Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day thirteen, unlucky for some

Unlucky for those filming outside as it's pissing down. Luckily we filmed outside yesterday and today we were back inside Melange, home of the Comet Gain gig. Today we're doing the scenes with Emily and Richard, and both run smoothly. A quick rewrite makes the second scene work, while the first I hope to play using just the single shot on Emily. Hopefully.

After that we shot some cut aways of people being the audience for the gig, all very moody and new york, exactly what I was after. Then, best of all, we wrapped two hours early. This wasn't just because the rain made choosing other shots to do difficult (which it was but not impossible), it was because it's been a hard two weeks and a lot of the crew were flagging, none more so than the runners who have a lot to do, and who hopefully will go home and get a decent nights sleep and so be back on full fitness tomorrow.

Or they'll go to the pub and get hammered. Who knows.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ten, eleven and twelve

Two days in sunny vauxhall. Horrible place, but home to ETV, a previous employer and company who were nice enough not only to give us a pre-production office space for free, but also kind enough to let us use their office as a location. They're getting a big thanks in the credits.

It also saw the return of Matthew Sim, an actor I have made two short films with, and whose work I love. I was determined to get him in the film, and luckily he was fre to play Mark the office manager, which of course he did with his usual style, turning a two scene predictable character into something all his own.

Tried to do the exterior scenes in a local park, but the mix of planes, shouting kids and the scene just not working proved fatal, so we cut it and did some running scenes instead. Re-wrote the scenes that night, so on Sunday we managed to fit them in on the roof instead.

More office on Sunday, went pretty much without a hitch. Bernado, the 1st AD was unsure about the scene, it played a little slow for him, but that was exactly how I wanted it. Fingers crossed it still works in the edit, because if not I'll look a right twat. Excellent group of hard working extras on both days, who put up with many repeated angles, and, on Sunday, a long scene involving a very painful training session.

Monday and we're in the woods for the role playing scene. Ian looked hilarious with his lord of the rings helmet on, whereas Kieran seemed to enjoy it all a bit too much. Aided by Ben, the Friar, the three of them made for a hilarious adventuring party. Dodged rain all day, had a little trouble with one scene, nothing that a quick re-write couldn't fix, and a good days work was done. I ache all over from all the walking, but got to carry a stick about all day, and you can't ask for much more than that.

The only downside to all this is that you work so hard each day, making sure everything is perfect, it kills you a little bit when you think that you've got to do it all again tomorrow. But I've found an easy way to get round this, I just think of my last job and everything seems just fine.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day seven, eight and nine

Three very long days. First up and we're in Nambucca on the Holloway road. Mike's still not feeling all that great after his day off and we're now worrying that he's going to have to go and have a check up. Shoot the late scenes of the film, including the scene where Stevie stands at the side of the stage and is then plunged into darkness as the band on stage finish. This is a very complicated set up, made more bearable by the fact that the band on stage are Sunnyvale (minus me). I even get them a line in another scene. We have a ton of extras, and finish just in time for me to run over the road and watch the second half of the Chelsea game.

Next day and the leaking roof means we have to watch out for water everywhere. The plus is that today we have the band for one of the opening scenes, and we've lined up a band called Betty and the werewolves to perform. They're great fun and very patient, and remarkably enough have seen the Trophy Girlfriend video I made for Heavenly and love it. Youtube has a lot to answer for. Finish off with a late exterior where Stevie tries to get Billy to join the band. It's a complicated shot and takes an age, but at least it's not raining. Get home at midnight and go straight to bed.

Then up early and off to a new bar, Melange on Kingsland road, for the middle pub gig. Todays guest band are Comet Gain, which would be exciting enough in it's own right, but on bass they've also got James Canty from the Make up and NoU on bass. It's indie legends in full efeect. Even better is the fact Mike is finally on the mend and actually looking vaguely human. The day is a light one, we even wrap a little ahead of schedule. Better still is the fact tomorrow is a day off (well, into the edit suite), then the weekend will be office interiors in vauxhall.

