I bet you don’t get challenges like that in a studio films!!… Well, after that Herculian deed, I can happily say that the team’s bond stretched to the maximum but never broke, in fact it became stronger. Time against us meant we had no free seconds to argue, bicker, fight or be lazy. The unanimous collective was ‘let’s get it In the can’. Minimal compromises in the style of ‘ We’ll fix it in the post’ but again, vital when you’re on a roll.
Of course we had our fair share of excitement and drama.
Freezing conditions, No Hot water, Rats through the walls (they were very polite as they stopped during filming and only came out at night), Continuity girl falling down with a kidney infection and staying in hospital for 4 days, Set designer cutting off her thumb and heading to A&E , Gaffer’s father passed away, Fire Brigades, Black outs, Thunderstorms bringing down our green screen and tarpaulin, Landlord barging in unannounced a few times and causing us to stop filming for hours, a War against the clock but none of us lost their Sparkle and Smile. We were too cool to be deterred.
Not a day went by without sharp material for the ‘making of’. There was a day we were missing gaffer and continuity and had production assistants taking over. However, we did not fail. We did not budge. We carried on with even more fervor and attention to detail and everybody from PD to actors to runners had their eyes and mind on alert overdrive.
I kept reminding myself that this is my ship and as a captain I must sail it well, positively and with encouragement despite the stormy interludes. During the waves I must keep a tighter hold and must be stronger and even more inspiring. I kept repeating that to myself all the time – the little free time I had I mean! I learned a lot about myself/ collective psychology/natural leadership/group dynamics. Humour was my ally. A funny set with a relaxed atmosphere was vital to me. Humour helped us a lot. Especially when some scenes were too heavy to carry without it. Of course it’s all a balance. There are times you just let things roll as they are, silently film without telling anyone, or whisper another take, while the actor is pouring his eyes out in deliverance.
The ‘spirit of the shoot.’
The first 10 days we were shooting just Rich and Woman. Very intimate, closed set. We shot the love scenes first day, as I set out to shoot it linearly because of the conditions and timing.
Ask me now and I will tell you ‘ Best not to start with sex scenes right away”. The chemistry was developing, but there was a natural level of holding back because of the intensity and novelty of it all. They had 10 people staring and every move and word had to make those ten people happy! And the bloody hair popping out unexpectedly!! I watched the rushes and knew I had 80% of what I wanted. It was too early to plan it again and that decision had to be taken at the very end but deep down I knew both could do better.
We did manage to re-shoot the love scenes.
There was a good deal of honesty and letting go the second time around because both Chris and Miranda knew each other so well.
Davie and Chris fighting: The film explores male friendship through testing times. Freddie’s role being a benchmark for moral dilemma.
1) After the second get-in the numbers of actors slowly descending on location started increasing. The intimate dynamic between the two leads had to be stretched to allow variety and adjustment. The language they so vividly established around their details had to be preserved while faced with further eagerness and challenges.
2) Crowd scene: One of the longest days and personally the most fulfilling because it had it all. Directing crowds is my favourite and directing such a great crowd – that gave its heart and soul to it – has touched me beyond anything. I have directed a variety of groups in the past: young children, amateurs, troubled teenagers, therapy drama adults, professional and privileged young adults as well kids with learning difficulties. Every group has its gifts and from the raw acting you can shape some incredible performances especially when the only point of reference for that individual is an emotional click. No matter who they are or where they are, one thing is certain: that they feed off each other. That the buzz they get from looking at the person opposite increases their drive and search. They are freer to express themselves collectively than standing alone opposite a crowd. The letting go and loss of fear and self consciousness is faster when buried inside a mass. Talking about peer pressure. Healthy antagonism. It’s great. It’s great for me , the director, because I can shape that human form into whatever I need the scene to be. There are no holds bar here and the bolder the better. They seem to have enjoyed that. In the space of a day, likes begin to click, friendships start to build and the effort becomes pure fun, some of them even offering timid suggestions! My lovely extras came back to even help me clean up, how cool and unheard of is that? You don’t find that level of loyalty and dedication often! (photos of Martin here).