Saturday, May 24, 2008

First cut completed

On Friday at about six we ran off three copies of the first cut. We used the assemble as our template and went through the whole film re-cutting each scene as we wanted it, then added rough music and did a quick sound mix. We also did an opening credit sequence which is exactly how I imagined it would be a year and a half ago when I came up with the idea, which, as they say, is nice.

The main problem is going to be music. The film works great with statement of vindication by bikini kill as the opening music, but who knows if we can get the rights to this (even though they're on kill rock stars). Plus we've used a load of incidental music from the belle and sebastian storytelling album, which they wrote for the storytelling film but most of which didn't get used. It fits perfectly, but again who knows. It may just be me and a kazzoo. Now there's a sentance I never thought I'd type.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

First cut

Because the editor has been ham-fistedly putting scenes together while we shoot it doesn't take us long to get to a first proper cut. There were a number of scenes that we thought would be difficult, but by and large they've all been ironed out. There's a couple of places we know we need pick up shots (balcony, gig audience), but nothing we hadn't anticipated.

So with a very rough audio we sit down and watch the first cut, and, somewhat surprisingly, it seems OK. Straight away there's a few things I'd trim, and a couple of extra shots I'd add. Simon, the producer, finally gets round to adding something of worth by requesting a few more close ups of Stevie in the recording session. I didn't even know he was watching, but it's a reasonable idea so we'll add them.

Next up we're going to do a rough audio mix, put in some spot FX and atmos tracks, then finally add incidental music. At the moment we're using Belle and Sebastian's excellent soundtrack to Storytelling, but we have to make sure we don't get too attached to it as we can't have it. I can't work out beginning or end music either, which is most unlike me, so I'm going to try some tracks for size tomorrow. Then we'll do a very rough grade and that's when the fun begins and we can start showing a select few people and get their opinions. Then we can ignore their opinions and get on with the next version.

Friday, May 16, 2008

End of week one

Did more editing. At first six weeks seemed a ridiculous amount of time but now it just seems sensible.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Tonight is the wrap party and I learn a number of things. First up I learn that I am quite happy sitting in the edit suite rather than going to the party, which is a good sign. I then learn that I can't drink as much as I used to (this is at the party, not in the edit suite). And finally I learn that quite a few people have been checking this blog to see how their work on the film went. How they will feel when they check out the IMDB page to see I've taken credit for every single job on the film (my performance as Emily was one of the highlights) is anyones guess, but as they don't know where I live I'm OK.

Edited the balcony scene, and bar a quick jump cut, it works very well all in the close reverse. We'll need a few cutaways to cover the jump cut and smooth it all out, but they should be fairly easy to get. Fingers crossed it doesn't destroy the feel of the scene, which is at times quite magical.

I really want to go back to the beginning and watch the film through again, but know that if we do that we'll just continue tweaking, so it's best to just plough on and get to the end before we look back. Fingers crossed it's all going well so far, although today I am hungover so god knows what it'll look like.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Trouble in the edit

First big problem rears its head today, the editor we hired for the film just isn't up to the job. Actually, that's a lie, he's fine, but I know he starts his day reading this blog so I thought I'd shit him up for a laugh.

We continued with the first cut today, and it all appears to be working. I thought the first club scene, where Neil and Stevie go to see Betty and the Werewolves, might be a bit tricky, but by just sticking with long shots, especially ones that make you feel you're on stage, the scene cuts really well. Think we get a good version of the woodland scene as well, and by the end of the day we're about ready to start on the recording studio. If the rest of the edit goes this well I'll be very happy.

Trying not to look back at cuts too much as I don't want to keep fine tuning a scene only to find out that in the big scheme of things, ie when running as a feature, the scene needs more air. We're still being a little generous, so when we watch this cut back it may well be that it sags in areas or seems overlong, but hopefully that will then be a case of cutting blocks of dialogue out rather than recutting the whole scene from scratch.

I say hopefully but in reality I have no idea if this will work or not.