If we can just have good weather for the last five or so exterior scenes we have then it can piss down all summer for all I care. Over a third of the way through (I think) and it's more fun now than it was at first. The cast all mess about together, the crew are great and people ask me less questions now. Not sure if that's because they now know the answer to some of them or they thinnk I'm a fuckwit. Either way I'm good with it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Day six

And it's a long one. The two largest scenes and a couple of small ones, only possible because we're filming in the dressing room at the Luminaire which is about ten foot square so we don't have that many options.

It's quite an emotional scene for Lyndsey so we start off with her close up so we can get the reaction as fresh as possible, then into wides and two shots. Even so we take a late lunch without finishing the first scene. Pick up the pace after lunch and somehow manage to finish all that days scenes, but in the process we've really broken Mike. He's been struggling with flu all week and nearly didn't make it in today, so while we filmed the production office was busy moving the schedule ro9und to give us a day off tomorrow to enable Mike to rest.

Fingers crossed one day does him enough, having to claim on insurance for another day will start to get complicated. On the plus side we have a band lined up to appear in the scene on wednesday, the excellently named Betty and the werewolves. Can't wait.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Day five

And we have our last exterior shot for a while, which is just as well as it appears global warming has resulted in a sub arctic temperature becoming the norm in Hackney. Shot is good, with Lyndsey again reprising her role as 'character handing out flyers'.

Then it's back to Shrubland road for the interior kitchen scenes. Today is the first day we've had Kieran, our Billy, in, and it really changes the dynamic. He's great, and Ian plays off him really well. This is especially apparent in the kicthen scenes, which are some of the best things he's done so far.

Final scene is also the first for Richard, Emily's boyfriend, played by a young actor called Giles (thankfully not me). The chemistry and tone here have to be just right, and I'm very relieved to see they are. It is also fast becoming obvious that lyndsey has one of those movie star faces that really light up the screen, and with Mike's lighting she looks great as well as being an amazing actor. Today was the best work by so many of the cast it would be unfair to pick one, so I'll just thnak Blackburn for taking two points off Man U instead.

but best of all tomorrow we film at the Luminaire in Kilburn, five minutes from my house, so finally I get a lie in. It really doesn't get much better than that.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Day four

I get up and check the forecast. Every paper and TV station has a bright sun for tdays weather, which is great news as today is 100% exterior, one day only steadicam work.

I open my front door and it's hailing.

By the time I get on set it's stopped hailing but there's still plenty of cloud and what little sun does come through is weak. Still, at least it's not hailing. What it is, though, is cold. Really cold. There's a bitter wind that is freezing everyone to the bone and slowing everything down. We get a few shots done but it's all taking an age.

On to the first big scene of the day, Stevie and Emily bumping in to each other on the street. The sun comes out, the sun goes in. The sun comes out again we get shadows from the boom. We do take after take, then have to break for lunch. Back for more takes and nothing gets much better after lunch, but luckily I liked take two anyway. My decision to shoot much of the film in long, uniterrupted takes will look great but takes an age. I'll have to just go with what I feel is right, and sometimes compromise on other things otherwise we'll end up shooting more stock than Titanic did.

The net result is that we have to drop a whole scene, and a couple of reverses from another, to give us any hope of getting the other big dialogue scene under the bridge. Amazingly no trains ruin the audio and we get the shot. The downside is that no matter how hard the actors worked at trying to appear as if they were chatting on a balmy summers evening, it looked cold. It's suppoed to piss down on friday, but as I type this there's no sign of rain. I hate weather forecasts.

Day off today, and more tired than I have ever been. I had no idea answering loads of questions and carrying a large folder round could take it out of you so. Still, the catering is great, so who's complaining.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day three

... and the most disturbing thing is the fact I had to stop and think before I typed 'day three'. Nothing as cliched as not knowing what day it is, more the fact that I can't believe that is ONLY day three. I feel like we've been at this for at least a month (and some of the people I know who've emailed saying they're reading this will be commenting that it only feels like that because I'm so un-used to hard work).

