The charming couple

I’ll begin by saying that all of the cast and crew on Etiquette were a complete dream to work with. We felt like a cosy small family whilst  filming together in the beautiful countryside location (we also lucked out on the weather). One of the big draws about the location was that there was a house we could film in, and across from this was a decent self-contained out-house where everyone could sit and relax. It housed make-up, costumes and also had a shower, small kitchen,  + TV area. This helped relax cast and crew alike. Before we even found the location Sherilee and I agreed that we were looking for a cast of people who would gel with us and be easy-going. And much like the weather we lucked out! Today I’ll write a little bit about Alex Babic and Natalie Hughes who play the central characters in the piece Trevor and Joanna.

Alex Babic

Alex is clearly not actually like Trevor in real life! Well actually now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps there was a tiny bit of Trevor’s personality which peeked through from time to time (sorry Alex, although to be fair the same also holds true for me). The interesting thing about Alex was how much he loved comedy (his timing was impeccable) and also how much he loved to improvise. He was constantly making us laugh with his impromptu performance, when on the set he just became Trevor. He could play the same scene over and it would be still be funny and different to the take before. He was constantly evolving. If this had been my first film – I suspect the very idea of this would have been my worst nightmare (that film needed a slightly static feel about it however). This time, being a comedy I was really keen to push the other-way and actors loose without holding them to the script! This for Alex resulted in a more dynamic and unique take on the character which played to his strengths. I believe this can only benefit the end production. Now if my last film taught me one thing – it’s that you occasionally might need to factor sport in to keep some of the cast and crew happy (it was the Oxford Boat Race last time). This time it was the Rugby World Cup final (New Zealand v France) and there was no way I was ever going to pull Alex away from the TV until the Haka was over. Alex was extremely easy to get on with. It was fascinating to hear him talking about the motion-capture work he did on the latest (and extremely well received) Batman game – Arkham City. He did some motion capture (see photo below) and voice work for The Penguin character and also a bit for Batman.

Alex in Mo-Cap mode

It also became apparent there was a lot of commonality between us, both with family/film-making and also a love of comedy+real-ale. As a bonus we both live in Oxfordshire, so I’m hoping we will remain in regular contact!

Natalie Hughes

Natalie much like Alex was similarly extremely easy-going and also a joy to be around. She hit her marks flawlessly throughout both days. Nat and Alex had concocted a few additional details for Trevor and Joanna. It seemed Joanna’s patience was wearing extremely thin with Trevor and the couple are at breaking point. I particularly like the way Nat incorporated this is, after she said it I could see the transition from reasonably calm to complete impatience in her scenes (pitched perfectly because we weren’t shooting in sequence). I’m curious to see how this all translates in the version. The photos we took of Alex and Nat together for prop purposes the weekend early made them look rather a rather convincing and fetching couple. The character of Joanna also had the highest number of costume changes to do. The sort-of-joke being that Trevor would wear the same “comfy” clothes he is used to the whole way through, and wouldn’t even bother to change for a social event. One particularly nice aspect about the weekend was getting to spend some time “chilling-out” with Natalie after the first day of shooting. She stayed over-night with Diego, Jim and myself to avoid excessive travel that evening/the following morning. This gave us the chance to all chat a bit more. I was particularly intrigued when she said the names of one of her acting friends. As a Spooks fan, I instantly recognised the name, an actor I greatly admire, I had no idea he was so tall! Nat and Diego also enlightened Jim and I to delights (?) of X-Factor. I must confess I’m not really a fan – but even so I must confess it was a good laugh and I think this was solely down to the company we were keeping. It also transpired that Nat had lived in South Africa for a few years (which I told her to mention to Sherilee who is South African). I have to say my that much of the cast and crew on this film made me feel “a very static” Brit!

Alex and Natalie on-location

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