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Brooklyn, NY, 11238
United States

Adam Miller is a cinematographer and Steadicam operator who works in the NYC area specializing in commercials, music videos, feature films, short films, and documentaries. 

Searching for Subtlety

The Bar Mitzvah Club Overheads

Adam Miller

I created these overhead diagrams to help clear up the blocking and camera angles prior to our shoot. We had a crazy schedule (shot all this in 3 days), and I wanted to make sure there was clear communication between myself and the director, as well as the 1st AD and Art Dept. 

I managed to get into all the locations about a week ahead of the shoot and then spent a lot of time working with the director to pre-visualize the story in a very clear manner.  We layed out where the camera and talent would be for every scene and shot, then broke it down into a detailed shot list. I believe this enabled the AD to prepare the most effective schedule we could manage.

Shooting in a high school meant that we had to work around their schedule. We came into the building on Friday during dismissal and were out Sunday evening.  We weren't able to do any pre setting for art/production design, or any pre-lighting. I knew that we would need a definitive plan to work from if we wanted to have any chance of making our days.

Whenever I had a free moment during production I was walking through the upcoming locations(within the school), with my gaffer. This allowed him to dash away and start the next setup when the camera started rolling. The schedule was focused on managing a cast that was largely under 18, balancing their hours, tutoring and wrapping them out efficiently. This meant we had to compromise on geographic efficiency within the school.  We were constantly moving. Bouncing in and out of spaces and up and down floors of the school.  

My team and I certainly got a workout on this shoot. It was crazy. The fastest pace I've yet to work, especially while trying to maintain a high level of quality. It was like we were shooting a narrative at the pace of a reality show.

I wouldn't recommend shooting at this scale and pace with such a small crew but if you have to, then extreme planning is definitely in order. These overheads made it very easy for me to communicate ideas to everybody on the film.  Not every board was followed to the T, but that's ok. That's part of the point. If you have a plan in place, then you have the ability to alter the plan to best fit the needs of the production at any given moment. If there is no plan, then you've got nothing.  This was a great learning experience for me and I think the end result turned out well.

Check out The Bar Mitzvah Club here http://www.nbc.com/nbcplayground#/home and vote for your favorite (The Bar Mitzvah Club).