Soul Searcher: February 28th 2004

You didn’t come, you gits. No, we had to send the Fellowship of King Monkey out into the streets of Worcesterland to drag extras in. We got about twenty in the end, which is less than half the number I wanted.

Matt, the lead singer of da Monkey, who was looking somewhat like Elvis for reasons best known to himself, said he was stressed. “You want to try making a film, mate,” I told him. Shell (fiancee of Mike (brother of Matt (resembler of Elvis))) became the 1st AD by virtue of her big gob. All the better for shouting at random fifteen-year-olds.

So we dragged in some kids from the streets, told them to look like they were having a good time, slapped on the CD and burnt some tapestock. Aside from just dancing to the band, the extras had to perform vital parts of the scene’s action. Enter Sam (feminine) – our crowd surfing, demon victim – and Josh – our moshing demon victim. Actually they had a better mosh pit going than at most real gigs.

AJ was present for filming of certain pick-ups, and his other half very kindly came along to do make-up, though it was left to AJ himself to make up the demon arms.

Now here’s the thing. Given the lack of extras and the fact that the nightclub scene has been shot in three entirely different clubs, it shouldn’t work. At all. But not only does it work, (a) it looks like there are loads of extras and (b) it’s a really good scene. What are the chances of that happening, eh?

Thanks to the band and everyone who appeared in the scene.

Soul Searcher: February 28th 2004

Soul Searcher: February 25th 2004

Post-production. Oh yes indeedy.

Of late I’ve been cutting the documentary for Borderlines. I was surprised at how much good behind-the-scenes footage there is, and that’s not counting what Lara and AJ shot on their camcorders, or the footage Rick Goldsmith shot for us last weekend. There’s certainly enough material for a feature-length observational documentary, “The Drunken Rantings of Edd”. Anyway, I’m saving the good stuff for the DVD. And there goes Neil’s 2005.

I heard the first pass at the Grim Reaper’s theme this evening. Let’s be fair: it’s fantastic. Scott’s going to score the new trailer for Borderlines too.

A little reminder to COME TO THE MARRS BAR THIS SATURDAY AT 11AM. Be in Soul Searcher! Be the envy of your friends and family! Banish that unpleasant bodily odour with one swift bask in the aromatic aura of the UK’s most Grimtastic film production! That’s the MARRS BAR, PIERPOINT STREET, WORCESTER.

Soul Searcher: February 25th 2004

Soul Searcher: February 22nd 2004

It’s 3:15am and a little over two hours ago we wrapped principle photography on Soul Searcher.

A lot of shit went down this weekend, but I don’t feel like writing about it. Instead, some amusing anecdotes.

I am the Human Towbar. At 6am yesterday, Colin, Vicky, Simon Ball and I didn’t feel like pushing the generator all the way back to TRP. Vicky’s car doesn’t have a towbar, so we folded the back seats down and I laid on my front, feet hooked over the folded seats, arms sticking out the back, grasping the Jenny’s towing hook. This was all well and good until the road started to go slightly uphill. My entire body stretched several inches and I had to let the damn thing go or I was going to be scraping along the tarmac. I yelled to Vicky to stop. She slammed on the brakes and Jenny and I were quickly reacquainted. I almost broke my arm trying to stop it smashing into the back of her car. After that we decided to push it the rest of the way.

A couple of nights ago I had a dream in which Lara turned out to be a murderer. Go figure.

Jonathon Hayes brought his excellent demon armour over last night, but sadly I didn’t get to meet him because he got lost on his way to location. (The cause: AJ’s directions.)

Anyway, despite all the silly, silly things that happened, the battle scene got shot, the plot now makes sense and the movie is essentially in the can. The end of an era. How strange.