Started slowly today as we had to have a move to a new location for the first scene, and that, plus a broken key in the camera dept truck, slowed us right down, and instead of getting our first shot at about half ten we didn't turn over until nearly twelve. Worse was to come when we ran the scene, it just wasn't working. This probably wasn't the right time to bring up my feelings about one of the scenes from the first day. Having watched the rushes the night before I just felt this scene was wrong. Partly it was framed wrong, he was looking in the wrong direction to match with the other shots, but the main reason was the performance, and that was my fault. I'd given the actor a note to act on and he'd taken it, and now thinking about cutting it with the other actors scene I realised it was the wrong note. So I wanted to do it again (better now than in a months time I thought).

So while I broke that news to the first AD, I tried to get todays first scene working. Take after take just didn't gel until suddenly, from apparently nowhere, it did. I have no idea what the actors got, or how they found direction from the garbbled mass of things I kept saying to them, but somehow they did and the scene worked a treat. Quick shoot reverses, get told off for too many takes and we're back on track.

Afternoon of good takes, plus the re-take from the first day I wanted, and we were on to our final scene, Stevie coming round and asking Emily out for a drink. It may have been about minus three but the two of them managed to pull of a great scene that actually looked like summer. Best of all was as Stevie ran towards her door, a train crossed over on the bridge above. That would cost a fortune to arrange, but Silverlink gave us that one for free. And a very nice woman named Heather gave us her front door for free for the scene too. She even let me use her bathroom. Maybe people in East London aren't so bad after all.

Tomorrow is down as being sun all day, but so far the weather report has never got it right. Fingers crossed as today is our one scheduled day of steadicam, something I don't think we could afford to repeat as it's too expensive. So if it pisses down we will either a) have romantic scenes in the cold and rain or b) not have any steadicam shots in the film. Who knows.

Kev has cut some scenes together and likes what he's seen. Can't wait until Friday and our day off to see them. Or I may get the eurostar, we'll see.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day two

and Ian is joined on set by Matthew and Lindsey, which he looks very grateful for. I'm happy too as it's good for the actors to be able to hang out with each other, and hopefully leads towards that bond the band should have.

First scenes are Matthew on the drums, which he seems to love, followed by a scene with the two of them together. Something about this scene just isn't working. I give my notes, but they don't help. I'm beginning to be at a loss, unsure of how to unstick the jam, when we decide to try a take without worrying about overpalling dialogue. Immediately the scene is free and works fine. All three of us seem much happier now we understand what the probelm was, and we know we'll have to work at clean ones for the edit, but we'll always be able to get it right with overlapping. The dynamic between Ian and Matthew is great, too, with Ian being a little more dour and Matthew being a bit more upbeat. What amazes me the most is how much Matthew is like Loz from Ride, and how much Ian is like Steve Queralt. Unintended, but funny.

Lyndsey comes on for her scene and is prefessionalism personified. She has some notes about her next big scene, all of which make complete sense and are happily taken on board.

The down side of the day - the camera crew have been struck down with an illness. Mike is suffering the worst, and gets and hours sleep instead of lunch. It's like something form a zombie film, and will, I'm sure, work its way through the entire crew.

Get both Fortuna Pop CDs and Damaged Goods posters in shots today which is good, if someone is going to get product placements it should be for things I like.

Finally end up at nine at night shooting an interior shot through the window. Looks wonderful. Downside is that it's pissing with rain outside. After the fourth take the camera crew start to loose their sense of humour, but luckily I keep mine, a fact I'm sure they're all grateful for. Weather is a bit of a worry over the next few days. Forecast says showers tomorrow, which hopefully we can work round, with thursday being clear. This is good, as thursday is steadicam day. It can snow on friday for all I care as we've got a day off.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day one...

... began with wonderful sunshine so we made the most of it and shot some unscheduled exterior shots. It was good to get these, a relief and it provided a nice and gentle introduction for all concerned.

