Our Behind the Scenes series will take you behind the scenes at several of Ryerson’s biggest arts centres. In the first installment, Davida Ander takes us behind the scenes at the set of one of Ryerson’s fourth-year film productions, Flammable
It is a world full of sandbags, boom poles, fake plants and even a furry microphone cover called a deadcat.
Here, you can expect to overhear fancy lingo like “camera department stand by to watch,” and “do we have marking tape or grip tape?” and “We’re making a movie!”
This is the chaotic third floor studio of a Ryerson film student.
Today, a committed group of fourth years are on their sixth day of shooting the short film Flammable. It is just after 4 p.m. and the studio is bustling with bodies. One student is painting a freestanding wall black, several are adjusting the tracks for a dolly, while others arrange the microphones and lights.
In the middle of the room, there is a hallway made of lined up wooden walls with cut-out windows. The walls have been painted with dark, textured paint and strong lights have been stationed behind each window, casting an eerie glow in the hallway.
The director explains that the film is about a man untouched by an angry world. One of the characters has been sentenced to life in prison, and is being escorted by police to his cell.
The elaborate set is only being used for a 15-second shot. This film has a budget of $15,000 and, along with the others completed by fourth year students, will be shown at the Ryerson University Film Festival in May.
Alessia Lamonaca is volunteering as the associate production manager. She is a second year student who joined the team to gain some hands on experience. She is one of about 35 involved with the production.
“I love the energy on set and being able to see what you made come to life, even after the hecticness,” she said.
Josh Ary, a fourth-year film student, explains that shooting a movie is similar to a military operation.
“You’re in a room and you’re just so focused on getting the next shot, the next shot, the next shot that you look down and you’re like, ‘It’s been 10 hours and I’m gonna die now.’”
He adds that film-making is a uniquely collaborative process.
“It’s more than the art of just the director’s vision, it’s the art of making all these people work together and create something that’s much more than what any of them can do separately,” he said.
In first and second year, students take scriptwriting classes and shoot interviews and documentaries with small crews. In the later years, they shoot longer films with larger groups and choose their roles.
But not everyone does as they’re told.
“People are supposed to do their jobs. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they don’t show up. Sometimes they’re there, but they’re drunk,” Ary said.
Students usually shoot their movies on location, but starting this semester, the Image Arts building studios have been used to create settings, like the prison hallway.
Seven a.m. call times, half-usable studios, drunken colleagues — it’s all in a day’s work.