Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Shoot - Day Five - 25.09.2010

I should start by saying that it's a bit strange to still be writing these shoot blogs. The plan, as we'd sold it to everyone that auditioned and in the initial ad, was two weekends of shooting. The 14/15th August and the 4/5th September - with possibly an extra day dropped in there somewhere for the wraparound scenes (the only scenes that don't actually take place in the field/park).

After the first weekend killed the crew, we knew that another weekend, whilst working full time jobs, just wasn't going to happen. The problem wasn't just the shoot but all the things that had to happen around it - the one that will be forever mentioned is the charging of the camera batteries...

So we were going to move one day out of that weekend, to the following one. Which we did. And we stuck to that shoot (well, half of it anyway as an actor pulled out). The day that were going to stick on I believe got moved twice because of pull outs and relative difficulty to recast.

We eventually shot that day's work Saturday just gone.

First off, this blog, as everyone that was there that day will already guess, is going to be quite negative. So, I want to get the positive stuff out of the way first.

The two actors in this scene were great - we were hit by a pretty major problem that I'll get to shortly, and as I told them on the day, I'm so glad we had who we had because they turned the whole experience into a laugh a minute and I really loved every second of working with them.

I always maintained to my producers on this that in casting, I was looking for acting ability as well as looking at whether I could spend a considerable amount of time with these people. Obviously, this was something we could vet in the auditions for the leads (not to worry guys that landed the parts - you were, honestly, my first choice as far as ability went) but not so much in the video auditions that we held for the other parts.

Though we'd only dealt with everyone else via email, it was clear to see that everyone else was really cool and into the project so I had nothing to worry about but without actually meeting them, you can never be 100%.

So yeah, you guys totally made the day for me and if I ever have any more 'trouble' shoots - I hope you're there with me!

Another positive is that the whole thing is starting to work a lot better now - I personally have hit a comfort/confidence level and am feeling extremely proud of what we're pulling off. I'm now confident enough to jump straight in and set up - it's definitely getting easier.

I think one thing we could all agree on was it was freezing! I couldn't believe how cold it was out there - especially as I managed to get sunburned by the end of it! There's a few takes where the camera's wobbling because I'm freezing so bad and I just couldn't wait for the take to end so i could try and warm myself up. Fun little bit of trivia actually - we shoot in the same place that we shot with the leads but you'd never know because of the cut grass and the fact that it's green there now!

And one last funny thing - one of our scAIRcrows lunged towards a passing kid. As this kid walked past, the scAIRcrow fell over, falling towards, but not on, the kid. If he grows up with an irrational fear of scarecrows - we'll know why if the poor child himself doesn't!

Now, I will choose my words carefully here. The day was spoilt by an actor not showing up. Not the shoot or what will end up in the film. We've even thrown in a nice little nod to the actor - when everyone watches the scene, I hope they laugh! We did! It's all about turning something negative into something positive and I love what we've done to address the non appearance of the actor, and, by turn, the character. Remember to keep an eye out for it in the finished film!

I won't name names as it's unprofessional but I will recount the series of events that occurred up to and on the day.

First off, the scene in the script is very big. Very ambitious. When we first experienced drop outs, we rescheduled once I think before we decided to cut the scene back a bit. So between dealing with actors dropping out and rescheduling days, we cut two characters out of the scene, leaving three.

When we analysed the scene, the two parts that we cut were fairly thankless and to be honest, it wasn't much of a surprise that people were having second thoughts about them. So we decided that we could make the scene stronger by concentrating the focus. And with three characters instead of five, that was easier to achieve.

We still had to re advertise the third part after another actor unfortunately couldn't make that day. We did that very quickly with the ad going up exactly a week before shooting. So we knew we had to act fast on this.

Somehow, we managed to pull it together in time with us deciding on an actor based on his apparent enthusiasm.

This is what confuses me the most about this - in the run up, we had various email exchanges, including one crucially stating that I was about to pay for the permit and insurance for the day and I needed solid confirmation because of this. That was fine so I went ahead and dropped £300 to make the shoot official. I will admit that the one thing we did do was change the meeting point the Friday night before the Saturday of the shoot but it was on the same tube line, one stop down. So really, it just necessitated staying on the train another two mins. And even if he had gone to the other tube station, I would have met him there anyway but in interests of full disclosure, should I get contacted by him about this, I want to be fair.

So Saturday morning, the other two get there before the meeting time and so we're just waiting for this third actor, who I'll call Three from now on.

I get a call from Three at the meeting time, expecting him to be looking out for us or, at the worst, at the other station (even though he'd confirmed via email that he'd seen the location change). Instead, I get a question. The question was, what time are we shooting? It's a question I'll never understand because even if it took an hour to start up from the meeting time, I told everyone to meet me at that time - I wasn't being malicious to the other two (they do have names - sorry guys - Richard and Miranda) by making them meet me at ten whilst Three could have another two hours in bed. I said we were planning to shoot straight away but we thought we needed him so I said we could wait if you could let me know how long it'd take to get there. He said two hours and I had to be okay with that.

