I’ve started another videomatic. If nothing else, eventually I’ll have the whole movie shot with cereal-box-and-toilet-roll-tube models and I can pass it off at festivals as a Michael Gondry film.
With the help of my girlfriend Katie I built a new Moravian and a new Fixer (deposing the Jif lemon which served so faithfully in the past) plus a forced perspective igloo. Ah, the classic way to spend a Saturday night – watching the commentary on Alien whilst making a forced perspective igloo. We’ve all done it.
Anyway, I’m only halfway through all the shots for this particular sequence, so I’d better get on with it.
Every time I visit the Model Unit, some film crew has hidden the workshop door behind another elaborate arrangement of make-up trailers and catering trucks. Once inside, Ian and I found the Swordsman looking very close to finished – and a lot more dangerous, now that he has a dirty great sword.
It takes three people to move him these days: one behind, one on the sword arm and one on the shield arm. A fourth puppeteer will ultimately control the head movement from above. Filming him in motion highlighted some of the challenges the puppeteers are going to face.
There’s a little more work to do on the face, more damage and ageing to be inflicted on the torso, and a comedy eyebrow to be installed before the timber-hewn combatant is complete.
Today I’ve finished typing up an FX breakdown of the most recent script, to aid Hank in his budgeting. It reveals that the film requires a total of 320 FX shots, of which 184 are model shots (or contain such elements), 89 involve miniature puppets (either stop motion or rod controlled), 15 include matte painting elements, 22 are rig removals and 21 require motion control. To put this in perspective, Soul Searcher had around 250 FX shots. Most genre movies today number their FX shots in four figures.
The next thing I need to do is find a suitable studio to shoot the pilot in. Ealing’s stage one looked promising originally, but Ian produced a sketch model which proved that it was too small, besides which it’s on a long term lease.
Recently I was contacted by Hank Starrs, someone who I met up with way back in June 2006 when I was actively seeking an independent producer for Dark Side. At the time, although enthusiastic, he didn’t have any features under his belt, but we kept in touch anyway. He has now completed principal photography on a feature called Blooded, shot in the wilds of Scotland with all manner of challenges from ever-changing weather to malfunctioning helicopters.
Hank and I met up today to discuss the developments on Dark Side, such as they are. The upshot is that he has offered to put together a professional budget, schedule and ultimately an investment brochure for the film, as well as offering his services on the pilot scene.