Summer is coming. Many churches slump in attendance during the summer. The ATM or At The Movies series is a great way keep or build attendance. The premise is that the Pastor will preach Biblical points from a secular film. The film can be any one they want as long as they can use it tot illustrate moral or Biblical meaning. Many films have great moral illustrations or are stories about overcoming tragedy and great odds. As the media team it is our job to edit the chosen films to tell the points the Pastor wants to preach from. My church has even gone a step further and we film our Pastor and add the filmed preaching points into the edited film. Basically we show a 30 minute film each Sunday during the ATM series. We create an inviting and fun atmosphere with big props, buttered popcorn and soda. The ATM series can be really fun. This blog post will share with you the secrets to filming a successful ATM series.
Secure Your Location
It’s important to secure your location. Pick a spot that helps illustrate or gives thematic flare to your film. Maybe it’s downtown with skyscrapers, or in an urban area, at the beach, in the woods, in the park, at an old theater. Wherever it is secure your spot. Why is this important? Say you have a great spot to film at in mind and you decide to “guerrilla” film there without asking anyone’s permission. You could be asked to leave before you finish, or even charges could be pressed against you due to trespassing. I can remember a couple of shoots when I was a student that were going very well, but then we were caught filming without permission there and were asked to leave without finishing the piece. We had to re film everything that we had just did! Trust me it saves a lot of time and trouble to call ahead and speak to the owners or whomever and make sure that you will not be inhibited if you film there.
Location is Key
Make sure that the location you pick is not to close to the road, rail tracks or airport. In other words be sure to not be in a noisy area so as to get the best sound recording. Look for available shading so that your Pastor or talent is not squinting into the sun. Shade is best for filming because it helps keep the aperture down thus helping to blur out the background and give you that beautiful film look. Shade also allows for a smooth clear image. You don’t want blotchy/spotty shade otherwise you will get a blotchy/spotty look on your Pastors face. Some of his face will be in sun while other parts will be in shade. That’s just a bad look. If need be, bring your own shade via a tent.
If shooting outdoors you may want to rent or invest in a reflector. A reflector is simply a collapsible circle with a reflective side to it. You use that circle to reflect sun onto the subjects face to brighten it up. If you wanted you could get a lighting kit with 2-3 LED panels. Set up two of the lighting panels near the Pastor. One should be on the right and the other on the left. If the kit comes with a third light, position it in the back if you can, to create a hair light. Of coarse the most desirable hair light is to position the Pastor so that the sun is on their back. The sun will create a beautiful golden glow around your Pastor. If this is the case it is imperative that you bring some extra lighting to help brighten up the face due to the shadows created by the sun. It is necessary to blast as much light as you can into their front to match the sun in the back.
Plug the ¾ pin of the Lavaliere Receiver pack into the audio input of the Zoom recorder. Run the lav wire up through the shirt of your Pastor and have him clip the mic to his shirt at chest level. Clip the mic pack to the back of his belt. Make sure the mic is not muted and that it is set to the same frequency as the receiver pack. Put a 64GB SD card (or whatever memory card your Zoom takes) into the Zoom recorder. Plug a set of headphones into the headphone slot of the Zoom. Do some volume test and then your ready to record audio. You can also attach a Rode mic to the top of your DSLR for better on camera audio. Be sure to stop recording audio each time you stop rolling on the camera. This will help you to match up audio and video later when editing.
Filming Camera “A”
Place camera A, which should be a DSLR of 60D or higher quality, right in front of your Pastor. This is not an interview, this is a sermon; therefor it is ok for your Pastor to preach right to the camera. I would open with a 24 mm wide angle shot to establish the scene. Then use a hip to head shot for the majority of the preaching, and so would use a 50 mm prime lens. Obviously you will need to reposition the camera as necessary. But I think you’ll be very happy with the results of these two lenses during the shoot.
- Directions for Camera “A”. Steady straight on shot will work for 65% of your footage. The rest of the footage from “A” camera will be a slow pan from right to left and left to right. In this instance have your Pastor preach to you and not to the camera so their head and eyes do not move with the panning camera.
Filming “Camera B”
Place camera B, which should be a DSLR of 60D or higher quality to the right or to the left of the subject. If you can, place the camera on a slider and track the subject with the camera, while moving back and forth. For a shot like this I would use a 35 mm or 50mm. If you’re using a 50 mm in both shots then try to vary it up some by moving one of them closer and the other further back. To really vary it up, every once in a while put a 85 mm lens on and get some tight close up shots. It might also be nice to capture some of your make shift on location “film se”t with Camera B and really capture the “At the Movies” feel. Once everything is all recorded it is time to log it and start editing your project.
For editing Instructions please look for my upcoming book.More details to come.