St. Giles Trust Charity Fundraising Film: Patricia’s Story

Media: Photography / HDSLR Video / Post Production / Social Media

Behind the scenes
I am proud to have been commissioned by St Giles Trust to create and produce their 2011 Christmas fundraising film.
Firstly I want to say having previously photographed for the Trust at their places of work and events I was aware of the good work they carry out.
This time round I got to more personally know the team and the ins and outs of the work they are so committed to doing.
Here is a link to their website to find out more info.

Right, let’s start with the roles I had, in short Creative director, Director, Cameraman, lighting, focus puller, editor, post production colour grading, social media IT assistance oh and taxi driver on the day in my car between locations.

Pre production
Initially I had a few pre-production meetings with the Trust project team and put across my ideas for the filming style and listened to the brief and about Patricia’s story and the areas of the Trust they wanted to draw attention to. The focus of the film changed a few times before the actual shoot but on the day I had a good idea of what I wanted and needed to film.

Due to the sensitive personal life history of Patricia’s story, St.Giles made the decision that an actress should play the role of Patricia.
I was asked whether I knew of a good place to find actress and my friend and university lecturer Jane Barnwell pointed me to casting call pro and from there the Trust booked in 2 potential actresses and I went along to the castings to meet and ask questions I thought were relevant to the look of the film. Dealing with actors and this process was a first for me.

The film was shot all in one day. The locations were around the Camberwell and Elephant & Castle areas and included the St. Giles Trust HQ, outside a local court house [as there wasn’t enough time to go to Holloway prison and back], outside Elephant & Castle tube station for the time lapse / tear scene and at one of the St.Giles teams home [thanks Alex as this was sprung very last minute].

Moving from scene to scene I didn’t have time to playback and review the footage and I had to make executive decisions throughout the day to move to the next setup in order to get everything finished.

At least the weather was a good consistent overcast grey. One problem when shooting in winter is how little daylight you get given. The time lapse / tear scene was shot with an iso of around 1250 [fine for 5d] as by the time we found a location with a large enough footfall the sun was just setting. And typically when you need busy crowds the streets of London were pretty empty for us [there was no time to go to the West end]. This particular scene was shot for 10 minutes and sped up to only a few seconds in the film.

Post production
Editing what you shoot is always good and I had a pretty good idea to the pace of the film and knew the overall length it was going to be 2 minutes or under [final version was 90 seconds without credits and titles].

After my first edit, St. Giles made asked for a couple of amends and then I organised for the recording of Patricia’s voice for the voice over and this was recorded by a pro sound recordist and recorded on to my Zoom H4N digital recorder.

I then made a final tweak to the now colour graded footage [I always shoot my footage in a super flat camera setting to have the best possibility for any style of look to the footage] to better sync to the timings of the voiceover.
Finally I rendered and exported at 1080p social media settings and uploaded directly to a newly created St.Giles Trust YouTube channel.

Now I hope that all my hard work helps raise lots and lots of money for the trust.

This type of commission is definitely the direction I am going to strengthen in 2012. I enjoy assisting my clients from initial concept to final product and do so with a lot of passion and understanding of the needs of my client.

Gear & Tech
Some new toys to play with on this job.

About a month ago I was at Pro Solutions event in London and tried a unique camera rig setup by a company called Swedish Chameleon, which I instantly wanted to try.
So I rented it and used it throughout this film. A few photos and some more info can be found on my facebook page and whilst you’re there please click ‘like’ to stay in touch.

Canon 5d Mark II.

I also used a Zacuto EVF with Zfinder.

I took several lenses [including primes] but only had time to use 2. Most of the film was shot on a Canon 24-105mm f/4 L IS and a couple of scenes on a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L.

The IS lens was my choice purely because of the image stabilising which helped whilst shooting video and F4 although not always fast enough was acceptable.
Ideally I would have shot with some of the prime lenses, but being a one man band there simply wasn’t enough time to change lenses and try different setups which was a bit of a shame. This included doing some glide tracking shots, I bought the equipment but never had the time to setup. If I had had 2 days of filming then things would have been different.

The audio interview voiceover was mixed and recorded by a veteran pro sound recordist. I’m always happy to defer to others when it comes to audio as I prefer to concentrate on the visuals and overall look.

Lighting: Daylight balanced bulb lights with soft box / Litepanels micro hybrid pro / Lowel Rifa EX Pro 88 kit / reflectors.

Tripod: Manfrotto 545B which was only used in the time lapse scene as the rest was shot on the rig.

If anyone wants to know about the post production side and grading please let me know as this was all done by me.

TIP: If others are shooting with the Canon 5D mark II and reading this you should film in odd multiple iso no.s, 160, 320, 640, 1250 etc as its best for low noise [this does not apply for stills].

Karim produced a very compelling film which captured the essence of St Giles Trust’s work.  Furthermore, this was done under time pressures and a limited budget.  Despite these challenges, the end product is very high quality and original.  He also provided valuable support in social media functions and maximising the film’s online fundraising potential. It has played a key role in helping us raise vital support through our Christmas Appeal 2011 and I highly recommend his work.

Tamsin Gregory, Communications Manager, St Giles Trust.