This time last year we were scheduling auditions. Has it really been a year? Er, yes, it has. Unless I really did get that DeLorean up to 88mph just now.
The car in question, one eighteenth the size of that favoured by E. L. Brown, is sitting on a rucked-up towel (that’s “rucked” with an “R”) with some invisible thread trailing from its miniature bumper. Not a failed time travel experiment by Warwick Davis, nor an excuse to play with toys (well….), it’s actually a genuine investigation into what a 1/18 scale vehicle looks like on video, particularly as it travels over an uneven surface. It looks pretty good, I can report, though the smoother the surface on the day, the better.
I have a new CG artist for the umbilical cords, Mr. David Markwick. Fifth time lucky, I hope.
I started work on the foley over the weekend, which is perhaps the zenith of filmmaking tedium.
And tomorrow I get to hear the first draft of the score.
Okay, I’m officially fed up of making this film.
I got a DoP on board, Stein Stie, but after a few phone conversations with him I realised I had grossly underestimated the amount of light required to shoot on 16mm at 150fps. I could see the budget spiralling out of control. I had visions of three huge Arri artics parked down the road from the set with hordes of sparks wheeling out equipment and getting handed a ludicrous bill. No, not going to happen, even if I did receive my Gold Card this morning.
So it’s DV for the miniatures… Yes, it’s a train. I guess I can say that now there’s a dirty great picture of it on the site. The Raven, the express train to Hell. I still plan to shoot the explosions on film, which won’t require so much light since they make quite a lot of it themselves.
Organising the miniatures shoot seems as stressful as organising prinicpal photography was, but I’m sure it can’t be really.
I made a massive cock-up with the brewery vats miniature, as I discovered today. Somehow I overlooked the need for a discussion with Jacqueline Regan, the modelmaker, about what scale it should be. Only when the pyrotechnicians went to Dartford today to see it did I find out that it was much smaller than I imagined, which will probably necessitate a swift rebuild. I’m a menace to society.
Take a deep breath. Place your head between your knees. Repeat after me: “It. Will. All. Be. Over. Soon.”
Extra: 6.12pm – I’ve just seen some photos of Andrew Biddle’s stop motion Ezekiel puppet, complete with wings. Now I’m in a MUCH better mood. Fly, my pretties, fly….
I voyaged to Hewelsfield, Gloucestershire. There, on the edge of a picturesque valley (and on his mum’s front lawn), Toby Stewart and his partner in crime, Alistair Burchill, blew up some crap. Let me pre-empt the lawsuit here and point out that by “crime” I actually mean “legally licensed, safety-conscious pyrotechnic activity”.
To begin at the beginning, Toby and Alistair – of Scorched Earth Pyrotechnics – gave me a brief tour of their kitchen table. This particular quadrupedal specimen of cooking room furniture was adorned with a range of explosive devices which would not be out of place in a James Cameron film. (I wonder how many government organisations have suddenly taken an interest in this website?) At the appointed hour, the neighbours having been forewarned, the two pyrotechnicians began setting off the multitude of explosives with which the front garden had been laced. This included a wooden board which had been rigged with bullet hits. Large quantities of foam were employed to put it out.
I asked whether they could do me something in a fireball. Alistair promptly disappeared behind the garden shed, re-emerging five minutes later with a small plastic bag containing some kind of petrol cocktail. This blew up very nicely. I was later shown a photograph of a fireball they had created previously at an airshow. From the size of the marquee in the bottom of the frame, it must have been over 50ft high.
We then got down to details, discussing the particulars of the film’s two main explosions. Fire or no fire? How much smoke? What colour sparks? Multi-stage or one big bang? It also turned out that another section of Toby’s garden was perfect for shooting the whole of the climactic miniature sequence. Vehicular access, scaffolding and heavy-duty power supplies were all readily available.
This evening I’ve posted on Shooting People for a DoP. I had been planning to shoot the miniatures myself, having long harboured a desire to shoot 16mm, but I’ve decided it’s not worth risking it. I wouldn’t want to make a dumb rookie mistake and wind up ruining the explosion shots.
I spent a lot of last week recording sound effects. Armed with a mic from Rural Media, and a pair of headphones which would look most at home on a Cyberman, I took a midnight stroll around Hereford, recording drunken revellers and a variety of air conditioning systems. This trip’s only noteworthy incident was a brief interrogation by a disembodied voice at Maylord Orchard, which wanted to know what I was up to. “WHY ARE YOU MONITORING?” boomed the voice, and then, “THIS IS SECURITY. COME TO THE SPEAKER. WHY ARE YOU MONITORING?”
On Wednesday I visited some family members in Malvern to record more effects, such as welding noises and various machines. On two successive evenings I made attempts to record that noise that rails make when a train’s coming – you know, the weird ssssshing kind of noise. Both attempts severely tried my patience, got me rained on and bore no fruit whatsoever.
“So there is a curse. That’s very interesting.”
For personal reasons, CG artist Duane Beckett has had to leave the project. Back to square one. AGAIN. A very long time ago I had a vision of me having to buy a 3D package, learn how to use it and do all the umbilical cord effects myself. The vision does not recede.
But for every exit, an entrance, this time in the form of a pyrotechnician (or “pyrotician” as Ed would say). He’s even offered to blow some random stuff up to give me an idea of what it’ll look like when we actually come to exploderise the models.
This afternoon I went to recce Chris Jenkins’ garden for the miniature shoot. I shouldn’t keep calling it Chris’ garden, since he doesn’t live there any more, but his mum Moira is always willing to help out. There are very few people who require mountaineering skills to tend their own garden, but Moira is one of them. As she descended into the steep undergrowth, playing out the rope we were using to measure whether my extensions leads were going to be long enough, and which she was also using to prevent herself from plummeting to her doom in the dell below, she pruned away some of the dense foliage and discovered flowers she had planted years ago and had not seen daylight since. Measuring the dell itself, we found it to be just barely wide enough to accommodate the 25m of set we need. A certain amount of landscaping is going to be required.
It’s just over a year since pre-production began on Soul Searcher. I could have gestated a baby in less time. Kevin tells me a couple of distribution companies have shown interest, so it may be worth it in the end.
Last night Chris Mayall and I took a nocturnal trip to Dinedoor Hill, having decided it was the quietest place in Hereford to record sound effects. (It had to be night to avoid birdsong.) We pulled up in the little car park in the pitch black, fumbled around with some torches and began making bizarre noises with a delightful assortment of metallic implements. Before long we were interrupted by a pair of tinny-swilling ne’er-do-wells who were keen to learn why we were scraping gardening tools together on a hill in the middle of the night. We furnished a quick explanation, divulged the website address and bade them goodnight. The proceedings continued without incident, save for some unsolicited vocal input from the Hound of the Baskervilles, who was apparently residing in a nearby cottage. As we packed up we observed some shadowy fellows, doubtless of the Druidic persuasion, mounting the hill. We did not stop to determine the particulars of their assembly.