Soul Searcher: February 22nd 2004

Soul Searcher: February 16th 2004

To think, in a few days it will all be over. Apart from the two days of 2nd unit-style shooting… and the sound design… and the effects… and the music… and, and, and…

Let’s start again, shall I? To think, in a few days it will all be over for most of the lucky members of the Soul Searcher posse. It’s quite fitting that the last two days of principle photography should be the biggest. In addition to the five principle characters, we’ve got five martial artist demons, four make-up artists to create the demons, Jon’s new demon armour, guns, swords, grenades, shields, scythes…

Anyway, stuff I’ve been up to… Finished the Creative Industries application and sent it off, though I today discovered that I’m one of seven applicants for two grants (as opposed to being one of three applicants for two grants, as I was last week) so I’m not holding my breath. Sent Scott Benzie the rough cut (which he described as “emotional” and “cinematic” – nice one, Scott – exactly what I was going for) so he’s going to start tinkering with themes. Should even have some bits and pieces I can use on the Borderlines Festival doc, which I vaguely began editing the other day. Ooooh, it’s gonna be cheesy.

Today I’ve been catching up on some effects work. Discovered an ingenius way to create a column of spectral light without using an iota of CG. It looks like something out of Ghostbusters. It’s even got a bit of grain, like it’s lost a generation or two on the optical printer.

Soul Searcher: February 16th 2004

Soul Searcher: February 10th 2004

The wolf’s at the door and the ferret’s at the catflap. And neither of them are wiping their feet.

I advertised my Canon XM-1 for sale yesterday (that’s the one that actually works) in order to pay for the final weekend of shooting. If any journal readers are interested, I’m asking for UKP900, buyer collects. It comes with a Jessops carry case, wide angle and telephoto lens adaptors, assorted filters, charger, battery, manual, remote, cables.

Jon’s been sending me pictures of the demon armour as it progresses. It looks highly unpretzel-like.

Hey, everybody, this is YOUR chance to be in Soul Searcher. Come to the Marrs Bar, Pierpoint Street, Worcester at 11am on Saturday Feb 28th and punk it up to King Monkey. You know you want to.

Soul Searcher: February 10th 2004

Soul Searcher: February 8th 2004

We finally shot the platform scene last night, at Hereford Station. It was pretty good timing as far as we were concerned, since due to a bridge in Worcester being closed there are practically no trains running at the moment. We were able to find a totally deserted platform and shoot there to our hearts’ content. Except for when a train pulled in and sat there for an hour (we shot close-ups then).

Both me and Ray came close to falling onto the rails, Ray as he skidded dramatically round a corner and fell on his arse (looks good though – could be the take I use), and me as Jason and John over-zealously wheeled me along on a luggage trolley and didn’t pay that much attention to which way they were going.

The wind was strong and evil, which added immeasurably to the look of the scene, although I had big troubles pulling focus with tears streaming down my face. The chill of the wind was pissing me off before long, however, and I decided to simplify the scene a great deal. As a result we wrapped an unprecendented FOUR HOURS EARLY.

This morning I set up a duvet tent in my living room and the actors took in turns to clamber in and deliver bits and pieces of ADR. Everybody had fun with dodgy-sounding fight grunts. Then I got some quick interviews with everybody for the Borderlines Festival doc.

So just one full weekend left to shoot, plus two half-days of pick-ups with the likes of King Monkey and Shane’s stunt jump. Hallelujah.

Soul Searcher: February 8th 2004

Soul Searcher: February 7th 2004

“Right then, who’s playing Highlander?”

“That would be us, officer.”

“Ah, right. Johnson, cancel the armed response unit.”

“Right you are, sir.”

Soul Searcher: just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous…

So, if you were walking past a multistorey car park late on a Friday night and you saw two people clashing swords, one covered in make-up and looking like an extra from Lord of the Rings, and both accompanied by a cameraman and several other crew, would you (a) think “oh that’s nice, they’re making a film in there”, or (b) think you were witnessing a real sword fight and call 999?

Somebody evidently picked (b). The rest I know only because Simon has a contact in the police force. Apparently when the phone call was received, an immediate request was put out for a large number of cars with dog units and an armed response team. Somewhere along the line a little common sense prevailed, because a single patrol car arrived at the car park first, at which point the above conversation ensued. Simon’s contact reckons I might get billed for the armed response team and possibly charged with wasting police time. Presumably the moron who phoned the police in the first place gets away scott free.

One of Edd’s tasks during October and November was to notify the police every day when we were in public places. Now he’s around, it just got forgotten.

