Soul Searcher: November 4th 2003

Get ready, cos this is a long one.

First of all, apologies for the lack of updates. My computer was used as a prop a few days back and has only just found its way back to my flat.

On Friday we headed out to Rotherwas Industrial Estate with Ray and Jonny to film a four page dialogue scene which I had cleverly decided should be one continuous steadicam shot as they walked down the street. It took a fair while to light. And as for actually shooting it… man. 24 takes. Aside from line fluffs, screw-ups also occurred frequently in the camera department with lights getting in shot and so forth. Plus we were recording sound onto minidisc recorders in the actors’ pockets linked to lapel mics. When, on about take 18, we finally made it to the end of the scene without any screw-ups, we were slightly annoyed (to say the least) to see BLANK DISC flashing up on the display on Jonny’s recorder. Six more takes later and we finally had a technically useable scene, but by that time the actors were so cold and fed up of saying the same lines over and over again that the performances were not up to scratch. Can you say reshoot?

We then moved to a house to shoot the scenes in Joe’s living room. This required Ray to look tired. He did not find this challenging. One of the scenes involved Ray playing air guitar. By this time it was 7am and daylight was starting to filter in. Most of the crew had deserted us, including Edd – though not through choice – he had to stay at my flat because we’d lost the key and couldn’t lock up. This may also go on the reshoot list. (Arrggh.)

Colin and I then had to walk home since everyone with cars had buggered off. Edd was fast asleep when I got in. I described the night’s events to him deliriously. For some reason it seemed extremely funny. I got to bed at 9:30am.

Saturday’s work was just as long but even more unpleasant due to the fact that we were outdoors all night. And it rained. All night. We began with a scene outside James’ house – a very simple scene, but it was complicated by losing costumes, the vast numbers of fireworks going off in the vacinity, and the rain (which at first we tried to sit out, until we realised we’d never finish this movie if we did).

This done we moved to Technical Rubber Products on Rotherwas Industrial Estate to shoot scenes that we dropped on the first week from the High Town schedule. This involved Ray kicking a bit of demon ass and doing a lot of running. It also involved a very cool practical effect which you’ll see when I cut the trailer next week. The rain kept pouring down, accompanied by a pretty cold wind. Our lights were all stood out in the monsoon and somehow managed to keep working despite everything physics teachers have been telling us for decades.

Come three o’clock I was feeling extremely wretched and miserable thanks to the weather (and I’m sure everyone else was too) and the temptation to cancel the night’s final scene was great. However we couldn’t afford to drop another scene, so on we went to Hereford Crematorium, dragging Kat out of bed for her graveside scene. As we were setting up the rain intensified and the more sensible crew members amongst us started to murmur about death by electric shock and such things. We derigged and stood under the crematorium porch, hoping it would ease up enough for us to get the shots and go home to bed. Finally it cleared a little and we got back out there. Poor Kat probably froze her ass off but the weather was extremely atmospheric and really added to the scene.

Sunday we were indoors all night, thank god. We were filming at the place where everyone knows our name (that’s Doodies, if you’ve been living in a cave for the last 18 months). There’d been a screw-up with the key so we were a bit late getting started, and extremely late finishing. Ian did a great job of dressing the location and it really looked like the cosy, friendly place I wanted on camera. It was Chris Hatherall’s first night of shooting as Gary and much hilarity ensued as he and Ray perused the copy of Loaded that had been brought in as a prop. Kat fell asleep in the corner; we finally got to her bits at about 4am. Ray had taught her how to make cappucinos for the scene. With the end in sight, the appearance of a noisy garbage truck outside was not very welcome, but it soon went away and we finally wrapped as it started to get light. After a lot of washing up and furniture moving, I returned home, tired but extremely happy with the day’s work. It was also the most fun day so far. Plus it was indoors.

For all the good footage we’d been getting lately, things were starting to go decidedly pear-shaped in other areas. Due to non-arrival of certain props our schedule has been thrown in disarray meaning we won’t wrap at the end of November as planned.

Whilst in Doodies, Edd dropped another bombshell. But enough about his ass. He told me that James didn’t want to be the producer any more.

Anyway, Edd’s been promoted in his place and immediately proved his mettle by buying us a nice big lasagne for lunch last night (Monday). The night’s work began at Manhattan’s, where we shot an exterior scene on their fire escape. Sound was a bit of an issue, what with passing cars, music from inside the club, whirring air conditioning units and church bells chiming.

Then it happened.

Cueing the tape up to make sure I didn’t record over the previous night’s footage, my eyes were greeted by the horrifying sight of the Doodies material largely obscured by big grey and green pixels. It was all I could do to stop myself from crying. Or throwing the camera across the car park.

But there was nothing I could do about it, so I cleaned the heads, put in a fresh tape and started shooting the fire escape scene. We then headed back to my flat for food (the aforementioned lasagne) and a production meeting. We checked the fire escape scene back – it was fully in tact, complete with fantastic sound (that Ian Preece is a genius). A quick review of the Doodies footage revealed that it was mostly fine; we had only lost the last hour or so’s work.

After the meeting, at which we announced James’ departure, Edd’s promotion and Vicky’s promotion to 1st AD.

We then set up outside for two fairly simple scenes outside my flat. This was fairly uneventful, save for a visit from a drunken man who staggered worringly close to the camera, and a fair amount of pissing about involving renditions of songs from The Labyrinth. We wrapped at the relatively reasonable time of 3am.

Soul Searcher: November 4th 2003