Monday, May 12, 2008


The worst part of any film is the initial assembly edit. It's all the scenes, cut long, bolted together, and it's aways hugely disappointing because it looks and sounds like shit. No matter how much you tell yourself this it still comes as a shock. And today was viewing the assemble.

On the plus side, I could see what things I wanted to change, and the film seemed to make sense, and didn't drag, but it's still a shock watching it this way. To make up for it Kevin the editor and I started work on the first proper cut right away, taking the assemble and cutting it how we wanted. At first the six weeks of edit seems a lot, but after today I think it should be about right. Progress is slow, because rather than just taking whatever is the point for the best edit, we have to cut where the best dramatic point is, and so sometimes that requires a bit of creative thinking in the edit.

Starting at the top we cut the opening walking scene quicker, which works, then put jump cuts in the first hall scene, which seems to work just fine. After that we added the first title card, which not only had the desired effect, it also allowed us to slow down the office scene for more drama, which in turn lead to the first exterior scene working better. By this time it was six o'clock so we finished for the day, very happy with what we've achieved. Tomorrow we'll start on the first gig scene, and we'll see just how happy and cocky we are after that. Less so, I imagine. And that's why we've got six weeks.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The final day

We've not got much to shoot today, but we still have scenes to do, so even though there's a air of last day of school about everything we still have to crack on.

Arclite studios are very small indeed, even smaller when you've put some lights and flags up, then added a camera and a cast, but somehow we get through the scenes without breaking anything.

Then, at about six, we've shot everything in the schedule. I look around for anything else we could shoot, but in all honesty there isn't anything, it's all covered, so we go outside and Jorge calls the film a wrap, and we get stuck into the champagne. Then we go over the road and get stuck into the lager.

I can't quite believe we've got through it all, I don't think it'll sink in for a few days. It's certainly going to be strange not seeing the crew every day. What am I talking about, I'm going to see them all again on Tuesday for the wrap party.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Day twenty

How did this happen? This is the penultimate day. When I first started this day seemed almost so far away it seemed risiculous, and yet here we are. We're in Alan's arclite studio in Latmier road (west london again, it feels so good). A late start and everyone is in a good mood again after the trials of the previous night. We rattle though scenes, and everything feels good. James, one of the investors comes down, so I sit him in my seat to watch a couple of takes. He seems happy with what he sees, I think he's enjoying wathcing other people get stressed working for a change. It's great to have him down as I really want him to see that his money is being well, and responsibly, spent.

We get a huge chunk done, then head over the road for a quick beer. There's an end of term feel, everyone knows tomorrow is the last day even though the call sheets still list saturday as being a work day. It's going to be very odd finishing. Firstly I never imagined getting here, there was always so much work I only ever imagined what the last week would feel like not the last day, and also it's going to be strange not seeing all the crew. Everyone has been great, from the runners to the heads of departments, I really couldn't ask for a better group, and having spent a (long) four weeks with them all I can't really get my head round the idea of not seeing them all the day after tomorrow.

The solution of course is to get the money for the next film double quick and hire them all again. The script is ready. Think I may have to have a lie down first though beofre undertaking this again. And finish editing this one. And find a way to pay my rent.

Very much looking forward to drinks after we wrap tomorrow. Think I may get drunk.

Day nineteen

It's the one we've all been dreading, the late shoot. First up we need to re-do the final shot of the film. We got a version on the steadicam day but it just wasn't good enough, so we're going to have another go on tracks. Luckily the weather is on our side and it's glorious sunshine. The first few takes are OK, but there's disaster on the first really good one when the wheel on the trolley Stvie carries his amp on shatters and flies across the road. Art department set to work and we try again. Finally, and with a second trolley, we get a great take.

Next up we do the opening shots of the film, which are surprisingly easy. Once again the general public are astounding accomadating, crossing the road to keep out of our way. After this there's a break of three hours, during which time most of the crew play football. I whince everytime one of them tackles Ian, the lead actor. A broken leg now will be had to write into the remaining scenes.

