CLICK HERE to watch “Burial Site”.
I am fascinated when a building is left to rot away in nature long after a humans have inhabited it. I watch the television show, “Life After People” and find it very interesting.
It is not the fact that the place is empty and void of life, it is because the place has become something else. Nature has began to reclaim the space and there is simply a ton of cool textures, angles, sounds and colors to capture. Plus, there could be ghosts in there!
I have had a big response to the short film I shot called, “Burial Site”, not just because of the self-serving ending! People really liked the location I chose to shoot the main portion of the film, the old farm house.
In my previous blog, I posted all the photos that came from Adam’s (young actor) camera. I had misplaced my camera and just found it. I will say that Adam and I were mainly focused on the video feature of the Canon 5Dmk2 camera, and shooting stills were really an after thought. We needed to get this thing shot in six hours. It would have been nice to have a behind the scenes photographer! I will post some more pictures with a little story from each down below in this article.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to post them at the bottom of this page in the “comments” section.
The old farm house basement. This was my favorite place in the disgusting house. It smelled like a tomb. There was a cool, dungeon feel and the air was heavy with moisture. I got really excited when fog seemed to roll down the staircase from outside.
Because of the humidity and cool temperature, I had slight problems with my lenses (the two that I used) fogging up. I had to constantly wipe them between each take.
The basement was full of old artifacts. Adam and I found old V-topped STP oil cans and rusted saw blades. Just behind this nasty table was an old dug well. The well went down into the dirt basement floor about ten feet and was full of crystal clear water. At the bottom of the well was an old rusty saw blade and a hammer head that was turning black. There was also an old boiler with a rusted out oil tank leaking fuel oil.
The history that I know about this place is that it has been abandoned for about 15 years. And when someone was living here, it was a single 95 year old man. I think he died somewhere upstairs.
This shot was taken from the top of the basement staircase looking down into the dark cellar. This place had no electricity and it seems that a lot of the copper wiring had been ripped out of the walls. Adam and I wanted to “keep it real” and we did not have any flashlights. We only worked by the oil lamp and candles.
Inside the house, Adam and I were surrounded by lead paint. The stuff was litterally falling off the ceiling and walls as we moved around the house. We opened up an old door and could hear the paint falling off the old wood panels. This gave us the idea to shoot the chipped and peeling paint falling to the floor as Adam banged his fists on the other side of the jammed door.
I placed the Zoom H4 stereo recorder on the floor to capture the sound of the “Knock Knock Knock” and then the sound of the paint chips hitting the pine floor boards.
This house was located near a busy street. A few of the windows had been smashed and we found that because of this, car noise was streaming throughout the house. Adam and I would film a take and then do it again for sound when we felt the street was quite enough! Later, i would sync the sound in post. Not an easy task even with voice tagging like, “Take 2 for sound, Adam walking to doorway.”
Adam and I entered the house through the basement with all of our gear. The front and side entry doors of this house were boarded up. Plus, we did not want people to see us entering the house from the front! We were shooting this film in stealth mode. Real fast, limited gear and just Adam and I.
I was using the sick Canon 5dmk2 digital SLR and yes, it does live up to the hype. The camera is so easy to use thanks to the new manual firmware update. The low light capabilities are incredible and I might say that several times before the end of this blog! The biggest problem is the fact that the Canon 5dmk2 does not have good audio recording capabilities. It has no XLR mic inputs or even audio leveling/monitoring. Wish it had a headphone jack!
So this means you are forced to record all sound separately using a recorder of some kind. I use the Zoom h4. Later in post, you must sync the sound just like they do in the movies!
I have a home made dolly system made from a sheet of plywood, some angle iron, 16 skateboard wheels and two ten foot 1 1/4 inch PVC water pipes. This this is perfect for run and gun, guerrilla film making. I have used bigger, “real” dolly systems in the past, but you need multiple people to move and operate them. A DIY dolly made with PVC pipe and material from a hardware store is all you need to fake it. And a steady hand of course!
I found this lamp at a dump site in New Hampshire. I grabbed it to use in my NH camp, but also thought that it would make a great movie prop. When I bought the Canon 5Dmk2 camera and learned of its low light functionality, I had to shoot a film lit by this oil lamp.
A few things to mention here. The oil in this lamp was probably 50 years old. It was not working properly and Adam and I would have shot this movie in five hours instead of six, if we had new fuel! Plus, we went through about 100 matches and four feet of lamp wick! We actually had to cannibalize one of the newer oil lamps that I had brought.
This place did have some life. The attic was full of bats. We could hear them. And Adam and I went up into the attic with the oil lamp and found tons of bat guano on the floor boards. We could not really see into the roof rafters, but there were tons of bats up there. We thought it was best not to disturb them!
The moth on the window was one of those shots that just presented its self. That was not in my head when I entered the house. The moth was just there and I made it a star!
The old floor boards of the house were perfect for capturing the sound of foot steps as Adam moved though the house. As long as the street outside was quiet, I was able to get great sound with the built in stereo pair on the Zoom sound recorder.
In the bedroom, you can see the only points of light for the picture scene. I cracked the shade on the window to the left and Adam’s oil lamp was the key light source for the scene.
The supernatural part of the movie was added just for the hack of it. It makes the film creepy. I ran the video backwards to get the candle to “light itself”. It was me who had to pan, pull focus and blow of the candle!
The picture of the black and white woman was printed out with my computer the night before the shoot. I found the image by using google images searching for “1950s black and white portrait”. The frame was bought at Walmart a few weeks ago.
This shot was taken without a flash. You can see just how dark that room was inside the house. The Canon 5dmk2 works great in low light. I said it again!
There were a lot of other cool and creepy features of the house that I wanted to work into the film, but could not. The old bathroom no longer had copper pipes and the toilet had no water in it. Adam found some AJAX cleaner in the kitchen so he decided to clean up the bathroom before the house gets torn down.
Thanks for reading all this! If you still have not seen the film, take 6 and a half minutes to watch it! You can see it by clicking here.
You can also look at more behind the scenes pictures and blog by clicking here.