Soul Searcher: October 31st 2003

Well there’s been plenty of rain since. We didn’t shoot anything last night because the camera was away for repairs again and we couldn’t sort out extras in time. Today was supposed to be a day off anyway, but we’re shooting tonight because if we don’t we’ll never wrap at the end of November. This week has been extremely frustrating, having started off so well at Westons and them fizzling out very quickly due to rain and rescheduling. Finding other scenes to do has proved extremely difficult due to the availability of key players. I guess when you pull at a thread in your schedule, it’s gonna start to unravel.

Other than going to see Finding Nemo and getting my regular biannual fix of The Labyrinth (no-one can blame you/for walking away/but too much rejection little girl… etc.) – plus getting the chance to kip in the Soul Searcher house last night – I’ve spent the time capturing what we’ve shot so far onto the edit suite and starting to cut it. Looking good.

Soul Searcher: October 31st 2003

Soul Searcher: October 30th 2003

Scheduled for tonight was the training sequence between Grim Reapers old and new. At 3:30pm the rain looked like it was settled in for the night so we decided to go with a back-up location, a warehouse, rather than an exterior location at Westons Cider. I’d not seen the warehouse before and when I arrived I knew immediately it wasn’t right for the scene. The rain was starting to ease off but by then it was too late to set up Westons again so we cancelled the night’s shooting.

We headed back to the house where the actors are staying and had a bit of a production meeting, plus Ray and Simon got to look at the new scythe which has been made for us by the blacksmith whose shop we filmed at last week. It’s extremely sweet.

It’s now 12:11am and there hasn’t been a single drop of rain since the call time. God damn weather. But we did get to watch Back to the Future Part II.

Soul Searcher: October 30th 2003

Soul Searcher: October 28th 2003

Last night was the best night of the shoot so far. I’d been really worried about it because it involved shooting a foot chase necessitating three total relights in different sections of our location, Westons Cider brewery, followed by a sequence on the walkways above some vats featuring a creature that would be entirely generated in post-production. The crew however were totally on form and allowed us to shoot the chase very swiftly. The brewery looked fantastic on camera and it was quite fun getting Ray and AJ to run about and jump over stuff.

After lunch Jonny and Ray and I got up on the walkways and started to rehearse the sequence with the non-existent creature. Naturally it was quite confusing but eventually we got it blocked out and were subsequently able to get all the coverage quite quickly.

Right now Edd is putting the finishing touches on my living room’s new paint job in readiness for the scenes in Joe’s flat tonight. We’ve just spent half an hour going round women’s clothing stores, looking extremely dodgy, looking for a white sweater to complete Heather’s costume. We also tried to find a copy of the South Park movie soundtrack but failed so now we’re watching the film again.

October 29th 2003

It’s 3:20am. We shot the sequence in Joe’s bedroom, which took longer than I would have liked due to much fiddling about to try and get some contrast into the lighting. Ray and Kat, the latter in her first scene of the shoot, gave great performances and Ian once again made an excellent job of the set dressing.

Ray’s ability to find a Back to the Future quote for every occasion continues to astound. As I tightened the nut securing my tripod head to the jib, he came out with: “Five eighths? Don’t you mean three quarters?”

In total contrast to the rest of the shoot so far, we had to contend with sweaty temperatures as the lamps heated up my tiny flat into which we were all squashed. Unfortunately, due to the persistent rain we were unable to film the exterior scenes, which will now have to be picked up later in the schedule. Meanwhile we’ve set up the High Town scenes we dropped last week for this Thursday.

Soul Searcher: October 28th 2003

Soul Searcher: October 27th 2003

Last night we were at Campions, a boarded-up restaurant near the river bridge, to film scenes of Dante and his servant trying to blow holes in the dimensional barrier between Hell and Earth. Apart from the camera playing up again, things went pretty smoothly and to schedule. We had to postpone a couple of shots involving a demon, since the armour isn’t ready yet, but other than that a good night’s work. Fecking cold, though. As the night wore on we watched a sparkling coating of frost form on all of the equipment.

