Last Night Filming at chezGrace

December 19, 2008 by Samantha Halfon · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Arts, Filming 

We’ve filmed vernissages at chezGrace several times over the past three years and as time went by we learned a few business tricks.

At first, Grace’s attention was with the attendance. She loved videos showing that several various people came and enjoyed the show. As time went by, the main subject of these short videos became the artist and his works. Of course, we also film the visitors, especially visitors contemplating and commenting on the works. Eventually it evolved into a combination of the two.

Nassim Al Amin - chez Grace

Nassim Al Amin - Caméra Cachée

I really enjoy filming the artwork in motion, moving in and outside of the piece if it’s a canvas and around it if it’s a sculpture. When used with care during editing, it can produce a great effect in the final product. If we just want to use a frontal shot of the work, we usually rely on a photo shot instead of video. The photo shot is easier to reframe or color correct later. Also, for a frontal shot to work, the video camera needs to be perfectly still for four seconds. So, for four seconds, no one can enter your frame. This is easier said than done when filming a live event.

Filming the artworks can be teadious especially if they are framed in glass. A polarized filter on the photo camera has been our best solution so far.

The second difficulty is to interact with people. First, I usually try to let them know that they’re are in the frame. I make sure they are aware of my presence and that I’m filming. I pay attention to their reaction. At the least sign of embarassement, I’ll stop filming and go ask them if it is a problem. If someone says he or she doesn’t want to be filmed, I won’t point the camera their way again and if ever they are in the frame, I’ll cut out the shot. This is actually very rare. Most people agree to be filmed. I often reassure people and tell them we’ll edit the footage and take out everything inapropriate so they shoudln’t worry. Surprisingly, few ask what the video is for. I usually go ahead and tell them because they are even more cooperative when they realize the video is only to promote the artist and Grace.

We do not ask people to act. We try and capture the fun moments of the evening. One thing I have learned though, was to recognize the people that are really confortable around the camera. They will usually accept, if asked, to repeat something they just did that I might have missed. We also get a lot of cooperation from the artist (after all, he or she is the one who will benefit from the video). We’ll often ask the artist to be filmed in front of his works or around his friends and also, a necessary shot each time, with the host of the exhibition.


Nassim Al Amin

As I’ve said, we do not direct people, they are visitors and we are only covering the evnt. We have to capture moments and try not to get in people’s way. One thing we can do though, is give our input beforehand. For example, changes in the lighting or move some furniture around. An important thing we discvoered was that the cocktails should not be in the main exhibition room.This creates a huge gathering around it that makes it difficult to film. Shots of people eating or drinking are really not what you want in this type of video. If the cocktails are placed too close to the exhibition space, you will always have someone eating or drinking in your frame.

Filming a live event like this is an interesting exercice. On one hand, the creative part is limited: we don’t direct people or prepare shots. But, on the other hand, we learn to react quickly, to adjust and to observe. A lot of the work is done in the preparation. You have to always be ready to catch a good moment. You need the right equipment for the job. It should be light and efficient. Also, it’s a great occasion to practice and see what does and doesn’t work.

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