Friday, 30 October 2009

Day 8: It's a WRAP

Most assuredly, that is it.

We were all up at 4am and in Purple Haze (that describes the location and our collective mood) one last time, to finish off the last few scenes of CrimeFighters, two of which I'd hastily scribbled on a scrap of paper to accommodate a location change (this was to have been filmed in Borders but we used up our time there) and given to the actors this morning to learn and do.

Jenni, who'd now done 2 weeks filming on this and another production without a break, had a smashing time...

...and Paul decided he'd create a sit-on dolly:

...while sporting a flat cap. Yes folks, we've reached THAT stage of the production.

Today was pretty hilarious actually, I think once we got onto the second scene of the day and realised we were going to finish the film, fatigue gave way to fits of giggles and stupidity as the weight gradually lifted from the stress and anxiety of filmmaking.

So, after wrapping Debbie, then Paul and Georgina for the movie, we went to Bootham Park to film Emma and Harry's last scene, at which point Paul wished we were making a colour film since the autumn leaves were so pretty.

A couple of hours later and that was it, we were done, and here's what cast and crew we had left:

We few, we precious few, we band of buggered. The wrap usually comes with a whimper rather than a bang, and until January, all will be quiet in Camp CrimeFighters as we tinker, edit, sound mix and generally faff. Oh, and party like we've never partied before.

Well done everybody on the cast and crew, you can all be terrifically smug with yourselves now, we've all just done something awesome :-D

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Days 6 & 7: Wi' Crammin

We have one goal now; to finish this film, this week. And so we shall, because through the fatigue and the insomnia, the madness and the stress, we are all determined to get to the end. The crew and cast were on top form as we got shot after shot, scene after scene. Because it's now or never.

We filmed outside El Piano and on the Shambles, two scenes from very early on in the film which we've saved til last. Weird. But those two locations were both a joy to film in, thanks to the generosity of the staff of various restaurants and businesses letting us use their power and generally being delightful. Thanks to John, Jonic and Sally.

After that, and if someone had said we'd be having a FOURTH night by York Minster I would have punched them out, we returned to get a few last shots of that sequence inclusing a massive crane shot:

Just look at this bad baby.

Wrapped at 3am and realised that's the last time we have to do that shit. WOO! Kudos to the Dean Court Hotel who have the best manager and night porter in the world, David and Derek. I'm going to owe most of York a bottle of wine or two after this...

The next day we went back to the Minster... although from a safe distance on the rooftops:

As we're doing thanks, The Habit get kudos on this one. After that it was back to City Screen basement to do some green screen shots, which are awesome fun and about as stressful as putting on a hat, which is most welcome at this stage.

So you just shoot the actor against the wall, light them all nice like, and you can just stick a background in later.

At this point the crew started asking why we hadn't just done the whole film like this. Next one, I promise.

Tomorrow... the end.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Day 5: "My mind is going, Dave... I can feel it..."

There are two photos that sum up tonight's shoot, a final return to the pub:

1. Fatigue. Everyone was utterly bushed tonight after last night's monster Minster finale, and we were faced with another long dusk til dawn shoot crammed with work, and:

2. Insanity. We are all starting to go crazymental and just want to get the film done now. As usual, cast and crew were fast and professional but we're all exhausted and need to battle through the next couple of days.

Thankfully, the next two or three days contain little bits of scenes and shots that just need to be set up and crossed off, so here's hoping we've got it in us. Onward...

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Day 4: Revenge of the Finale

The night everyone had been dreading for weeks turned out, unsurprisingly, to be the hardest day of the whole shoot so far; the finale showdown scene by York Minster.

So it didn't take 85 hours but it felt like it, the time ticking away from 6 on Monday night to 6 on Tuesday morning. Various crew and cast, including me, have what we hope isn't swine flu, and the CrimeFighters had to stand in the most exposed, windiest, chilliest spot in York between midnight and 6am dressed in t-shirts and lycra.

But in retrospect it could have been much worse; I'd been dreading the cold, the rain, drunken townies, all that. And it was only cold in the last few hours, it only drizzled for the last hour of the shoot, and the only passers by we had were more drunkenly interested than disruptive. Apart from the taxi driver who shouted 'Dickheads!' at us during a drive-by.

