Behind the Scenes…or in this case, the Couch

By Briar Collard – Producer, Eyes and Ears

Fair Warning – this blog might spoil some movie magic for you! If you haven’t seen our short film Love is Real!, go and do that now.

Have you ever considered what is happening just outside the shot whenever you’re watching a film? Wondered – how did it all come together?

I have to be honest – working in the screen industry really does change the way you watch film and videos (which I’m not saying is a bad thing!). I find myself constantly have the Producer-brain sneak in, particularly with films made here in Aotearoa:

  • Where is this place? How did they get to film there??
  • There are SO many people involved in this moment!
  • That would have taken AGES…
  • How on earth did they do that???

And I know it’s not just me – you’ll hear similar things from any role in the industry. A gaffer can’t not look at the lighting, an editor can’t not think about the way something has been cut together, a DOP will always be thinking about how the shot looks. My partner Matt detests this – he’s a “just let me watch the movie” kind of guy…

Our DOP, Stefan Coetzee and our Gaffer, Kyle van Tonder getting ready for the magic-making.

Some of you may have heard about a short film we released recently called “LOVE IS REAL!”

I may be bias but to me, watching this film is like watching real magic. Everything is simultaneously clever, full of wonder and seamless! Sometimes it’s difficult to believe it involved hours/days/weeks/months of tireless work across multiple departments, even though I was actually behind the scenes too, busy sewing all those strings together (and yes, sometimes that meant actually sewing things).

The beauty of working in 1) small to medium scale productions, and 2) being a producer, is all the different hats you get to wear in your day to day mahi – from scheduling, to getting permits; taking care of clients, and taking care of actors (quite different things); booking locations, cast, crew and gear; running budgets and making sure the crew has what they need; and just making sure there are some lollies and snacks ready whenever anyone needs them. My to-do list is long but NEVER boring! I digress…

You’re here, probably wondering why I was behind a couch.

Well, I also got to be the voice of the smart home speaker, Ada, in the film. That also meant that we needed an easy way to get her to light up for about the right length of time that Ada spoke for – but the remote also needed a clear line of sight.

“Hey Ada!”

In some scenes, that meant hiding in some pretty unique spots – tucked into the bathroom, hiding in a hallway, or lying behind the couch.

It was cosy in there. I quite liked it.

Hanging out on set.

Now I can’t tell you first hand, as I was not able to fit in the room at the time (we were filming in an actual house, thanks to Air BnB), but I know that I was not the only one putting my long abandoned hide and seek skills to good use in the making of “LOVE IS REAL!”.

I won’t explain it and spoil it for you – but watch the film and at 8 minutes, 36 seconds in, refer back to the first paragraph of this blog post***.

*** WHATEVER YOU DO – do not skip to this part having not watched the rest! The film will not make sense, I promise you.

Millie takes some time alone with her appliances.

In my experience working in film and theatre, we will always challenge ourselves to find a way! I have adopted a mentality that allows me to believe that a problem is never insurmountable and if it is, then there’s no point in worrying about it – divert the energy to the next thing. It always gives me great joy to get to work with people who are equally thrilled by overcoming even the most unexpected challenges, like how to magic appliances into going off simultaneously on a small-scale short film, how to choreograph to the shape of a house you’ve never been in, or how to make a roomba carry two humans (seriously, watch the film).

Just the two (three) of us.

In my opinion, this is real magic. Humans coming together to do their absolute best to make a magical experience for someone else. I get my buzz from feeling the joy and wonder that the audience might feel when they get to share a story that I’ve been a part of telling.

I think that storytelling in itself is magical, inspiring our minds to learn, be curious and imagine. I have lots of thoughts about that! You can read a little about it here on our official Eyes and Ears Linked In. but that shall be another tale for another day…

LOVE IS REAL! was released in 2020 as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival’s “NZ Best” Short Film Competition and has since been released online by Short of the Week. You can watch it now via their website Short of the Week | LOVE IS REAL! , or on their YouTube page.

Millie and Jamie have some visitors.