Oct 20, 2013

Happy boys/professional men

-       Scene 1:2b, take 1, cat out the door!

My house smells from hot fall soup and fresh baked bread. Another Maria is doing the catering for the film shoot happening at my place this weekend. A crew of about ten trying to follow the schedule for the three-day shoot is having lunch at my kitchen table, eating themselves warm.

They were 10 years old when the first film was shot here, at the end of the road. Christina Arneback was the DP, I the producer. It was a documentary about a rare, difficult and deadly disease. Not an entertaining subject, but Trouble 2 and his friend Martin were having fun running around, learning how to stay out of the shooting angle and away from the expensive camera. At one point, when Christina had to change location for the camera, she let Martin and Trouble 2 move it for her.

-       Really?
-       Yes, but remember, it’s worth 350 000  Skr.

So, that was the two boys first encounter with professional film producing. A couple of years later our family bought a video camera. Trouble & Trouble had saved up 1000 Skr each, and their dad and I added 8000 for the silver JVC I picked out. Boy, video cameras coasted a fortune back then! As my sons had many friends who were all fascinated by the new family member we had one simple rule for the camera: only Trouble & Trouble were allowed to do the shooting. Reason: I didn’t want to end up being all crazy mad at more sons then my biological ones when they ruined the camera. There wasn’t an “if”; it was just a matter of when.

I don’t know if it was related to the price, but that camera surprised us all with lasting forever. Forever! I taught my children to treat it with care. I marked the batteries with numbers so they could separate them from each other to keep track of the charging. They learned how to write on tapes and cases to know what was on them. With pencil though, as the tapes were recycled after loading the computer with footage.

The favorite topic for sons and friends when it came to shooting was jumping. Jumping from the swings. Jumping from trees. Jumping from big rocks. Jumping in water. Jumping in snow. And most of all, jumping in sand pits. How do you think the camera liked being in sand pits?

I don’t have a clue how many times that camera was in for service and the message coming out of it was: we found a lot of sand in it. Really?! Again, I don’t know if it was related to the price, but we never paid anything for those services. It must have been one hell of an insurance coming with that camera!

The video camera was a Christmas present to all of us, although I bought my Sony PD 150 right after, and the camera became the kids. But it really was a gift to all of us. Not just my family, but all the kids from the neighborhood (which was about five villages) hanging here.

Once, at the age of about 16, Trouble 2 and Martin was shooting some kind of chasing each other over the front yard and down in the grove. I watched them from my bedroom window noticing they jumped the 180-degree line while shooting.

The 180-degree rule is a basic guideline regarding the on-screen spatial relationship between a character and another character or object within a scene. An imaginary line connects the characters and by keeping the camera on one side of this the line, the axis, for every shot in the scene, the first character will always be frame right of the second character, who is then always frame left of the first. If the camera passes over the axis, it is called jumping the line or crossing the line. And it makes the audience confused.

And you can’t have the audience confused right? So I went outside to perform an important film lecture to the young moviemakers. They stopped for a sec, shrugged their shoulders with an “oh well”, and continued their interrupted chase.

That spring, going with them to the introduction for the special film program they submitted to at high school, my smile was big and a bit smug when the teacher Fernando Altamirano stood before them emphasizing the importance of learning the art of depth of field, white balancing and the 180-degree rule. Two young men were making funny faces at me over their shoulders from their desk, and my smile grew even bigger.

That evening they didn’t know they would be accepted at the program and that high school would be three years of uninterrupted happiness, education and friends for life. They didn’t know that their future would be in film.

-       Scene 7:x, take 5!

The maples let go of the brilliantly colored leaves Wednesday night; the sound of the snaps was magical in the cold evening. Today is a beautiful fall day. There is ice on the water ditches, the grass is crisp under the boots. Even a day with mild weather turns chilly when you need to stand perfectly still as the camera and sound is rolling. And, at freezing point a film crew definitely is cold at Scene 7:x, take 5.

The clapperboard makes it’s sound, does its job. There are two names in red on the board: director Trouble 2, camera Martin Gärdemalm. Looking at those names, together, in capital letters, I am picturing two 6-year olds, just getting to know each other. Out of thirteen years in school, Trouble 2 and Martin spent ten of them in the same classroom. They really go way back. The childhood film crew on my field today is added on with friends and alumni of different ages from the film program.

The small silver JVC camera is exchanged for a heavy black RED. Martin’s focus in his professional life as a filmmaker is on photo. Trouble 2 is the editor. So what’s happening at the set this weekend is a big thing. The idea for this short (film) is Trouble 2’s. The script is his. And he is the director. This is my youngest son’s first film as an originator and director. I am listening to him giving directions and cheering everyone to do their very best. He is doing a good job.

I am, again, watching them from my window. They are playing on the field, like they always have. The baker’s cottage is occupied by a gang of creative people like it always was. Today though, they know everything about depth of field, white balance and the 180-degree angle. My hallway is covered with shoes and clothes like it used to be. A crowd of boys and a couple of girls are gathered round my kitchen table like they used to do.

I have a new kitchen table though. And Trouble & Trouble’s old cluttered room is transformed into my airy office. Funny though, hearing their loud and excited voices from my office which they made theirs for the extended weekend, discussing the scenes yet to shoot. Like they used to. Like they always have.

I need to keep myself from joining them. I have to stay out of there. Not to interfere. Not to ask questions. Not to accidentally slip some good advice they don’t need. Because they know what they are doing. The happy boys running around have grown up and become skilled and confident men in their field. And I am so happy and grateful that I am here to watch it. And that they are letting me be a part of that.

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