Soul Searcher: September 17th 2004

It’s official. Last night was the worst night ever on Soul Searcher.

I find it difficult to recall how the evening even started. Ah, that’s right, it was more of an afternoon. Everything seemed to be going well. The weather was dry. Jonathan had arrived with the train, which looked very good. Kevin McDonagh, Colin and I spent a while putting together Hollie’s buildings and generally setting stuff up for the shooting of all the train shots and the explosion of the brewery vats. I also found myself painting the wagons red.

As darkness fell, Stein Stie, the 16mm DoP, and his assistant Rob arrived and began setting up the Arri SR2 to shoot the vats. Toby rigged the pyro and Jackie Regan, maker of the model, finished it off by attaching the walkways on top – which were extremely accurate. There were 20 minutes or so of panic when it seemed Arri had given us the wrong gear and we wouldn’t be able to shoot 150fps, but Rob sorted it out and the vats explosion went off just as planned. Nice one.

It was then, as the time for the train’s debut neared, that the seeds of doom took root. In a nut shell, the train didn’t want to stay on the track. The old wheel problem again. The hours ticked by, whilst the crew ate incinerated beefburgers and set up the buildings, background lights and details around the railway line, all of which looked great. By 1am I was on the verge of vommiting from extreme panic. I had 25-ish shots to get in now only four hours. Jonathan said the wagons were ready, and placed them on the track. They wouldn’t go along. Wheel problems again.

Then the power tripped out, leaving us in complete darkness.

Then it started to rain.

Once the power was reset, I weighed up the options before me. I had to blow the train up at 6am, come what may, because otherwise I would have wasted a lot of money on the Arri gear, the pyro, the insurance, etc. But how could I blow it up when there were still 25 shots of it moving to shoot? And the damn thing won’t stay on the tracks.

Phrases of the “computer generated imagery” ilk were bandied about. I quickly put a stop to that.

There was only one real solution. Kevin knocked up an extremely crude version of the locomotive, simply to blow up. He then went off to kip in the van, because he had to work today, whilst Colin and I – horror of horrors – dismantled the earth embankment we had spent most of last Friday building. Sometimes I wonder why I fucking bother.

The rain, meanwhile, continued to fall. Gradually it became heavier and heavier until, when Stein and Rob reappeared on the scene at 5am, it seemed that we couldn’t possibly shoot. However Stein convinced me otherwise, and with the aid of a tarpaulin, an old towel and Kevin’s ropey mock-up, we got the explosion filmed.

So, a brief summary. Over the last week, two sessions of back-breaking labour building embankments and then dismantling them again, many hours loading things in and out of hire vans, UKP250 worth of damage to one such van, and hour upon hour of working in the pouring rain, wind, mud and miscellaneous unpleasantness… and for what? Two shots. TWO FUCKING SHOTS. THIS FILM IS TAKING THE PISS. I HATE IT. I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT.

We were so close. I can’t believe how close we were. I’m now sat in my living room surrounded by Hollie’s buildings and spiky Hell rocks, the very cool-looking locomotive and four pretty convincing scale replicas of the Rowden Mill goods wagon we filmed on last year, and yet it’s all useless because the DAMN THING WOULDN’T GO ALONG THE TRACK.

I hate everything.

Soul Searcher: September 17th 2004