Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The waiting game

And so we sit here, with two and a half hours of wonderful rushes on HD. It will cost us about £300 to get them converted to Beta so we can start editing, but we've run out of money, so it'swaitingg on the freebie time again.

Obviously I've said all along that we were making this film for no money, but of course that's a lie, what it really means is that we're making this money with no funding and only what little we can scrape together. There will always be some things you can't avoid paying for (like feeding your crew). Off the top of my head I'd guess we've spent about 2K thus far, pretty much what some of my friends will spend on there holiday. Could we find the extra £300 to do the transfer? We will if we have to, but given the state of my bank balance I'd rather not. The carrot we're offering is that the commercials company who let us put the job through their book are looking to spend money on HD and so put a lot of business the way of whoever can help us with the transfer (apart obviously from the true glory of being associated with this short). One company is currently mulling this over. Please say yes. I don't want to go on holiday, but I do rather want to pay that huge gas bill.

But we have to have an answer soon, the deadline for entry to the fabulous Uppsala festival in Sweden is Jul1stst, so we have to have a rough cut done by then. In the meantime it's off to the piano to start work on some music. Hah.

Pretty sure we're going to need some extra cutaways, not of the actors, but just general shots tseparatete the various stages of the story, but I'm hoping that the lovely people at Panavision, who so wanted to help before, might be up for lending us a camera for one day, but we'll have to have a look at the rough cut first to see what we need.

Once we get the transfer done. When we get the transfer done. Ken Loach would have had the damn thing in the cinemas by now.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Final day

Get up early and Kearney and I drive round Greenford looking for a suitable hall table that someone may be throwing out. Not sure what we'll do if we don't find one, try mocking something up close to the lens I guess. All very Citizen Kane but not really in keeping with the rest of the piece.

Suddenly we spot some strange wicker linen basket thing which will make a good table. Ring the doorbell to check they are indeed throwing it out, then whisk it away in the van just in time to pick the rest of the crew up.

Start shooting straight away, the scenes are quicker to do now Kieran isn't in his homeless phase and requiring an hour of make up. Rattle hall scenes uot, and bedroom scenes, then take a while setting up cot scene. Try and keep as empty a set as possible for this scene as it's a really difficult one for Martha to do, many tears required. She does it a treat. I call cut as soon as I can and she runs off down the stairs in tears. Makes me feel dreadful, but she later assures me she'd much rather it that way than letting her get too carried away.

Kearney goes off to direct an exterior that we were missing while I try and get my head ruond blocking the end scene. Fry my brain numerous times as I try and work out the movement backwards. Eventually Mike comes back, and we both get confused about it.

First up we shoot Felix and Monch as extras walking by to fit inbetween the hospital and breakdown scenes. I suddenly thought last night that we'd need something and this seems to be the answer.

Then it's on to the final scene. Quite a few takes to get it right but it ends up looking great, good sunshine, pregnant Martha and a beaming Kieran. Good to finish on a sunny, happy scene.

Much hugging and back slapping, then everyone heads to the local pub. several beers later and the majority of us end up in the Oak in Westbourne Grove for more beers. Bump into Mal, who was a runner on the Spaceman, the previous film I made with Mike six years ago. Small world. Leave about 11 when it's starting to get really messy, mainly because I'm shattered and have to shift gear tomorrow from the rat house. Can't believe we've finally shot the thing, after all the talk, the meetings and the mad pre production. Now it's time to get the thing transferred to Beta so we can start cutting it. Then we'll find out if it does make any sense backwards, or if we've all got it horribly wrong. And by "we" in that sentance, I mean "I". Bugger, it's my fault.

Day three

First day in the house. Get the front room dressed and lit while we're outside shooting Kieran's breakdown scenes. It's really hard sometimes to watch the monitor and take in what you're seeing while trying to work out what it will look like backwards. Mike Eley came up with the best quote of the day, "I like a film with an end, middle, beginning".

