Two Days To Go

Tomorrow is when I need to pick up camera gear. Today is when I start the day without any. This will require a magic wand and a phone.

Step one: phone the hire company so they can apologise some more. “We’re very sorry but everyone seems to have gone mental,” they say, more or less. “Nobody when filming in September because there were so many memorials for September 11th, so now they’re all catching up.” “Thanks anyway,” I say, “At least you tried. Thanks…” “For nothing,” they interject. So not a completely wasted phone call.

Of course, I have a fall back position. Four Corners film workshop. My double booking. Bwahahaha. I call them at their specified opening hour, 10am. Answerphone. I call them at 10.15. Answerphone again. 10.30, 11 o’clock, 11.30. Answerphone, answerphone and answerphone. I leave a message for them to ignore (standard practice). Meanwhile, I go through my contacts book and try other leads. “Hi, how are you doing?” and similar faux bonhomie follows.

At 11.10, I happen to phone Screen East, the regional development body for film in this part of England. I explain my problem succinctly. “I’m filming this weekend and I don’t have a camera.” I say this without a hint of irony, as if it’s something I actually do all the time. “Can you help?” “Give me your details and I’ll get back to you in ten minutes,” says the voice. I do it but don’t hold out much hope. Maybe Four Corners will call back.

11.20am: Screen East calls back and I speak to my Fairy Godmother. “Yes, we can help you. We have a camera kit based in London. We can let you have it for 300 for the weekend provided you have insurance.” Well bibbidy bobbidy boo, whaddaya know? The slipper fits! Give me a pumpkin and four white mice and I shall go to the ball.

There now follows a frantic scene of calling up the people who actually have the camera to find out what they’ve got (an Aaton XTR) and what it can do (speeds up 54fps and no speed changes in shot). I rethink my opening shots, which is okay because I’ve done my research by watching MI2 remember, which means I know that slo-mo with judicious dolly work is this week’s trick to try.

There’s my pumpkin. An extra 40 to get it set up to shoot standard 16mm and probably some more chances to pay out down the line. Now to get some white mice from the insurance company. Unbelievably straightforward, thanks to the modern miracle of the fax machine built into the PC (although it crashes a couple of times, naturally). I even manage to get the printer working again by cunningly replacing the black ink cartridge (I am a systems specialist, ho yes).

Now, what was the story about again?