Chris and I laid waste to another six or seven items on the SFX list (er, we’re cracking through them). Also, I hastily designed and sent off a Phase II advert for Worcestershire music mag Rhythm & Booze. This will be unveiled just after Christmas.
Spent the morning down by the Wye. Why? Because it was a nice quiet location for some sound effects recording. Having produced a list of 125 sounds needed for da Beak, I enlisted the help of Chris Mayall to cross out 14 (wow, that’s really not very many) of those today. The local residents – one of whom saw the “dead gerbil” and assumed we were from Central News – looked on in disbelief as I ran around towing a cardboard box on a bit of string, and Chris chased after me with the mic. Most of the other stuff was fairly mundane – walking, running, jumping, falling over (mmmm, falling over wet grass which is probably full of dog shit) on various surfaces, trampling through undergrowth, and so forth. More of the same tomorrow, I expect, but in the mean time I need to take a close look at the budget. Only about UKP200 remains for publicity, this figure having been reduced from more like UKP700 in order to transmogrify 40% of the video dupes into DVDs. However, since the DVDs will be sold for a higher price per unit, I guess I can safely increase the total budget. Hell, without publicity, I’m just wasting my time.
A slow week, due to me being a bit ill. Just about struggled through the closing 2D FX shot of the movie, which had been hanging over me for ages, and in the end had to be hugely simplified to get anything even vaguely resembling realism. Never heard back from the Folly Arts Centre. Still not got any more demos from composers. Mike’s new computer still hasn’t arrived. Oh well, I need a little time off.
I continue to lay sound effects, and am STILL awaiting three demo CDs from potential composers – Kieron, Simon, John – if you’re reading this, I will be making my decision on December 10th. If your stuff hasn’t reached me by then, I’m afraid I’ll be unable to consider you. Other things still not done include a few lingering 2nd unit shots (ye gods, it’s getting into Corduroys Never Die territory) – I think we’ll end up having to mock up the helicopter interior – and the production of the Phase I posters, thanks to a failed scanning today. What I have done is ordered a DVD writer. Mmmm, DVD. And I contacted Folly Arts Centre as a possible venue for the premiere (advantage: don’t have to have it during the day; disadvantage: it’s not an actual cinema).
As Chris Mayall always says, “The sound is more important than the picture.” And ain’t that the truth? It’s also a hell of a lot of fun. Not when you have to record it at the same time as the picture – that sucks – but when you can stick it all on afterwards, it’s like composing music, but without tone-deafness being an obstacle (fortunately). So I started the sound design today, having done a final cut of the pictures, which are now fixed, unless the test screening, when it eventually happens, necessitates changes. Wow, that was a really poorly structured sentence. Anyway, the first, and coolest thing I did today was to create a custom sound effect for the pistols. Having journeyed to Hereford library to hire out some SFX CDs (last two due-back dates: August 2000 and December 2000 – strangely concurrent with the editing of Soul Searcher and Cow Trek…), I had the raw materials ready. Of course it would be illegal to simply use the sounds as they stand, but copyright law states that no violation has occurred if the sounds are unrecognisable, so to create the basic pistol effect I combined three different tracks from the CDs – a rifle gun salute, speeded up 300%, some random gun with a nice bass attack and echo, and a firing range pistol. I soon realised that this wasn’t going to be meaty enough for all occasions, so I created an extra effect for the gunshots fired on the hills, with a fourth track containing the echo from the original gun salute, and a fifth track holding an echo from an explosion. This gives a nice thundery, rolling echo as the sound supposedly bounces off the hills, town, etc.
Andrew Hill (Dan) came over today to record his lines for the phone conversation with Sarah in the office. I’m fairly confident now that there are no more 2D FX for me to do, other than the one I’m working on at the moment, except of course for all the compositing of Mike’s 3D stuff when it’s done. My next task is to lay some basic sound effects for the test screening. I’m also drawing up a publicity schedule, and vaguely looking for a volunteer who lives in Malvern to handle flyer distribution, illegal flyposting, and a particularly quality guerilla marketing tactic I’ve come up with, which is to put a placard into the hand of the Elgar statue in Great Malvern. Another facet to the publicity is to shoot a music video for toe-tapping punk combo King Monkey, whose song Dressed To Kill – about an action heroine, will feature on the soundtrack. Including as it will clips from the film, the video will serve as an extended trailer which can be publicised in its own right. Speaking of music, I’m currently accepting demos from composers who reckon they’re up to creating a nice big Hollywood score for da Beak.
Alright, I’m still not sure exactly when the premiere will be (though you can bet your bottom dollar it will be one of the last two weekends in January), but as you may have noticed, the VHS release date is now fixed. For the third time in recent memory, I went down to the station with camera and tried to shoot trains going by at night. This time I actually had the sense to take the pag light, so after much lurking in darkened corners of industrial estates and trespassing on Railtrack property (or government property, I guess it is now), I got the shots and came home for a nice cup of tea. Sorry Dave, but our fantastic tracking shot is not going to be in the film, for various reasons, the main one being that I can’t get it to look like night. I had FX success last night with the window smash effect, and having agreed exact lengths for all of Mike’s 3D shots, I will be locking the edit soon, although I’d like to set up a test screening for some complete strangers first.
Up at the crack of dawn, or indeed before it. The crack in question was the small gap twixt impenetrable cloud cover and horizon. So much for my planned wide shot looking down on Malvern as it’s rendered in orange light and long shadows. But on the bright side, it matches with the smeggy weather we had for principle photography. Back to Holy Well, Castlemorton and Gullet Quarry for some sound effects, then to my parents’ house to film their piscine-nourishing cameos. Dave and I then killed the middle part of the day before driving up Leominster way, where road and rail run parallel, to film a tracking shot of a train, which I don’t think either of us thought for one minute would actually work, but work it did, once Dave’s turbo-impaired, lorry-preceded Xantia had caught up with the offending omnicarriaged vehicular item. My list of shots left to film is now down to seven, but I fully expect to discover more things I need. Everyone make a space in your diaries for the latter part of January, because I’m pretty close to some premiere date-naming.
More reshoots today, with LJ joining me in Hereford for some ADR, and inserts for the photocopier and train toilet cubicle scenes. Then we travelled to Malvern to extend the graveyard scene with a sequence of Sarah wandering through Great Malvern and into the cemetery. We finished at lunchtime, despite me expecting it to take all day, and I came back to Hereford to cut the new footage into the film, which proved tricky since LJ has lost weight and trimmed her hair, but what can you do? Anyway, I’m off back to Malvern again to prod Mike with a stick.
Beech Business Park: The Location That Would Not Die. Back to “Los Angeles” today, with John “Cameron” MacLachlan, Sarah “Bay” Harrison and Max “Make-up Dude” Van De Banks. For once it was not pissing down with rain, so we got straight to it by remounting John’s opening Trivial Pursuit line. Then we got the shots of the jeep and associated sound effects. The last slate was an extra shot for a scene on the summit of The Beacon, where the edit had revealed that Cameron appeared to be standing by and watching as the hostages escaped. So I devised a shot in which Cameron would lean over the recently murderlised Bay and grieve for a few seconds. The only background was sky, so we filmed this at the business park, with Sarah lying on the jeep’s bonnet so I could get a suitably low camera angle. Then we realised that John should have had his hat on for the Trivial Pursuit line, so we redid that. Finally it was back to my place with John to re-record a few Holy Well lines. Cue lots of satisfying crossing-off.