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.
It’s coming home, it’s coming, my camera’s coming home.
I mentioned the repair problem to my dear father. He said something like: “You want me to call them up and give them an ear bashing? I quite enjoy complaining about things like that.” Must be a middle-aged thing. Anyway, he must have really enjoyed himself because he spent the best part of two days on the phone and rang me up this afternoon to proudly announce that my camera was repaired and ready for collection. Which just goes to show, when they tell you they’re waiting for parts to come in, they really are talking complete pants. Me and my naivety.
The production team got final confirmation on the street sweeper, which frankly had been worrying me a little.
I’m experiencing the exact same feeling I had in the last few days of pre-production on The Beacon. It’s a kind of empty, hasn’t-sunk-in-yet-and-never-really-will feeling. Anyhoo, must go. Corporate edit job to finish this weekend, unless I want to be working on it during the daytime next week…
Things that made my heart stop beating in the last few days:
1. Location for our first few nights of filming: having apparently cleared this with the council, I received an out-of-the-blue phone call on Monday from a guy talking about booking forms and running things by councillors and other things that sounded like they would take weeks. James was going to ring up and try to charm them into letting us do it. I don’t know how he got on.
2. Props: I got an e-mail from the props maker listing the items he would be bringing down with him for the start of the shoot on Monday. Two crucial items were missing. Fortunately a quick e-mail back sorted this out.
3. Having no camera. What is the one thing you can’t make a film without? What is the one thing I don’t have? Hint: they’re the same. The dumb asses at H. Lehmann Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent (I hope you all burn in hell) didn’t fix my camera by when they said they would. So I’m having to hire one.
All of which was fun, fun, fun. Some advice: never make a low budget film.
Ray was present when I wrote that last entry. I think it freaked him out.
What a fantastic weekend it’s been. For James it was his first opportunity to meet the cast, and for both of us it was quite moving to see the words we’ve had on the page for so long coming to life in the more than capable hands of our very talented cast.
Possibly the weekend’s weirdest experiences were going for meals with the actors in such infamous locations as Doodies, The Courtyard and even Deep Pan Pizza – where, fittingly, inaugural journal entry mentionee Deep Pan Sasha was working at the time. I can still remember showing James my earliest (and extremely bad) concept sketches of Luca in that restaurant, so to have Lara Greenway regail us with tales of learning to twirl toy guys on her fingers in the very same place was quite odd.
We finally got our Cadillac equivalent – Jonny Lewis (Ezekiel) turned out to own a rather nice 72 Mustang convertible. What are the chances of that happening, eh?
I’m off to London for four days of corporate shootology now, so no journal entries for a little while.
One week to go.
First day of rehearsals with the actors today, spent working on the cafe scenes with Joe, best friend Gary and of course Heather, followed by afternoon rehearsing the romantic scenes with the two leads.
No time to write any more really, except to say it went reeeeeeeeeeally well. Production meeting and recces yesterday were also great. Roll on October 20th…
Oh, merry me. Twiddly dee dum twinkly ho ho ho. Edd is now on the case. I don’t have to worry about anything any more. At this very moment he’s sitting at his laptop typing up call sheets for the whole shoot. He’s so on the ball, it’s almost scary.
We did tech scouts of most of the locations today. By we I mean me, Edd, Simon “chop socky” Wyndham, Ian “everything but the boom pole” Preece, Vic, Alie, Colin, James Swindells and Ian Tomlinson. The purpose of tech scouts is to familiarise the core crew with the locations, sort out mundane things like toilet facilities, power supplies and parking, and things of that ilk. I’ve never had the luxury of doing them before, and man were they useful. Particularly for Edd, who made copious notes, and Ian Tomlinson, who got to see the locations he would have to dress and how his props were going to fit into the scenes.
This evening Simon Ball and I went to the Courtyard to see the kids from Fame. Okay, not really from Fame. From the Courtyard Youth Theatre. In order to cast bit parts and extras. More tomorrow, I’m sure.
It’s 12:45am. The only reason I’m still up is that Edd, the 1st AD, is coming up on the last train in order to be present for tomorrow and Friday’s tech scouts. I’ve been taking the opportunity to catch up on some storyboarding, which made a pleasantly creative diversion from all the producing tom-foolery.
