Nov 11
A SHORT HELLO by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Mon, Nov 11, 2013

As an indirect effect of FAP DAY—to strengthen the guilds with revitalized membership and relevant projects—the FSC (Filipino Society of Cinematographers) prepared a workshop for beginners and semi professionals.

To make the workshop more interesting, the organizers decided to have a short film as the practice set for the hands-on portion of the workshop. FSC president Isagani Sioson liked the idea since the output can be submitted to contests and festivals.

The Basic Digital Cinematography workshop had an intended 16 participants only. The small number was agreed upon to afford the students maximum quality of learning because camera operations and lighting techniques were compressed in 2 days.

Hello, a story about cellphone texting, has 16 sequences with half for interior shots and the other half for exterior shots. Camera learners can have the actual experience in setting up the proper lighting for the digital camera.

When the requirements were settled, actors were contacted and a lean crew of 3 was assembled. To further economize on the production budget, the 4 characters would be played by just 2 actors, i.e. both actors will have a dual role.

Like a real movie project, a pre-production was held 2 days before the shooting. The script reading session gave the cast and crew a better view of their roles. The costumes and props were also discussed.


The cast being given a makeover – Mhiko Capiral and Ilonah Gubiangan

With the inclusion of Hello as the main subject of the workshop, participants were excited. “Yung mga ganitong workshops kasi, panoramic at test shots lang,” said one participant with eagerness in his voice.

The schedule of shooting on Saturday was 2 pm until 9 pm while the Sunday shoot was from 9 am to 4 pm. The alloted time was more than enough to finish all the sequences. But we had to be aware that the cameramen were mostly beginners.

The 14 participants were divided into 4 groups. With the 16 sequences in the script, each participant would have the opportunity to have a sequence for himself. But take note that one sequence normally involves several scenes or camera positions.

The script’s sequence 9 was the first in line. The cameraman should be aware that the scene would show the weak personality of Mark in contrast to the strictness of his aunt Lily. As an interior setting, the lighting units were employed.


The terrifying sequence 9 that broke the ice for the participants

The set was like a market with almost everybody talking simultaneously. Obviously, that’s excitement to the max. Not only the participants were excited but the mentors as well—FSC members acting as consultants for the benefit of the participants.

Sequence 8 gave some problems with the panning because the location was in the stairs and the position of the camera was a bit awkward. That was a neat lesson for the participants, to be aware of the camera’s placement.


The TV monitor being watched by movie industry veterans George Toralba, Arnold Alvaro, Romulo Araojo. At the back of workshopper Krystel Dumapit are her colleagues Freddie Lebreja, Pocholo Felix

There was the benefit of the TV monitor for the interior shots on the first day. The importance of the TV monitor was felt on the second day of shoot because, without the monitor, it was difficult to ascertain if the exterior shots were good or not.

The second day started with Sequence 6. The location was in the garden with the fruiting banana plant for a backdrop. Some were surprised to know that a mere styrofoam could provide light by reflection. The portable LED light was also useful.


Richard Visco at the helm while Oscar Querejero holds the LED. Between them is George Toralba and at right is Reggie of IDIGITIZER.

For exterior shots, lapel mic is ideal but the boom mic is also okay depending on the purpose. The boom mic that was used captured ambient sounds that can somehow enhance the audio of the movie.

By the way, the equipment—two units of HD camera with tripod, lighting units and shooting paraphernalia—were all provided by IDIGITIZER of Harold Emnace. They specialize in corporate events but also rent out for movie production.


An improvised boom mic courtesy of workshoppers Thomas Villar and Pocholo Felix

The most difficult sequence to shoot was the restaurant scene in sequence 15 where the actors had to show their contrasting characters in the dining table—a rich old woman versus a poor old man. The strong winds ruined the audio.

For the camera, it had to be placed so as not to capture the showbiz decors of the Mowelfund Plaza’s surroundings. The take was also in a hurry because the natural light was starting to wane. “Wala tayong ilaw,” chorused the veteran cinematographers.


The problematic restaurant scene where the director’s hand provided the waitering

The workshop ended with the preview of the footages. Everyone was hoping that there would be a formal exhibition of the finished product similar to a premiere showing. And, of course, the participants wished to have a copy of their movie.

Starring Ilonah Gubiangan and Mhiko Capiral, HELLO was directed by Alex Socorro while Evangeline Bulay assisted as Production Manager and Continuity Director. Cinematography credits go to all the workshop participants.

Comments to this article can be sent to ajsocorro@yahoo.com


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