Soul Searcher: October 27th 2003

Soul Searcher: October 25th 2003

Having taken Thursday off, though I don’t recall actually relaxing in any way, we spent Friday night shooting the scenes in Dante’s lair. The location for this was a derelict romney hut on Rotherwas Industrial Estate, just outside of town. Filled with random junk (and, in the recent past so I’m told, unexploded grenades), it was a fantastic location to begin with. Once Ian (the art director) had worked his magic and we’d set up a few lights shining in through the gaps in the corrugated iron and pumped it full of smoke, it looked like a million dollars.

It was supposed to be a fairly short day, but by now I’d hit my stride and wrap times were going out the window. It was Andy Nicol’s first day of shooting in his role as the villanous Dante, and I worked with him to adjust some of the scenes’ dialogue and blocking to improve on what was on the page. Ian’s drawbridge chains and The Book of Fire came to the fore, though the latter got kind of trashed after being thrown across the room several times.

The former got trashed tonight at LaFarge quarry, our second port of call after paying a visit to a blacksmith named Alex Wilkins who we shot transforming the drawbridge chains into smaller, chained-library-style chains. Muchos fire, muchos sparks. The rushes look amazing. Edd, Colin, James and I then squeezed back into the producer’s car with all the gear to travel to the quarry. We got lost, but had lots of fun on the way.

We rendez-voused with the Companions of the Crow, a medieval re-enactment group from Oxford who were portraying soldiers in the flashback to the battle between Mankind and Demonkind. They were all enthusiastic, particularly when we got to the bit where they could actually kick the crap out of each other. We would have come close to wrapping on time, were it not for a bout of rain just before nine which threatened to shut us down for the evening. But it cleared eventually and we were able to grab the final scene before coming home for some pizza and a look at the budget. We’re not as wildly out of control in that area as I’d feared we might be, but I will be spending a lot of 2004 in debt by the looks of things.

Soul Searcher: October 25th 2003

Soul Searcher: October 23rd 2003

It stopped raining. But the package did not arrive until ten. And unfortunately some of the contents were not quite what we had hoped for. I decided to drop the sequence which required them from the night’s schedule, to buy us some time to get the demon armour redone. This meant that Max and his two make-up assistants had spent hours putting bald caps on Chris and Andy for nothing. It also meant we did a lot more standing around in the cold than we needed to.

Around the same time I discovered the next massive cock-up, when I sent some of the crew to get the crane from the hotel car park. It was gone. Due to some bad communications, James had thought we’d used it the previous night and had it picked up. So crane shot to open the movie. Thoughts running through my mind at this point included jumping on the next plane to New York, and the pros and cons of various methods of suicide.

Most of the crew repaired to the Green Dragon Hotel for an emergency production meeting, during which it was decided to move tomorrow’s filming back to Friday, previously planned as a day off. This sorted, my spirits lifted considerably.

We still went ahead with the remaining street sweeper shots however, once the vehicle arrived at 2am. These went well, with Phil the driver letting Ray take the helm for a couple of shots, and cheerily letting us unbolt his rear bumper to simulate Joe-related bollard damage.

All in all, I’m very glad the High Town sequence is over. I always knew it was going to be the most unpleasant part of the shoot (touch wood), with its public location, nasty orange streetlights getting into shots, and the necessity of directing-by-numbers in order to get all the disparate and wildly out-of-sequence elements of the scene shot within the time constraints of the location, martial artists and street sweeper. All that said, I’m confident we’ve got a really cool opening sequence for the movie.

I’m really looking forward to the scenes that are just two people talking in a room.

Soul Searcher: October 23rd 2003

Soul Searcher: October 22nd 2003

It threatened to rain as the call time neared last night. Then it did rain. But I had absolute faith that it would stop before we started setting up. And it did.

It was our first sequence with the martial arts team, choreographer Simon Wyndham and assistant choreographer Chris Jones, plus young martial artist Andy Shinn, who looked pretty damn scary in his demonic Shifter make-up courtesy of Max Van De Banks. The first half of the night was dedicated to shooting the fight between the Shifter and one of the leads, doubled by Chris.

