I continue to lay sound effects, and am STILL awaiting three demo CDs from potential composers – Kieron, Simon, John – if you’re reading this, I will be making my decision on December 10th. If your stuff hasn’t reached me by then, I’m afraid I’ll be unable to consider you. Other things still not done include a few lingering 2nd unit shots (ye gods, it’s getting into Corduroys Never Die territory) – I think we’ll end up having to mock up the helicopter interior – and the production of the Phase I posters, thanks to a failed scanning today. What I have done is ordered a DVD writer. Mmmm, DVD. And I contacted Folly Arts Centre as a possible venue for the premiere (advantage: don’t have to have it during the day; disadvantage: it’s not an actual cinema).
As Chris Mayall always says, “The sound is more important than the picture.” And ain’t that the truth? It’s also a hell of a lot of fun. Not when you have to record it at the same time as the picture – that sucks – but when you can stick it all on afterwards, it’s like composing music, but without tone-deafness being an obstacle (fortunately). So I started the sound design today, having done a final cut of the pictures, which are now fixed, unless the test screening, when it eventually happens, necessitates changes. Wow, that was a really poorly structured sentence. Anyway, the first, and coolest thing I did today was to create a custom sound effect for the pistols. Having journeyed to Hereford library to hire out some SFX CDs (last two due-back dates: August 2000 and December 2000 – strangely concurrent with the editing of Soul Searcher and Cow Trek…), I had the raw materials ready. Of course it would be illegal to simply use the sounds as they stand, but copyright law states that no violation has occurred if the sounds are unrecognisable, so to create the basic pistol effect I combined three different tracks from the CDs – a rifle gun salute, speeded up 300%, some random gun with a nice bass attack and echo, and a firing range pistol. I soon realised that this wasn’t going to be meaty enough for all occasions, so I created an extra effect for the gunshots fired on the hills, with a fourth track containing the echo from the original gun salute, and a fifth track holding an echo from an explosion. This gives a nice thundery, rolling echo as the sound supposedly bounces off the hills, town, etc.
Andrew Hill (Dan) came over today to record his lines for the phone conversation with Sarah in the office. I’m fairly confident now that there are no more 2D FX for me to do, other than the one I’m working on at the moment, except of course for all the compositing of Mike’s 3D stuff when it’s done. My next task is to lay some basic sound effects for the test screening. I’m also drawing up a publicity schedule, and vaguely looking for a volunteer who lives in Malvern to handle flyer distribution, illegal flyposting, and a particularly quality guerilla marketing tactic I’ve come up with, which is to put a placard into the hand of the Elgar statue in Great Malvern. Another facet to the publicity is to shoot a music video for toe-tapping punk combo King Monkey, whose song Dressed To Kill – about an action heroine, will feature on the soundtrack. Including as it will clips from the film, the video will serve as an extended trailer which can be publicised in its own right. Speaking of music, I’m currently accepting demos from composers who reckon they’re up to creating a nice big Hollywood score for da Beak.
Alright, I’m still not sure exactly when the premiere will be (though you can bet your bottom dollar it will be one of the last two weekends in January), but as you may have noticed, the VHS release date is now fixed. For the third time in recent memory, I went down to the station with camera and tried to shoot trains going by at night. This time I actually had the sense to take the pag light, so after much lurking in darkened corners of industrial estates and trespassing on Railtrack property (or government property, I guess it is now), I got the shots and came home for a nice cup of tea. Sorry Dave, but our fantastic tracking shot is not going to be in the film, for various reasons, the main one being that I can’t get it to look like night. I had FX success last night with the window smash effect, and having agreed exact lengths for all of Mike’s 3D shots, I will be locking the edit soon, although I’d like to set up a test screening for some complete strangers first.