What bugged the most about this was that Richard and Miranda showed up on time and it was an insult to them who'd given up their Saturday morning lie in to work on this crazy little film. I can live with people not having respect for me but I can't hack it when I've got other people involved with something and, by proxy, I've let them down. I can even let go of the fact that I very nearly wasted £300 but I don't want to waste anyone's time and goodwill. Unlike others I guess who patently don't care.

I must stress that this is not a misunderstanding or, if it is, Three has made no attempt to alleviate my suspicion. I'll get to the reasons why...

So, we make our way to the location and I had a brief word with Rich and Miranda about the scene though I really wanted to read through the scene with everyone so that we had the scene down before shooting as no-one had met each other/rehearsed etc.

About an hour later, I call Three. Or at least I thought I was calling Three. No. Turns out that the phone he called me from didn't even belong to him, it belonged to Dave. Dave told me that he couldn't see Three on the internet (?) so he must be on his way to the shoot. He also let me know that Three wasn't feeling well and gave me Three's actual number. I find it incredibly hard to believe that Dave had no idea where Three was considering Three had used his phone an hour before - they were clearly occupying the same space! I should also mention the whole 'not feeling well' thing - when Three called me from Dave's phone at ten, he didn't sound well but it was clearly through some some afflicted method.

So, at that point, it's starting to look ropey but to us at the time, it still seemed like he was en route so all might be well.

Maybe about 45 mins later, I call Three's number as given to me by Dave. The phone kept going straight to voicemail. Dave had mentioned that Three didn't have any credit - one thing I assumed a 'professional' actor would need was instant access to a phone but what do I know?

But through all of this, we thought, well, he said he could be there at twelve so Wayne left the set to be at the station at the rescheduled time. He returned on his own. My guess? The guy passed out shortly after speaking to me at ten. Again, in the interests of fairness, I should state that all our phones were off for shooting as they were interfering with the audio but I was constantly checking AND we didn't start shooting until Wayne returned at something like half twelve so if Three had arrived later - there wasn't anything we could do about that but when I checked my phone during breaks, I had no voicemails or text messages.

But, for anyone that may think I'm being harsh, what happened next, or didn't happen is the most telling thing. And this is why I can quite confidently say that the guy is a waste of space with no respect for others. I appreciate that things can go wrong, for all the other pull outs we've had - even the ones at 3am the day of the shoot, I've accepted them and not gone into one like this. Things can unfortunately happen. And if his mother got taken ill or something similar, of course I'll understand. And I'd also accept that getting back to me might not be the first thing on your mind. I fully get that and this is the thing that irritates me - if you know me, you'll know I'm the most reasonable guys going. I expect that not everyone's going to be on my page. I expect things to go wrong. But, even if the worst thing in the world happened to you, something that was so devastating that you weren't physically or emotionally able to let someone you'd made commitments with know you couldn't make it - would you let them know as soon as you were able? Or would you go into Facebook and delete the director as a friend and remove the film as a 'like'? Yep. I've yet to hear from Three but he still had time to do those two things. Which speaks volumes. And that's why I KNOW I'm right on this one. If he wants to reply to this and try and justify himself, fine. But I don't think anything can explain how deleting us from Facebook came before a quick note to say you were sick etc. So yes, I call BS and will forever more. Thanks! Funny thing as well - a quick internet search on the dude suggests that I'm not the first person that he's done this to and I'm tempted to contact one of the directors to get their version of their misadventures with Three.

Apologies for the long winded and fairly long piece there but this blog is about sharing everything on the production, good or bad. And as I mentioned earlier, I gave no names, so no foul.

This did spark another thought in my head but I think it deserves a seperate blog - something I will get up quickly whilst this one is still fresh in everyone's minds.

Richard and Miranda - sorry you had to share your blog with a waster - as I said, you guys were awesome, I haven't laughed as much as I did Saturday in ages and I really enjoyed just sitting around with you guys, lamenting the absence of Three. Thank you so much for everything you put in. From dealing with the no show and the subsequent rejig of the scene (I forgot to mention that earlier - the scene was ever so slightly adjusted but not as much as you'd think) to arctic conditions. It should've been the worst shoot day of the entire production but you guys saw to that!

Jenny and Wayne - very, very nearly there! Thanks again!

And an unexpected mention - but a worthy one. A while back, me and a few others met a magician (I'm loathe to say that word as I know he does quite a bit more) who we really liked and met again when we booked him for a party. When I wrote this script, I wanted it to be fun and silly and meeting the magician, Robert Bone, was fresh in mind at the time (I was actually probably about a day or two away from committing the script to paper). So I felt inspired to throw a magician or wannabe magician into the film and have a magic trick somehow be part of his death. Rob, you inspired this scene, character and his demise and for that, you deserve a mention! For more info on Robert Bone, visit his website: http://www.robertbone.co.uk/

So - photos should be live by the time this goes up - check them out!

And don't forget that we're still running the poll to decide what sandwich a character asks for in the film! Go here to have your say: http://apps.facebook.com/opinionpolls/poll.php?pid=1284882628

I'll be back with a different blog in the next day or two.

Until then remember that if they fly, you die...

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