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Peter Chapman - Lights, Camera, Chapman!

What does it take to become a working industry director? Film Connection student Peter Chapman knows if you can envision a story, then you hold the power to manifest it on the screen. However, there is one attribute that all films share and that’s the passion of their creator to bring a dream into a reality. Peter was about to find out nothing worth accomplishing is ever easy.

“My first challenge was the issue of equipment,” recalled Peter. It takes a lot of machinery to create those images we all cherish on our local Cineplex screens! “I needed a decent camera, a sound mixer and microphones, a small light set and several power cords for the weekend,” Peter noted. With a mounting list of supplies needed and no funds available, it was time to start calling in some favors and reaching out to colleges that could provide support for the production.

After informing the owner of the building Peter works in about his film, he was granted permission to shoot over the weekend for no charge. Immediately, Mr. Chapman started to combat the obstacles, as he thought, “I decided to shoot at noon, in an attempt to avoid any direct sunlight. Since the area was open and surrounded by floor to ceiling windows, I would take advantage of the existing natural light, limiting the amount of lighting equipment required.” Now that he had his screenplay, location, and equipment, it was time to complete his cast.

Peter quickly realized he had to find the centerpieces of the world he was creating; the actors to embody his characters. When reviewing the possibilities, Peter noted, “The scene required actors who could display angst and control at the same time.” After receiving a referral for an actor, he reached out. “I called him and told him what I was trying to do and asked if he would be willing to assist.” Peter convinced the actor to participate and paired him onscreen with an actor he believed “would be perfect for the second role as his natural demeanor and poker face made him the perfect candidate. With his stars cast and ready for production, the last piece of the puzzle was about to fall into place.

With his crew in order, location prepped, and equipment coming together, Peter had one last day to prepare for his big moment. “Saturday I went to the location, setup the lighting and blocked out the shots,” Peter said. “Everything was looking great and I was ready for my first directing project!”
Lights, camera, action!

Peter had many challenges come his way that week during his small production. “Overall I learned that this is absolutely a collaborative process. It takes many people being good at what they are good at to get a quality product. In pre-production, it takes much planning, preparation, thinking, and strategy, repetitively, to produce a quality product,” he said.

When looking forward to the future, he explained, “I learned a lot and have more to learn. Much of it will be through experience and experimentation.” Throughout all the trials and tribulations, no matter how stressful being the director of your vision can become, Peter’s closing words on the experience remind everyone of why they get started in the industry to begin with. The final statement Mr. Chapman concluded about the experience was, “Above all, I learned that I loved every minute of it.”

Peter Chapman, Atlanta, GA

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