Thursday, 26 March 2009

Why do we do it when the light at the end of the tunnel is only a pin prick?

Confidence is something that is beneficial in all walks of life, unless it becomes complacency or arrogance. In trying to forge a career in a creative industry this is especially important, as there can be very long periods in the wilderness while striving to succeed. It is the same story for most people in music and films.

Like a band that spends its own money touring and recording when the chance of a pay day is quite slim, a similar feeling can creep in when making movies. Spending money attending meetings, spending time on script development and also emotional investment into a project all can take their toll, resulting in stress, uncertainty and doubt.

I imagine the answer to this question is different for everyone. For me, it is the need to tell stories, to entertain and to make people believe the unbelievable. Because of cinema, millions of people have all been united in laughing, crying and feeling other emotions in a dark room. I thoroughly believe that a film has only truly failed when a viewer leaves feeling numb. The final reason, is wanting to give back to audiences what cinema has given to me.

The time after a project is the main time when doubt begins to try to grab hold. This is because as a crew, everyone bonds and comes together for the sole purpose of making the film as good as it can be, and then after spending ridiculously long hours together every day, it stops. There is also the fact that once the project is done, there may be another battle to get the next job/ commission.

I think at the moment it is that time when a little bit of a reality check is occurring, constantly reminding myself that for every Jerry Bruckheimer there hundreds who pedalled ideas and never got one made. It happens every now and again, haunts you for a day and then leaves.

But I wouldn't change these feelings for the world, as with every arrogant or cocky person I meet in this industry, I feel assured that this thought process acts to keep me grounded and appreciate when things are going well.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Sins of London

I know that I have not updated on here for a while, which is because I have been dashing around London helping with the three short films collectively known as Sins of London.

The first two days were standard pre-production jobs, such as visiting a location to double check facilities available to us.

The first two days were spent shooting the first installment called Man In The Road. My alarm sounded at 4am and I headed to Woolwich to pick up a great young actor by the name of Merveille Lukeba, who has recently been on television as Tommy in the new series of Skins. The setting for this part of the films was a bleak industrial estate in Perivale, West London. Not only was time against us in filming roughly eight minutes of footage in two days, but the weather remained a constant threat. When time and money is tight, a heavy day of rain can signal the death of a project. Each evening, we wrapped at 5pm, home and sat down for 7pm.

Monday signalled a welcome move to an indoor setting for Connoisseurs. That morning was a 6am start to collect Stacey Roca and Laurie Hagen on the way to the set. Stacey has recently finished filming for the ITV series Waking The Dead, while Laurie has a host of credits such as Eastenders on her CV, as well as performing burlesque with the group Hurly Burly. We arrived at a beautiful house in Wimbledon Village where the scenes were to be shot. We shot 10am until 9pm Monday to Wednesday (home for 11pm).
The final scene is an actor called James Frost and Laurie arriving at the house. As my car was being used as the "hero" car, I ended up giving James instruction on how to make it look like he has been driving it for a while, which took eight attempts at getting right.
I left these three days seriously impressed with the character and attitudes of all of the actors (expecially James and Laurie), not only are the very talented people, but also genuinely lovely people.

Thursday and Friday came around, signalling later starts, 11am until 10pm shooting days. Another house, this time a pretty suburb in Earlsfield to shoot Infidel.
This time the cast included Dan Fredenburgh (Love Actually, Bourne Ultimatum), Elize Du Toit (Hollyoaks, The Bill), Orla Fitzgerald (Shaking The Barley) and William Beck (Royal Shakespeare Theatre's Hamlet). All of them contributed a massive amount to the scenes, of what I have seen look incredible, fizzling with tension and unease.

The final day of shooting was a night shoot. We all met for 4:30pm to have dinner together and then proceeded to a car park near Wimbledon to meet with the crew from Bickers Action. Bickers are the number one authority on vehicles used for shooting, and for this we would be using their low loader.
A low loader is basically a trailer, that a car can be loaded onto. The core crew of Director, Director of Photography, Script Supervisor and 1st Assistant Director all sit in a booth at the front of the trailer (near the lorry pulling it), while the actors perform their scenes within the car. Being low to the ground, it creates the illusion of the actors driving, but allows them to concentrate on acting. This is still not the main reason for using a low loader, which is that it allows cameras to be placed nearly anywhere around the car without causing obstruction or danger to other road users.
The low loader performed many circuits, with the cameras angles being changed between takes. Bickers finally took the vehicle away at 1:30am.

One final static in-car scene had to be captured before we could wrap on the project. This was Laurie holding a bottle of wine while sat in the car. Finally at 2:30am, we were wrapped!

After dropping James and Laurie home and saying some final goodbyes, I headed back to East London and finally managed to clamber into bed at 4:30am. Now there is just the wrap party to survive on Weds 18th March and then Sins of London is officially closed.....just post production to go!

Sunday, 1 March 2009


I am now on Twitter, so you can follow developments on projects, shoots or whatever else is being mused upon at that moment at:

Uploaded Twitterberry to my phone, so can also do live updates from shoots and sets.

UPDATE: New Project and developing news on an exisitng ones

So, the first bit of news is that there is a new, exciting project on the horizon. I cannot go into plot details without giving too much away, but its working title is The Animator and it is by an a friend of mine, Kate Plummer. The concept is one of the most original ideas I have heard in a long time and she has agreed that upon its completion I am free to produce it. The script deadline she set herself is 1st April, so more details on how it reads as a screenplay will be coming soon.

On the project formerly known as Who Killed Randall?, I am meeting the director Benedict Sampays in Birmingham tomorrow evening to discuss final script revision and to see a draft of the first 60 pages. Again, more details to come.

Finally, the series of short films known as Sins of London starts filming this Thursday. I will be heading down to London Wednesday to get ready for the 12 days of early starts and late nights that will obviously come from such a short shoot. It will be exciting but very very hard work. I will try and add things on here about it when I get a moment.