Throwing your dollies out of the pram

Well let me begin by saying I am completely shattered! Etiquette has now wrapped and what an adventure it has been! I could do an epic blog about the shoot which goes on for (p)ages and ages, but I’ve decided to break it into a number of smaller entries instead.

I’ll begin this one by picking up from the problems we faced in the last blog, finding a sound-recordist and a dolly slider.

Firstly with the sound-recordist, it got to Thursday (2 days before the shoot) and I  fired off a frankly obscene number of emails off to anyone I could find. It was pretty much a first-come first-serve affair. Naturally pretty much all were either rejections due to the lack of notice or “I’ll come if you pay me”. The second option did sound rather tempting at times. However as the rest of the cast and crew (ourselves included) weren’t getting paid, how fair would this have been? We thought it very important to stick to our guns, I was even beginning to think “I’ll do it myself worst case”. Then a few rays of light came, the first in the form of Hannah Shaw-Williams, a sound-recordist who by chance lived only a few miles down the road from the location. The only caveat being she was unavailable on Sunday so could only make the first day of our shoot. Job offered! Then Peter Hudston followed shortly afterwards, he could only do the Sunday. Perfect! So the film ended up using the skills of two separate sound-recordists with completely different ways of working. Hannah was constantly entertaining us with her sardonic humour. Peter was quieter but had the harder of the two days to record. If he had a catch-phrase it would be “It will add to the ambience/texture”, due to elements completely beyond our control. These two fought many foes from water pipes, wind, overhead telephone wires, fridge-freezers, lawn-mowers, skateboarders, cockerels, roosters, tweeting birds on the chimney, domestic animals and planes, amongst other things. I’m only amazed that the Sunday Service at the church down the road didn’t cause us any disruption whatsoever (which was something I did factor in sound-wise).

Our sound recordists

The Dolly issues sadly proved somewhat more problematic. We wanted a dolly to do a particular sliding shot repetition for a montage sequence. I sourced many places, but they were either “unavailable” or ridiculously expensive. We even toyed with the idea of buying one at expense we knew we couldn’t cover. Whilst sourcing a few last-minute props from Charity shops, I saw some film-makers shooting a music video in the street. They had a slider. I got a brief look at what they could achieve and I was sold, but sadly when I asked “Any chance of renting it this weekend?” it was met with a rather abrupt “NO”. Worth a try, to be fair, I’d say the same to a complete stranger off the street! As there were no sliders, I started to look for a larger dolly kit. Things seemingly started to look up when I contacted OFVM to rent their Wally Dolly track. I don’t really want to dwell on this matter too much. The first time I tried to rent equipment from OFVM was for Gardening and other crimes, they didn’t even bother to respond to my requests. This time they did, the kit was available for £30 a day. Brilliant –  I thought. I had to collect on Friday at 17:30. After no contact for over a day I received an email asking me for my contact numbers. So I sent these over. I was visiting the location to drop off some kit we needed for the weekend shoot on Friday afternoon. The traffic was terrible, but I battled upstream to get to the OFVM offices early. No one was home, fair enough! So I waited. Waited. And waited some more feeling all the more uncomfortable as time went by. Just at the point I was beginning to lose faith, a car turns up and out get two chaps. I introduce myself to the older guy and say “Hi, I’m here to collect a dolly for my shoot tomorrow”. Then I get the charming opening response of “No chance, sorry! I no longer have any time for dealing with you”. Turns out he never received my email (which is clearly dated and timed in my “Sent items” folder even now). The chap was pretty headstrong, there was no way I was going to convince him otherwise – so I said “fine!” and walk away trying to remain professional  (admittedly at the time seething by the fact this was not down to my error and the complete waste of effort/time it caused us). I’m not entirely sure if I’ve just been unlucky. I must stress that everyone else I’ve dealt with at OFVM have been wonderful, so I would still fully endorse checking out their events, courses, mailing lists and skills database. Anyway, getting back on track (bad choice of wording I’ll admit), the upshot was “no dolly”.

Later that evening I had a final production meeting with Sherilee and some other crew members when I explained what had happened. We decided the money we had set-aside for this should go into making the cast and crew comfortable. To be honest I feel this was a blessing! We dropped our dolly shots which would have taken a fair chunk of time to set-up, it also meant the actors could do more dynamic improv. It also meant we were able to reward our fantastic team who were donating their time to be a part of the project. Seemed a  complete Win-Win situation in the end!

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