Katie Hall Goes Behind the Scenes with SAFTA Films & Atomic Oasis

7DayShootout

SAFTA Films, alongside Atomic Oasis Productions, participated in the 7-Day Shootout for the recent Knoxville Film Festival. Filmmakers who participated had exactly seven days to film, edit, and produce a seven-minute movie. Here is a link to the Knoxville Film Festival 7-Day Shootout page. I was excited to work with a team of creative filmmakers who were willing to take on making a short-film in just one week! I am taking several film courses this semester at The University of Tennessee, but most of my previous experience with any film production is from my time as a news anchor for my high school. I knew I would be working with group of people who are in a more advanced level of filmmaking, and was eager to learn.

I served as a Production Assistant on set during the making of Atomic Oasis Productions’ short film entitled Freckles. There were talented actors/actresses, these great sound guys, and even a crucial person behind the scenes who handled the scripts, shot order, and schedule for the day (Kristi Larkin Havens). I performed the usual PA tasks such as getting coffee for the film crew, making sure the contest documentation was signed by participants, watched for continuity of the props on set (making sure props are in the same spot for each shot), and was responsible for “clapping.” My PA experience on the set of Freckles was highly informative and often hilarious (I’ll get to the funny moments in a bit).

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Everyone met around 9:00 a.m. at the local Curiosities Metaphysical Shop to begin filming for the day. The day began with coffee, as everyday does for me. My first duty as a PA was to make the essential coffee run for the crew. This shop has everything from tapestries to unique gemstones, which provided the mystical feel that was necessary for the film. The director, Gabe Crutchfield from Atomic Oasis Productions, was welcoming and informative when it came to introducing me to their production team. His cameras were of interest to me, as I immediately noticed the compact size of them. They were newer, high definition cameras, which ended up being easier to move around and yielded more dynamic shots. In my previous experience with film sets, I am used to seeing larger cameras like they would use for a news broadcast. The new, smaller cameras showed me just how far cameras have come since my days as a high school news anchor. (If we had these smaller cameras back in the day, we could’ve done more things outside of the studio!)

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Gabe assigned me the role of “clapper.” Before every shot I stood in front of the camera and verbally marked the scene and take numbers. I stood just outside the frame of each take in the film and used the clapperboard to keep track of each take. My role as “clapper” was the most involved of my jobs on set, and spanned through two days of filming. On the second day of filming, the cast and crew met at the home of a member of SAFTA, Vania Smkovski. It was on this day that I began to wonder if the clapping role was actually helpful. Gabe informed me that it provides a clear stopping point for editing purposes. He also mentioned that I was the first clapper he has ever used while making a film, so I was pleased to know that I was truly able to help the team!

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The artistic and talented people I met from SAFTA Films and Atomic Oasis Productions all worked so well together to produce Freckles for the 7-Day Shootout. Working with a creative team was amusing, insightful, and full of detail oriented tasks. Some of the more intricate details included squeezing the crew into corners to avoid getting the “boom” (sound stick) in the frame. Often times, cameras and people were shifted around to make the shot work. During one of these moments on the first day of filming, one of the cameramen bent over to adjust his camera, and it was then that everyone in the room heard a shatter. His rear-end hit against the window and cracked it. Luckily the window was already broken! The day ended on that note and everyone laughed. I expected the process to be fun, but the people were the best part!

You can watch the finished film here:

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Katie Hall is a student at the University of Tennessee but is originally from Chattanooga. She is majoring in English with a concentration in Technical Communications. Katie aspires to be an editor or technical writer subsequent to her graduation from UTK. As the Online Development Intern, she is eager to help increase SAFTA’s online presence by assisting in social media and web design.

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