Disaster has struck. My “Top Five Worst Things to Happen While Making a Film” has a new entry. It wouldn’t be appropriate to give all the details, but broadly here’s what happened.
For the last week or two I’ve been spending almost all my time on Stop/Eject and though there were a few heart-stopping moments, like losing one and almost both of the lead actors, last week it was finally starting to come together. Katie and I spent all of Thursday packing equipment, props and costumes and preparing several meals and snacks for Katie to eat during the shoot (she has allergies). On Friday morning we set out for Derby along with Colin, two cars rammed full of people and stuff.
We arrived at the house of a key crew member where we were to be staying during the shoot. I was worried to find that certain key aspects of the production were still not sorted out. Having received very little in the way of practical or moral support, my stress levels had been steadily building as the shoot approached, and now I was feeling like I could throw up at any moment.
To make matters worse, it slowly became clear that other members of the family in whose house we were staying were not happy with us being there. The final blow fell when two more relatives showed up and kicked us out of the house.
At this point the producer was forced to cancel the shoot. I then had the unpleasant task of ringing round the cast and crew – one of whom, Ray, was already half way to Derby – and giving them the bad news. Colin, Katie and I spent the night at Sophie’s house in Belper, where her parents were very kind and hospitable to us. Yesterday morning we were faced with the problem of how to get two car-loads of equipment and people back to Hereford in only one car, and in the end I had to call my parents and ruin their Saturday by having them drive up to Derby and get us.
Although I must confess to a degree of relief that I didn’t have to shoot the film with the preparations not as complete as I would have liked them to be, today it’s really sinking in how gutted I am that the film has been stopped, ejected and thoroughly chewed up. It’s now a question of not just when but if Stop/Eject gets made.
Anyone who’s followed my blogs for any length of time will know that I’m no stranger to filmmaking disasters. Here’s how my top five shape up now:
- After building a 25 metre earth embankment in a muddy Gloucestershire field for Soul Searcher‘s miniature train to run along, Colin and I were forced to put all the earth back where we found it at 1am in the pouring rain without having used the embankment at all, due to the train constantly derailing.
- When we wrapped on day one of The Dark Side of the Earth‘s pilot shoot – which was personally costing me over £30,000 – due to delays with the set construction and an over-stretched lighting crew, we had only shot one of the sixteen set-ups scheduled.
- Stop/Eject‘s shoot being cancelled a mere 12 hours before the call time.
- At the age of 19, while shooting my first paid directing job – a community drama about skateboarders and BMX riders in Droitwich – one of the kids came off his bike during a trick and fractured his skull.
- Halfway through principal photography on Soul Searcher, after being battered by set-back after set-back, we discovered that footage from the previous night’s apparently successfully shooting at Doodies cafe was corrupt.