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Old December 19th, 2006, 03:47 PM   #1
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Shooting a Funeral?

Can some people give some advice on what to do if you have some scenes in your film that take place on a funeral? Would it be expensive to put it in scene, I take filming some shots on a real funeral is a big no-no?

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Old December 19th, 2006, 04:47 PM   #2
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Mathieu, if I had to shoot a funeral scene my first plan would be to talk to the local cemeteries to see if it would be possible to set up a fake funeral on or near their grounds....... if they let you in great if not you could find a location overlooking the cemitery and do the scene with the cemitery in the background.

Alternatively you could make it a private funeral on private land and do it anywhere.

Filming a real funeral is not a good idea IMO .

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Old December 20th, 2006, 08:38 AM   #3
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Thanks Andy,

yeah, the thing is getting the coffin and such, if you are on a tight or very low budget, it may be difficult. If other people could shime in with advice, I'm still open for it.

Best regards,
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Old December 20th, 2006, 10:24 AM   #4
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Get your actors to dress in suitable black outfits for a funeral. Shoot in a park or a garden (or anywhere that's easy to get permission). Mark out a "virtual grave". Gather the actors and extras to stand around it. Get the camera into your marked out grave area, as low as your tripod will allow (or hand hold it while lying down) looking up at the mourners.

You can just do with a wild voice over of the priest's service to run in the back ground. Maybe a few squawking crows added in post for that extra Edgar Allen Poe vibe!

The low camera angle means you don't see the rest of the cemetery (or lack of it). Also since mourners would tend to look down in a funeral at the coffin, it's a good angle to see their faces anyway. No need for a coffin or grave as the camera is in the place where the coffin would be. People have an idea of what a priest sounds like ("Ashes to ashes...", etc) so you don't really need to see him.

The sound (priest's service) and mise en scene (crowd, dressed in black gathered around, outdoors) will tell the audience that it's a funeral, and your audience will fill in the gaps (the actual priest, graves stones, the coffin). The only tricky part is in looking up exposure might be a problem with the bright sky, so lots of reflectors to lighten up actor's faces, and maybe a polarizing lens to darken a blue sky.

That would be my low budget, least hassle way to do a funeral.
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Old January 6th, 2007, 06:16 AM   #5
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Dylan has it. I shot something similar to his suggestion a few years ago and the only issue was the sky. We did not have a polarizer so we had the actors (4) group together with umbrellas, and the shot really was made all that more special. I only worked on the shoot so I dont know what issues they had in post but teh finished product did its job. The establishing shot was from a moving car in the rain that revealed the actors (12) standing under umbrellas huddled together.

Good luck
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Old January 19th, 2007, 08:57 AM   #6
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While it was not out doors at a cemetery at the last student film festival I entered one group got a funeral home around the corner to let them film at their parlor with a coffin and such. It is certianly a different feel from the actual burial scene outside but might work for you. The funeral home was happy to do it as saw it as advertising.
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Last edited by Josh Chesarek; January 20th, 2007 at 05:55 AM.
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Old January 19th, 2007, 09:13 AM   #7
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I really like Dylan's idea, maybe even add a shoveling of dirt on a plexiglass sheet covering the camera if that is the correct mood of the scene.

You will probably be able to get the camera only so low. After that, you will have to raise the actors on apple boxes. Have them lean in a bit, and make sure to get CU's from the same perspective for cutting.

As far as the sky, three easy fixes. One, a big white king size sheet on the ground, poke a hole in the middle, and put the lens through it. Giant sky reflector for all the faces. Two, a couple of solar blankets around the edges, gives some harsh highlights on some faces, like the reflections in the metal of the casket. You can also use a silver reflector for that. Three, shoot at sunset. The sidelight from the sun will key the actors, as long as your blocking is good. The sky will also be much dimmer than midday, and the mood will be even more appropriate. You may even get those pink red clouds above the actors. Again, this depends on the mood of the scene.

Yeah, you don't want to tag along a real funeral. Not just for the bad luck part, but it can turn ugly, even if they were okay with you being there before. When it actually happens, everyone's level of acceptance changes, as is expected.
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Old January 19th, 2007, 04:37 PM   #8
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Yeah, a funeral is a important thing and memory for people, and you can't distort it for your film.

But all the hints and advice have been good so far, thank you, everyone.
The project is still far away (I'm in the beginning of the script, and it's a long feature...) but it's nice to think about these things at forehand.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 12:39 PM   #9
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I actually read an article about this recently.
This guy would do funerals and he noted that always at the end he would have a shot of the person from some family famous happy footage with a clouded sky keyed in the b\g. He noted that making it seem like a memory was important, not to focus so much on the funeral aspect of it, but the life aspect of it.

Sounds difficult either way
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Old January 25th, 2007, 04:31 PM   #10
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Get the family picture into Photoshop. Select part of picture. Inverse selection. Apply mask. Apply Gaussian Blur to give vignette effect to edges. Make sure background is transparent. Save as .psd file. Import .psd file into Video track 2. Have video track 1 as the cloud track. Place video 2 track at appropriate point in video 1 track. Have video 2 track: adjust motion from centre of picture ( 0 visibility ) to 1/2 of screen, using keyframes, adjust opacity from 0 at centre to 90% at 1/2 screen. Looks like the family face appears from the clouds....... with a soft vignette effect around the family pic.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 04:21 PM   #11
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As others have cautioned, this is a touchy subject.

Funeral Videos with Alan Naumann

and a review :
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