The story behind finding a story: Philip Bloom in Brussels
Behind the scenes with Philip Bloom
Here is a good idea: Go to Brussels for a weekend, meet like-minded people, talk about filmmaking, and because it is Brussels it will include nice food and a lovely city. In 2012 I went to a meeting in Amsterdam during the IBC and it was fun. Met some Dutch people who where also interested in making videos, and a true movie buff, which was also cool. I get the feeling there are a few of uss in this business. This is the result of the 2012 meeting, if I’m not mistaken, this was organised by Gert Kracht?
After this chaotic and interesting experience I was ready to try it again. So when Haroun from Filmmakers Corner organized a workshop in Brussels at Hotel Bloom, not renamed for the occasion, with Philip Bloom, it seemed like the place to go and find other people to work with. Perhaps for personal projects or maybe even bigger plans. When the workshop was finished Philip invited me to come along the next day and shoot a behind the scenes video of him looking for a story. This is the kind of shoots I like: a portrait of someone at work, not too complicated and because I’m a total rebel, even with a Canon 5DIII: no tripod.
To be honest: I did bring everything: lights, tripod, several sound options and lenses, but decided to just take the Canon 5DIII with the Zacuto Z-finder, Canon 24-105mm F4 zoom, Sennheiser G3 wireless set with the Rode lavalier and a variable ND. This was probably going to be a short shoot and I wasn’t expecting this to last past sundown.
One man crew of four
With a one-man crew of four: Philip Bloom, James Miller, Ronald Vonk and me, we set out from the Bloom Hotel to find the perfect Brussels story. It turned out to be a fun day, good company, nice food and some very silly jokes. If I’m not mistaken, Philip was stationed here for Sky news in the past and knew the city centre, operating as our tour guide with a non-stop stream of puns and jokes.
It was a pretty long day, but even with all the almost endless entertainment only ended up with about 46 minutes of raw footage, which, for such a long day is not that bad, especially not if you know how much Philip actually talks and you never know when the jokes come 🙂
Shooting the unexpected
This turned into a basic report style of shootings: pay attention to whats being said and how you want to edit it later, then shoot whatever B-roll that fits what has been said, pretty basic newsie stuff really.
For some reason I’m not big on shooting cut-aways, don’t like to use them in the edit, it pulls you away from the subject if they have no real connection with what is being said, but sometimes you need them to keep things short.
The big difference in shooting styles was obvious: Philip shoots everything from a tripod, the way you should do it really, especially when you want to sell your footage as stock later. But I’m not a big fan of locked down shots, I like things to move. Locked down shots feel a bit like a moving photograph to me, but that is just a personal preference and obviously depends on what the end product should be. For this video, the energy and fun of the day was the point of the video so I think it worked out pretty well, it feels a bit like you are with the crew, following them around and are part of the experience.
It was pretty easy to grab some decent steady shots because the Canon 24-105mm F4.0 has a good build in image stabilisation. Personally I like to add small moves to give it a more energetic feeling, keep things moving. This has always been a debate with other shooters ever since I started doing this decades ago, everybody has always told me this is now how things are supposed to be shot. But like all creative things, there is no right or wrong way if the end result is good. Besides these little moves really help in the edit if you want to cut things short, they make for natural transitions. Now obviously if everybody hates the end result, you did find the wrong way! So what I really mean is, don’t be limited by whatever other people think you are supposed to do, because nobody really knows. Unless they pay you, in that case you better listen 🙂
Sound was easy: Because this was the Philip Bloom show and he was pretty much the only one talking, I just gave him a Sennheiser G3 with rode Lavalier, the big scarf made it easy to hide the microphone and works as a massive Rycote. Because I plugged it into the minijack on the 5DIII, this is the only sound I got. No ambience or anything else. But it wasn’t a problem, Philip worked as a non-stop voice-over, the only thing you don’t get is all the people who recognised Philip, including several people who signed up for the workshop the next day. But you expect them to recognise him I guess. The crazy things that come out of writing a helpful blog!
The end result
For anyone who ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes of a shoot, there is a 21-minute first cut I might release as a director cut in 10 years, but here is the 7 minutes version.
All in all a fun day, so thanks for Philip, Ronald and James, who knows maybe we can do this again in 10 years.
5DIII with the Canon 24-105 (borrowed Philips 16-35 F2.8 and 24-70 F2.8 because I left my own at the hotel)
Sennheiser G3 with Rode Lavalier, Sennheiser HD25 headphones.
KOG_theorem – Positron Emoticon
KOG_theorem – The Walk
World tour Track 1
Edited with Adobe Premiere and graded with Film Convert.
For more info on Philip Bloom: www.philipbloom.net