'The Farmer's Friend': Behind the Camera

Updated: Feb 2

Before you read this post I urge you to go and watch our new film- "The Farmer's Friend" on YouTube:



 

Part 1: On the complication of time

The imbalance of time is one factor that all university students are aware of. One week, you've got 14 essays due in the next 3 minutes, the next, you're on a 2-month hiatus from all things learning, sat on a sofa in your parents' house. Luckily for us both, Jack and I managed to find a short span of time where the proverbial planets aligned and we could get together. It's worth bearing in mind that Jack lives a good 3 hours away, so anything we discussed had to be set in stone before I undertook this large commute.



After lengthy discussions regarding the location, the car, the weather, what cheese goes best with what pickle, and what we should talk about on film, we agreed on a time and a date. The difficult part about filming (as we have quickly learned), is finding the time to film. Whether you're embarking on an epic 200-mile road trip, or have a spare 5 minutes out of a busy day, filming can be tricky to remember, let alone set-up. Even novices like us have hours of recordings that were lain to waste because they were hastily filmed at the last minute. This opportunity to do nothing but focus on our film was golden.



Part 2: On filmmaking

I have now decided that frosty mornings are the best time for filming. Luckily for us, a sunny but cold January morning awaited us on our first day. Jack is lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of Buckinghamshire that granted us the perfect rural setting for our Land-Rover film. Having had lengthy discussions beforehand, we both knew exactly what we wanted in terms of camera shots. The difficult part was learning how to capture them. Having had no experience with filmmaking in the past, creating a YouTube channel was a bit of a plunge into the deep end, but looking at our previous films, I'd certainly say we're evolving. Day one was almost entirely dedicated to 'B-roll', 80% of the footage you see in between the 'talky bits'. I'd argue that this is the most fun part of making a film. Capturing driving shots, scenery, and cliches like oil checks are all quite simple; the fun part stems from finding new ways to capture them.


 



Tricks I've learned from this shoot: When filming atmospheric shots with sound, make sure the camera is in manual focus (and level)

 

Part 3: The piece(s) to camera

Talking about cars is easy, to a degree, writing about cars is too, but talking to someone about their car while behind the camera is frightfully difficult. Between feigning ignorance and spouting facts, knowing what to say and when to say it is a challenge. We try to go unscripted for the most part, to give the videos a natural feeling but this of course can lead to repetition, awkward pauses and countless "uhms", "okays" and "yeah's". Multiple takes mean boredom and a lack of interest soon become very real problems. Going forward, I can only hope that presenting in this way becomes more natural. Hopefully, many more over-the-bonnet interviews will take place with people and their beloved vehicles.

 

All the gear, no idea: Most of the camera equipment we used for this film

 

Part 4: The edit and the aftermath

Perhaps the one thing worse than the piece to camera is the edit that follows. Listening to yourself drone on for hours, sometimes replaying the same clip over and over again is tedious. I always find it remarkable how you can condense 3 days worth of footage into an 11-minute video. A lot of the time, editing is the final decider on whether a video is posted or not. My advice to anyone who is about to edit their first film is not to be in a bad mood. It only takes one annoying camera shot or software crash to consider throwing the whole video away. I think this says something about the importance of making time to do these things. Had our video been filmed on a whim, or on downtime between work, I don't think it would have been published at all. Sometimes the complications of getting to the location and making the film make it all more rewarding.


At the time of writing this, this video is our most successful to date. I hope that future content does even better again, showcasing more cars, more people and filming more kettles and padlocks.



-Will

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