Less than three weeks to go and things are looking gooood. I have become the producer for a couple of days, which for those of you not in the know means making LOTS of phone calls. I’ve been working through the locations list. I managed to put big ticks next to a couple of places, and most other responses have been in the “shouldn’t be a problem, but I’ll have to check with X and get back to you” vein. I had to rule out the football stadium, who wanted to charge us UKP500, but I won’t be shedding any tears over that. It was too green anyway.
I also spoke to the council and the police, which took a great weight off my mind, since neither seemed intent on shutting down the production. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Vic and Alie (not “Ally”, it seems) are tracking down trains (no pun intend), hunting down quarries (pun very much intended) and… er… looking for blacksmiths. Vic suggested doing the quarry stuff in Malvern. I explained that I might not entirely be the Malvern Hills Conservators’ favourite person, as anyone who followed the production of The Beacon will know. Plus I vowed never to film in Malvern again.
Lots of people are looking for a Cadillac too. If anyone out there owns, or knows someone who owns, a convertible car or pick-up truck of the American persuasion, please drop us a line.
James is up against it with the book. He has to have it finished by Tuesday. And now he’s put his back out. By contrast, I’m pretty much twiddling my thumbs, having run out of directorly things to do, except for storyboarding and lighting planning, which of course I can’t do until the locations are locked. At the moment, James is too busy to even e-mail me a list of things he’s too busy to do, so I can’t help him out. I’ve got some equipment to sort out – a wind machine, some lighting gels, odd bits and pieces like that, but mostly I’m sitting around worrying about whether everyone else is getting their stuff done. Which I’m sure you all are.
I met with John Galloway, Colin Smith and James Swindells yesterday – my crew of lighting-camera assistants, who will also be doubling as behind-the-scenes cameramen. They all applied after seeing postings on the net, but by coincidence I’ve worked with all of them before: John on Traction, my first professional-ish short film, back in 1999; Colin on Integr8, a video course run by James Clarke, also in 99, and James Swindells on Ledbury Lives, Hereford’s Day In The Dome film, shot by me and produced by Clarkey boy. What’s that you say? Hereford, small? I don’t know what you mean. At one point during our meeting, a randy old lady came up to us and said how much she liked my hair. John said that would end up in the director’s journal. He wasn’t wrong.
Today I met with Vic Perry and Ally Ball, though plans for my second consecutive afternoon in the Courtyard were scuppered when it turned out to be closed. So we went to Ascari’s. (Explanation: Doodies is closed on Sundays.) Vic and Ally will be helping out with locations prior to the shoot, then will be our production assistant and script supervisor respectively on set.
There’s a small chance that Luca’s car might wind up being a DeLorean. Which I would find highly amusing.
We lost one of our major locations, Maylord Orchards shopping centre, due to a change of manageress. It’s annoying but it happens. I remember locations being the greatest problem with The Beacon. The police and the council’s respective contacts are proving elusive. Since both these organisations effectively have the power to shut down the whole production, I’ll sleep much easier at night when we’ve heard back from them. For reasons which escape me, many locations seem much more reluctant to help us than they were last year. Frankly I’m not that bothered. Inevitably one or two further locations will have to be changed, but such is the life of the low budget filmmaker. And the big budget filmmaker, indeed.
Speaking to the various members of the art department is much more heartening. Props and costumes are progressing well, as is the casting of minor roles and extras. We’re still lacking a make-up artist for part of the shoot, but that shouldn’t be too difficult to sort out.
In the ten hours between writing the last journal entry and leaving for the DW shoot in Devon (not Dorset, as it turns out), two large hiccups befell Soul Searcher. Firstly, despite my rejigging of the schedule, Penny Skinner’s boss wasn’t having it, and she had to pull out. I’ve since cast Katrina Cooke in the role. Secondly, I received a letter from our costume maker Harriet Kendall explaining that she also had to pull out, for personal reasons. Cue frantic phone calls. Charlene Whitney, another applicant for the position of costume maker, was the lucky recipient of a pretty out-of-the-blue phone call along the lines of: “Do you fancy making a whole bunch of complicated costumes in four weeks for no money?” Remarkably, she agreed.
