Ed’s inability to answer his voicemail messages, texts and e-mails with any regularity finally became too much this week and I was left with no option but to demote him to co-producer. I’ll be producing the rest of the film myself. It’s a shame this had to happen, but we have been given an absolute final deadline of Feb 22nd to have all Lara’s scenes shot, and we can’t afford to waste three days of prep time for a weekend’s shooting just because I can’t get hold of the producer.
So today I’ve been sorting things out for this weekend, which should be fairly straight forward (fatal last words), and best of all is entirely indoors. We’ve only got three hours in the Crystal Rooms, but that should be enough to get the remaining wide shots done. I also cut last weekend’s stuff, which is all really good.
The demon armour is still giving me massive problems. A promising lead recently fell through and options are running thin. Perhaps I ought to get Armour Mark One, a.k.a.The Pretzels of Doom, sent back…
On a positive note (this is a god-awful pun, as you will now see…), I’m pleased to announce Loughborough-based composer-conductor Scott Benzie as Soul Searcher‘s scorer. Crew page coming soon.
I had a phone call out of the blue from Andy Dawson, who runs the council’s Creative Industries Fund, telling me I might be eligible for some upcoming grant money. He’s coming over next week to look at some bits of the film and talk through an application for publicity funding.
Saturday and Sunday went really well. Saturday night’s stuff was very bitty… A small scene in the multistorey car park with the weapons rack, which Colin had to make last minute modifications to to get it to fit in the car boot. Then out the back by an electrical substation to reshoot the two dialogue scenes which had originally taken 27 takes out at Rotherwas in October. Now substantially cut down, the scenes were quick and easy to shoot. In fact, I think I spent longer in the car park standing around waiting for people than actually shooting. Still, it did allow me to make two trips over the road to The Codfather (which came second in the Best Named Takeaway Awards after Kent’s Tuck-In Fried Chicken, Dudley). Then it was back to Castle Cliffe to tip watering cans over Ray and Jonny’s heads, under the pretext of filming extra close-ups for the rain fight. One quick extra CU of Kat for another scene and we were wrapped for the night.
After four hours of sleep, it was time to get up again for the remount of Luca’s dawn arrival on the edge of the town. This went considerably better than November’s effort, given that the Mustang actually worked, didn’t run out of fuel, and didn’t need to be brought there on a flatbed truck. Cheers to Jonny for agreeing to get up that early just to drive the car to location for us. After wrapping 25 minutes early (an event roughly as frequent as the appearances of the Hale-Bop comet), we all went back to bed for a few more hours. The evening’s filming was at Rowden Mill, the only problem being that we somehow had to get seven people and all the equipment into the Mustang and Chris’ car. Astonishingly, we succeeded, though it took us about an hour. Chassis scraping the tarmac, we headed to location and moved through the night’s material at a fair old lick, wrapping dead on the scheduled time of ten o’clock. The last shots involved Lara doing swerves in the Mustang on very wet, muddy grass and almost losing control of the car. Jonny was like a little boy when he saw the train, having not been to Rowden Mill before, and was delighted to get a ride in the engine. I was similarly delighted to finally get a ride in the Mustang on the way home, though when I tried to get out at the end, I immediately realised why Lara had been having such trouble with her getting-out-of-the-car shots all through the shoot. It’s a bit like that Toy Story 2 out-take where Woody gets his ass stuck in the roll of sellotape.
The sense of dread I’d been feeling about last night proved unfounded. The only problem was that I’d got up at 7am yesterday to give me enough time to finish sorting everything out, and by the time we got to location in the evening I was knackered. As a result, things moved quite slowly at first, although we did get some absolutely gorgeous shots of the heroes emerging from the mist looking hard. The actors kept singing Little Green Bag. As the night wore on, I was forced to speed things up despite struggling to keep my eyes open. I haven’t watched the rushes yet – I just hope they’re okay.
I think it was after 4am when we wrapped. It took us an hour to derig the location, then another hour for Colin, Fergus and me to push the generator a mile up the road to Technical Rubber Products, where it was staying the night to be picked up by the hire company in the morning. (No-one had a tow bar on their car.) Someone spotted us and called the police, reporting three dodgy blokes pushing a generator down the street in the dead of night, On the way back we were stopped by two officers of the law who took down all our details. This is Fergus’ second brush with the police on this film, having been confronted back in October whilst loading my computer into his car at 1am.
I finally got to bed at 7am, exactly 24 hours after I’d got up. I had completely forgotten how physically demanding the shoot was. I still ache all over. It is beyond my comprehension how we survived this for six weeks last year.
We couldn’t get anyone to make the weapons rack, so my Dad and I spent Wednesday afternoon making one out of a block of foam and a large cardboard box. Aside from almost dying from inhalation of toxic foam fumes, it went pretty well and will do the job nicely once it’s sprayed black. As an in-joke I’m including the gun from the original short on the rack.
