Production Thread: The Creek, OUT NOW

StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
edited January 2012 in Practical Filmmaking
[size="7"]The Creek, Out Now![/size]

Shot 1 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
I wouldn't normally create a production thread for short shorts, but this will be in post production until Christmas or the New year.
The Creek (or S***s Creek, as I've been calling it in post) is the final action short I'll be making for a while; this was created as a project with a few Uni friends who traveled back my way to catch up and film some balls out action, to see how things worked out before we get together to make longer project in summer 2012.
Shot 4 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
[size="4"]The 'Story'[/size]
Three soldiers, Bates, Larson and Recard, are pinned down after being ambushed by their enemy; they need air support and the only radio they have is laying on the floor 30 feet in front of them. The men must work together to retrieve the radio and hope they can get home safely.
Shot 2 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
Filmed November 17th, we arrived on location and set up for 9:30am; perfect conditions for the feeling of the short, overcast even lighting, we set up some improvised cover from broken tree trunks and general junk that had been left around the area. We filmed the short in a chronological order, Robbie was the writer for this short so he was calling the shots for the most part, my job was strictly camera and advice on the best way to film the action. Robbie had never filmed an action film before, but approached it with a good deal of knowledge (the sort only 2 years on a film course with several action film junkies can offer).
IMG_4321 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
The shoot lasted until 4pm (only just beat the sun) and we tried to get all our intended shots, but as with all shoots we had to do more rushing about towards the end of the day thanks to being 4 man crew rather than the intended 6 man crew. We were all quite happy with the material we had when it came to reviewing the footage, and exhausted from luging around lots of gear and props over a 3 mile radius.
Shot 3 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
[size="4"]Post Production[/size]
I have been left in charge of all the editing duties for this production as I'm the most experienced compositor in our group, which is a lot of work to be left with; after finishing the initial rough cut of the short, I find i have 45+ effect shots to edit, which feels daunting to me in my current mindset.
I must admit to feeling rusty at compositing large amounts of muzzle flashes, shots that would have taken me about 2 hours in the past are taking me 8 hours down to a combination of slow down on my editing system and some reluctance to be editing everything. I'm the type of person who adds as many little details to a single gunshot as I aim for the effect to go unnoticed, even casual viewers can pick up on minimal composites, they can see something isn't right, but when all the little details are there it's more difficult to pick it out, I simply make the composites more difficult for myself because of this.
Current completion: approx. 70%
On shoot
A cam: 5D mark II
B cam: 550D
Rode Stereo VideoMic
Indisystem Slider
Stedicam Merlin
Shoulder Support
50mm lens
20mm canon USM lens
70 - 300mm Tamron lens
Final Cut Pro 7
Adobe After Effects
Apple Colour
Check for more updates coming soon, more images from the production available through my facebook page - see signature.


  • Looks interesting. I love war films. I myself might be joining the National Guard. Shots looks pretty nice.
    You said you were using the 5D Mark II. I'm thinking about buying it or more of dreaming (cause I'm in the process of saving up for a camera). What things do you like about it? What things don't you like about it? How is it in actual production and efficiency? Thanks.
    Defiantly will follow the post.
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    The 5D is a fantastic camera, I love the full frame sensor but bare in mind the camera was released in 2008, with the 1D-X coming out soon (way too expensive) you might be able to pick up a preowned 5D a bit cheaper than it's retail price. Personally I'd approach the DSLR market with more caution now, theres still no word on a Mark III model, if they do suddenly unveil one the Mark II's price could take a hit, you don't want to spend £1500 on camera to see the next week it's going for £1300 or something.
    If photography is your main thing, and the film is on the side, then by all means get yourself a 5D, i have no plans to update to a new camera for a few years (unless i come into copious amounts of money) you'll find the camera far better than any other Canon DSLR thanks to the larger frame, fully manual white balance and wider range of ISO settings. I suggest finding a photography store that will allow you to have a hands on with the camera models, see what suits your budget and style best.
  • This looks great so far StrikeEm! I'm really impressed with the effects you've shown so far- shot 3 in particular of the mud explosion in the distance looks like a practical effect! Definately excited about this. I can also appreciate having to lump around loads of military equipment- i recently walked with my brother to a location about the same distance as you carrying all manner of helmets, body armour and guns- i have never been so terrorfied as i was then, dressed in a balaclava, holding an mp5 whilst people took their dogs for a morning walk. Luckily it was a sunday- 7 Am and we had some pretty decent tree cover.
    This looks really great- i'm excited about seeing more and also the mention of a bigger project in the summer :D
    Great stuff!
  • DanielMorgan
    DanielMorgan Posts: 324 Just Starting Out
    "Balls out action" Well that't caught my attention ;) In all seriousness as a short this looks quite cool . Also you can get some cheap 5d's out there, its a good lens I tend to find hard to get cheap :S Mind you , I shoot on a 7d these days. Looking forward to the film!
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out

    "Balls out action" Well that't caught my attention ;) In all seriousness as a short this looks quite cool . Also you can get some cheap 5d's out there, its a good lens I tend to find hard to get cheap :S Mind you , I shoot on a 7d these days. Looking forward to the film!
    'Good cheap lenses' a lot of my lenses are old prime m42 fit lenses, vintage glass can be lovely and alot of these lenses go cheap on ebay, I shot almost all of my Darkest Days short on a 35mm prime I bought for £21, but if you want some autofocus and everything new, your looking at £350 + for a decent lens.
    Back to the video, Balls Out was the term thrown around the week before and during the day to get people in the mindset, it worked well.
    Thanks, like i mentioned in my main post, i'm very particular with realism in the effects but always aim for "exaggerated reality" because its a film, realism isn't as visually pleasing - so as hollywood does, I exaggerate.
    I have 2 project for next year, one with a 40 page script that involves no "action"/effects which i am very much looking forward to, and in the summer the team will be tackling a Michael Bay style action short, which is currently being re-written as we had planned to film it a couple of months ago but missed out on the good wether (summer wasn't very good was it), thats going to be bigger and better.
  • Both projects sound very cool! I'm interested to see what you'll do with the no action script- it'll be great to see a character driven film by you, some of my favourite parts of your previous films have been scenes that have included little or no effects; the night time scenes in Darkest days for example was beautifully shot and well acted. As much as i love action i'm possible more excited by this film than the other (though i'm eagerly awaiting both :D ) All the best with all projects!
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out

