This week I edited the second scene we shot with Vincent Brennan back in August. It went up last night, and I'll tell you more about it in my next post, but first I wanted to talk about that shoot. I haven't previewed the scenes from that day yet because I made a really stupid mistake.
Shooting always involves risks. Usually they pay off. For instance, it was my first time working with Vincent, and he was great, coming up with some intense scenes, and sticking with it despite struggling with first-time nerves. No, the mistake was mine, behind the camera, and mine alone. Halfway through the afternoon, I accidentally deleted footage from three of the five scenes we'd filmed that day.
In retrospect, it's obvious what I should have done differently. I'd majorly overcommitted myself that month and was tired and suffering from burnout. I'd barely slept the night before, got up before 6am, lugged all my filming equipment singlehandedly on public transport from northernmost Greater London to Woking, despite having previously promised myself that it was hire cars or nothing from now on. I don't mean to complain, these were all my own silly decisions, but they perhaps explain why I wasn't at my best.
During the morning, we shot three scenes on two cameras. I operated camera 1 handheld, and Dave Dodgy operated camera 2 on a tripod. Two were F/M scenes, a light-hearted nurse/patient punishment and the judicial caning.
As part of my whole female gaze thing, for these scenes I kept my camera focussed on Vincent, capturing his facial reactions. Meanwhile I directed Dave to zoom in on his bottom during the spanking, and on Molly and Zoe's faces during the dialogue.
We also shot an F/F scene that morning - an instructional video on hand spanking, presented by Zoe and Molly direct to camera. My camera, of course. Dave filmed a second angle to be used for drop-ins and cutaways, but apart from when the ladies are looking at each other, in most of his shots Zoe was looking off to one side, addressing my camera, out of shot.
After lunch we were running late - the last scene of the morning, Vincent's judicial caning, had over-run considerably. (I have a tonne of outtakes to share from that one!) Just as we were ready to start filming The Loose Hem, I noticed I only had a few minutes left on my memory card. Stupidly, I didn't have any spare cards with me. So I used the interface on my video camera to delete some clips from a shoot in July. I knew I had multiple backups of that footage, I just hadn't cleared the memory cards yet. There were a few dozen clips, so rather than spend ages deleting them one by one, I selected the "delete all scenes from this date" option. It previewed the scenes, everything dated 20th July, I confirmed, they were deleted. That cleared enough space on the card that we could press on, and so we had two cameras running for the last two scenes of the day.
When I got home that night on 12th August, I transferred the files from the memory card to my computer and realised that as well as the clips from 20th July, that click had also deleted all the footage we'd filmed that morning. The only clips remaining on the card were from the scenes we'd filmed that afternoon.
I suppose we live and learn. I know, now, to always have spare memory cards with me - in fact I immediately bought some more after this happened. I know now to always do file management tasks via a computer, and never using the camera interface. I know to clear memory cards at home before a shoot. Mistakes are life's best teachers.
The result is that of the five scenes we filmed that day, for the first three I only have one angle, camera 2, Dave's camera. I don't have any of my shots in the F/M scenes, focussing on Vincent's face during the dialogue and the spanking. Dave had followed my direction to zoom in tight on Zoe or Molly's faces, trusting me to keep Vincent in shot, so for half the dialogue I don't even have him in shot as he says his lines. And in the F/F instructional video, all I have is Dave's shots of Zoe talking to someone off-camera. I don't have any of her eye contact .
I've been kicking myself pretty hard about it, you can imagine.
Editing Drunk and Disorderly, Vincent's judicial caning scene, was a pretty miserable process. In the behind the scenes sections I could see myself setting up shots and all I could think about was the lost footage.
Dave snapped a few photos, mostly of the ladies. I was the one shooting Vincent, getting close-ups, capturing details and crucial moments in the strip search, the cuffs going on, the face-to-face interaction between Vincent and Molly as she holds him in position, the look in Vincent's eyes as he anticipates a stroke. And all of my footage is gone.
On the day, Vincent's nerves resulted in us stopping and starting a lot during the dialogue, and we ended up shooting multiple takes of the opening section. I didn't mind at the time, but as we re-started for the third time, I was concerned that the delays would increase Vincent's anxiety before the caning. In the end, those multiple takes saved the film. Dave, seasoned pro that he his, got a different shot each time, which made it possible for me to piece something together that just about covered all the cuts. Vincent's nervousness turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. As a finished product, it's not anywhere near as bad as it might have been.
The thing that still bothers me, about both Drunk and Disorderly and the nurse scene, is that even if I can salvage both of them, they will still look like prototypical 'femdom' that focuses on the female top rather than the male spankee. It's the opposite of everything I'm trying to do with my F/M productions. Given the amount I've griped about the way that many F/M films treat their male spankees, this accident not only damages the quality of my product, it makes me a hypocrite. To say I'm gutted is an understatement. I went out of my way to capture Vincent's experience on his first ever spanking shoot, the effort he put in, his expressions and reactions, and I can't show you any of it. It's a damn shame.
I've captured 60 screengrabs from Drunk and Disorderly, in which I've gone out of my way to show Vincent's face as much as possible. He has his back to Dave's camera for most of the scene, but still, he has some good lines, and you can see enough, I hope, to know I'm not hiding his face deliberately. I have a video interview with him which I'll upload on Sunday, and I'll publish an outtakes video, too.
So despite my self-recrimination, the day was far from a total loss. I have footage from both cameras for the final two scenes, both of which went well. I've already released The Loose Hem, a lovely subversive little domestic teasing/cross-dressing scene.
The other film we made that day was a candid, out-of-character, deep dominance and submission scene between Molly and Zoe, best friends and real life play partners. They approached me about doing a film like this and I left all the details up to them, with Dave and I simply trying to capture their intimacy and interaction as closely as possible.
I was honoured to be admitted into their private scene space, and I think the resulting film is going to be beautiful. I am so, so glad I didn't lose any of that.
Likewise, although I'm missing the primary camera for the hand spanking instructional video, I might be able to do something with it. I'm thinking of taking the audio of Zoe's presentation, and layering it over video from other Dreams of Spanking productions which illustrate her points. It would mean lots of additional work for me as editor, but I only have myself to blame for that. Zoe and Molly's hand spanking demo was a great presentation and I want to do it justice if I can. Hey, at least Dave got some great photos of the two of them.
I've learned some sharp lessons. Hopefully this will be a salutory experience in the long run. Meanwhile, Drunk and Disorderly went up last night and the nursing film is yet to come, and I wanted to tell you in advance why they don't look the way the rest of my F/M productions do. I wanted to show you Vincent's face, his expressions and his reactions. I didn't want the camera to linger exclusively on Zoe as she delivers the caning. I wanted to tell you the whole story. But I can't, because I stupidly deleted Vincent's half.
Still, give it a try. It's a believable setup, with plenty of hot moments, some cheeky backchat from Vincent, and fantastic ad libbed scolding by Zoe. Not to mention a 30 stroke full force cold caning hard enough to satisfy the severity fetishists, which Vincent took magnificently. I've done my best with it, and in the end, I don't think it's turned out badly. And while the finished cut may not treat the male spankee as sympathetically as I wanted, you do at least get more face shots and dialogue from Vincent than in some F/M productions.
I know I'm indulging in perfectionism. It's likely that no-one will care as much as I do, and that I am, as ever, my own worst critic. Thanks to my performers, all three compromised films were good spanking scenes, and even with one camera angle missing, with careful editing they will hopefully be salvagable.
I suppose something like this happens to all us producers sooner or later, but I will definitely be making every effort to ensure I never make a mistake like this again.