Ups and Downs

The hero tapes, beautifully labelled by Sophie
The hero tapes, beautifully labelled by Sophie

There was a glorious 48 hours about ten days ago when everything was going our way on Stop/Eject. We had all our key cast and crew, all our locations, most of our props and costumes and we seemed well on the way to getting everything we didn’t have in time for the shoot.

Then people started dropping out. First the lead actress, then a sound recordist, then the lead actor. This, unfortunately, is the way it goes when you can’t pay people. You can’t expect them to put the film first. No amount of advance planning can change that.

Alas, poor Daniel
Alas, poor Daniel

So on Tuesday I’m off to London (nine hours round trip on National Express – the closest you can get to hell on earth) to audition a new cast. Exciting, but scary because of the limited time remaining before we shoot.

And on Wednesday it’s up to Birmingham for the final fundraising lecture – 8:30pm at Ort Cafe, 500-506 Moseley Road, B12 9AH. Find out how my feature film Soul Searcher was financed, made and distributed, with plenty of clips, behind-the-scenes footage and amusing anecdotes. As usual entry is free, but donations will be welcomed.

And by the time that’s all over there will be little more than a week before we shoot.

Despite the setbacks I’m feeling pretty positive about the whole thing. Almost every aspect of the production has been improved by the postponement from last autumn – including the props, some of which you can see here. Roll on April 21st!

Ups and Downs

Five eighths? Don’t you mean three quarters?

Ray Bullock Jnr. as Joe in Soul Searcher
Ray Bullock Jnr. as Joe in Soul Searcher

Shooting People‘s book “Get Your Short Film Funded, Made and Seen” recommends surrounding yourself with friends on your shoot. This may seem contrary to the advice fledgling filmmakers are always given not to cast their mates in their movies, but assuming your mates are professionals and talented at what they do, I wholeheartedly endorse Shooting People’s suggestion. As Michael Bay says, when he’s not busy bludgeoning cinema to death with a big CG robot, filmmaking is like war. Everything is against you – time, money, the weather – and you’re always fighting to get your shots and tell your story.  So you need to know your cast and crew have your back.

This is why my filmmaker friend of twelve years, Rick Goldsmith, will be operating camera on Stop-Eject; why Colin Smith, veteran of Soul Searcher and The Dark Side of the Earth plus countless other films I’ve DPed, will be gaffering; why Ian Preece, a trusted fellow freelancer with whom I’ve shot numerous corporates, will record the sound for part of the shoot; why my lovely wife Katie is designing the costumes; and why I wrote the lead role for Kate Burdette from the Dark Side pilot.  It’s also why I’m delighted to announce the casting of Ray Bullock Jnr. – Soul Searcher’s leading man – as Dan.  Ray gave a great audition opposite Kate last night and I look forward to working with again after eight years.

Ray Bullock Jnr as Dan auditions opposite Kate Burdette
Ray Bullock Jnr as Dan auditions opposite Kate Burdette

I know that all of these people will deliver the goods, no matter what the realities of the shoot throw at us.  So although there are still locations to sort, schedules to arrange and bit-parts to cast, I feel a contentment now as Saturday’s start date approaches.  Because when it comes down to it, with all these great people on board – plus great new collaborators like Sophie Black and Deborah Bennett – all I have to do is not fuck it up.

And by the way, you can read more about Katie’s work on the costumes over at her Katiedidonline blog.

Five eighths? Don’t you mean three quarters?

Dark Side update

Benedict Cumberbatch as Max
Benedict Cumberbatch as Max (photo: Richard Unger)

Carl and I have decided we need to change tack a little with The Dark Side of the Earth. We had some interest from a major Hollywood studio, but the suggestion was that the dialogue is too period, too archaic. I just don’t have the mental capacity to tackle another draft, so we’re looking for a writer who can do a polish and make it a little more mainstream, ideally someone with experience of writing for Hollywood. I’ll let you know how that goes, but it definitely seems like if this film is going to be made it will not be by a UK company.

In other news, I’m now casting for Stop/Eject, the short fantasy drama I’m shooting next month. And if anyone reading is in London this Friday afternoon and fancies helping me out running the auditions, please get in touch.

Dark Side update