Thursday, August 25, 2011

13 Days to go...

I've got a headache...again. It's the constant running around like a blue-arsed fly. These last few days before 'The Addicted' begins shooting are the most hectic ever... I've got other work to fit in and i've still got to fly to Gothenberg and then Las Vegas next week before we begin the rigging on the 6th in time for the first day's shooting on the 7th.

Things we've yet to sort out:

  • Accommodation for 7 people for 2 weeks...
  • Some key props are still evading us... (ambulance stretcher/trolley/gurney anyone?...circa 1987)
  • Some costumes...
  • Portable toilet block for the main location...
It'll all get done, one way or another.

The technical side of things is all in hand..we've ordered the new Sony FS100, Atomos Ninja, Lenses, adapters, lots of hard drives including SSD drives for shaky shooting scenarios.

Ian, our lighting and special FX guy has been testing exploding lightbulbs... hopefully he'll still be in one piece by the time we begin shooting. He's also sorting all the breakaway glass panels etc.

On Monday we've got our script readthru and final production meeting. It's a chance for all the cast and crew to meet and to find out what's going to happen once we get on-set.

Then, i've got 2 days to sort everything out before i disappear to Sweden and then the USA for a few days and then fly back on the same day we start to rig the set. It's going to be a very tough couple of weeks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

20 days to go...

Right now, I’m sat in the sun in Majorca. It’s 32 degrees and I’m contemplating another dip in the pool.  I’m on holiday with the family. It’s beautiful…perfect weather, beautiful villa in the mountains and lots of amazing food. It's great to spend some time with the family and try to relax for once. (i'm not good at that)  However…while enduring this paradise, I’m also trying to plan a feature film shoot that kicks off on the 7th September…and between now and the shoot I’ve also got a trip to Sweden and Las Vegas for a couple of gigs with Howard Jones.

The feature we’re shooting is now fully funded and we’ve also got all the cast and crew booked. It’s going to be a full-on shoot…we’ve got over 70 scenes to shoot in just over 2 weeks worth of on-set time. That’s a lot. What makes it more grueling is that we’re shooting nights… we need darkness for the whole shoot, so we’re starting once it gets dark and working through the night. It’s a big ask of the both cast and crew.

I’m really lucky to have a great bunch of people working on this with me who are making sure it runs as smoothly as possible.  The Recoil Films team are working over-time to get this production ready to shoot and some very good friends are going above and beyond to help also. My good friend and fellow tour-mate Ian Holmes who takes care of lights and video projections with Kim Wilde is running the lighting side of things as well as looking after the generator and general power issues. He’s got a great deal of experience with film lighting and special FX (of the in-camera variety), so he’s going to be vital in getting the look of ‘The Addicted’ spot on. He’s also managed to find a lot of the props we need.

We’re really chuffed to have found Natalie Cherrett from the Davina Make-Up Academy to deal with our make-up for the shoot. She comes highly recommended and we’re looking forward to working with her.

Jonathan Atkinson is our Production Sound Mixer and Composer and Jenny Gayner is Co-Producing along with myself.

I’ll do a blog on the cast nearer the time… but I will say we’ve been incredibly lucky to get such a talented bunch of people for this feature.  Thea Knight who was involved in the ‘proof of concept’ trailer for ‘Their Law’ and Dan Peters from ‘Shoot The DJ’ are both in big roles…as is Paul Cooper, Jenny Gayner and myself. We’ve also managed to get Simon Naylor, Tim Parker, John Cusworth, Brooke Burfitt, Samantha Spurgin, Charlie Cameron, Jos Slovick and Paul Giles. 

In an arse-about-face way…we’ve finally got the shooting script ready. This project came about so fast, that we actually had the location before we had the script.  It’s not the usual way of working…  but I had a rough story outline in my head…but I couldn’t write it properly until I had the exact layout of the building. So…we got the location secured first… then we found most of the cast… then I could write the script.  It sounds completely backwards… but it’s the only way we could make it work. It was also nice to know who was playing who before I finished the writing stage as I could write to their strengths.  It’s been a tricky script in many was as there’s so much action in this film… there is plenty of dialogue, but sometimes there’s very little for a few pages.

All that’s left to do now is buy the equipment we need….rent the other bits, and get stuck into the final stages of pre-production. We’ve got a full cast read-through and a meet’n’greet for everyone to meet each other… then it’s mostly technical stuff like testing the props… modifying my dolly to work on the location we’re in and testing the camera rig.

If there’s any film students or interested people in the Hertfordshire area who would like to be involved… get in touch. There’s always room for an extra pair of hands.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Crunch time...

It's early evening and i'm stuck on a train from London back to Hertfordshire... it's busy and apparently there's a freight train ahead of us that is going very slow. We keep stopping for 5 minutes at a time...always in the middle of nowhere. Everyone is hot, bothered and extremely irritated by the 18 year old girl in the seat in front of mine. She's spent most of the journey on the phone... very loudly. Firstly to ask someone if she was on the right train for Cambridge..(she is). She asked the person on the other end of the phone 'Where's New Barret??....we're in a place called New Barret... i've never heard of it...i think i'm on the wrong train!!'.  We were in New Barnet. Another passenger pointed this out. She said she'd never heard of New Barnet either. Then she phoned her Dad and told him to pick her up in half an hour... the train is never going to be anywhere near Cambridge in half an hour. After that, she called a friend and bitched about her being boring. 'Why don't you ever come out? You're soooo're getting old... What are you? 20? You'll be going grey next you old git.'  At this point, the mostly grey haired carriage (myself included) sighed...  I'm praying that the train speeds up and gets me home... or de-rails and smudges her annoying head into the track below.

Anywaaaaay. It's one month before we start shooting 'The Addicted'. This project has come together very quickly... mostly thanks to the extra people all doing their best to make it happen. I've never been great at delegation... too much of a control-freak...but i'm all for it these days.

There's so much to do. And that doesn't include tying up all the financial loose ends. We're mostly funded now... but there's still more funding to find..and quickly. I'm sure it'll all come together...after all, this is a great project and we're sure we'll find distribution.

The final choices on the gear front are all made now. We're investing in the Sony NEX-FS100 and a Atomos Ninja for the main camera, with the 550D on B-Camera duties. We've ordered a selection of adapters to make my collection of lenses work with the FS100.... i'm so glad i never invested in Canon glass now... those EOS adapters are expensive!!

We're hiring in the best audio equipment available... tiny DPA lav mics all running on UHF, a pair of AKG C568 shot guns for the booms and all being recorded to a mobile Pro-Tools rig with some lovely Mic pre-amps that will blow away anything you'd find on a digital recorder. Minimal ADR is the plan...

The only bummer with it all really is the lack of decent sync. The Ninja can't sync to there's going to be some very fastidious on-set logging and file naming to make post less tedious.

(Annoying girl has put her iPod on now... loud and shit... but much more preferable to her talking)

 I was talking to someone today about producing indie films, and it occurred to me that the most important thing you need to be an indie film producer is the ability to hustle.  You need to be able to talk people into helping you...doing you a better deal... bending the rules...whatever it takes to get your film made. Obviously, some writing and directing talent is vital...but without the hustle, it's useless.  However, if you want to survive and make a long term career, you can't lie or imply you're going to do this, that or the other for people if you can't or have no intention of doing so. Be optimistic, by all means.. but tell the truth.

3 more days of hustling until a well earned holiday in the sun... then it all kicks off for another 4 months of mayhem.... bring it on.