Anyway, I eventually got to Devon (not to be confused with Heaven, but frequently confused with Dorset) and had a very relaxing week, well – mentally relaxing anyway. I was glad to get away from the stress of Soul Searcher for a little while. And the producer gave me the smoke machine at the end of the shoot. Which saves me buying one for Soul Searcher.
Speaking of producers, James has been chasing up locations. Thusfar the news is not good, with a lot of people wanting to charge us megabucks.
Bleary of eye. Achy of back. Wee-small of hour. What’s happened lately? Well I met with Simon Ball, to brief him on his new Casting Director duties – he’s in charge of casting all the bit parts and extras. I’ve been on BBC Hereford & Worcester, talking briefly about the film and inviting interested investors to make themselves known. I’ve been sitting doing lighting plans, which is the kind of thing that only I could ever find interesting, and this morning I spent an hour or two worrying at the shooting schedule, after a call from Penny Skinner (Heather – or so we hope) informed me that she was going to get sacked if she took all the days off work she needed according to my original schedule. But it’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?
I also got some very nice images through from Ian Tomlinson, who has been promoted to Art Director since Jenni Gregory is mostly unavailable this year. I must put some of them up on the site. But not now. What with the bleariness and the achiness.
You won’t hear anything more from me now for a week, for I shall be ensconced in a cottage in a woodland area of Dorset (or possibly Devon – they’re easily confused), shooting a Doctor Who spin-off film for Reeltime Pictures. As you do.
But before I go, how do I feel? Other than bleary and achy. I feel stressed but happy. There you go. In exactly five weeks, we will be wrapping on day one of principle photography. I look forward to that day. For lo, it shall be sweet,
Q:How many council workers does it take to tell you when they’re changing a light bulb?
Yes, six different people I was transferred to until I finally found someone who could tell me when the Christmas lights go up in town. (October 26th, if you’re that interested.) Armed with that information I was able to draft up a shooting schedule, using eight pieces of paper sellotaped together, divided into a grid of days and weeks. Somewhere near the beginning of this journal is the tale of a humourous evening early in SS development when James and I decided we needed about 80 days to shoot this movie. We in fact need only 36. Which just goes to show how wrong you can be when you’re me.
So what else has been going on? Oh, mostly chasing-up people, making phone calls, posting letters – that kind of caper. It’s getting very tedious now. I wish pre-production was over. Or at least that we could get onto the interesting stuff, like tech scouts and rehearsals. But no, first we have to make lots of lists and tick everything off those lists.
Yep, it’s just five and a half weeks to go. That scared me when I realised. The truth is that none of what we have left to sort out is difficult, or even that time consuming. It’s just bitty and somewhat annoying. What I don’t understand is how I managed to do ALL of this myself two years ago on The Beacon, without a producer, location manager, props manager or anybody like that.
James and I met this evening at The Courtyard (fancy that), where we were served by Dido, who was also singing over the PA system. I was impressed. Anyway, we worked out what needed doing next. Our primary concern is to get the locations locked, especially since Simon’s going to be choreographing the fight scenes in a couple of weeks and he still hasn’t seen two of the key locations.
I just finished making the calls to the actors and actresses we’ve picked for the parts – more details on them to come during the week. Big thanks to everyone who attended the auditions, Ben at Babelfish for putting up with people coming through his office every half hour for two days, and Matt Manning and Dave Abbott for helping me out.
James and I met Ian Tomlinson today, who is going to be taking on some of the props work alongside Jenni Gregory. We spent a couple of hours (at the gloriously sunny but annoyingly windy Courtyard) going through the script and listing all the props we’ll need.
As James said to me earlier today, it seems like the film was meant to happen this year rather than last, as things seem to be coming together so well. We’ve heard from Movie Mail, the Hereford-based mail order distributor of videos and DVDs, that they want to talk to us about selling copies of Soul Searcher. We’re also booked in for Borderlines, Herefordshire’s brand new film festival, in March 2004, to screen an extended trailer and generally big up the movie. All this makes getting cooperation from location owners and the like a lot easier, since we’ve got a guaranteed audience.