After “lunch” we moved on to the short chase between the characters and our friendly neighbourhood street sweeper machine. Phil, the vehicle’s driver, got quite into it and drove along at a fair old lick. We wrapped shorly after 4am.

Today has been manic. David Dukes dutifully dispatched Joe’s armour and scythe, required for tonight’s shooting, by next day delivery yesterday. There’s a postal strike. Edd m,ade phone calls. At 3:45pm the package was still in Boston. We rang a courier. Special trip. Should be here by eight. UKP120. The post office will pay for this. Oh yes, they will pay.

And it’s raining. Hey ho.

Soul Searcher: October 22nd 2003

Soul Searcher: October 20th 2003

We got to location, plugged in our big 5K lamp and the power tripped. I freaked out. For that moment all I wanted to do was go home to bed and never think about making films again. After a minute or two of mad panic I saw reason – we could just shoot close-ups today and do the wide 5K-requiring shots on other High Town days, when we’ve had chance to get hold of a 40A breaker.

So we got started. After three set-ups I replayed part of the tape.

It was blank.

This news I took suprisingly well. H. Lehmann Ltd. of Stoke-on-Trent – expect lots more angry phone calls. Repaired my arse.

So we got out the back-up camera and began again. At about this time David Dukes turned up with some of the props, namely Ezekiel’s armour and scythe. They’re fantastic. That cheered me up no end.

By this time it was getting pretty frigging cold, but we all seemed to be dealing with it well. The hospitality of the Green Dragon Hotel at “lunchtime” (11pm) was most welcome. Mmm, soup. Mmm, pie. Mmm, coffee.

After eating we picked up the slack, then had a brief hiatus whilst we awaited the belated arrival of the street sweeper. Its entrance made, we proceeded to shoot all of the cab interiors, in the waving-lights-past-and-shaking-the-camera stylee. Ray felt like an idiot. Having just watched the rushes, I can state for the record that he actually looked great, In fact, apart from a couple of dodgy shots where the lack of 5 kilowatts of illumination was sadly in evidence (and I hope to reshoot those tomorrow), everything looks fantastic.

And we wrapped only ten minutes late, having dropped a couple of shots but picked up others from the next few days. So a pretty good first day (apart from the heart-stopping technical catastrophes).

Right, now it’s 7:42am and I’m going to bed….

Edd’s fast asleep behind me. He just woke up briefly. The conversation went like this:

EDD: What time is it?

NEIL: Quarter to eight.

EDD: Balls. [Rolls over, goes back to sleep.]

Soul Searcher: October 20th 2003

Soul Searcher: October 19th 2003

So we start tomorrow. We finally got here. Funny, it doesn’t feel like that much of a big deal. I don’t know, maybe it does. I’m kinda excited. I’ve just been sorting out my equipment, trimming gels, charging batteries, that kind of caper. Edd’s been typing up call sheets – he’s been doing far more than I have – maybe I should get him to write something…

Howdy Ho! Edd here, Neils first AD. My abilities have been greatly exagerated (as has my spelling) but its nice to know I’m appreciated. I am very stressed, worried that everything is going to go pear shaped, worried about weather, extras not turning up, the council giving us the wrong type of power socket, the list is long and boring. But I know that in a couple of months we will all meet up in a pub, and then laugh about how it all went pear shaped (well Neil won’t, but hey). Anyway thats it from me. Back to the (Ose)man.

Thanks, Edd. We should make that a regular feature. Um, I’m afraid I don’t have anything else interesting to say. Tune in on Tuesday for news from the front line.

Soul Searcher: October 19th 2003

Soul Searcher: October 18th 2003

James had an experience with a nipple-shaped biscuit which he proceeded to drop in his coffee.

Edd arrived this afternoon and the three of us went to Doodies for a little production meeting. It turns out that more stuff was sorted out than I thought – it’s just Edd had only been telling me about the non-sorted stuff. I found a spare hour to catch up on a little storyboarding. That’s all. Two days. Pah, I laugh in the face of two days.

Soul Searcher: October 18th 2003