Around The Table

A behind the scenes interview with Brandon Setter

A behind the scenes interview with church filmmaker Brandon Setter about how he made his film Around The Table.

So first of all I have to ask – how many takes did you guys shoot for this?

We shot one take, but practiced it for about 2 hours to get the blocking down.

Wow, impressive!  Did you have any close calls or “oh crap” moments during the take?  I probably would have been getting more and more nervous the further we got into the take.

Yeah, near the end of the take when the older guy sat down we were passing his cue and waving frantically in the background for him to move to the other seat in time for the camera move and luckily it worked out, but barely. We knew if we made it to the food part we would have to call cut before anyone touched the food if we didn’t like the take and wanted to start over.

The timing throughout the whole piece felt pretty integral. Were you playing back the music and the voice-over live on set?

Actually we did have someone reading the voice-over on set live to be “close”. But in reality most of the timing was done in post when we recorded the VO and timed the music track to the video. Most of the timing was related to the dolly move around the circular track more than timing of the VO.

So was the script finished at the time of filming or did you continue to tweak afterwards?

Jeff Gideon (the writer/director) continued to tweak slightly on content to fit the timing of the camera move before we recorded the voice-over with Joel Weldon (big time VO artist). Joel really helped us nail it because of his years of experience in his field.

That’s awesome.  Backing up a little bit, how did this project come about?  What was it for?  Where did it play?

At ROCKHARBOR Church we have several strategic “storytelling weekends” per year. The major holidays of Christmas & Easter, but also 3-4 other weekends each year where we change the entire flow of Sunday service and focus on stories within our church and creative expressions within the service (things that are different from a normal weekend). In this case we did the video for the weekend of Thanksgiving. We also rearranged the seating in the sanctuary more in the round and placed that table in the center of the room at the front of the stage – as if inviting the community to join each other at the table.

Love it.  So what was your role on this project?

Along with Jess (my wife and co-creator) I came up with the visual concept based on the script that was written. Then I DP’d the film and did all post. I was the advocate for the (oner shot)…. the director did not believe it would be possible, haha.

Had you guys ever worked with a dolly on a circle track like that?  What was it like?

I’ve done plenty of dolly work, but never a full circle except way back in film school. It was a challenge to get the table and light perfectly centered – we used the measuring tape a bunch. The biggest challenge with it overall trough was maintaining a constant speed (Jess was the dolly grip and did a killer job). We were continually whispering, “slower”, “faster”…. and she nailed it.

The bigger issue was actually getting a large enough room that was completely dark inside.  We needed there to be no lights that you could see or light creeping through the cracks around doors.  We spent a ton of time putting duyvatine all around to fill that stuff. The space also needed to be large enough so that people would appear out of the darkness almost like magic. We ended up shooting it in our main sanctuary, all lights off, chairs all put away.  Had we used any smaller of a space it would have been pretty hard to pull off.  The room is about 100 ft. long by 60 ft. wide. We lit it with one Aputure 120D MKII hanging from the ceiling with an Aputure Light Dome II mounted on it with a 30 degree grid on the front with a daylight color temp.

Camera-wise, what did you guys shoot this on?

Panasonic GH5 w/ Atomos Shogun Inferno shooting 4k 60p 10bit 422 HDR V-Log. We used a Veydra Mini Prime 25mm Cine Lens and a Sachtler FSB6 tripod head and carbon fiber sticks.

What did you learn during this project?

It was a huge exercise in trusting in people and in God since we brought together an idea without knowing if it would actually work. All of our actors were from one Life Group in our church and we put a TON of trust in their ability to interact with each other really naturally and hit their marks without being awkward. And then the idea itself was purely conceptual until we got on set and started figuring it out. God definitely brought the whole thing into great harmony in a way we couldn’t have expected. Frankly neither me nor Jeff (the director) thought the visual was going to work and we’d have to end up cutting somewhere, but alas it did work and people responded really well to it in services that weekend.

Awesome, thanks for sharing!

Brandon and his wife Jess make up Setter Studios. You can connect with the Setters on Instagram.

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