Stop/Eject Recce Part 2

Magpie, Matlock
Magpie, Matlock

More recces last week. (Is that how you spell it? Who knows? Looks like a misspelling of recess. Actually recesses are involved too – well, alcoves to be precise.)

This time we got into Magpie, the antiques/collectibles shop in Matlock, north Derbyshire where I can now confirm we will definitely be shooting. In just two weeks’ time. Gulp. The owner is a very kind and helpful man who is happy to let us do whatever we want with the place, so big thanks to him.

Then it was back to Belper where Sophie’s contact at the East Mill Visitor Centre happened to be around, so we were able to get a look at their basement. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it was very, very cool, lined with unusual, Egyptian-looking pillars. I’m only posting a photo of one corner; for the full glory of it you’ll have to wait until the film is finished… assuming we get permission to shoot in there… and assuming you’re too lazy to go visit it yourself.

Mill basement
East Mill basement

Sophie gamely hung around while I wandered back and forth between a few nearby exterior locations, pondering hard. I was trying to balance the demands of the script with the practical and logistical impositions of the locations. I had written some scenes with the locations in mind after my first quick drive through Belper, but on seeing them up close and personal it was clear that they weren’t going to work as I had intended.

For example, braking suddenly on a bicycle on the main road bridge over the river is not something we could do safely, not to mention the sound problems we would encounter in recording the subsequent dialogue beside the road. The pretty River Gardens seemed like a logical alternative, but would it make the scene less interesting? I certainly thought so until this morning when, storyboarding on a train (a major pastime of mine lately), I realised how the gardens’ bandstand could be used to reinforce the visual theme of circles. So by moving the scene to the gardens I could make it safer, easier to shoot, easier to record clean sound, and thematically stronger. Not a tough decision to take.

River Gardens
River Gardens, Belper

I’ve just sent out the final draft of the script and only one scene is left to storyboard. Sophie has started turning in concept art, Katie has started buying costume pieces and Col has built the SD Mark II, a high-tech device of which the function and awesomeness I shall leave you to imagine. I must confess to being a little worried about casting, as we are still struggling to find people interested in the smaller roles. If you want to apply, you can email your CV and headshot to

Stop/Eject Recce Part 2

Sneak Peak

See how that’s a clever pun? No? Well, if you read on you will discover that this post concerns the PEAK District. Ahahahaha! All must bow down to my comedy genius. Seriously though, my least favourite thing about blogging in WordPress is that it makes you give your posts titles, and I always waste at least five minutes trying to come up with a pun-based title.

Right, so on Monday my wife Katie – who is the costumer and wardrobe supervisor for Stop/Eject – and I travelled to Derbyshire to meet with Tom and production designer Sophie Black, discuss the look of the film and recce locations. Sophie lives in the small town of Belper in the Peak District (Sneak PEAK – remember! Hahahaha!), and it was while dropping her home during the Wasteland trailer shoot that I got my first glimpse of Belper and decided to shoot most of Stop/Eject there.

The village’s most notable landmark is an old redbrick mill which looms over a weir on the River Derwent, and this was our first port of call. We considered the merits of the riverside gardens for happy scenes with the film’s central couple, and scouted about for somewhere they could safely paddle. After looking at a nice cobbled street we travelled on north to Matlock to see Magpie, Sophie’s prime choice for the charity store central to the film. Unfortunately it was closed, but we had a good peer through the window, noting that it had great character but was very small and could prove hard to light.

After lunch we went in some more shops both in Matlock and Belper, and though many were far more suited to the practicalities of filmmaking, none was as visually interesting as Magpie. Next week I’ll get to recce the inside of Magpie and make a decision.

The other location we checked out was Belper Cemetery, which has lovely views across the valley and will add a lot of value to the film, providing of course that we can get permission to shoot there.

All in all, things are going pretty well so far, but since my films are more cursed than Will Turner’s twice-cursed pirate father I’m sure it won’t be long before it all goes spectacularly wrong. ┬áIn the meantime, enjoy the second Stop/Eject podcast featuring lead actress Kate Burdette – not that she needs any introduction to followers of The Dark Side of the Earth.

Sneak Peak