T minus two days

Sophie's partly dressed living room. Well, not her living room. The living room she designed.
Sophie’s partly dressed living room. Well, not her living room. The living room she designed.

Hooray, I’m finally looking forward to the shoot! On Tuesday I cast a new Dan – Oliver Park – which was the last major hurdle to overcome before production. Our crew is all in place, all the minor roles are cast but one, all the locations and props are lined up, and the costumes and set are nearly finished.

So it’s looking good. It has been a real struggle getting to this point though. More than half the original cast and crew have had to be replaced – mostly due to them getting booked in the last couple of weeks for paying jobs that clash, though in a couple of cases due to hospitalisation! If you’re a veteran Neil Oseman blog reader you’ll have heard of The Curse of Soul Searcher. This is The Curse of Stop/Eject.

Painting the bedroom
Painting the bedroom

In all seriousness, I don’t think I’ll ever make another film (except simple ones like The Picnic) unless there’s money to pay everyone. It just isn’t worth the stress and hassle caused by having to re-cast and re-crew when people pull out. It’s actually got easier to find people the closer we’ve got to the shoot, presumably because people can be more sure that they won’t be doing any paid work on the shooting dates, but aside from anything else it’s a nightmare for the costume department when they don’t know their lead actors’ sizes until a few days before the shoot.

Staining the alcove
Staining the alcove

Sophie has been very busy this week, building the alcove set and painting and dressing some of the upstairs rooms at Magpie, not to mention doing calligraphy on 600 cassette inlays.

Katie has been running around the charity shops of Hereford, looking for the last few bits and pieces, and dying and altering things here at home.

I’ve been drawing up the schedule, going through storyboards with Rick (the camera op), chasing things up, getting paperwork in order and talking to the actors about their characters.

Weather forecast
Weather forecast

I’m so glad we didn’t shoot Stop/Eject last October. We are a million times better prepared now. The only thing that doesn’t look like it’s going to co-operate is the weather.

This will probably be my last post until after the shoot. We’ll try to update the Facebook page at least once a day, internet connection permitting, and rest assured we’ll be building up a tasty backlog of behind-the-scenes podcasts and blogs.

I want to start shooting tomorrow. I can’t wait two days. That’s how good I’m feeling about it right now.

T minus two days

Stop/Eject: Pre-production Update

Lara Greenway in Soul Searcher
Lara Greenway in Soul Searcher

Tomorrow night is my Soul Searcher lecture in Derby in aid of Stop/Eject. I’ll be talking about how I got my feature film funded, made and distributed, with plenty of clips and amusing anecdotes (that were far from amusing at the time, I can tell you). Find out all the details at the event page on Facebook.

There’s plenty for me to do on the train up there – most importantly going through the storyboards and altering them to fit the revised script.

Staying in Derbyshire, Sophie and I have a packed schedule for Wednesday, with lots of weirs to recce, some crates to measure, props to approve and a GV to shoot.

Get a sandbag like this for a £10 donation
Get a sandbag like this for a £10 donation

Meanwhile Katie is off to Smethwick for a costume fitting with Therese Collins, a.k.a. Alice, the character formerly known simply as The Shopkeeper. Expect a guest blog from Katie about that soon.

Remember, even if you can’t get to Derby, you can still contribute to the production by clicking the donate button in the righthand sidebar. And we’re still offering a free sandbag with mainland UK delivery for every £10 you donate. See my earlier post for more info on that.

Less than four weeks to go until we shoot…

Stop/Eject: Pre-production Update

Advance Preparations for Stop/Eject

Alright, so you’ve seen the podcasts on making a wagon light and sandbags, but what else are we doing to specifically prepare for Stop/Eject, now that most of our funding is in place?

Firstly, we’ve pencilled in some shooting dates: April 21st-25th. Hopefully by then the weather will be nice and the trees will have leaves on.

We’ve also been sorting out cast and crew, as much as is practical this far in advance. For the most part this is the same line-up as last year, but the crowd-funding campaign did bring a few extra people to our attention.

(As time slips away and you hurtle towards production on a low budget project, you often wish you had had more time to prepare. But the reality is that when you’re not paying people, you can’t plan too far ahead, because a key person might suddenly get some paying work that clashes with your dates, and then everything’s thrown out of whack. It’s just the nature of the beast.)

Sophie Black's alcove design
Sophie Black's alcove design

Colin has priced up the alcove set which needs to be built. It’s a fairly simple piece, not much bigger than a portaloo, but hopefully more enticing. But it does raise further issues of where to build, who can build, how to transport and where to shoot, all of which we’ll gradually be addressing over the coming weeks.

We’ve already started weighing up the costs of hiring a van, to get the equipment and set around.

Sophie has written off to local food businesses in the hope of getting sponsorship to help feed the cast and crew.

And finally, as the podcasts make clear, I’ve been thinking about the equipment we’ll need. I have some, Colin has some, we’ve built some, we’ll borrow some, and if we can afford it we’ll hire some.

As things progress, there will be detailed blog entries about many of these topics. For example, I’m planning a run-through of all of my equipment and what it does, a look at the ins and outs of scheduling a shoot, spotlights on some of the crew and their roles (if they let me!) and a blow-by-blow account of the set build. And I expect there will be some more podcasts too.

So stay tuned.

Advance Preparations for Stop/Eject

Rewards, Distribution and Scheduling

Fresh from the duplicators
Fresh from the duplicators
Signing Video8
Signing Video8

You can say what you like about digital distribution, but nothing beats the feeling of opening a box of DVDs fresh from the duplicators, all packaged with lovely covers and on-disc artwork. The download generation will really miss out on an experience there.

Yes, today the DVD dupes of Video8 and The Dark Side of the Earth: Making the Pilot arrived, so I spent the morning signing them, parcelling them up along with thank you notes and posting them to the Stop/Eject sponsors. If you contributed £50 or more and you haven’t given Sophie your address yet, then please do so because you’re missing out on your well-earned rewards otherwise.

Soul Searcher, signed
Soul Searcher, signed

The other thing that happened today is that Soul Searcher‘s five year distribution deal expired. If you’re interested to know how that worked out for me financially, just click on the donate button to the right and you’ll get access to an in-depth video on the subject.

As for the film’s future, I can now reveal that Soul Searcher will be online to view in full for free from next Monday Februrary 6th. Watch this space for the link.

In the mean time, here’s another DVD extra that never made it to the disc…

Rewards, Distribution and Scheduling

How to Make a Fantasy Action Movie for £28,000

This weekend, eschewing some sleep and new year celebrations, I completed a 20 minute video called How to Make a Fantasy Action Movie for £28,000. Presented by me, disguised as a homeless person who’s just been dragged through a hedge backwards, it’s a completely frank and open breakdown of Soul Searcher’s budget: where the money came from, how it was spent and how much the film made. It’s an invaluable tool for anyone considering making a feature, and since it also looks at the details of the distribution deals I was offered and why I picked the one I did, if you’ve just completed a feature and you’re wondering what you can expect when you sell it then this is definitely something you need to watch too.

Here’s the trailer for Soul Searcher to get you in the mood:

And here are the first few minutes of How to Make a Fantasy Action Movie for £28,000….

To see the full programme all you have to do is sponsor Stop/Eject £10 or more before January 18th. There are other great rewards for sponsoring as well, but you’ll get access to this programme straight away, regardless of whether we make our target or not. http://tinyurl.com/stopeject

How to Make a Fantasy Action Movie for £28,000