Simon came over to view the fight locations, with Geraint in tow to film the proceedings. We started off at Maylord Orchards, where our minds boggled at the action possibilities – mmmm, escalators… mmmm, lift…. mmmm, balconies – dropped into Doodies, which is now officially confirmed as a location, then went on to the Leftbank Village. Although we seemed to come up with satisfactory rough blocking for the first part of the fight, we began to get doubts about the second part, once we realised that the owners were never going to let a couple of actors climb over the tiered balconies. After pondering this for some time, and briefly going up to the top floor, but not quite having the nerve to go into the extremely exclusive-looking bar and roof garden, we checked out the river bridges. I have, ahem, big plans for one of them, but we also came up with a good alternative if the council won’t let us close Greyfriars Bridge. Which, er, might well be the case.
Next stop was The Courtyard, where we got to go up on the roof, and lo, it was very cool. Consisting of several large flat layers, complete with a nice ladder next to a big boiler thing leading up to it all, it also provided a very nice view of the city and in particular Bulmers. Inexplicably, there were several tennis balls and a rugby ball on the roof, despite it being 4 or 5 stories high. After that we went to the multistorey, which we didn’t have any official permission to recce, and as a result were kicked out by the night watchman after about two minutes. Finally we stopped off in High Town, where we lamented the ever-present orange atrocities that are streetlights. The problem is, no matter how great this film looks, if we get a hideous orangey-pink sodium streetlight in shot it’ll instantly look like a crappy home movie. Which means we need to bring some very large lights of our own in order to render the streetlights little white specks in the background. Mmmm, expensive.
A recce day, which kicked off with Cat and I meeting possibly the friendliest location owner I’ve ever encountered – the manager of Hereford Leisure Centre. He was excited about the project, and was more than happy to accommodate our needs for shooting in the car park. We then went to Halfords car park and the Texcao garage on Holmer Road, where I explained to Cat the nature of the scenes so she could approach the proprietors. After leaving Cat, I went on to TGS Bowling, where I sat and drank coffee by the pool tables, scribbling storyboards for the scene I want to shoot there. Then it was off up Aylestone Hill to Churchill Gardens, where I discovered a weird seat that I can sit our heroes on, and on to Watermeadow Close, home of James Clarke MIA, to check out the possibility of using his abode as Heather’s in the movie. Since then I’ve been adminning and storyboarding. There are a couple more places to look at towards the end of the week, then I’m in London for most of September doing corporate work. Somehow I’ve got to fit the second wave casting in around that, but since most of the hopefuls are capital-based anyway, it should at least make things easier for them if I can afford to hire some kind of audition space in Londinium.
Went to Malvern to engage in fighting talk with Simon Wyndham. We went through the fight scenes one by one (Simon pointed out that there are twice as many as in most Hong Kong action movies) discussing the style of fighting, character motivations, camerawork, location and length. If only we’d done that for The Beacon. Simon showed me excerpts from his not insubstantial HK action movie collection to illustrate various points. “What’s that fighting style that’s big and show-offy and crap?” was as technical as I got. We noted that two of the later fights were very similar, and so made a change to the script that will add more variety and I think works out better for the characters in the end.
Edd Reed, the 1st AD, came up from Bristol, and found himself on a little tour of all the settings which will be so familiar to regular journal readers. After meeting with Cat in The Courtyard, we went for food at Deep Pan Pizza, then headed to Doodies, where we went through the script with a fine tooth comb, making sure that every prop, costume and effect was assigned to someone to sort out. Although inevitably most stuff had already been taken on by the art department, things cropped up like vehicles (a street sweeper and a Cadillac, anyone?), stunts (demons leaping down from high buildings, to name but one) and loads of little details (like making an extra, meltable scythe for a fire scene in which Joe’s weapon gets destroyed).
The most productive day of Soul Searchin‘ for a very long time. I called a meeting for the crew at The Courtyard this evening. Alongside Beacon veterans Simon Wyndham and Max Van De Banks were art director Jenni Gregory, camera assistant Tyler Winters, runner/production assistant Lex Collicott and Cat Whiteaway, whose role as production assistant became more and more like production manager as the evening went on. This all makes a big difference to The Beacon, where I didn’t give anyone any responsibilities until the shoot actually started – struggling through the organisation of everything from props to locations myself whilst also trying to prepare for the film as a director – and subsequently found myself with a lot of people hanging around on set who didn’t really know what they were supposed to do.
This time around, Jenni’s handling all the props and costumes, and Cat and Lex are sorting out the locations, freeing me up enormously to concentrate on storyboarding, planning lighting set-ups and rehearsing actors. The production staff even offered to try to raise funding.
After the meeting proper I went through the script with Jenni, sorting out which props I could provide myself, and noting a few changes in requirements due to redrafting. Fortunately her department is going to need negligible funds, except of course for the costumes and props which need to be made. I plan to find an art college student or two to help out with this. The news from Max’s make-up quarter was also good, and he was undaunted by the complexity of the demon concept designs which I showed him.
Filmmaking has its ups and downs. Today was a definite up.
Well, I picked option number one. Tiny budget. To help work out how tiny I can get away with, I’ve called a meeting of the Jedi Council – erm, well the key crew members – on Friday. The guy I originally cast as Joe is kind of back on board now, after a little negotiation with his agent, so in theory, as long as I can scrape together enough cash to cover travel expenses, props, costumes and public liability insurance, principle photography can go ahead. I can then use the rough cut to attract further funding to pay for the special effects.
So Soul Searcher won’t be the step up in budget from The Beacon that I had hoped for, but with the top notch cast we have so far and James’ input on the screenplay, it will still be a step up in quality.
I started making the calls today to let the Soul Searcher cast and crew know that the project is on hold. I’m currently agonising over whether I should go ahead and make it on a tiny, Beacon-esque budget, or hold out for more money. Watch this space.
Britain sucks ass. I’ve been back for less than 30 hours (of which more than half have been spent unconscious), but I HATE it. What the hell is up with all those cars driving on the left? And why does everyone pronounce their vowels properly? And what happened to all the lard, salt and sugar?
Let me explain a little about being a freelance filmmaker. It rocks, basically. It’s well paid, it’s flexible, it’s varied, you get to travel for free, you meet new people, you get to laugh at all the poor plebs who sit in offices for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s brilliant in every conceivable way, except for one: whenever you do a big shoot, you spend several weeks working intensively with a bunch of people who you end up utterly adoring, then the shoot ends and you NEVER see them again. Which is horrible, totally horrible.
So I’m really depressed now, and wondering how soon I can get my ass out of this country for good. What I need is a film, just one film, that will make people sit up, pay attention and say “That guy needs to come over to the states right now and make us a movie.” Hmmm….
Anyway, what was this journal about?