March, 2003

Pick Ups Day Two

March 30th, 2003 March 30th, 2003
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Ruth came out and did the sound, Michael (the actor) did the clapperboards himself and I did everything else. It was a glorious sunny day and we got the shots. Everything is now packed and ready to return. The logging sheets have been tidied up and are ready for the lab, editor and whoever else. The sound has been transferred to the Mac as a back up.

It’s in the can.

Pick Ups

March 29th, 2003 March 29th, 2003
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Sarrett is as barking mad as ever. Simon greeted a passer-by with a cheery “Hello!” and received a look which informed us all that he’d just fed this person their own dead mother in a sandwich. The shoppers all desperately tried to get a foot closer to the shop doorway to park on the otherwise empty street. The four-wheel drives won by mounting the pavement. Even then, they scowled.

We started the day with battery problems. The DAT recorder batteries I’d charged up last night held their charge for about ten minutes each before running out. We switched to mains power and got set up for the first shot. By 10.30am we were ready to turn over except Lionel, writer/art director (graphics) wasn’t there and he had the posters for the police station.

Lionel phoned. He had run out of ink and went to buy some. We waited some more with an annoying beeping interrupting us every ten minutes or so. Simon tracked it down to a drawer full of digital watches–clearly lost property or confiscated from pupils at the school where we were shooting. All the alarms had been set by some schoolboy prankster to go off every ten minutes. We removed them and carried on messing about with lights.

At around 11, Lionel phoned again. He’d bought the wrong ink cartridge and it didn’t fit. He was going back to the store. I faked up a poster on my PowerBook featuring Lionel’s head and a caption saying “Please… don’t have nightmares” Simon took my keys and went round to my flat to print it.

At about 11.30, we were ready to shoot. “Roll sound… Roll camera…” and nothing. The camera didn’t roll. Why? I was told yesterday the batteries were all charged, so it couldn’t be that. What were we missing? We phoned Andy’s focus puller friend, Neil. Nope, no suggestions. We tried plugging mains power into the camera–and, guess what? It worked. The batteries were, as it turned out, all flat.

Now we had another problem. We only had one mains supply and it could go on either the camera or the DAT but not both. And while it was on either we couldn’t charge up batteries for the DAT. We shot our scene. “I’m getting T4,” said Andy, checking his digital exposure meter. “I’m getting 2.8,” I replied. I opted to overexpose like last time and shoot at T2. Andy had to rush off at that point to film a play his daughter was in. Meanwhile, Lionel arrived.

Six takes later and it was all going swimmingly. I had re-shot the close-ups previously affected by lens flare and squeezed in an extra hand-held wacky shot of the actor too. Pete, the stills photographer had arrived and offered to go and fetch fish and chips for us all. We were ready to shoot the credits. I patted myself on the back for staying up until 3am last night making graphics for the closing credits and not leaving it to the art department…

“Give me plenty of light,” I told Olly, the gaffer, “I want to get as much depth of focus as possible.” Olly obligingly doubled the number of kinoflos lighting the shot. My light reading remained the same: T2.8. ‘Seems odd,’ I thought and pushed the meter right up against the lantern. Still T2.8. Hmm. Then I did what I should have done at the start of the day–I pressed the Battery Test button. It was dead.

Lionel and Simon were duly dispatched into the wilds of St Albans for new batteries. I wasn’t worried too much as I was only one stop out from Andy’s digital meter on the essential close up and I felt sure the film stock could cope with that. (note: Andy backed this up later, saying the lab could print it down). Pete returned with lunch.

Eventually, this nightmare shoot concluded and I got the closing credits in the can. We visited Sarratt and got some more picks before the light faded and everything seemed fine. Now I just needed to get a couple of the crew to come back tomorrow (Sunday) for a quick close up in Michael, our lead actor in Pinner. Nope. No one available. I have camera, sound, lighting kit, stock, location and actor but no one to clap the board or record sound.

Back home, I spent the next four hours on the phone, long past ready to pass out, because I am a producer extraordinaire and never say die. I drink Coca-Cola until my eyes go like pinpricks and speak to various crew members’ answerphones. Anyone who is in, isn’t available. The main excuse is Mother’s Day. Hey, it’s not just for greetings cards after all and my mum is going to be unsurprised at my lack of participation or card even. I feel a twinge of guilt but still have to get this film made because if these things aren’t shot this weekend, I have no more time left.

