13 Mar 2011

aaaaand, ACTION!

Yesterday I got to participate in an very cool, fun and exhausting filming experience while helping out a close friend. This friend has always been interested in theatre and acting (has done some skits and plays with friends, monologues and now has a comedic group -4 very crazy dudes called "Picadillo Circus" with a show that won an award in Alicante's theatre festival in 2009 and that they've taken on the road quite a bit in the past year), and started up his own small production company several years ago (Ojo Público Producciones) with a partner who had more of the technical expertise (for the lighting & sound equipment etc.) after producing (writing, directing and acting!) a small short film which won a few local awards. Although he's done a couple more short films since that first one, he's had to dedicate most of his time to a more lucrative side of the filming biz: advertising. Short films don't pay the bills... This time he's combining the two aspects! His company has gotten the job of helping a small town in Alicante produce a Short Films festival (AtameCorto next November, he'll be one of the Jury members), and as part of that he's designed the Festival's website and has to make a video commercial to promote the Festival. His idea was to film the commercial as if it were a short film... and that was yesterday!

Small town budgets mean keeping costs down as much as possible... so no professional actors for the ad! Instead they put out a casting call last month to the townspeople to see if any were interested in acting in this video to help promote their Festival. They had quite a turnout! 3 people were chosen as the "stars" and about 30 more agreed to come in as "extras" (of which ~15 showed up yesterday). And that's where I come in! My friend needed someone to help with "managing" the extras yesterday while he concentrated on the actors (directing etc.) and his colleague worked the lighting and sound. I had to work with the people who showed up and see what kind of material they had brought (they were told to bring anything "costume-related" they could think of from their homes), and when they'd be available later in the afternoon for filming. Once what was dealt with I headed up to the Auditorium where the first part of the filming was already rolling with the "stars".

Was really interesting to see the variations two different people brought to the same role and how my friend guided them to get the results he wanted.


After lunch I sorted through the various items the "extras" had brought over (a vampire cloak, a nun's costume, Mexican hats, a cabaret outfit, an assortment of wigs) and set them up with the things I had brought myself (my mom recently came across an bag full of very old glasses -all sorts of crazy styles- and costume jewellery, and pulled out several original dresses and shawls I had).  I helped people figure out outfits and accessories... everyone was having a blast!!! Several people had come along to "accompany" friends or family, we managed to convince a few (specially guys since we originally only had 2!) to join in the madness, while others really jumped in with costume selection and make-up help.

Once people were ready I sent them on upstairs,

and once the first batch (4 p.m. appointment) were all up I went and joined them and resumed my "photographer" role, trying to get candid shots of as much of the action as possible (took me a while to figure out the correct settings that would work with the light conditions!).

Was a great learning experience... to see them filming with 2 different cameras (can't wait to see the differences later!), setting the people up where they needed them, finding a line of dialogue and movements that would fit each "disguise"...

After filming all the bits with the extras they switched back over to the stars of the show to re-shoot the morning's script but in close-ups. Really curious to see how important the lighting is to get the effect you want... and how hard it is to set it up just right! Particularly when your lead actor has a pronounced bald spot... SHINY!!! :p Make-up please!!!

Here are a few pics of some of my favourite characters... You can also see how important the combination of lighting and backdrop are for a desired effect... these guys look like they're coming out of a dark void! I can't wait to see the final result! Although it's hard to think a whole day's work will end up as an approximately 3-minute video. :p

and finally my favourite (she was such a delight to work with!):

I'll be sure to put the final video up here for anyone interested once it's finished. It will probably be put up on YouTube as well as the Festival's website in a few weeks. I'm not going to mention anything about the story just yet... I'm kind of curious what ideas you guys have come up with based on these photos! Do you have a favourite among these? ;o)


  1. Sorry I didn't comment on this earlier, I just couldn't think what to say! I still can't, but I do want you to know I saw it and read it. You take so much time and effort to make these posts, Cris, but frankly, I'm stymied trying to figure out what it might be about. I like the lady with the furry hat...

  2. Good taste DJan, she was very elegant!

    I'll say more about the video when it's done. But a clue: all these people interact with a single person, and the whole scene will probably last 3-5 minutes. ;o)

  3. Very good photos, very good artists. And I'm sure of one thing.
    All the people in the auditorium of Salinas in this casting was very happy to participated in this experience.
    A lot of thanks to all the people who make possible this "adventure" in a very little town.
    and I hope to see you again.
    Jose Miguel Gil.


Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)