Flaps Theatre pre-production: Filming the Flaps
I’m in the process of documenting Flaps Theatre in the form of a series of micro-short films.
Flaps Theatre started life as an idea for a series of micro-short films, but took a diversion when I developed it as a live performance for Dandifest 2014. I always knew that I would pull it back to film, and it’s important for it to be documented in this way, so here I am.
I’m writing this blog post because converting live flaps into film flaps is a lot harder than I thought it would be, and has thrown up some interesting stuff about this work for me.
So, turning Flaps Theatre into film is difficult but it’s BRILLIANT – the challenge has really shifted the project back into focus for me, and going back to pre-production is enabling me to work through a lot of problems and niggles with the work.
Working with Non-Filmmakers
This is the first time in a long time that I have produced a film with a crew formed entirely from non-filmmakers. I won’t lie, at first I panicked. I felt like I needed at least a pro camera-op, ideally a sound recordist and possibly an assistant director. I’m going to be performing and directing on set and I think my insecurities started to come through. This was good though, as when I sat down to problem-solve it I realised three things. A) I have a lot of experience working with non-filmmakers and getting results. B) I have sound confidence in my skills as a director in getting across the essence of the work and what we need to get from a shoot. C) Why not play to my strengths – if the shoot is going to be DIY, why not really push that aesthetic which already exists in my work?
Music and Sound
The use of music and sound for live performance is very different to for film. THIS IS COMPLICATED. I have had to dissect each performance and really figure out how we are going to record this in a way that can be put back together effectively in post-production. I realised that it’s the first time I have shot something where the action is dependent on the music, rather than adding the music afterwards. Then there’s the dialogue, too.
Performance and Impact
Flaps Theatre is quite heavily performance-based in a way that my other work isn’t. The all-singing, all-dancing razzmatazz of it is quite difficult to do well live. I feel like some of the nuance of the live performance won’t be there in the films but this is a neat trade-off for being able to heighten the impact with the edit. I can see which performances might suffer, but I can also see which ones I can improve and add something to in post-production. There’s something to be said for cheating timing and creating rhythm.
Taking away the Live Audience
When I performed Flaps Theatre at Dandifest 2014 it was for a small, intimate audience. It worked very well in that context and taking that audience away feels strange. Performances which involve audience interaction now rely heavily on my glamorous assistants on screen, which changes the dynamic and I am interested to see how this plays out. I am lucky to have two strong performers playing these parts – I think letting them run with some of the interaction could add a nice spark.