I leave messages everywhere and speak to people who feel they’ve already done all they need to do on this film by turning up for the main shoot last year. I learn about people’s lives, editing via firewire drives and a new trend in celebrity answerphone voices. Hahaha, I think. Very funny. No, they aren’t. And you weren’t fooled, were you?

Eventually I get a call back from Ruth Tidmarsh who I met through Pete last year and works as an editor. She’s playing in a band tonight until 3am but is willing to come out and help. She might get someone else to help out. Meanwhile, we have a crew of two and Michael tomorrow.

I unload the exposed stock from the magazine and it doesn’t unravel in the changing bag where I can only feel what I’m doing. I’ve never unloaded a camera before but there’s no else to do it, so I get on with it. Sandhya has warned me that the Arri’s have a ‘collapsable core’ which means that there’s nothing in the middle of the reel when you take it out and I need to be very careful. Somehow I manage to get it into a bag and into a can. I clean up the log sheet, attach it to the can and pop it in the fridge.

It’s been a looooong day.

And I almost forgot, Lionel also got stopped for overtaking someone on the inside lane (illegal in the UK) and speeding at 64mph in a 50 zone. He now has points on his license and a fine to pay. Poor guy has had a really bad day.

But at least he got to work on a film.

Gettin’ Wired

March 28th, 2003 March 28th, 2003
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Sandhya caught the train. But missed St Albans Station. So now she’s in Harpenden, further up the line, and waiting for a train back.

I’ve done the titles and credits in Word which hates me. In fact, it hates being used as a word processor. Why does it keep changing the font to Times at random every so often? No rhyme nor reason, it just does it. Anyway, I nabbed some colour paper from work so I’m printing credits out on sheets of that now.

No word from Lionel. Has he redone the opening title or hasn’t he? Oh, the excitement of waiting to find out. I can hardly begin to express, to emote, to make my eyes go all buggy with the intensity of it. Probably that last. No, definitely.

I’ve got all the camera and lighting and sound kit, though. It’s all over the flat, weighs tons and is probably destroying my suspension when I drive it around. Jaffa’s buying this car in a couple of months. I think he knows what I cram in there.

Okay, time for another pint (Imperial pint, that is) of “Symbol of Free West”–Coca-Cola (sugar free).

Uh oh, phone! Gotta go…

Wot No Crew?

March 26th, 2003 March 26th, 2003
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A free ad has been placed on Shooting People’s mailing list for the essential crew…

Always more useful if they actually print your free ad and send it out in the mailing list, I find. Yes, that certainly would help.

Maybe tomorrow. Meanwhile Andy Martin gives me a quizzical look when I say I don’t have a camera assistant yet. Or a loader. “They’ll turn up,” I say knowingly without the foggiest idea of how they will.

But just how am I going to get that film into the camera? Uh, oh.

****

Sandhya (pronounced Sandy) phones at 11pm and is available on Sunday, so that’s that problem solved. Phew. Everything else is icing on the cake now.

****

Next day…

But now she can’t make it. But she’ll help me load the camera magazines on Friday night. And she’ll try to come along on Saturday afternoon.

And Olly phoned to say he could be gaffer for the day. And Hannah can come and do sound. And Kathryn can come and do everything else, like boom op, logging and continuity. So we have a crew.

****

And There’s More

March 26th, 2003 March 26th, 2003
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We have some lights, thanks to Simon (writer) and a camera and some stock but no sound kit…

Silly me. The simple answer was to phone Four Corners and see if they had a DAT and a microphone, which of course they do. So we’ll be using that.

A free ad has been placed on Shooting People’s mailing list for the essential crew and Mike/Charlie has bought new sunglasses but now he wants some expenses. Well, whatever.

Now I think all we really need are some sarnies. And nice ones too. Not the overly margerined ones like we had another time but I can’t complain because I didn’t make them or pay for them. Except they weren’t, erm, ‘more-ish’.

Oh, and Andy wants a copy of the rough cut on VHS. And somehow I really ought to try figuring out how to make a DVD tonight so I can enter Cannes which has a deadline on Monday so that means doing it today. And then I could send it to Dani too and he might do some music. And and and…

Write For Us, Dance, Skip, Amuse

March 24th, 2003 March 24th, 2003
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Whatever.