Martha arrives full of glandular illness, but luckily she only has one scene today. It goes well and, although we don't get the bedroom scenes I wanted to do today, we do get one of the exterior shots that I had missed (thank God we put all the scenes up on the wall). Cleo comes down to work as a runner today and provides everyone with a welcome supply of bacon sandwiches. For some reason I keep calling her Chloe. May try and persuade her to change her name to this, it will be easier.

Day ends on a high as we stop and go to the van to listen to the last ten minutes of Chelsea vs Bolton, the win finally confirming the Blues as Premier league champions for the first time in 50 years. We crack open the bubbly and celebrate. To top it all off, earlier in the day Kieran had put £5 on Chelsea to win 2 - 0, and given it to Mike Eley, so he has the added joy of his first winning bet.

Long day and a nice cold beer at the end of it. Can't believe we're three quarters through the shoot. Tomorrow we still have the bedroom scenes, all hall scenes as well as two big exterior shots. And we haven't got a hall table, important as it's here that Kate has to leave her note for Mark. A search of skips on the way home doesn't provide an answer, we'll just have to hope for better luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Day two

Back to London bridge, nice and early. Glad to see all the crew have turned up again, as well as Josie Coxon to help with wardrobe. (actually she was there yesterday as well, what am I thinking. She even gets to appear as an extra).

The sun is out which will be a nice contrast to yesterdays overcast scenes. Get all the London bridge shots done in reasonable time then head over to Greenford to do some more street scenes, but with Kieran in less of a state, make up wise. On the way we have to put Alex on the tube to Acton to go and pick up Martha's pregnancy suit for Sunday as we're running late and they shut early. Thankfully he just makes it in time.

Traffic is appaling and we waste a huge amount of time on the move, but the trouble with the planning is that as we're going along we're tidying Kieran up bit by bit so that by the end of the shoot he will be clean and neat, which means we can't go back and re-do any earlier shots. This means we also have to rush across town to St Thomas's hospital at half eight to do the one hospital exterior (having scrapped the interior as no hospital would let us film inside). The shot's a little darker than I would have liked, but at least it's in the can.

It's late and no one has eaten since lunch time, but still everyone looks happy as they set off. Marvellous people, film crews (and cast). They never let their standards drop, no matter how long the work or what the conditions are, though wouldn't like to push this. Tomorrow and Sunday are all in the house, so food should be less of a problem.

What may be a problem are all the props for the house. The problem being that we don't have them.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Day one

Day one, meet up outside London bridge tube station at one. Myself and Kearney arrive in the van to meet the rest of the crew. Am very glad to see them all.

Kieran O'Brien - lead
Mike Eley - DP
Felix - sound
Almut - make up
Nick and Alex - runners

Haven't managed to get the hi hat or extra lens for Mike, but wil keep trying. Thankfully get a call from a focus puller I know called Moncho who says he can do the weekend. This will hopefully ease Mike's workload.

Almut takes Kieran off for make up. She does a fantastic job, he looks a right state. So much so that when he sits down on Tooley street a cab driver throws him 50p and a woman gives him an apple. Result.

We do the scene of Kieran walking through the tunnel, the opening scene (which Mike frames quite magnificently so that it almost looks like a renaissance painting), and one of the begging scenes. I was hoping for six scenes a day, so three in half a day is good. Means tomorrow will be pretty full on, but that's OK.

After the shoot Kearney and I drive to Greenford to the house location. We're planning to store the kit here and stay as well so we can use it as a base.

When we get to the house it looks even worse at night. Make the mistake of opening the fride and nearly bring up what little lunch I had, as it's full of rotting food and smells like nothing I have ever smelt. Even more joy when I open the back door to discover a dead rat on the back door step. Decide not to stay in the house tonight.

We unload the camera gear and drive to AFM to collect the lights. It appears I have written down more lights than Mike asked for (better that way round I guess), but the result is a very careful pack to fit them all in the van. Get back to the house (which is feeling more and more like Amityville) and unload the lights. Kearney make s a case for staying in the house. I refuse. I'd rather get up an hour earlier than stay here. In fact I'd rather eat broken glass than stay here. So we stay in Kilburn. If you've ever been to Kilburn then you'll know what it's like, and so can imagine just how horrible this house is to make Kilburn an option.