Yesterday I went to London, spending the time on the train redoing some storyboards. Edd and I went to Southbank University’s Film Special Effects Department again, showed the students the trailer, and talked to some of them about making puppets and miniatures. They were very enthusiastic.
Tonight is our first day of Principle Photography: Part II (“Getting BACK<< was only the beginning..."). We're out at the Romney Hut in Rotherwas again, in the dead of night. Edd isn't coming, due to paying work, which is going to put some strain on me. I'm glad it's only three days in a row.
“Misery, misery, misery – that’s what you’ve chosen.” (Name the film and win, er, nothing.)
Preparations are going well for this weekend, but overall I would still liken the process of making this film to trying to climb a steep hill with a sack full of rocks whilst being attacked by five burly men. I’m reminded of an exponential graph, where the less there is left to shoot, the more time it takes to get it shot. Things aren’t helped by the fact that our crew is somewhat diminished. We don’t even have any local production assistants to run errands any more. Still, if what we shoot this year is as good as what we shot last year, it’ll all have been worth it.
After various changes of fortune with the Crystal Rooms, it finally turns out we can’t shoot there this weekend, so the whole weekend’s off. Soul Searcher lesson #785: do not write scenes set in nightclubs. On the bright side, at least I’ll be able to use my free bus pass to get to the premiere of this film.
I went to talk to David Gillam, the organiser of Hereford’s Borderlines Film Festival, about our Soul Searcher teaser screening. We agreed on a screening of a 25 minute doc, incorporating three or four nearly-finished scenes from the movie and a trailer, followed by a Q&A session with some of the cast and crew. There should also be some kind of stand in the foyer featuring artwork, stills, props, etc.
What’s long and impressive, heavy, made by David Dukes and has spent the last six weeks sat in the offices of Ace Taxis? Luca’s rifle, that’s what. I realised last week that it wasn’t in my hall with the rest of the props. I spent several days ringing people and gradually freaking out until I finally discovered it had been left in the boot of a taxi on the last day of photography. I pity da fool who put dat rifle in dat cab…
The most difficult location of the shoot, the Crystal Rooms nightclub, has come back to haunt us, as the manager won’t let us back in to complete the scene. Edd’s going nuts trying to find one that can double.
Bekka’s working on a new look for the demons, since the old one looked great on paper but didn’t translate well to reality. Certain knarly props and costumes remain obstinately unsortable. A weapons rack can’t be that difficult to get made, after plasma pulse grenades and a giant hotel sign… can it?
I started to get kinda depressed about the movie over the last few days, and I realised it was because I was reading The Guerilla Filmmakers’ Blueprint. Two or three times every chapter the author says something like, “Let’s face it – most low budget films are crap and don’t make any money.” Hardly inspirational, Chris. I have now relegated the Blueprint to the shelf.
Commentaries listened to over the last few days: The Rock (two stars), Armageddon (five stars for the actors’ commentary, purely because of Ben Affleck ripping the piss out of the plot), Men In Black (four stars – Tommy Lee Jones saying “Yeah, that’s cool” every five minutes is somehow highly entertaining), Ghostbusters (three stars), Terminator 2 (three stars), Back To The Future (two stars).
I’ve mostly been trying to make some of the FX look better. I’ve also been trying to help Edd with production stuff for the remaining shooting. The guy is so broke because of this movie. I feel really bad. Anyway, we’ve been trying to get more runners so I’ve been talking to the local college and stuff. We seem to have a problem with this one prop which Ian’s decided he doesn’t know how to make, and I wound up calling my dad to see if he could do it last night and got the expected verbal abuse. Another thing I had to do was rewrite this one scene we’re reshooting. Typing scripts and schedules was weird – like travelling back in time.
Excised from Edd’s biog for this website: “The first time I met Neil was at JFK airport. I had been sent to greet him as most of the English crew had already arrived the day before. On being dispatched I didn’t have a clue what I was looking for. After a phone call I was told ‘Just look for a guy with stupidly spiky hair’, fair description I’d say.”
Yesterday I went round to see Colin Smith, our gaffer from the shoot, who has been experimenting with some spectral umbilical cord effects. What he had was the basis of the something interesting, but needs work. The fact that I shot a lot of that stuff with a moving camera is now coming back to bite me in the ass.
Ian (the production designer) came round to get the pistols and holsters, which need repairing/improving for phase two of the shoot. Ian’s off to NFTS in a week or two, bound no doubt for fame and glory. The best of luck to him.
Today doubt started to enter my mind regarding the quality of my FX work. Maybe what I thought looks charmingly animated and old-fashioned is just plain crap. I guess that’s what test screenings are for. Hey, I heard that someone read my comment on this journal a few days ago that I was thinking about having a test screening at the art college, and this person was a student there and was all like, “When is it? I wanna go see it.” I can’t believe how many random people seem to read this thing. Wouldn’t it be weird if there was no movie, and I was just some poor lonely guy making all this stuff up? You know what – don’t answer that.