I come back from George W’s utopia and am immediately struck down with lurgy. This means, horror of horrors, that I waste two sick days actually feeling sick and unable to do anything much except sleep, sweat and sup chicken soup. It nourishes me, precious. It nourishes me.

Honestly, I get so hacked off with being sick. It’s such a complete waste of time. And sick days are wasted on being sick when the sun is shining and there’s so much to do.

Two days later, when I come to, I realise that I have one weekend free in the next four when I’m not working and it’s next weekend. And I realise that if I want to get The Car finished, then that’s the weekend when I need to do pick-up shots.

These are shots to replace the ones which have lens flare in them or which don’t cover up nastiness which needs hiding from the public gaze. Nastiness, precious–we hates it. Fears it. Okay, we am not that bothered about it but if we is ever going to wins a prize for film makings it would be better if the nastiness wasn’t there.

I make some calls to check if the actor is available… he is… the location is available? It is… The equipment is available… oh, yes, precious. It is! But at a price. It is now 45 to set up the equipment and 45 to check it in. Plus tax. That’s on top of the 300 hire charge and the 45 extra for using a follow focus rig. And then there’s the insurance.

Yes, precious, they likes their insurances. Bastards. Gollum. That would be another 165, bringing us to a total of 600 just to hire the camera. Cheaply. For one day! Add on tax and we’re at 705. One third of the short film budget. Gollum gollum. No wonders peoples is shootings on videos, precious. They steals the precious budget!

I phone Four Corners, the film workshop who didn’t get back to me before, back in October. Will they are answer the phone this time? Yes. Yes, they do. Wow. I ask about using a camera on Saturday. Yes, standard 16mm. Yes, with a tripod, filters, etc etc. Prime lenses? Please. They say… 100. Guess who I’m hiring a camera from?

So, I’ve done my rough edit on Final Cut Pro and I know roughly what I want and therefore, need. Now I need to assemble the motley crew. But of course, they are all working/sick/abroad/unavailable. How hard can this be? Oh, very very hard. Hahaha. Film making? Just because you have a camera, doesn’t mean you’re making a film, oh no. Hahahahaha.

So far I have an actor, a location, the important stills which we used a prop which is incredibly lucky, a first AD, a cameraman, the car! Hooray! And also the production designer and… well, that’s about it. We have some lights, thanks to Simon (writer) and a camera and some stock but no sound kit or sound recordist, no camera assistant and no loader.

And the actor has broken his sunglasses. And they don’t make that style any more. And he wears them in every shot.

It’s going to be another one of those weeks.

Is it wrong that instead of worrying about what’s not immediately to hand, I think about how nice it would be to have decent catering and I wonder how I can set that up?

My Cartoon Life

March 8th, 2003 March 8th, 2003
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Panel 1:
Woke up. Got dressed in superhero costume then regular street clothes over the top.

Panel 2:
Checked email. Transfered money needed to pay credit cards from checking account to savings account.

Panel 3:
Tidied up apartment in a vague way by moving bits of paper from one place to another.

Panel 4:
Lucy came round, watched football and bought some of my furniture in preparation for having the property valued and selling up.

Panel 5:
Went out for fish and chips.

Panel 6:
Marvelled at the special Saturday spectacle of minor celebrities and has-beens embarrassing themselves on national television while other minor celebrities provided mindless commentary.

Panels 7-11:
Went to work and drank Coca Cola, symbol of Free West. Music with a catchy bassline came on in the background. Hordes of dancers appeared out of nowhere and we broke out into a spontaneous performance for five minutes in strongly backlit artificial rain.

Panels 12-20:
Snuck out and saved the city during a pre-recorded item.

Panel 21:
Went home and slept the sleep of The Just.

Panel 22:
Skin tight dreams of superheroines in peril and satisfying out of body experience which editor replaced with angst-filled introspection and a Doctor Strange chapter full of psychic robots in final published book.

Panel 23:
Cool David Bowie soundtrack over end credits.

Fin

03/03/03

March 3rd, 2003 March 3rd, 2003
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Happy Birthday to me!