    Both projects sound very cool! I'm interested to see what you'll do with the no action script
    This is the one i'm most looking forward to as well, Action short are fun to shoot, and fun to watch, but they have become all too common, and mostly poorly made videos with "CALL OF DUTY" slapped in the title; don't get me wrong, i started off doing crappy action shorts 5 years ago, but back then there wasn't quite as many people doing it and I wasn't throwing video game titles in front of the shorts.
    Now I'm trying to get work in the industry, so I'm attempting to move away from the short action film genre and want to try 'new' things as a filmmaker, and really push both myself and my actors to get good results.
    You mentioned the night time scenes in Darkest Days, these were some of the scenes I added/ expanded on after my initial script, that short changed from lots of action to a more 'mature' format where i attempted to drip feed both story and character; I look back (only a few months) and think to myself, "I can't believe i used those lines, their awful" and wish i had time to have rehearsals and talk to the actors more about the performances, as there is some important information that is lost in the rush and mumbled lines.
    The 40 page script is a scaled back production, very small, simple set up with few characters; I can't wait to get rolling with it and It's going to get as much time as i can afford, so i hopefully don't look back and only think of the things i could have done better. It's title is Duality, but you will hear more on that when the momentum picks up.
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    A Preview is now available!

    Hope you all enjoy that, bare in mind it's far from finished so any issues can be sorted.
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    Update time.
    Things moved a bit slow this week, as I was pre-ocupied with Uni work, but now i can get back to the project.
    Rob Floor by StrikeEm, on Flickr
    I've edited effects on several new shots, one is featured above with some quick photoshop colour grade to match it with the preview I released last week, if you haven't yet checked it out, please do as it would be nice to have some feedback.
    We should be on schedule to release the short between Christmas and New Years, we'll set a date soon.
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    Definitely looking forward to this. Looks pretty cool, not sure what the story will be like, or acting, but the effects, camera work, and action will definitely be top notch, (from what I can tell).
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    Good to hear, I wouldn't go as far to call it much of a story, this is an action short so it's more of a set-up than story, I just hope we don't let everyone down. I wouldn't normally make a production thread for a 5 minute action short, but i thought the extended post production length warranted it, and building a little bit of buzz can't hurt, so we're hoping this one gets more online attention.
  • That preview was great! The explosions and gunfire looked amazing. I really loved the camera work on this too- some of the shots as you follow the soldiers moving,firing etc were very cool and really made the scene look like a firefight. Great stuff!
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    Work has been progressing faster over the last few days, but we can't meet our originally planned release due to how busy things have been for me this month. Now the ball is rolling though, the effects will be completed soon, then I'll be getting myself into the sound design, thats the part that will really sell the film.
    When i first started editing this project my heart just wasn't in it for the effects, but i soldiered on and I'm back to speed, I guess it was just a combination of how daunting the number of effect shots was and the fact i hadn't done any action effects for a few months. I currently have about 9 shots left to add effects to, when i started there was 48, maybe more, that required effects.
    the big news is that the release date has now been set:
    [size="5"]Thursday 5th January 2012[/size]
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    Final stink before tomorrow night's release, but we've hit a snag. We need two people to lend their vocal abilities to us and record a couple of lines of dialog.
    The accent will have to be english to fit with our actors' accents, and we need these by tomorrow!
    Please help if you can, If you think you can do it, private message me and i'll send over the lines.
    Thank you.
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    Updated the main post with the completed film!
    Hope you all enjoy, and share your thoughts please
  • Great stuff mate! I really enjoyed this , everything about it looked great- the explosions,muzzle flashes and particles all looked so realistic and you could see all the work that had gone into each shot. The explosion near the tree that blows the branches up was my personal favourite. The slider and steadicam work was top notch and looked beautiful- the sequence where the two characters make a fighting withdrawal was particularly cool. All the props and uniforms looked great as well- a nice mix of guns and the characters seemed to fit each type and also look quite at ease with them- which all sells the image you're creating. The only thing that took me out of this were the white trainers- a bit nit-picky i know but it stood out from the rest of the world you'd made.
    A great short- one i've been looking forward to since you psted those teaser pictures and i enjoyed it a lot!Thanks for sharing.
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    Thanks Sam, it's nice to get a fairly detailed review, as it often feels disheartening to spend so long on a production and have it go under appreciated, many people watch then don't leave any feedback, and what i really want is feedback and creative criticisms.
    Granted we know most of the areas that could be improved, but we only had 1 short day to film, and i had to cut a few shots that would have made the final few shots flow better, but if something isn't working out it has to be cut.
    Robbie, who wrote the short told me that this short is nothing like the film he was imagining when writing, and some stuff i personally would have cut or sped up, had to be kept to satisfy all people in the team.
    you wouldn't believe how many times we had to show the two guys playing the soldier's in the 'covering fire' scene how to do it, I think we had to act it out twice for them, talk through three more times then filmed it four times - As for white shoes, theres always one who lets the team down, I was due to play the part of 'Recard' but someone else stepped in the night before and we didn't have boots to fit. Besides, i would have let the team down as a soldier with rather 'nice' hair.