Eleven years ago, on returning home from a three week feature film shoot in New York, I wrote this on my blog: “Whenever you do a big shoot, you spend several weeks working intensively with a bunch of people who you end up utterly adoring, then the shoot ends and you NEVER see them again. Which is horrible, totally horrible.”
This week I’m going through the same depressing experience again, having returned home from the month-long French shoot for season one of The First Musketeer, a project which has knocked the New York feature off the top spot and now ranks as The Best Shoot I’ve Ever Been On.
It was a tough, tough shoot, make no mistake: lots of night shooting (for which I’m entirely to blame), long hours, rain, insufficient food, fatigue and – given the ambitious nature of the show – a miniscule budget and a tiny crew. Only one day off was scheduled, although two others emerged out of last-minute necessity.
But how often do you get to shoot in castles? At night? With sword-fighting actors in stunning period costumes? How often do you get to work with horses, or film in a medieval city carved into the cliff-face of a huge gorge? It was an awesome experience.
What really made it though was the people. I’ve never met such a lovely bunch or bonded so strongly with a group. We went into a bubble, seeing no-one else but our fellow cast and crew, day in day out, staying in the same chalets as them, enduring the same hardships, developing private jokes (Gerard Depardieu), rocking out to the same eighties tunes on RFM as we drove the long, windy roads to location, cooking for each other, drinking with each other, helping each other through the cold nights on set with chocolate, sweets, coffee and hugs. Departmental barriers quickly broke down, with the sound recordist driving the lighting-camera van, he and his boom op helping us every day with our lighting set-ups and our tear-downs, and all the tech crew pitching in to help the art department reinstate locations after wrapping.
I hope this time that I will see everyone again, not just for a wrap party but for further seasons of the show as well. I doubt we will ever recreate the magic of this year’s experience, but we’ll always have Gerard Depardieu.