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How Mandy.com member Neal Parsons worked on Oscar-nominated short The Silent Child

Mandy.com member Neal Parsons is part of the team director Chris Overton assembled for his Oscar-nominated short film The Silent Child using Mandy Crew. Neal has worked as a camera operator for a variety of clients including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, ESPN and Sky. Here he tells Mandy News about the challenges of working on the project.

30th January 2018
/ By Neal Parsons

Neal Parsons – gaffer on Oscar-nominated short film The Silent Child NEALPARSONS

I was the gaffer on The Silent Child. I'm a camera op and aspiring DoP by trade but was excited by this opportunity to work with and learn from DoP Abed Farahani, and with director Chris Overton who I've known and worked with for nearly four years. 

It was an amazing experience to work on this short; we lived and worked together as a cast and crew in the same house for ten days (plus a couple of pick-up days) and became like a family over that time. Most of us knew each other a bit, but there were new comers to the crew, plus the addition of Maisie and her family living in the house too, and the coming and going of various other cast members, and we bonded really well. 

The working days were fairly standard, but we all had to be pretty flexible with what Maisie felt up to, not to mention the weather which was pretty unforgiving at times, especially when I was trying to rig lights outside in the snow! 

We also had some pretty ambitious setups in terms of camera movement, blocking, transitions and lighting, so it was a shoot that asked a lot of all of us - but you could see on the day that we were getting the results we wanted. Chris was an excellent director to work with, he set the tone for all of us by being calm, focussed, clear in his intentions and above all amazing with Maisie and all of the cast. That made it so easy for all of us to get on with what we needed to do and not worry about anything else. 

I worked closely with Abed to get the look of the film right. He had specific lighting in mind for each character, with regards to contrast, ratio etc. He's a meticulous DoP which is a great trait to have, and I learnt loads from working with him. As a lighting crew of one it was pretty full on at times getting everything rigged each day, juggling our resources, and it really taught me to think one setup ahead each day, to be ready for the next scene before we'd finished filming the one at hand. 

As far as highlights go there are plenty. From a technical point of view I'm really proud of one interior setup in particular which was done after sunset but which needed to look like mid-morning. We rigged a bunch of lights upstairs to shoot down through massive silk we rigged over the stairway giving us a beautiful sunlight effect into the downstairs hallway. I'm really proud that you can't tell we were shooting night for day in that shot. 

And it was also amazing to see Maisie blossom into the role. On the final day of shooting we had a pretty emotional scene with her. Chris was happy with what we'd got but as we were packing down the message came through that Maisie had asked to go again as she thought she could do it better. We went again and she nailed it. It was great to see. 

Comments

Mitra Djalili

07-02-2018

Well done on this project. My husband did some ADR on it and Chris and Rachel were here at our studio which was a pleasure. All fingers crossed for the global recognition it deserves.

Mitra