(Hannu Uotila’s Invited Guest Contribution to Insidevideography Blog)
First when Joonas Rokka contacted me and explained that he’s planning a videography workshop in France and he wanted me to be in charge of the hands-on execution part of the workshop, I was extremely excited. When the workshop started to get its final form and length of 3 days, I realized that I might be totally screwed. The problem was following: How to go through and explain video production process and guide four groups in their productions just in 3 days? The area we needed to cover in such a short time was so extensive that people usually spend several years to get their degree from filmmaking and then their lives to rehearse. To tackle this problem, I decided to divide our mountain-size workload in three daily-based topics: 1) pre-production, 2) shoot, and 3) post-production.
DAY 1 (Pre-production) – Our super eager team of participants gathered in historically vivid Château of Rouen Business School. Participants were divided into four groups. Task for the day one was to define “research questions” and to create a production plan, including particles such as time table, script, call sheet, role division etc. Pre-production is commonly the most overlooked phase of the productions, but if done properly, it will save money, time and patience. At this time my biggest concern was, if the teams would understand the importance of this phase. However, if they wouldn’t, ‘the learning curve’ might be even steeper than expected. Why? Well, in video productions all the failures or ‘do nots’ in previous stages of the production will cause problems in following phases. After the day one, however, I was getting more and more confident that we might actually be able to reach the goal of the workshop in terms of team video productions.
DAY 2 (Shoot) – The next day was kicked off at the Château by explaining the technical side of film shooting. We also gave the teams two important rules that we wanted them to follow: 1) Do not shoot over 30 minutes of footage, and 2) Have fun! The teams were sent out to the field to shoot their videos according to their plans. There were two reasons to restrict the amount of the footage. Firstly, we wanted to underline the importance of the planning in the procedure, and secondly we wanted to make sure that the post-production phase would not be overloaded. In this workshop at least the second rule was respected :) At the end of the day we collected all filmed materials and made preparations for the final day.
DAY 3 (Post-production) – We started the day three by going through key features and functionalities of Final Cut Pro editing software – the program groups were going to use for crafting their 2-3 minute films. At this point all previous tasks and stages started to make sense; if the group noticed that they had exceeded the maximum amount of the footage, if they had focused on wrong issues, if they did not have enough b-roll, or if their production plan was too vague. For some of the groups this reality hit harder than others. After the last minute desperation and rush in editing – which is the standard in video production business – the whole workshop culminated in the viewing of the films. I can honestly say that it was a moment of pride. The quality of films exceeded what I was waiting for! When the official program was over and I was sipping Champagne in the historically surroundings at the Château after the screening of films, I was thinking, “We made history, indeed. The concept worked. Our first videography workshop was a success. Mission Impossible in the Château: Completed”.
If the core teachings of the workshop could be compressed in five, they would be:
1) Make a plan,
2) Work according to your plan
3) Don’t try to film everything (and don’t go crazy!)
4) There is never too much B-roll footage
5) Every once in a while, ask yourself: Why?