Apologies to all for this tardy blog entry; the process of shooting Heretic has – as my fellow bloggers Beth and Harry have already eloquently described – been extremely busy and strenuous, and so time has been at a premium thus far.
So, being a first time director, what can I tell you all about the process?
Well…as the old axiom goes, nothing worthwhile comes easy. And boy is that axiom no truer than on a film set.
I have read many articles and books on the making of other films, and the incredible difficulties often encountered in doing so. From the well-documented disaster that was the making of Apocalypse Now (heart attacks, cocaine bingers, alcoholic lead actors, constant weather problems), to disagreements between Ridley Scott and the crew of Blade Runner, who wore t-shirts in protest of the director’s pro-English attitude and, also re-christened the film ‘Blood Runner’ after the amount of retakes he kept requesting.
Film shoots can be extremely taxing for all involved, especially on a low-budget shoot like Heretic, where we have to shoot a lot more footage every day than the average film because of the timescales and money involved.
None of the reading I have done beforehand could ever really prepare me for how difficult and stressful it has been to date. So much so that, after a couple of days, I seriously started to think – ‘how the hell can I do this every day for two full weeks???’
But, on day 4, our on-set editor Carey began showing us clips of the footage, and the old axiom became true again, and we began to see the fruits of our labour.
And it looked amazing.
The efforts of every person involved in the making of the film to date (from its inception, pre-production, and the shoot itself) were there to behold. Suddenly it became clear why it was so hard. Because making something worthwhile is really really difficult, and there are umpteen moments along the way where any one person involved could settle for less, to take the easier route for a less stressful experience.
- I could have written less re-drafts of the script
- Beth could have accepted any of the pre-productions issues we encountered (lack of money, losing locations, employing actors or crew we weren’t happy with)
- We could have settled for raising less cash, and got an inferior camera and lighting setup
On the shoot:
- Jamie could accept bad framing for a shot
- Dan could light a scene in an easy (but uninteresting way) to save time
- Jonny could allow sound to be recorded in the knowledge that it would prove a nightmare in post production
- Niina might not bother to redress a set properly because – in all likelihood – the audience won’t notice differences from scene to scene
- Rachel could allow actors onto set with less than perfect makeup because of the time constraints involved
- Tamsyn could allow us to run over each day, allowing us to get more shots but risking actors and crew getting more and more tired
- Actors could put in a substandard performance after several takes
- I could allow any and all of these things to happen
But no one does. Because everyone is a consummate professional and seeing the footage that Carey presented on day 4 proved that we are succeeding in walking the line between getting quality footage and staying on a tight schedule that will mean by the end of the two weeks we will have enough footage to cut together a quality feature length movie.
On other shoots maybe many or all of these things are allowed to slip. But not on ours.
So far so good then…
But it is extremely tiring and extremely stressful. And I commend EVERYBODY involved for their work so far. The finishing line is in sight, we are on the home straight.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy. But it will truly have been worth the pain.