one).

As the diary make abundantly clear, it was an incredible experience. Were things about to change?

Shoot Day 2: Pushing Buttons

Today was the day. The day that I finally get to direct. I had asked the previous day to direct scene 12; this scene was very close to me as I had helped to write it and had clear visions in my head for how it would turn out. Yet the day didn’t start with directing, it started with the very important profession of Clapperboard Operator. Naturally, I immediately rose to the role of Clapperboard Operator. Not only because I got to shout out the scene, slate and take but also as I was able to return to my natural ability of holding filmmaking equipment a few mm off the actors faces. I had an amazing time with the clapperboard. It’s very hard to explain what’s so fun about clapping two pieces of plastic together but I urge you to seek out an opportunity to do so.

After almost removing a few inches off of the actors’ noses, I returned behind the camera. This was an easy move for me as it allowed me to try out things that I hadn’t done the day before. I also was really intrigued and slightly obsessed with trying to create continuity with the scene’s shot on the prior day. This involved moving the camera a few micro-metres to either side. The moment had finally come and I took advantage of every second. Directing was an experience which was too great to try and classify with a singular, simple adjective. However, my enjoyment was shown through the fact that I decided to shoot 16 takes of the same scene (the most takes on our film shoot). I really can’t wait to try directing again.

The whole film shoot was truly gratifying. I learnt so much on the film shoot and cannot wait for the film to be released. I really found the whole experience to be life-changing and I finally feel that my long-awaited career in film has begun (either that or my long-awaited career in holding objects extremely close to people’s faces).

Find out more about our BFI Film Academy, head here.

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