After that it was inside for shots in Stevie's bedroom. Ian Bonar (Stevie) soon got into the role, difficult though it was being the only actor on set, on his first day, trying to have telephone conversations with other (non attending) actors. Glad to say he got it well, and although we couldn't make the final two day for night shots of the day, we're still ahead of schedule thanks to the sun.

Fingers crossed we can do the same tomorrow.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

OK, here we go

So after what seems like an age we finally start filming tomorrow. After much negoatiating we finally have our cast, Ian Bonar, Lyndsey Marshal, Kieran Bew and Mathew Baynton. The last two days have been a quick crash course rehearsal with them, and only time will tell if it's worked. They all seem happy enough, they're my first choice cast, all fantastic and experienced actors, so fingers crossed they'll get me out of any trouble.

Crew are all excellent. We've been innundated with people wanting work, which is great, but we've tried to give priority to people who worked for free on one of our shorts before, so we once again have Almut on make up, Kevin editing and Mike as DoP, though as an emmy nominated DoP Mike didn't really need the favour.

I'm much calmer than I thought I would be. Yesterday evening was a bit full of panic, but today I woke up and just reminded myself of what sort of film I wanted to make, and hope as long as I can keep that in mind I'll feel OK about things. God knows. I'll see how I feel on the 10th May when this is all over. It'll either have been brilliant or I'll be in hiding in Belgium.

Monday, April 07, 2008

T minus seven days and counting

OK, no posts for a while as it's all been MENTAL. So here is where things stand.

We have 75% of our cast. Still waiting on one to confirm, which is fine as we're less than a week from shooting, so no real worries there. The three we have are all excellent and I couldn't be happier with them. The one we're waiting on is also excellent, and we think he wants to do it, it's just a question of agents and timings and things like that. I was torn between him and another actor, who we originally offered the part to due to his profile. As soon as we'd done it I began to regret not offering it to the one we're offering it to (let's call him A), bhut everyone else said the other one (or B) was a good bet. B is a good actor, but possibly an obvious option in casting. A is equally a great actor, but not what you would expect for the role, and therefore, in my eyes, what we should be going for. But it was too late, until B's agent started dicking us around asking for this and that, knowing full well time was against us, before finally pulling out. I suspect they had a better offer for something else and were using us as leverage, but we'll never know. Anyway, what people thought at first was a DISASTER I saw as brilliant as it meant we could offer the role to A, as I'd been secretly hoping for ages. Now let's just hope he says yes, the fucker.

We appear to have employed a crew of 35 people, which makes my mind boggle a bit. I've even had emails from people I didn't know I'd employed. Everyone's doing it hella cheap, which I hate. Fingers crossed we never have to do this sort of deal again. It's a tricky situation, I've spent years arguing that if you're paying stupid low money then it's a cheat and you should cut your cloth (or your crew) accordingly, but now we're here it's not so easy. I say do we really need a third AD and everyone working on the film says YES, even though by not getting one we'd have more money for them. Either they want to make sure all the work is covered no matter what or they're very bad at maths.

Songs for the band have been recorded by some old men, but one of them sounds brilliant so think I'll focus mainly on that one. Funniest bit is going to be friday when I have to record the vocals for the track. The horror
Most locations now in place. Which reminds me, God bless ETV, my previous employer, who have been amazing. They gave us a whole floor of their office for free to use as our production office, and are letting us film there free of charge. I'm amazed by how generous they've been, way above what they owe me for the three and a half years I worked for them. Think we best give them a very big thank you on the credits.

Coming up next is rehearsals with the actors, god only knows what that will be like. Normally a wonderful time to experiment and try things out, I somewhat hampered by the inability to get over the fact that it's my script they're reading out. It all feels frankly ridiculous, as if any minute now they're going to throw it in the bin and read something proper.

A week today and we'll have done our first days filming. Hopefully that will have forced me to take it all more seriously, but somehow I doubt it. I mean, it's just stuff I wrote, you weren't supposed to even read it all, let alone assume that we have to film everything I said.

I think I'm going to write on my hand "just don't fuck it up" in case I forget.