Calm before the storm?

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and it’s getting more hectic by the day now. Am I really shooting another film this weekend?

Last weekend I had a rare break to see local film-maker Philip Hind and his screening of The Ultimate Survivor.

This (if you can’t be bothered to click on the YouTube link above) is a documentary about The Ultimate Picture Palace, one of the oldest and most unique cinemas in the country. It was an amazing debut effort, which I was glad to finally see – in part because I knew Philip before-hand. I have been holding off seeing this at other festivals because I specifically wanted to go to the screening to support our amazing local library at Kennington (which has been threatened with closure). It was marvellous to see how the community was pulling together to create this event. It was also lovely that a reception drink + pop-corn were provided as part of the entrance fee. After seeing the film, I stayed behind and helped Phil pack up and we went across the road for a pint in The Tandem to discuss the film. It was amazing to hear how he made this with such a low-budget and fascinating to hear him talk candidly about the parts he wasn’t entirely happy about (which I hadn’t even noticed until they were pointed out). This all put me in the perfect mood for the weekend’s other big event: the pre-shooting production meeting with script read-through!

Despite many of the cast and crew (myself included) discovering that Oxford is a total nightmare to park in (even on a Sunday with the new scandalous parking charges), this all went rather well. Our entire cast were there, as was Sherilee, Production stills photographer Ben Ewers and DoP Adam Evans. This aims of the meeting were:

1. To get everyone acquainted with each other before the shoot
2. To get some further photos, some of which may be required as props in the film
3. To go over costume looks for each of the characters
4. To go over the timings/locations for the weekend shoot
5. To do the script read through

We all got on very well, there was a nice laid-back atmosphere with plenty of banter. It turned out that two of the actors (Tracey and Mike) had already worked together before, unknown to others (including me). I really can’t thank Ben enough, he was working tirelessly throughout the whole meeting taking prop photos, promotional shots, costume shots, behind the scenes shots. And then we got to the script read-through part. This was actually a moment of clarity, the point where all the things we had been talking about for the past couple of months were starting to feel very real.  The reactions and mannerism of our actors made the whole piece come to life rather than just being words on a page. Many laughs, some wonderful improvisation (which will benefit the project) – I have to say it feels like we have an amazing cast in place!

Etiquette Cast members

It was also good to meet and chat with Adam Evans in person. I feel he is going to help the look of the film no end and has come up with some great shooting ideas. One of the defining moments in the story will be handled with a few carefully choreographed dolly movements, exciting! You can find some further behind the scenes shots from this on the Ferny Films Facebook page, please remember to “like” us if you want more bite-sized updates!

So now you might be forgiven for thinking everything is going swimmingly. Well, not entirely. It’s all crisis management. Firstly the aforementioned Dolly is proving a pain to try to source and could end up doubling our budget if not significantly more. Also our sound-recordist has dropped out at the last-minute with little warning – this hasn’t helped. So in between Sherilee and myself trying to organise the weekend shoot, we are also working out how we can plug these type of problems which occur. Par for the course at this point really!

Just a final unsubtle reminder, if you are able to help out in any way, please get in touch via our IndieGoGo campaign page (especially if you are a sound-recordist or dolly/slider owner who is free this weekend – or you know one!).  Next update is likely to deal with how the actual shoot went and what compromises we had to make. Until next time!


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