Yesterday was train day, strike three. And it poured with rain…. but it didn’t matter because we were indoors. It was a very strange experience to have a big roof thing over our heads and some kind of weird light (sunlight, I think they call it) shining about. I can’t count the number of times I thanked God I hadn’t gone ahead with the outdoor location. We would have been up to our knees in mud and all of the models would have been ruined.
I spent Thursday putting the finishing touches on the train. At 2:30pm, a time that will live in infamy, the complete train travelled along the rails for the first time. In the evening I decided to knock off four of the simpler shots in my dad’s garage.
At nine o’ clock in the morning (that’s right, in the morning) we began in earnest on the train shots in the youth centre hall. Aided as ever by Colin, and also by AJ and his mate Mike Staiger (he of the swift death in The Beacon‘s opening melee), we shifted around furniture, old kitchen cupboard doors, the rails and some very handy theatrical flats to create a 15 metre set. We did suffer from some derailment, particularly when the rear wagon had to push along the Mustang, and in the end we put my die-cast DeLorean inside the wagon to weigh it down and keep it from tipping over. (Back to the Future saves the day again.)
We overran (some things never change) but when we wrapped at 7:30pm I was very pleased with what we’d achieved. I cut the shots in today and although some of them will need some further work in the digital domain, a lot of them looking fantastic, particularly the ultimate demise of the vehicle.
Yay! Nothing else difficult to do on this movie! (The countdown to me regretting that statement begins NOW.)
See the stills gallery for photos of the train.
This time last year we were shooting at Campions in sub-zero temperatures. Today I broke the good news to Colin that the train shoot would be taking place INDOORS and during the DAY. He thought I was winding him up. I had an exterior location lined up, but with the weather the way it’s been lately it would have been a wash-out. The interior location is Malvern Youth Centre, so I’m breaking my post-Beacon vow to never film in Malvern again, but it’s fitting that it should be a location which was also used in the original Soul Searcher short over four years ago.
I’ve just found out that the sections of track we’ll be using are 16 feet long and can’t be cut, which means AJ and I will be taking a highly amusing walk from Barnard’s Green to Great Malvern with big long bits of metal.
Elsewhere, Scott is making some final adjustments to the computerised version of the score. In the next few days he should be able to move onto the orchestration, which will hopefully allow us to record it this side of Christmas.
“There’s something very familiar about all this.”
Today is the one year anniversary of the first day of principal photography. Never in my deepest, darkest nightmares did I imagine this time last year that come this day I would STILL be working on the film and everything would STILL be going wrong. I am aware, by the way, that it’s not bad luck that has caused all the problems we’ve had, it’s simply that I tried to do too much with too little money.
I saw another umbilical cord shot today which looks great, and I’ve dropped the Moat of Souls shots (minus creatures at present) into the film. Those gaps are slowly filling up.
“I guess if you had a straight track and a level grade, and you weren’t hauling no cars behind you, and if you got the fire real hot – I’m talking hotter than the fires of Hell – she might just make 90.”
My dad and I spent another day on the train, and it’s now pretty much finished. The smoke unit isn’t as productive as I’d like – I’m going to see if I can’t get a bigger battery for it – and I’m tempted to paint spokes on all the wheels to stop them looking like something out of the Early Learning Centre, but other than that it’s all pretty bitching.
The mould of the Banshee puppet will be cracked open tomorrow, the backgrounds for James Parkes’ stop motion shots have arrived, leaving just the creatures themselves to be shot, and David Markwick is churning out umbilical cord shots at a steady rate. I’m torn between a strange complacency that the movie is so nearly finished and an almost unbearable frustration that it’s taking so long. I can’t see how it can be finished by Christmas, which is a huge blow to me; I feel like the year’s beaten me.
It’s almost not worth mentioning, but simply for the sake of completeness I should say that I attempted to do a dialogue looping session with the principal cast on Saturday, but was defeated by my knackered Beech Box (thing that connects the mic to the camera). As Lara says, the curse continues…
“My friend and I were just doing a little model railroad.”
I spent all of yesterday working on the train, as did my dad. I did all the glueing bits of gubbins on and making the paintwork look knackered and rusty, and he did all the technical stuff like fitting the smoke unit and adding couplings to the tender. It still needs another day’s work though, which makes it seem all the crazier that we thought we’d be able to shoot it a few weeks ago.
Work on the umbilical cords is now fully underway. I just saw a shot of Dante walking towards camera with the cord floating and looping along behind him in a much more impressive fashion than I had ever imagined.
Check out Mike Davies’ article on Soul Searcher on the West Midlands Film Factory website and no, I don’t have a degree from Bristol Uni – that’s a mistake.
Update – 10:40pm – Hallelujah, the wheels work. I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, but I’m told the train runs along very smoothly.
“I apologize for the crudity of the model, Marty. I didn’t have time to paint it or to build it to scale.”
If Ray was 1/18th his real size, he would be 104mm tall. Why do I know this? Because I’ve spent the better part of today making little models of him, plus Chris, AJ and Lara, out of pipe cleaners (sparkly ones, no less), plasticine and felt. And lots of Copydex. Another ludicrous footnote for the CV. They’re not very good, but they are only to be glimpsed as the train rushes by. I also added an authentic license plate to the mini-Mustang, a model so faithful to its full-size counterpart that it even has no locomotive power of its own.
My uncle reports he has made 30 new wheels, and Grandad has been working on the linking rods for the engine. Grandpa, we love you. Grandpa, we do. There’s no-one quite like Grandpa.