The crew were totally brilliant tonight and carried us through the tough shoot. Paul's comprehensive shot list was adhered to and crossed off methodically, and despite several fuse trippings and loss of lights, we powered on through the fatigue and cold and got the scene. Jenni and Paul only took a few moments to rest:

This week we have done so well to get nearly all the shots we planned, but there have been a couple of instances where we've had say, seven camera setups planned to cover a few lines of dialogue, and because of time have had to merge them into the same shot. That's what got us through tonight, and I don't think you could say we compromised the finale scene at all, bar a few shots we had to drop. Considering there are over 100 camera setups in that 10-ish minute scene, we've done amazingly.

We're getting there, but tonight is another high-density shoot in the Old Starre Inne, during which we have to line up the shots and knock em down. But at least Day 4 is over. Phew.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Day 3: Extreme Violence on a Sunday

This was the first time I've been to church on Sunday since I was about 12. St. Martin's is such a cool building. The belfry looks like something designed by Anton Furst for the first Batman movie:

We weren't filming up there though, we were in the main church for some fight pickups in which several obliging gentlemen got the snot kicked out of them by the CrimeFighters...

During some spectacular fight moves, Debbie managed to actually punch Ryan in the face a bit, and after 12 hours of dolly tracks, hazers, light bulbs popping, malfunctioning generators and some kung fu, we wrapped for this location, which is a very nice feeling.

Tomorrow is the night everyone's not-so-secretly been dreading; the finale of the finale, the Minster scene, which we've already shot 2 nights' worth of footage for, comprising 75 out of 100 shots. Tomorrow we return to finish the job. Or die trying.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Day 2: It Never Rains... when you need it

But when you don't, it does. Actually we were pretty lucky today, we just managed to squeeze a whole scene in before the heavens opened, but we had this nifty gazebo thingy to shelter us.

This was at 9am and we all had second day fatigue, where the insanity that carries you through the process hasn't quite set in and you just feel TIRED. A lovely scene by the river with Emma and Harry though, see how much Emma enjoyed it:

After escaping to the City Screen basement - during which, annoyingly, it stopped raining and went all sunny - we filmed some cool dolly shots from earlier scenes, and revisited a previously shot scene to get some extra moments, then headed back to the alley behind my house to get the rest of last night's rain scene. During which we had to simulate the rain. Oh, irony. Oh and we tortured Paul (Pip) by making him fall in puddles for an hour.

All told, not bad for a 15 hour day. Tomorrow we're going to church. But not to pray; to stage an awesome fight scene. We are such heathens.

Friday, 23 October 2009

CrimeFighters Pickups Day 1: House Invasion!

If I wasn't quite feeling like we were about to start shooting the film again yesterday, I certainly am today:


As I said to Paul, it felt a little bit like that scene in E.T where their home is suddenly full of big scary equipment, wires running everywhere and people in every room and corridor. Though thankfully they didn't feel the need to envelop the house in a huge plastic bubble.

Today we filmed bits and pieces of 4 different scenes, and I chose my house because it was a nice gentle, convenient way to start the shoot. A couple of single shots indoors then outside to the alley (again) to film inserts from a scene we shot back in August, and extra shots from a rain-soaked scene we didn't quite finish last time.

Got some excellent shots and at the end of the night, having simulated rain for 2 hours on a nice clear night and soaked most of the cast and crew, we wrapped for the night... and it started raining. Ho ho.

And so I write this on morning 2 of the shoot, having had about 4 hours crappy sleep, my head full of thoughts and worries about the day/week ahead, and we've got about a 14 hour shoot day today. Yeah, NOW it feels like we're filming.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Twas the Day Before Shooting... Again

Suddenly it's the day before we start shooting CrimeFighters again, and I can't wait.

What better way to get up to speed than a day of 2nd unit stuff. After some panic about where all the costumes were...

(yep, found the masks) we got some close-up stonework for the opening title sequence...

...then went right up the Minster to get some aerial stuff for various scenes. And I got mild vertigo. But it was worth it.

Pretty, huh. We'll be filming down there on Monday night, oh hurrah.

Paul and Ian getting some lovely shots from halfway up the Minster.

I'm very excited about cracking on with the film and let's hope finishing it by this time next week. Tomorrow, one backyard and a hosepipe. To be continued...

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Webcams are awesome...

...when one of your best and missed friends is halfway around the world... see Zomblog fans, Hannah's not dead, she's just hiding!

Also, I had this 'biscuit' the other day in a tea room. It's not a biscuit, it's a three-storey glory!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

CrimeFighters Second Unit Shoot

Second Unit is all the stuff in a film that generally involves no actors and nothing much happening, but is essential to the film. Things like atmosphere shots of streets, sunsets, people, buildings and so forth.

