Spent last Thursday afternoon burning stuff at Chris’ house. He moved out of Malvern for good today, so we had to make sure we set fire to some stuff in the name of cinema first. The editing continues, by far the most rewarding part of the film-making process. Things that I hadn’t really thought about since I finished the script are beginning to resurface. The character arcs (such as they are) and themes and all that crap are starting to show through. I’ve just been to see Swordfish, and as Dave rightly said afterwards, it makes you feckin’ sick when you struggle so hard to make a feature with no money, then see how effortlessly Hollywood produces great flicks. Mmmmm, bullet-time explosion.
Month: August 2001
The Beacon: August 21st 2001
Finally got rid of those damned cars. A very nice man from a scrapyard on Castlemorton came out and picked up the wrecks. Now all I have to do is explain the whole thing to the DVLA without getting locked up. Got me a flat in the Hairy Ford, above the prehistoric creature/woodwork tool pun market. So I move out of this town forever (again) in just over a week. Which is good, because “Malvern is so fucking dull”. Borrowed Dave’s The Rock soundtrack CD. Will be editing The Beacon to this. When I finish the goddamn capturing. (I’m about half way through.)
The Beacon: August 15th 2001
I would like to publicly diss RKR scrapyard in Worcester. They promised they’d tow away our knackered cars today, but on calling them they claimed they’d never have promised that and told us they couldn’t take them until next week. Therefore, in order to get the cars off Madresfield Estate by today as we’d promised the owner, my parents had to tow one of them away – in muchos illegal and death-risking fashion, as the car had no electrics and dodgy brakes – and leave the other there for poor Dave to sort out in the morning. RKR suck ass. And I will defend that in court. Anyway, now that’s out of my system, on to lighter matters. Such as the explosion of Chris’ shed, preceded by an obviously faked photo shoot for the Malvern Gazette. Lynx, as the Soul Searcher website will testify, is by far the most impressively denotating aerosol product on the market. Six cans, two cameras, sweet fireballs. Although I think Chris was a little annoyed that everyone kept pouring/spraying flammable substances all over the shed while he wasn’t looking. Still, we were sadly only able to damage the windows. (Already in a fairly poor condition, due to years of abuse from my various casts.)
The Beacon: August 13th
There are two types of estate. There’s the type of estate owned by some rich guy who has loads of private lands and servants and stuff, and there’s the type of estate where you find knackered cars strewn on the roadside. Today Madresfield Estate was both. The image of a small child jumping on a totalled Mark 1 Fiesta moved out of the ghetto and into the driveway of the richest family in Malvern. Yes, today was the day the teddie bears shot a car crash. Dave donned a motorcycle helmet and took a sledge hammer to the windscreen of our recently purchase Mitsubishi Colt, while Gaz Parkin’s Ford Fiesta was ramped up by the road. Not one, but two cars ripe for destruction. Gaz, who has a reckless disregard for his own safety, had been down to perform several stunts for the film, but due to a spot of post car-accident whiplash, had not been able to help out on the movie. It was in fact Dovey who stepped up to rubbish the brick-on-accelerator method of crash achievement, offering instead to drive the car to its doom himself. Twice. Once without a seatbelt. Still, he survived, which is more than can be said for the cars. Mmmm, destruction. We then filmed two hasty shots with a dummy, before sweeping up all the glass, ripping anything useful out of the cars, and zooming off to the “wrap” party. And I lost at Trivial Pursuit. Pants.
The Beacon: August 12th
I didn’t write the scene. Until just before we started shooting. It wasn’t exactly rocket science. The van became a Jeep Cherokee – complete with US licence plate circa 1979 – and the hollow-camera-contains-gun shot had to be dropped, but I did write in a death by clapperboard, with cheesy post-homicidal quip and seventies zoom. When we arrived it was pouring with rain, but after determinedly setting up some gear, it dried up, leaving bad grey skies. I’m going to LA next month to shoot stock footage; I just hope the weather matches. We did four gunshot effects – one of which, featuring my good friend Matt Hodges, writer of Cow Trek – took three attempts to work. We also shot some very cool little fights, with Simon finally finding a martial artist who lived up to his exacting standards, in the form of David Sheppard. After being killed off as short-lived bad guy Tate, David reappeared as two entirely different US Marines, whose fates were equally terminal. The light was fading by the time we finished (NOT 6pm, as scheduled), and we ended up getting a pick-up shot dropped earlier in the day in quite obvious darkness, like yesterday. A reshoot some time, I guess. I’m so very, very tired. And tomorrow, it’s the end.
