Short Film from my Class

12th Floor

This film is the final result of the Autumn 2013 ELC Shanghai Filmmaking class. I designed this class 4 years ago and I am still teaching it in a very challenging way.

By Franc Peret

Shooting was done in 12 hours only, from a written script done after I first met the students.

Toilet lighting was a real challenge to be able to shoot wide and close-up without loosing too much time on resetting or repositionning lights (Photo: Sarah)
Martina was an amazing performer for her first movie ever. She was a joy to work with (Photo: Sarah)

The complete program last 25 hours only (we added a bonus class this time, so total teaching duration was 27 hours and 30 minutes).

Film Course >>

Course is split in 6 to 7 weeks with 2 x 2h30mn dedicated to the introduction of story telling, lighting and equipment. Then come 3 classes of 5 hours dedicated to shooting.

Outdor shot of the environment with camera move and unbalanced angle. (Photo: Sarah)
External shot scene from another point of view (Photo: Diarmuid Sheehan)

Adapting schedule

Actually we did a second filming this term (will be soon uploaded), 5 hours shooting for a 20 minutes lecture shot with 4 cameras.
2 final 2h30mn classes conclude the course to speak about sound and editing work.

Toilet location is easily crowded (Photo: Sarah)
Some students immediately get it to give a help on set up (Photo: Sarah)

The “12th Floor’ short story was shot in 10 hours with 2 hours added for sound recording (foley and voices).
I edited the project on my private time between the classes as schedule was so tight.

Close up shot of the reward scene: giving the 12th floor keys. (Photo: Sarah)
Party scene with crowd of students: 4 of them.(Photo: Sarah)

As usual, I was just amazed how everything went well with the 7 students, all of them taking part to the shooting in different ways, 4 of them having to play characters in the story.

The idea behind the story 

Story is about a Toilet lady who is living in Black and white but who is dreaming to get the chance to take the lift to reach the 12th floor and a colorful world, a world she can just imagine from a picture stick on top of the lift main door.

Martina acting with the right tone and mood despite the load of laugh from the assistance. (Photo: Diarmuid Sheehan)

Every morning, her colleague are taking the lift but not her as she is in charge of the toilet on the first floor. Her ultimate ambition is to to take care of the toilet on the 12th floor, the top of the building she is working in, to get a vaster view on a more colorful world (“Close to heaven”, as advertised).
This wish is also a way for her to move up in society’s hierarchy.

Main gate set up for the lift scene was a difficult place to light due to reflection on lift door. (Photo: Diarmuid Sheehan)
Set up in the main entrance for the lift entrance scne (Photo: Sarah)

This story is about ambition, which always depends on the position person are starting from, and one achievement can be perceived in a total different way, according everyone experience, lifestyle, habit and taste.
The world describe in this film is purposely absurd, with train lift, reservation needed to go to toilet, to add more disturbance to the story.

Challenging Location

Technically, the most difficult part was camera positioning and scene lighting as we shot in location and toilet were far too narrow and too reflective (wall).
We also had to rush on shooting to complete the story, to get the 55 cuts done in only 12 hours.

Corridor scene in tight environment. (Photo: Sarah)
Suicide scene with the close up of pipe from another room. (Photo: Sarah)

Therefore, I decided to design a lighting much flatter than I was looking for to be able to quickly shoot from different angle without getting bothered by shadows and flare.


The 2 Main cameras were Panasonic AF100 and GH3 with voigtlander and Nikon lenses. Lighting was a mix of 4x low consumption Bulbs, 1 x LED panel, 1 x LED Fresnel light, 1 x LED torch with battery (for the lift), 2 x 650W and 2 x 300W tungsten Fresnel, and 2 x 150W HMI.

An external monitor helped everyone to follow the progress of the shoot and to judge the performance of the actors (Photo: Sarah)

Film Course >>

Former ELC Photography teacher, Franc Peret is teaching Essential Photography Classes, Advanced Photography Workshop and Film Making Classes in Shanghai, for the last 10 years.