The last of the Soul Searcher anniversary featurettes is a completely frank and open breakdown of the budget. Find out how I raised the money, what I offered my investors, what distribution deals were put on the table, how much the film made worldwide and how much of that money came back to me (you may be shocked). Most importantly, discover exactly what was spent on each element of the budget, from travel and catering to make-up and lighting.
Corrections: 1. UKTI stands for UK Trade & INVESTMENT, not Industry; 2. After completing the programme I discovered two more distribution contracts I was offered, both from Californian companies. Neither offered an advance. One proposed taking a 25% cut of the profits, the other 40%; 3. I misspelt Kevin MacLeod’s name, apologies. Visit his website at http://www.incompetech.com
For more information on film distribution I recommend The Guerrilla Filmmaker’s Movie Blueprint by Chris Jones.
Martial arts action choreographer Simon Wyndham and martial artist and stuntman Shane Steyn discusses the challenges and considerations of co-ordinating fights for Soul Searcher with fists, feet, swords and scythes.
Continuing the tenth anniversary releases of the Soul Searcher DVD extras, this week we have the 10 Minute Lighting Masterclass. It’s a quick guide to some of the basic set-ups and techniques used to give the film its cinematic, moody look. Since making this featurette digital cameras have improved vastly and so has my lighting, so these days I would light more subtly with fill and soft sources, but the basic building blocks in this video are still valid. Later in the week I’ll expand on some of those building blocks here on the blog.
How do you create nice, thick, artificial rain for a dramatic fight scene, with no budget to speak of? Here’s how we did it on Soul Searcher.
This is a clip from the feature-length documentary Going to Hell: The Making of Soul Searcher. You can rent the whole doc digitally from the Distrify player below for a small charge, and you can watch Soul Searcher itself for free at neiloseman.com/soulsearcher
The clip shows how we created a fake downpour for a fight between the outgoing Grim Reaper, Ezekiel (Jonny Lewis, doubled by Simon Wyndham), and his replacement, Joe (Ray Bullock Jnr.). Ironically it was actually raining for real, but not heavily enough to show up on camera with the impact we needed. We’d had some rain bars made (lengths of hosepipe with holes drilled in them, strapped to bamboo canes) but we found the water squirted out in unrealistic jets. Luckily the location – Westons Cider in Much Marcle, Herefordshire – had a high pressure hose and we found that by pointing it upwards the water back down looking like rain.
I’ve been prepping Soul Searcher‘s 42 tracks of audio for the final mix, which we start next week. Scott meanwhile is hard at work mixing the music. I’ve only heard a small, unfinished sample so far but it sure sounds good.
Today I started grading, which is the process of tweaking the colour balance, saturation, brightness and contrast to get the best and most consistent images. On video I see it as damage control. I try to get “the look” in camera rather than fiddling about with filters in post. However, Soul Searcher has at least three scenes (including the infamous nightclub one) that are in desperate need of some grading thanks to bad locations/extraneous light sources/not enough lights. The one I’ve been tackling is the opening sequence, which now looks much better with the blue of the “moonlight” and the yellow of the street sweeper brought out, and the rest of the colours (i.e. nasty reddy-pink streetlights) suppressed. Some of it recalls the Alien Queen/Power Loader fight, which was the idea all along.
The Guardian are interested in maybe doing something on the film, but I’m not sure if they realise it isn’t finished yet, so we’ll see what happens with that.
Andthe premiere’s booked for a month today. Four weeks. The clock is ticking. I wasn’t able to get as big a venue as I wanted, so I haven’t been able to invite everyone, but with the Borderlines screenings the following week everyone should get to see it.
It’s 3:15am and a little over two hours ago we wrapped principle photography on Soul Searcher.
A lot of shit went down this weekend, but I don’t feel like writing about it. Instead, some amusing anecdotes.
I am the Human Towbar. At 6am yesterday, Colin, Vicky, Simon Ball and I didn’t feel like pushing the generator all the way back to TRP. Vicky’s car doesn’t have a towbar, so we folded the back seats down and I laid on my front, feet hooked over the folded seats, arms sticking out the back, grasping the Jenny’s towing hook. This was all well and good until the road started to go slightly uphill. My entire body stretched several inches and I had to let the damn thing go or I was going to be scraping along the tarmac. I yelled to Vicky to stop. She slammed on the brakes and Jenny and I were quickly reacquainted. I almost broke my arm trying to stop it smashing into the back of her car. After that we decided to push it the rest of the way.
A couple of nights ago I had a dream in which Lara turned out to be a murderer. Go figure.
Jonathon Hayes brought his excellent demon armour over last night, but sadly I didn’t get to meet him because he got lost on his way to location. (The cause: AJ’s directions.)
