Sunday 28 September 2008

Sabrina & the Engineer...

Having helped shoot the Sturgeon Moon project in 2007, I returned to help shoot the new Severn Project performance - Sabrina and the Engineer, taking place in September and October 2008.

Don't try and ask me what the story of S&E is about, because when you're covering it, that's one of the last things you're focussing on - instead you're concerned about the sequence of events, and timing, as well as camera placement and who goes where and when.

On all the Arts Council projects I've covered thus far, there seems to be a bit of a running theme - they're always filming challenges, providing real coverage conundrums to solve, and of course - lots of chaos.

Fortunately the day wasn't as lengthy as some have been before (so no 'up at the literal arse crack of dawn and down plenty after midnight' this time ... which was nice). That said, it wasn't a cake walk either - we got a walkthrough of the events, which I initially struggled to grasp - but then again, it's a bit tricky when you're new to the project (as in, you're not one of the creators), you're new to the location and you're trying to learn choreography and in turn translate it into your own practical choreography...aye, tis complicated.

Throw in a near-last minute change of filming possibilities, a bit of confusion over the timing of certain events, and then another as-you're-in-it change of filming possibilities and you've got a hectic time alright ... oh and my filming position mid-show was interupted by an unexpected cart used in the performance which I wasn't expecting...but it's all part of the fun and chaos of filming such an event.

I don't enjoy the build up, the time spent waiting for it all to get underway, but once it gets going - it's done in a flash. During the performance you're almost fighting your way through, like a safe and artistic-based version of war photography. Things happen around you, you've gotta think fast and act quick and adapt immediately ... all the while being mindful of your white balance settings, your focus, your exposure, your zooming, your framing and your input volume ... among other technical issues.

So aye - chaotic, but during the performance, when it's "go time", that is what I enjoy ... like I said before, the waiting and building tension beforehand isn't something to enjoy but to endure - the actual performance being the prize, and then hopefully after the dust settles you can sit back and enjoy some quality footage as you debrief ... then the weary journey home.

So what stuff was on show? Well, a steam engine leading one procession, another procession with the show's Sabrina on-board a decorated cart meeting the first at the main performance area, live music, fancy lighting, a boat on the river adorned with lights, a bunch of fireworks and then a load of waterjets either side of a woman rigged with hoses up her back and along her arms firing more jets of water (which was actually quite spectacular, very well performed and a joy to film in itself).

All in all it's probably not the sort of thing I'd usually go and see of my own volition ... but is if I was living in a city that did such things, with a group of friends (but I'm not as I certainly can't afford that just yet) ... but that said, while I didn't quite "get" it all, I certainly enjoyed the spectacle of it all and thought everyone did a great job. The audience were certainly all behind it, so that too, in itself, was a pleasure to witness.

The only downside - my back decided to play up throughout the day, and I woke up the morning after with my back a little better, but still a bit 'hung over' and stiff.

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