Thankfully he comes through unscathed, and as the sun goes down we're set to do the romantic scene on top of a local tower block. We manage four takes with amazing city lights in the background before it's too dark, at which point we turn round for singles. It takes an age to get all the lights right with the aid of our huge generator truck, and then it proves tricky for the actors to recreate the energy of the earlier scenes. Luckily I plan to do this scene all on the rverse, and it's tricky spending so long on shots I'm sure we won't use, but it's better to get them now just in case rather than have to come back. There's a few short tempers, but that's to be expected as we wrap at midnight. Long, long day.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Eighteen down.

We're outside all of today and are blessed with the best weather since we started. There's not a cloud in the sky and a lot of suncream on the crew. We get a whole host of POV shots for scene 105, including a very nice track past a pavement covered in kids grafitti, made all the more pleasing by the fact it's shot by Mike sitting in a wheelchair we found in Jo's garden, all very lo-fi.

It's a late finish as Lyndsey turns up for her one and only scene today outside the tower block and we have to wait for the light to be just right. Highlight for me though was while waiting for the right conditions a woman came past to go into her flat next door, and gave us a bit of a hard time about leaving equipment in the parking space. We of course were very polite and moved everything. About five minutes later she came back out again, but this time to apologise for being so grumpy and said she was just in a bad mood and hoped we didn't mind and would forgive her. I'm constantly amazed how polite everyone is, from this to people checking whether they can walk in front of the camera or not. The woman from next door had no reason to come out and apologise, but she still did, so just for her I won't be rude about east London any more. This may not last.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Day seventeen. I think.

I have no idea what I shot yesterday. Really no idea. It comes to the point when I have to stop and look at yesterdays call sheet to remember. So that's why I've been writing all this down.

In the hall again today, and once again we fire through a huge chunk of the script, so much so that we can wrap all the hall scenes today, a day early. We get the track up and glide through the hall while the band play the first song. The actors seem to be relishing being able to do pages of dialogue, it must be so much easier than bitty paragraphs, and so we fly through the scenes. They all know their characters so well now I find myself having to say less and less to them.

Even better is the fact that we now have tomorrow as a day off so I shall be going to the pub tonight. Four days left, so still plenty of time for things to go very wrong indeed.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fifteen and sixteen

And we're in the hall filming rehearsal scenes, the last big event (before the next two big events). First day and the sun is out, of sorts, so we grab as many of the exterior shots as we can, turning up at the hall, meeting Tony outside and the spliff smoking scene out the back. All goes well.

Day two and we start the rehearsal scenes inside. We're ready with playback, but first up we see if the band can actually play the songs. To my amazement they can, and well. Most galling is the fact that Lyndsey can play all the bass lines in time after two lessons, better than my guitar parts on the demo.

As a result we burn through almost seven pages of script, a huge amount. It's great, but exhausting. After that we have to go on a recce to the new location that will stand in for the tower block scene. The location is great, and safe from weather (and children) so very good. The only downside is that means we finish very late, so I get home with only a pack of polish noodles of indeterminate flavour to my name. They turn out to be disgusting flavour, so instead I just go to bed. Early start tomorrow. Oh good.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Day fourteen

On paper it's an easy day, we're in the Elevator gallery with one small office scene and a big tracking scene to do. But of course nothing is ever easy, and today gets off to a bad start when I discover that the gallery isn't the empty space I had been expecting, but instead has an exhibition on. After what seems an age we manage to persuade the (very nice) owner to let us move one of the pieces, so at least we can do our office scene. He eventually agrees to let us move a second piece so we can get our tracking shot, but the largest piece in the centre of the room can't be moved.

There's no other option but to rewrite the scene, as we now can't fit both our artworks and the original piece here, so our Sarah Lucas rip off goes in the bin. Thankfully the rewrite works and the scene look great, but the whole day could have been so much easier.

The really good news though is that evening Chelsea beat Liverpool in the champions league semi final, and I've got a day off tomorrow. Then we're off to the hall on Friday. It's funny to look at the list and see that all we have left is the hall, studio, tower block and opening / closing shots (plus pick ups, of course). Not sure how we've got this far, but somehow we have.