Faking it is what filmmaking is all about, but one of the things you can not fake is your actor being out of breath.
This might seem like a strange thing to talk about but stick with me.
Welcome to The Film Look.
If you have a scene or a moment in your film where your actor needs to look and sound out of breath, flustered, or red-faced, you need to get your actors up and moving around before the shot so you can capture something which is genuine.
We learnt this from our actor friend Liam R. Angus, but it wasn’t until after the shoot and looking at the behind the scenes footage.
In our short film Keep the Change, Liam's character Stu had to deliver a pizza, but his car had just broken down. If he doesn’t get it there on time, he is going to lose his job, so he decides to run there.
He gets there in time and goes into the building to deliver the pizza.
Let’s pause the film there.
If you haven't seen Keep the Change, I’ve just spoiled it but you can find it right here if you want to watch it.
Inbetween these two shots where he runs into the frame, and this shot where he approaches the door and enters the building, there was about 15 to 20 minutes of setup time.
This meant our actor was no longer out of breath, therefore breaking the continuity between the two shots.
This was not actually the case because of what our actor Liam did. Right as we were setting up the shot, messing around with the camera and lights. He was running around, keeping himself active, so he could run straight into the scene out of breath.
As I said, I did not realise he was doing this because I was so concentrated on setting up the shot, so without him and this BTS footage I wouldn’t have learnt this lesson.
And this is still one of my favourite Film Look behind the scenes shots.
This goes for if you are recording foley sounds as well. To sound realistic, before you start to record those out of breath sounds, do 20-star jumps, or 50 if you’re in better shape.
This will sound better than if you try and fake it. Faking it requires you to think about what it should sound like, when you could easily just record the real thing.
This might seem simple or obvious, but we feel it’s another thing worth knowing. It’s one of those things you could easily forget about when shooting because of all of the other things that you have to do.
So if you need your actors to be out of breath, ask them to jog around.
Let us know in the comments below of something of the simple but effective things you have learnt whilst shooting a film. I’m going to sit down now after all of those star jumps, but remember to achieve it one shot at a time.
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