Is it me... or is D.I.Y DSLR only for the brave of heart?

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As you know from last month's blog, I'd been inspired. But now it was time to put my self-motivated production to the test.

What exactly can shootng D.I.Y DSLR achieve? What’s possible & what’s not? For music videos it's unstoppableDexter loves Nikon, and no one should be seen at fashionable telecines without the latest cinestyle curve. But what about shooting food and children with a crew of 4, can it be done?

If rigid is part of your CV, D.I.Y is not for you. Adaptability and improvisation are the names of the fast and furious DSLR game. That and a few experienced director tricks kept firmly up your sleeve. Tricks I needed when I placed five eight year olds in the centre of the Brighton Food Festival.

From the off B.F.F was filled with intense “foodies” determined nothing was going to get in the way of their wheat-free-organic-brownie. As the hordes bore down on my little set I was reminded of the scene in Braveheart where the heavy horses charge the line. Only in my version there were no hidden spears just doe-eyed kids with potted plants for protection. I needed to improvise, fast.

I could praise myself, and I am good at directing children, but as everyone knows directing children isn’t about directing, it’s about the children you cast and my fabulous little team from Britain’s only Buddhist school were as calm as Shaolin Monks. That and the trick I’d been keeping up my sleeve. As William Wallace knew, when you’re faced with the heavy horses, it’s always good to have a giant inflatable slide in your back pocket. In danger of loosing one of my little heroes to boredom I pointed towards the giant orange inflatable and said. “see that, that’s what we’re doing next”. Scene complete

On day 2 at least we were inside. Fish was fried as puddings were cooked and DVD’s featuring gnomes rang out from the living room holding bay. Was it looking good? Yes, but don’t ask me again as I have to change the toilet roll in the upstairs bathroom and replenish the snacks. No one should attempt to shoot tabletop and children in one day without a studio, a large crew, and a quite monitor away from it all. But we pulled it off and I have to say, I loved it. Here’s what I learned:

  • No matter what you shoot you need lights, and some serious resources, which we didn’t have, unless you use a DSLR expert - thanks to Heather Wilkinson. + Liam White

  • The 5D is a brilliant machine, as long as your subject doesn’t move - children - + you don’t want to pull focus - children! Next time I'd like to test the C300. or the Blackmagic

  • The Sony FS700 is a very interesting low-fi alternative for hi-speed. We didn’t really use it to its full ability. Transcoding isn't easy - big thanks to Felix - 1st time users beware. And you'll defininetly need a good grade - thanks to Pav, Lee, Chris and all at Locomotion

  • People will out. Filmmaking is all about the crew. Without them you’re lost, no matter what the French would say about the word auteur. Top work Matthew at Loaded Dice

So would I do it again? Hell yeah. Do I think we pulled it off? You tell me, this one really needs all of you out there to give me some feedback. So please send your likes or dislikes to the usual sources. See you all next month for a new Alpen film from my friends at Ogilvy and of course Cannes. I’m off to scrub the kitchen floor, again.