The Car – First Recce

Lionel, the writer, turns up at around midday and we drive into the Hertfordshire countryside seeking the ideal village. The ideal village will have parking for our crew and equipment van, a village shop where a sports car can pull up outside, space in front of the shop for our hero to walk a dozen paces from the car to the entrance and various photogenic qualities.

Eventually we end up in Aldbury. Aldbury is the ubiquitous Hertfordshire village. It has a pond in the middle with some medieval stocks to one side, a couple of pubs, a tea room, a picturesque church and town hall–and a ton of tourists. Yes, Aldbury is one of *the* destinations for day-trippers coming out this way, so it’s always packed. That’s the major drawback.

Apart from that, everything else is a plus, so we stop to drink Badger’s IPA in one of the pubs. The sun shines, birds sing. Life is good. I go through the script with Lionel telling him I’m less interested in shots of the car than in developing the characters with the actors. That means the village, our primary location, is more important than finding picturesque country lanes.

Reading through the script a bit more, I realise we’ll need quite a few graphic design elements. Forms, a poster, a magazine cover, closing credits. Lionel says he can do all of these on the Mac, so that’s sorted and I go to have a look to see if I can frame a shot of the country lane through the old stocks. Perfect. We drive onwards to Tring to look for a nice police station exterior.

On the way, we pass Pendley Court Theatre. “We should stop there,” I suggest. “They probably have a ticket office or something we could dress up as the police station interior. And as they do amateur dramatics they might be sympathetic to us making a film.” Lionel says, “Good idea.” and we resolve to come back that way.

We also pass Tring railway station, which means London based actors and crew can get there really easily. Bonus. But once in Tring, when we eventually locate the police station, the exterior is rather bland and there’s nowhere to park a car. Especially for an overnight period when I want to do a time lapse sequence. No good. So we head back to the theatre.

The theatre is locked but looking through the window we can see the lobby is absolutely ideal for what’s needed. The doors are locked but I can dig out a phone number and contact them later. It also looks like we might be able to dress the outside a bit to make it look like a police station exterior too. If that’s possible, I think we’re in business. Show business.

Back home, I complete casting by phoning an actress friend of many years, Sarah, who jumps at the chance. “It’s funny you should call,” she says, “I’ve been doing loads of film and television recently.” I remind her of the ghost stories we made years ago and we crack up laughing. “Send me a script,” she says, “I’m up for it.”

So far, so good. Next I need to call Anela, the production designer, and try to find some 16mm stock at a ridiculously cheap price. Oh, and a camera. Must have a camera. Pendley Theatre’s contact is away until Friday, which comes as no surprise, does it? Now, where’s my producer?

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