Anyway, Bekka did a great job with the new demon make-up, making the whole scene look a million times better than the November version. Cheers to Dean Williams for enduring the rigours of make-up again, and to Lucy, Annika and Sarah for once again standing around in a freezing car park in skimpy clubbing attire.

Soul Searcher: February 7th 2004

Soul Searcher: February 6th 2004

Every great story has its third act ticking clock. Our is: can I finish shooting the film before I have a nervous breakdown? Could be a close-run thing.

Little progress with finding a roof for Shane to fling himself from (O2 never called back), but obviously my priority has been to prep this weekend, although I did speak to the Marr’s Bar (quite literally a bar owned by a man named Marr) in Worcester about shooting the King Monkey stuff there. One of my shorts, Cow Trek, was screened there a couple of years ago so Brian Marr remembered me.

Mick Morris, the multistorey car park manager, will be very glad that tonight is our last night of shooting there. I think he was getting fed up of it, in a jovial kind of way.

Having pretty much given up hope of ever finding a maker for the demon armour, I was contacted on Wednesday by one Mr. Jon Hayes who had a whole plan worked out as to how to make a set of this armour. Over the course of several phone calls in the next 48 hours, I hit him with such bombshells as “That’s great, now we need five sets like that in two weeks.” and “Thanks for your quote, but we can only afford half that.” To his credit, each time he came back with a way of doing it. I guess he won’t get much sleep for the next fortnight, but I can’t wait to see Mya’s concept art realised properly at last.

Soul Searcher: February 6th 2004

Soul Searcher: February 3rd 2004

I had one of those mornings when I didn’t want to get out of bed, hating my new role as producer. I wandered round town in the rain, half-heartedly looking for inspiration for demon armour alternatives. I went to the station to try and plead with the manager. Before Christmas he’d said we could only shoot until 5:30pm, and these days it’s barely dark by then. I had investigated closed railway lines further afield, like East Lancashire Railway and another one in Loughborough, but they all wanted too much money and their stations were preserved in fifties condition.

Hereford’s Station Manager wasn’t there, so I trudged away and tried again an hour later. This time he was there. I got as far as “I’m Neil Oseman…” before I was interrupted by “Ah, the film shoot – when do you want to do it? You’ll have to be done by 10pm.” He even didn’t mind us setting up lights, which I had suspected might be a big no-no for health and safety reasons.

Then I went to Rural Media where I bumped into Stephen Broadfield, co-ordinator of MediaDev. He asked how the film was going and I told him we were in dire financial straits. He said he’d ring Screen West Midlands and try to get them to give me UKP2,000. Very kind of him, but I haven’t heard anything more so I guess they weren’t having it.

After lunch I sat down at the edit suite and tried to do something with the cut of last weekend’s footage, which had wound up looking decidely pants. I realised I’d made a big directorial smeg-up, totally recut it and an hour later had a really good scene.

Shane Styen, the man with no fear, came over later on to take a look at some possible buildings for his three storey jump. We collared the custodian of Market Hall and asked him right there if Shane could jump off the top. I’m not sure exactly what he said, since he had a very broad country accent, but it was accompanied by a shaking of the head. A little later I went into the O2 mobile phone shop. “Welcome to O2,” said the shop assistant. “This is a very a strange request,” I began, and I wasn’t lying. The manager’s going to call me tomorrow.

The Smallness of Hereford, case study no. 8745: I went to the Plough Inn last night, as Jason had told me that they had bands on there and I could maybe use it for the King Monkey shots. I explained to the barmaid what I wanted to do. “Are you Neil Oseman?” she asked. Turns out she’s the sister of Craig Whyte, one of our runners.

Soul Searcher: February 3rd 2004

Soul Searcher: February 1st 2004

Easy peasy weekend. Six hours of filming yesterday, three hours today. All in the daytime, all indoors. Lara remarked that she was too warm for the first time ever on the shoot. Manhattan’s – where we shot both yesterday morning and this morning – is not the world’s best match for the Crystal Rooms, but I’m sure it’ll look fine when it’s all stitched together. Our precious few hours in the real Crystal Rooms went smoothly, with a martial artist named Dean filling in for Chris Jones to rumble with Ray.

Soul Searcher: February 1st 2004