I tore my hair out last night and this morning trying to work out a final shooting schedule that took account of all the cast and crew’s availabilities, restrictions on locations, avoiding filming out and about on Fridays and Saturdays, etc, etc. After much rubbing out, pencilling in and rubbing out again (followed by some vacuuming to remove the rubbings-out), I finally arrived at a schedule that works, although five pence says it turns out I’ve made a fatal mistake somewhere.
This afternoon two of the camera assistants came over for some training on how to set up lights and tripods and jibs and things of that nature. I don’t know where the rest of the day went, but went it did.
I took Sunday off, which frankly I deserved, then got straight back to the phone calls on Monday morning. My last journal entry on The Beacon prior to the shoot mentions that I’d hoped to have everything sorted before production began, but that just hadn’t happened. The difference this time is that I won’t have to sort the outstanding stuff myself in between directing the scenes (yes, that’s what happened last time), but it still would have been nice to get to the end of this week knowing that everything is in place. (Next week I’m out of the equation, being booked on a corporate job.)
Our main task over the last couple of days has been to try and get final confirmation for the three big locations. The results have been mixed. A certain location (which shall remain nameless) wanted to charge us UKP1,000 a night for filming. Thanks, but no thanks.
The rest of the locations are pretty much sorted. After spending ages trying to work out where to do the scene in Joe’s bedroom, I finally realised that my living room has exactly the right layout for the shots I want. So our art director can look forward to shifting my furniture around and painting my walls blue. Sorry!
Yesterday James and I had to go see the police. We explained what we were going to be doing and they were fine with it, once they realised we weren’t going to be closing any roads. After that we went to the B&B where James was planning to put up the actors. It was only later that evening that we both realised that B&B owners are notoriously strict about what time of night their customers come in at night (I’ve had problems coming back from a shoot to a B&B at 11pm, let alone 3am), and of course they’re hardly likely to serve breakfast at the times our actors are going to want it. I suggested renting a house for six weeks. James adopts Geordie accent.. “Day 21 in the Soul Searcher house. The Grim Reaper has spilt a pint of milk…”
This morning we both got up at 7am and went to check out the sunrise on Ledbury Road. There wasn’t much of one, due to the cloud cover, but we were able to make sure that the sun would be in the right place for the scene anyway. Later I went to the chained library to work out how to condense a day’s shooting into two hours (they want UKP70 an hour to film there).
This afternoon I had to make yet more phone calls to the council. Helpful as they are, dealing with them is much like investigating a Russian Doll. Every person you speak to gives you three more people you need to talk to, and so on. As yet I have no evidence that this progression isn’t infinite.
James and I checked out another nightclub, which wasn’t as good as the one we saw yesterday, and was going to cost money. One of the location owners said to me the other day: “Is anything in this world free?” Without getting into any great philosophical debate, it did hit me then how lucky we are to get ANY of these locations for nowt, and the actors, and the crew and the….
We spent a lot of time driving around Hereford (quite literally around it, rather than through it, for the most part) trying to find a place to do a scene where a car pulls up on a hill overlooking town. We eventually found somewhere that provided an elevated view of the city without buildings or trees obscuring it, but the problem was Hereford really did look like the small town it is. We’re going to shoot that bit in another city.
I met up with Max Van De Banks, Karen Nielsen and Nikki I-don’t-know-her-last-name to discuss make-up on Tuesday. The main thing to come out of the meeting was: bald caps = bad. Our design for the demons involves them being bald, and since we can hardly expect unpaid actors to shave their heads for a role, the plan had been to use bald caps. The problem is they’re expensive, not reusable and prone to ripping. Max suggested a balaclave-style full face mask. I can’t help picturing it as a rubber Halloween mask, but Max is going to do a demonstration next week so I can see what it will look like.
We found our train. Just like I pictured, only shorter.
Yesterday I went to London to talk to some students at South Bank University’s Special Effects department about the movie and see if any of them fancied working on the miniature FX. Several of them do. I also met with Matt Baker, who originally got in touch about making the props. I’d noticed such credits as “Modelmaker, Hogwarts Castle – Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone” on his CV and wanted to talk to him also about FX. He too was interested.
Other than that, it’s been the usual location phone call kind of stuff. I saw James today for the first time in three weeks. He’s finally emerged from his book bubble.
We’re still looking for a nightclub location. And sound recordists. Any sound recordists out there?