Anyway, despite all the silly, silly things that happened, the battle scene got shot, the plot now makes sense and the movie is essentially in the can. The end of an era. How strange.
To think, in a few days it will all be over. Apart from the two days of 2nd unit-style shooting… and the sound design… and the effects… and the music… and, and, and…
Let’s start again, shall I? To think, in a few days it will all be over for most of the lucky members of the Soul Searcher posse. It’s quite fitting that the last two days of principle photography should be the biggest. In addition to the five principle characters, we’ve got five martial artist demons, four make-up artists to create the demons, Jon’s new demon armour, guns, swords, grenades, shields, scythes…
Anyway, stuff I’ve been up to… Finished the Creative Industries application and sent it off, though I today discovered that I’m one of seven applicants for two grants (as opposed to being one of three applicants for two grants, as I was last week) so I’m not holding my breath. Sent Scott Benzie the rough cut (which he described as “emotional” and “cinematic” – nice one, Scott – exactly what I was going for) so he’s going to start tinkering with themes. Should even have some bits and pieces I can use on the Borderlines Festival doc, which I vaguely began editing the other day. Ooooh, it’s gonna be cheesy.
Today I’ve been catching up on some effects work. Discovered an ingenius way to create a column of spectral light without using an iota of CG. It looks like something out of Ghostbusters. It’s even got a bit of grain, like it’s lost a generation or two on the optical printer.
The wolf’s at the door and the ferret’s at the catflap. And neither of them are wiping their feet.
I advertised my Canon XM-1 for sale yesterday (that’s the one that actually works) in order to pay for the final weekend of shooting. If any journal readers are interested, I’m asking for UKP900, buyer collects. It comes with a Jessops carry case, wide angle and telephoto lens adaptors, assorted filters, charger, battery, manual, remote, cables.
Jon’s been sending me pictures of the demon armour as it progresses. It looks highly unpretzel-like.
Hey, everybody, this is YOUR chance to be in Soul Searcher. Come to the Marrs Bar, Pierpoint Street, Worcester at 11am on Saturday Feb 28th and punk it up to King Monkey. You know you want to.
We finally shot the platform scene last night, at Hereford Station. It was pretty good timing as far as we were concerned, since due to a bridge in Worcester being closed there are practically no trains running at the moment. We were able to find a totally deserted platform and shoot there to our hearts’ content. Except for when a train pulled in and sat there for an hour (we shot close-ups then).
Both me and Ray came close to falling onto the rails, Ray as he skidded dramatically round a corner and fell on his arse (looks good though – could be the take I use), and me as Jason and John over-zealously wheeled me along on a luggage trolley and didn’t pay that much attention to which way they were going.
The wind was strong and evil, which added immeasurably to the look of the scene, although I had big troubles pulling focus with tears streaming down my face. The chill of the wind was pissing me off before long, however, and I decided to simplify the scene a great deal. As a result we wrapped an unprecendented FOUR HOURS EARLY.
This morning I set up a duvet tent in my living room and the actors took in turns to clamber in and deliver bits and pieces of ADR. Everybody had fun with dodgy-sounding fight grunts. Then I got some quick interviews with everybody for the Borderlines Festival doc.
So just one full weekend left to shoot, plus two half-days of pick-ups with the likes of King Monkey and Shane’s stunt jump. Hallelujah.
“Ah, right. Johnson, cancel the armed response unit.”
“Right you are, sir.”
Soul Searcher: just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous…
So, if you were walking past a multistorey car park late on a Friday night and you saw two people clashing swords, one covered in make-up and looking like an extra from Lord of the Rings, and both accompanied by a cameraman and several other crew, would you (a) think “oh that’s nice, they’re making a film in there”, or (b) think you were witnessing a real sword fight and call 999?
Somebody evidently picked (b). The rest I know only because Simon has a contact in the police force. Apparently when the phone call was received, an immediate request was put out for a large number of cars with dog units and an armed response team. Somewhere along the line a little common sense prevailed, because a single patrol car arrived at the car park first, at which point the above conversation ensued. Simon’s contact reckons I might get billed for the armed response team and possibly charged with wasting police time. Presumably the moron who phoned the police in the first place gets away scott free.
One of Edd’s tasks during October and November was to notify the police every day when we were in public places. Now he’s around, it just got forgotten.
Anyway, Bekka did a great job with the new demon make-up, making the whole scene look a million times better than the November version. Cheers to Dean Williams for enduring the rigours of make-up again, and to Lucy, Annika and Sarah for once again standing around in a freezing car park in skimpy clubbing attire.