Get back, eat soup and drink a quick beer. Get to bed, very exhausted, about 1 a.m. Going to be a long day tomorrow but at least, after all that has happened, we're up and running.

Monday, May 02, 2005

24 hours to go

Finally get through to Richie. They have a spare 750 kit.


He didn't hear the bit about "we have no money" when I first spoke to him.


The MD of VMI sends me a form to fill in for assistance from VMI. It's about six pages long. I'm half way through filling it in when a woman rings from the HD department at VMI saying that they don't have a kit. I consider buying a cat just so I can kick it. I try and ring Richie again but he's on a business lunch untill three.

Send the form off. Ring again. And again. And again. Finally a man called Mark says that he'll look into it. Seriously running out of time now. At four Mark rings me and tells me there is a kit spare, Richie had pencilled it under my name. They can't give it for free, but they do offer me a ridiculously good deal on it. It's more than we wanted to pay, but at this stage in the day it's an HD camera, and I so don't want to shoot DSR (or do I?) that, after a quick chat with Kearney I say yes. We have akit, and we can pick it up tomorrow at nine thirty.

Change call time to one for tomorrow just in case and go to watch first leg of the Champions league semi final. Tough draw for the Blue. Damn scousers.

Go to bed, because tomorrow, against all odds, we start filming. I hope.

48 hours to go

Still no kit and now the location has fallen through. When I say now I don't mean ten a.m., when the man said he would ring, I mean three o'clock this afternoon. I have no choice but to take a train over to Greenford and look for another place. Go to Brian Cox Estate Agents. They seem interested, show me a couple of housses that are OK, then one that is just right. They ring the landlord and he says yes. We have a location again.

On the way back Richie from VMI rings and says he may have a kit to rent, a 750 not a 900, but it's true High Def so that's fine. He'll let me know later.

In the meantime, just in case, I look at the figures for a 16mm shoot. Guess what, no one has a 16mm kit either. It appears that everyone in London has decided to shoot a film this weekend, the unthinking bastards. Get a quote to shoot on DSR instead. Mike Eley likes DSR for the look, but I know I will always look at the film and think how good it would have looked on HD.

Call VMI when I get back and find out Richie has had to go home for personal reasons and no one else knows anything about this kit. Things not looking good. I believe this is the way to get an ulcer. Go to meet Kieran who has a selection of clothes to wear, and thank God they look great. Very much fancy drinking myself unconcious, but decide it may be unwise.

Blue Monday

Yesterday Kearney and I went out to Greenford and found a list of potential locations. One in particualr looks great. Went to see the local estate agent and he said the house was empty and we could rent it for four days. He'll call tomorrow at ten to confirm.

Then I managed to get a sound man. Felix is a friend of Craig, who owns the edit suite we're going to use. Well that's some good news at least.

The real problem is being the camera. Spoke to Vicky at Arri, who were happy to offer us the same deal as Panavision, but then found out they had no spare cameras. Rang every hire company I could think of and the answer was the same, no kit available. I thought shooting over a bank holiday weekend was a stroke of genius. No one in their right mind would schedule then, what with time and a half and all that. How wrong I was. Everyone is shooting this weekend. So much for the downturn in the British film industry.

The only glimmer of hope is a company called VMI, and a very helpful man in bookings called Richie, who says he'll chase up the pencils on their kit and see what he can do. A little bit of me thought of cancelling the shoot, but I know if I do this we won't get everyone together again for months.

Black Friday

Six days to go and I get an email from Panavision saying that they now can't provide the HD kit. It seems there has been a sudden rush on kits and they've had to hire it out. Bugger. I understand that they have a to give a kit out to someone willing to pay full price, but it leaves me in trouble.

I've got a great cast, a great DP, some crew and a script. Could really, really do with a camera to shoot it on. Can't think to much about it today as I have to go to a funeral for an old friend of mine. But silver lining on an otherwise dark day is that I get a call from a friend saying he knows a sound man who might be up for it.