Nicholson Ren | Cinematographer & Colourist

What's Left Production Diary

The first day of the shoot

It's always a great feeling when shooting begins. The first set up is usually quite relaxed as the crew start putting up lights and moving them into position for the first shot. There are various ways to schedule what to shoot first - location availability, actor time constraints, shot difficulties or perhaps emotional progression for characters. Most of the time the order is up to the Director and 1st AD. As the DOP for this shoot all I was concerned with was conveying what we needed to get a shot done. The process for the days of this shoot would usually work as follows:

1. The 1st AD; Aaron, tells me the schedule for the day. Discusses foreseeable complications and areas of potential slack (we wouldn't normally get to these periods as we fall behind schedule as the day goes on).

2. He explains the current situation with the rest of the crew, who is available and what the actors are doing now so that I'd have a time frame for when actors are expected on set and when set up needs to be finalised.

3. I confirm that I understand what is happening and briefly explain what I need to do to be ready for the upcoming shot.

4. Then I go off to prepare the shot while he goes to check on the other departments.

This would usually take less than 10 minutes because it's a small set but on larger sets with more crew, a meeting would probably be held to get everybody on the same page.

This is a comparison of the storyboard to the first shot taken.


When I drew the storyboard I didn't know the exact layout of the set, I just knew the main props (table and bin), character objectives and type of coverage needed. The composition and idea behind the framing was very similar to the original intention. The bin in this scene is the topic of conversation hence it is centred in the frame in-between the supervisor and the children. The 3 children had to be opposite the supervisor to show a camaraderie and it was to be captured in a wide to show their full body. I was able to achieve my objective despite having to re-position the camera. The camera had to be moved to cover from a lower angle by the supervisor's side as opposed to a wider, angled master shot that I envisioned simply because this would capture the actor's faces better and it also allowed me to frame out the window which had gotten blown out by the sun. It also made the children look more superior, towering over their supervisor as they explain themselves. The final shot isn't exactly the same as what I drew but more importantly was that the idea and the execution was carried out as intended. After this first shot was taken I got a huge boost of confidence.