In the case of CrimeFighters the Second Unit list consists of lots of shots from, and of, CCTV cameras around York, watching everything. So, lots of POV images of people milling about, landmarks, atmospheres. That's the easy stuff.

Here's Paul lining up a shot...

Nice view, huh? Rooftops are great, it's cool being on top of the world, so to speak, seeing your town from a different perspective.

Next week we'll be doing a few more complicated shots like a cutaway in a bookshop that isn't really in a bookshop, someone watching a TV image of footage we've already filmed, a few buildings and streets looking pretty/menacing/pretty menacing, and various other shots that are pretty dull but necessary.

Even in the pickups, which start next week, the shoot has become more about 'crossing shots off a list' than ever. It doesn't sound very creative but that comes in the way you shoot and cut these images together. And the jigsaw is gradually taking shape. But today was also cool because we got to work out new angles in scenes we haven't shot yet, so it all feels fresh and new, and I'm excited about making the film again.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

CrimeFighters Teaser Posters.

For a while now I've wanted to do a series of character posters to advertise CrimeFighters, and they were so much fun to do I've started doing them for the crew as well, since they're all characters. More to come.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Compulsive Notebook Collecting & Inspiring Things

As you can see from the below picture, I collect notebooks. I don't know how to describe the feeling of buying a new notebook other than it feels like being really organised, but it also brings with it the idea that I might fill this one with amazing ideas that wipe the floor with all my previous ideas. Although TP suggests I should call it 'The Illusion of Control'. Him better with words than wot me am. That about sums it up, in fact that sums filmmaking up.

Sadly, it's just because I have a problem. The small black moleskine-esque notebook on the bottom right has been going since 2004 and is quite interesting as it contains notes for the first feature I was going to make but didn't (it was called ReInvention), then a road movie which became BandWagons, then ideas for Zomblog and also lots of short film ideas that haven't yet happened. There are storyboards and scribbles and promise and ideas and so forth. And it's still only half full after 5 years. The others aren't even close to half full. And yesterday I found myself craving another notebook, then got this little lot together and decided to start my own stationery shop.

Or, maybe not. I did decide to write a list of things that are currently inspiring me, as this kind of thing helps me to gather my thoughts and think about the creative process which I find endlessly fascinating.

Brand new Notebooks (in case you weren't sure)
Swapping music and films with friends
Seeing two matinee films in the afternoon
Discovering a new band recommended by a friend
Meeting new people
Falling in and out of love


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Writing: an emotional outlet.

There was a time when I was first writing scripts - about ten years ago - when I had never made a film, and had this vague, blurry notion about where all these writings would end up.

Then came the many scripts I would write that never made it anywhere, because they weren't ready, or because I had no idea about how to go about even starting making a film. And then once I had it in my mind that I was going to make a film, I was driven towards turning the words into reality. Which is how BandWagons got coughed into existence. I had made a start.

So on days like this, when I'm inspired by a rainy day and a good movie - (500) Days Of Summer - and a pretty face and all my friendships with girls, it's pretty amazing that when I sit down in a coffee shop to scribble a few pages of notes, I know that one day they WILL actually be made into a film. This one in particular is slated to be directed by Mr. Tall Paul, who's Director of Photography on CrimeFighters and has flattered me by asking me to write a short for him to direct next year. So I want to do a good job on it.

It's about a boy who has a lot of female friends but no romance in his life, and yes, could just perhaps be semi-autobiographical. It's a pretty amazing feeling, even when frustrated or lonely or sad or happy - or all these things at the same time - to have an outlet for it all. Yay writing. And yay all the great girls I know.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

It's October!

And suddenly it's three weeks until CrimeFighters pickups, four weeks until the Zomblog finale on Hallowe'en, and I move house, and everything needs to be done. But it's okay, I like being busy.

Here are a few October deadlines:

9th: Rough screening of CrimeFighters for me and some of the crew.
15th: Foley and sound work for CrimeFighters, as well as 2nd Unit stuff like shots around town with no actors. All storyboards and prep done for the CFs pickups week.
20th: Zomblog Season 2 Finale edited and ready to test screen.
23rd: Pickups begin for CrimeFighters.
30th: LAST day of CrimeFighters, let's hope we get everything...
31st: Zomblog Hallowe'en screening plus Season 3 zombie footage at the York Zombie Walk.

Better get on with it, hadn't I...