Up at the crack of dawn, or indeed before it. The crack in question was the small gap twixt impenetrable cloud cover and horizon. So much for my planned wide shot looking down on Malvern as it’s rendered in orange light and long shadows. But on the bright side, it matches with the smeggy weather we had for principle photography. Back to Holy Well, Castlemorton and Gullet Quarry for some sound effects, then to my parents’ house to film their piscine-nourishing cameos. Dave and I then killed the middle part of the day before driving up Leominster way, where road and rail run parallel, to film a tracking shot of a train, which I don’t think either of us thought for one minute would actually work, but work it did, once Dave’s turbo-impaired, lorry-preceded Xantia had caught up with the offending omnicarriaged vehicular item. My list of shots left to film is now down to seven, but I fully expect to discover more things I need. Everyone make a space in your diaries for the latter part of January, because I’m pretty close to some premiere date-naming.
More reshoots today, with LJ joining me in Hereford for some ADR, and inserts for the photocopier and train toilet cubicle scenes. Then we travelled to Malvern to extend the graveyard scene with a sequence of Sarah wandering through Great Malvern and into the cemetery. We finished at lunchtime, despite me expecting it to take all day, and I came back to Hereford to cut the new footage into the film, which proved tricky since LJ has lost weight and trimmed her hair, but what can you do? Anyway, I’m off back to Malvern again to prod Mike with a stick.
Beech Business Park: The Location That Would Not Die. Back to “Los Angeles” today, with John “Cameron” MacLachlan, Sarah “Bay” Harrison and Max “Make-up Dude” Van De Banks. For once it was not pissing down with rain, so we got straight to it by remounting John’s opening Trivial Pursuit line. Then we got the shots of the jeep and associated sound effects. The last slate was an extra shot for a scene on the summit of The Beacon, where the edit had revealed that Cameron appeared to be standing by and watching as the hostages escaped. So I devised a shot in which Cameron would lean over the recently murderlised Bay and grieve for a few seconds. The only background was sky, so we filmed this at the business park, with Sarah lying on the jeep’s bonnet so I could get a suitably low camera angle. Then we realised that John should have had his hat on for the Trivial Pursuit line, so we redid that. Finally it was back to my place with John to re-record a few Holy Well lines. Cue lots of satisfying crossing-off.
Well, I decided not to geek it up today, and stayed away from the Model Railway Swapmeet. As much fun as it would be to do some miniature photography, it would really require models of a scale that you just can’t buy, so you then get into making it, painting it, creating a background. It just isn’t worth it. I sent a press release to local rags, saying I’m looking for a composer and an orchestra to do the music. That’s about the most interesting stuff that’s happened, I’m afraid.
SCREW YOU, HAMILL! YOU GET NOTHING! NOTHING!!! For the Oseman lives. Well, turned out I had to work this morning, so I rearranged the microlite trip for the afternoon at 1pm. I was nearly a full two hours late, due to work running over. However, it all worked out for the best because as a result the sun was quite low and I got some pretty stunning shots of the South end of the hills. The Beacon itself was in shadow, but who the hell cares about light quality when you’re shooting from the sky? Woohoo! Seriously, I recommend it. I would suggest not taking a camera, though, as the necessity to film everything precludes the opportunity to experience the view with your own eyes. By the way, the conspiracy endeth here. I’ve found Malvern’s reservoir. All in all, a smegging good day’s work. Large section of “2nd unit photography” list crossed off. Mike, meanwhile, is working on the 3D FX on his old computer, whilst awaiting the arrival of his new Cyberdyne Systems supercomputer. Also: found a helicopter; looking for an airbase.
As part of my drive to actually get round to doing the remaining filming, I got back in touch with microlite pilot Dave Read, who promptly set up an arial excursion for tomorrow morning. So whilst every sane person is still lying in their beds, I shall be in a two-seater bit of cloth with an engine, trying desperately to hold my camera steady as we sail majestically over the Malvern Hills – or I might puke up and kill someone, like the dropping-an-AA-battery-from-the-top-of-the-Eiffel-Tower scenario. I leave everything I own to Mark Hamill. He needs it more than me. Especially dead me.