Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Total Film Making

Watching the Women's World Cup recently reminded us of how much football has changed – particularly in the tactics used to build an attack. Gone is the traditional "kick and rush" approach where long balls would be booted up the field, often with a plan that seemed to entail little more than blind hope. In its place a patient, highly skilled web of "one touch" passes is built starting from the goalkeeper, often involving the whole team before the star striker, such as Megan Rapinoe, takes their chance for a goal. At its best, this approach looks effortless.
The reality of course is that these silky smooth tactics only work if everyone is in synch with each other – the players off the ball doing as much work as those on, to create the space for the magic to happen. And that synchronicity doesn't happen by accident but is built on hours and hours of preparation. It's an approach that reminded us of film-making. At LWimages it's not just the camera men and women who are the stars, although we are pretty proud of what we can do when we wield the lens.
Behind the scenes the whole team has its own talents and abilities, that when combined can make film making feel like you are playing in the premiership. A recent example was a day shooting with Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow for the John Muir Trust about Jon's personal fascination with trees and the role they can play in nature based solutions to climate change.
When we say a days shooting we actually had a tiny filming window at the Channel 4 studios, sandwiched in between Brexit coverage and the Conservative party leadership elections. But the reason that slim window worked was because we came with a detailed plan built up through the work of our whole production team. The foundations for the plan were established through a long chain of email and phone communications by our producer Ulrika as she fine tuned the logistics with the client, talent and venue. In fact for this film these steps in the production process were made much easier by the clear communications of the John Muir Trust and Jon's PA, other projects have seen a similar level of effort needed to progress individual steps such as obtaining a visa. Ulrika also liaised with our writer Ian, ensuring that as he fine tuned Lukasz's original vision of the script, it was targeted towards the clients goals. Again, with the John Muir Trust, one of the countries leading environmental advocates, we found our thinking and their's quickly aligned.
In all several weeks work laid the foundations for those minutes in the TV studio.

Once on set, working to such tight deadlines, time cannot be wasted – it's the moment the team needs to click. This is where our studio assistant Jan really shines. Whilst Lukasz, our lead cameraman, is immersed in the world behind his viewfinder, Jan is quietly taking care of all his technical requirements. It might sound simple just passing a camera. But Jan needs to synched into the exact same way of thinking as Lukasz. It can look like Jan is a mind reader but the fact that he knows which lens, on which camera, at which shutter speed, frames per second and at which aperture Lukasz will need in 30 seconds time is down to weeks of planning and their years of experience. This is of course done in complete silence, with a smile on his face. We think of Jan as a positive energy factory – calmly keeping everyone going as the stress levels rise.
Of course every team have players who create the wow moments, and Lukasz drawing on his many years of experience is able to do that for us, with his unique take on image making. But like all the best teams his skills are the headline finishing moves built on the efforts and skills of all Lwimages' individual parts, with the results a full team effort.
Famously Johan Cruyff revolutionized football with his Dutch team's "Total Football", we like to think of our approach as "Total Film Making".
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