The Beacon: August 11th
Mostly fighting. Simon Wyndham had to dress up as John for a couple of shots, which was quite amusing, but not as amusing as the dummy of John which had to be rigged up for the final sequence. We were losing the light as we attached the mannequin Scotsman to the tracking dolly, and pushed it unconvincingly towards a shed. You’ll understand why when you see the film. We were also supposed to do an explosion in the shed, but after two failed attempts, it was too dark to try again. I guess there’ll be something in the diary for next week after all. Anyway, you’ll have to excuse me as I have to go away and write tomorrow’s scene.
The Beacon: August 10th
Well there we were at 6am. The light was lovely, the production assistants were falling asleep, and we shot the end of the car chase. We finished at 9, grabbed some breakfast from Maccy-Dohs and headed up to the quarry. The Conservators turned up to watch, but seemed satisifed we were making no mischief, and went away again, leaving us to our funky fight scene. Having cut a fight scene between bad guy AJ (Ford) and LJ, we had to bring him into this fight. Whilst recceing the quarry, Simon Wyndham had jokingly suggested having AJ come up out of the lake with a machine gun. Much to AJ’s chagrin, that’s exactly what I decided to do. Everyone was pretty tired by the time we wrapped at 7pm, especially LJ, who by all accounts got very little sleep last night. And there’s more fighting tomorrow.
The Beacon: August 9th
That feckin’ Geraint was late again. Perhaps he was putting off the moment when John would get into his car again and start destroying it with his ludicrously reckless driving. Anyway, it meant yet more of the car chase had to be cut, since we absolutely had to finish it at midday. We almost managed that, even though we got soaked in a torrential downpour, which also rendered Geraint’s brakes useless at one point, sending him sliding over the edge of the common, down a 45 degree slope and into a bush. This, as you can imagine, was hilarious. After that it was on to the roof rack scene – lifted wholesale from a film Dave and I made three years ago. We discovered that two of our three cameras were knackered, having been caught in the rain earlier, and had to make do with just one for the next couple of hours while the other dried out. The warden drove past a couple of times, but seemed content to just watch us serruptitiously from a distance, rather than make us go away. We were forced to wrap at 6:30 since Geraint had tickets for a play, meaning we’ll have to start at 6am tomorrow to finish the car scenes, before going on to the day’s scheduled fight.
The Beacon: August 8th
9am call time. 10:30 before everyone’s arrived. Okay, so we knew LJ and Sarah would be tardy, as they had to pick up the car. But John and Geraint both managed to oversleep. So another slow start, shooting the beginning of the car chase at a car park in Great Malvern, then moving out to Castlemorton Common (the location for Soul Searcher’s car chase, and several others from Dave’s and my earlier films). We were annoyed to find lots of sheep and cattle wandering about where we wanted to film, but at least there weren’t many members of the public about. Members of the public suck ass. As expected, once we got going the car chase started looking pretty damn good. It was particularly sweet to have a car bought especially for the film, which we could chuck about as much as we wanted. And between LJ, Geraint and and John we did just that. John also chucked Geraint’s car about quite a bit, resulting in a surely illegal thinning of the the tyres. The Castlemorton sun will set on many new skid marks tonight.
The Beacon: August 7th
Pick-ups day. All the scenes we dropped earlier in the shoot came back to haunt us. First it was up the Beacon (for the last time, thank god) to complete the mountain board chase. Now we knew what we were doing, we were able to quickly shoot what should be a pretty cool sequence. It did rain on us a hell of a lot on that hillside, though. On the way back down, LJ got lost (just as the rain reached its heaviest, most dam-bursting monsoonity). This mishap was quickly followed by the loss of John’s rucksack, presumed stolen, which in turn had its heels heated by a blow-out on Sarah’s car. I don’t think there’s any point me expanding on this story, as it’s a fairly safe bet you can find all the details on Dave’s website. Our next scene was the SAS Command Post, filmed at some playing fields. Dovey – who we’d feared might have to be replaced by a stand-in – managed to blag some time off work and come along, and we even had some nice light as the sun set. Of course we then had to shoot the remaining daylight scene extremely quickly. To describe the scene would spoil the plot, but suffice to say that it was made by the acting, so the simplistic camerawork should do fine. By this time we were all knackered (not least LJ, who had spent the previous night driving over from London, rather than sleeping as is the tradition), but with two more scenes to do we headed back to Malvern. A brief shoot in the bushes of Malvern Link Common, then we moved over the road to the station, where we proceeded to film a dialogue-on-the-run scene, watched by a dodgy man who was probably hoping to nick Dave’s car while we weren’t looking. Goodnight.