Joanna Buttercase

Directing a Subject



Many thanks to partner in crime / little screen star Bhakti Mistry 



1) Set up issues

– I arrived an hour early to get out all the equipment during booking time

– BUT allowed myself only 15 minutes to get set up before Bhakti arrived

– Still had some setting up / testing I wanted to do

– Bhakti didn’t have long so this significantly cut into shooting time


2) Camera Shyness

– Although Bhakti is comfortable with me, me with a camera stuck on my face is another thing entirely.

– I gave her minimal direction and emphasised doing what felt natural /comfortable and then told her what was working best

– Showed her the best shots as we went through stopped there being any disconnection in communication

– Used the 180mm lens ; its big which is a bit “scarier”, but allowed me to shoot from a comfortable distance even for extreme close ups

– Towards the end of the shoot Bhakti became completely relaxed with the camera and it shows; the early footage is not bad by any means, but it doesn’t have the same feel of spontaneity and complete comfortability that the later takes do.

– I also put music on about halfway through which got rid of any potential for awkward silence


3) Unforseen Circumstances

– We had builders working in the same room (we were in Studio B, they were in A)

– Without her being 100% aware I think they made Bhakti a little more self conscious!

– Initially the curtain wasn’t drawn around completely so when they walked in and out they kept having a nose, which again put Bhakti back on edge

– Luckily they were finished about half an hour before the end, so it was much more private



– Arriving at least half an hour before the person you want to shoot (subject / actor) helps them feel like you are in control and ready to go; I feel like this will be a big part of creating a professional environment when I work with anyone I don’t know BUT make sure that you get set up

– You don’t have to be an absolute control freak to achieve good results! I gave Bhakti key ideas for things to do (Eg keep moving around but stay very relaxed) without being overly pedantic about exactly what she did (Eg move from *a* to *b* like so..) this may be more applicable with the nature of this particular film but it definitely allowed her to stay comfortable and relaxed and be intuitive with herself about what would work best

– Creating the right atmosphere was really helpful in getting the right “feel” across on camera. I put music on and could tell when it was and wasn’t helping; if Bhakti liked the song it made her instantly behave completely differently to one she didn’t like/didnt know. I think even in a situation where I can’t put music on (if recording sound) it is really good to know how affective it was for setting the right mood!


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This entry was posted on November 11, 2014 by in Practical, Year 3 PPP.
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