Apologies that this piece has arrived so late. It wasn’t some kind of cheap ruse to lasso you back into our world, just when you thought it was okay to go on-line; no, it’s just that there have been houses to clean, day-jobs to return to, children to feed, and shrapnel to remove from our souls.
The last time I wrote, it was Day 11, and we were staring down barrel of the frenzied final furlong of the last three days. Frenetic they were.
There is, I am sure, a natural human tendency to get a little giddy and be tempted to take one’s eye off the ball a little when approaching the end of a project, but there was no such slippage on this shoot, because there simply wasn’t time. I must confess, when I saw the shot-list for the last two days, I was – once again – a little concerned by the scale of the Director’s ambition, but I am pleased to say that I have once more been left with the feeling that I have underestimated him, and failed to heed Doc Brown’s famous adage: “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything!! “.
The penultimate day of shooting (our last in the house) saw a deluge of blood for the cast, a plethora of challenges for the make up artist, the creation of a ridiculous lighting rig to enable some spectacular shots from impossible, vertiginous angles, and considerable danger for our lead actor, as he got himself in position for the final shot of the film. You know you’re getting old when, instead of thinking “wow, that’s amazing”, your internal monologue is saying, in David Mitchell style “hang on a minute, I’m not sure if we have the Public Liability Insurance for this”.
(Turns out we did have insurance after all….phew)
As if we didn’t feel we’d challenged ourselves enough in the first thirteen days, the final day of shooting brought with it the challenge of capturing some essential – and essentially dry – external scenes at a beautiful Seventeenth Century church high in the moors above Leeds. The bruised sky threatened to disgorge a ruinous squall upon the cast, crew, extras and equipment throughout the day, but in keeping with the rest of the shoot, luck seemed to be on our side. The sound recorders ploughed on patiently and valiantly against the incessant wind and flight-path (no doubt making them yearn for the relative comfort of the house), whilst our costume and make-up departments made offices from a caravan. We would like to extend a big thank you to all our extras, who displayed admirable patience on the final day, to Paul for the use of his van, and to our most resilient of runners, Natalie, for the endless shuttling of cast and crew between church and impromptu green room (the caravan). The most surreal moment of the day? The group of male cyclists who passed us heckling “alright, doggers!”. Sadly, my eloquence escaped me (Amen to that) at the time, but lads, if you’re reading this, I’d like to remind you that you’re full grown men who like wearing neon lycra in public. I think that’s called The Wit of the Staircase………
Our final set of fine shots in the bag, we wrapped at 4 (ish) on the Saturday, and amazingly without any ‘pick-ups’ left to do on the Sunday. I found that the final wrap was accompanied by a strange mix of exhilaration and sadness. Five hours of film, shot in two weeks: old school. As when looking back on any intensive expedition in a short period, time seems at once stretched and compressed – sometimes it feels as if the shoot was interminable, at other times over in a flash.
Besides learning a great deal about the perils and triumphs of – what was to me – an alien artistic territory, and meeting a host of lovely and talented people, my overriding impression, as someone who has been largely involved in music, prior to this, is how bizarre the process making a feature actually is. Not only is film a conflation of pretty much every other art form, but it seems to me so compartmentalised. There were so many individuals working towards to their own objectives; single-minded, yet constantly and acutely aware of how their own work must tessellate with other specialties with which, ostensibly at least, they have nothing in common. It’s not that the small pieces of the process were not a joy to behold in their own right (they definitely were), but when musicians perform or record a piece of music, there is usually a tangible point of common reference by which the players can envisage how it might eventually sound, and such a common ground doesn’t seem to exist in original film-making. Yes, all cast and crew have a script and a call sheet, but ultimately they must furrow their own ground, without the overarching vision, because this only really exists in the mind of the director. I have talked a lot already about the gap between the script and the cinema, and the wizardry which must occur between the two, and although we are but half way through the process, I left the shoot with an even greater respect for what occurs on set, because it is magic which is conducted largely in the dark, so to speak.
So what now? Once the post production team (comprising editing, sound design, composition, grading) has been assembled, it is not so much a case of putting the jigsaw together, but deciding on how to fashion the fragments that are already in the box into pieces which will fit together to make the picture. It will be a Herculean task, and I am sure at times it will be agonising, but it is going to be very fun. Aside from my own trepidation and excitement about the soundtrack (getting the rough edit will be like Christmas to me, and I’m hoping it will come early this year!), I think we have a lot of reasons to feel confident:
- Although we still have a lot of money to raise, we garnered enough money for the shoot with only words on a page, and therefore feel extremely positive about raising enough for post-production with the ultimate currency: great shots on the screen.
- We did it. We said we would shoot a feature film which we would be proud of, and we have. If that is not enough to galvanise us, then I don’t know what is.
Although we will be keeping in touch throughout post production, we would like to thank everyone who has been involved so far in making the film, and everyone who has read the blogs and supported us so far – morally and financially. If you want to get in touch, drop us a line: you know where we are, and we would love to hear from you.