The Post Production Phase
So, the main shoot was a slight disaster in getting what I wanted on screen, a situation that Christopher Nolan never had to go through but then again he had money, lots of money! I just had third party camera insurance and some travel expenses.
I have a background in editing and always enjoy the challenges of cutting but this is way beyond what I expected or signed up for AND THIS WAS MY FILM. Why? Most of the projects I have worked on have a decent budget and big crew and pretty much the entire script filmed from various angles over multiple days. My film didn’t. Also I wasn’t as prepared to deal with everything like that little nugget called continuity.
After the first viewing of the rushes I noticed the lack of continuity of the scenes involved as we had to rush through the script due to the extreme cold which would depress any mere mortal. I have all the shots that I need to build something but it’s not the vision I had in my head but hey nobody really gets everything they need, do they?
Now, if had to farm out this material to an editor I would have plainly been screwed as working for peanuts, one expects at a minimum, footage that looks good (which it was) acted well (which it was) and cuts together easily (ermmm….). Nobody wants do be bogged down in fixing something unless you are getting full pay or you have that Steve Jobs style of enthusiasm of saying magic is in there. Coppola was great at keeping his post staff motivated during his darkest moments of Apocalypse Now and he did well out of it. I can now watch Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse and say I lived the dream!
Luckily as I am editing this I can find ways around the footage and even better I am going in an eccentric direction, which is putting my film in an interesting position. If all went well during the shoot it would have been a nicely edited film like so many other shorts but I have a chance of being different. I allow myself the chance to experiment in my darkened room.
I am back on track and enjoying the problem solving, as that is what I do best.
I got a chance to see Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic The Master projected in 70mm at the Odeon West End and since I haven’t seen a proper celluloid projection in some years I decided to give nostalgia a go.
As anyone who is a real cinephile I was constantly in the cinema during the 90’ and noughties and also catching retro favorites in the BFI but lately it has been harder to catch these flicks on the big screen now that nearly everything is digital. Also I rarely go to the cinema due to my parenting circumstances and the poor pedigree of cinematic drek currently littering the multiplex.
Also I edited one short film on a Steenbeck, actually cutting the film and it was truly amazing. New digital editors will never experience such a thing except in a museum.
Back to the film, money paid and sitting in my seat, I got excited when the Weinstein logo came on but was shocked at how blurry and slightly out of focus film is. It was weird to forget what it felt like compared to digital projection. There was even a track line on the film, which made me all nostalgic about battered prints of yesteryear and those amazing cigarette burns that signify a print change! Awesome! It was not the super exciting experience I was expecting but nonetheless a fantastic film and a novelty to watch it in a pre digital format was still there.
The worst part is that I was more blown away by the clean look of Skyfall even though the two films are polar opposites but film verses digital and digital is here to stay for my eyeball tastes seeing as you have Alexa and Red cameras. Film for me now is pretty much the BFI old film screenings which I intend to go back to you because there is nothing like the big screen and celluloid and battered prints.
Film is dead! Long live film!
The title is based on the temperature in which my filmmaking burned. More of that later so let me start at the beginning.
I decided to direct a short film so I can push to achieve two things. Develop my writing, have material I can edit with and eventually have something I can show to the movers and shakers. In actual fact my Cameraman friend convinced me I could do it and his encouragement pushed me to give it a try.
Initially I found the setting up daunting as I have never had to produce/ direct but you know what? It was initially easier than I thought. My cameraman friend showed me a suitable location in Fitzrovia, which was perfect. Next was permission to shoot on that location. I went to the Film London website and to my amazement they say “as long as you are not causing an obstruction you don’t need permission to shoot”. For added security you can pay 25-75 quid and have a notice to shoot in case a concerned passer by walks by and wants to be a pain in the ass. The note is not enforceable by the way, just an act of legitimacy so I didn’t bother getting it. Public Liability Insurance (PLI). Need to get one in case a person dies on set but where do I get one? I am a member of BECTU (a British union dealing in Post Production) and automatically I have PLI. Surprisingly sorted!
My cameraman/ friend supplied the kit so next up is actors and sound crew. Ads put out in castingcallpro and mandy.com got me connected to the people I needed. All on board and ready to meet up in Fitzrovia for the shoot day. That is where the easy part ended.
As the shoot date loomed I thought I was prepared, I had a fair idea of what I wanted and rehearsed with the actors before the shoot. The weather said sunny but that was only the bright spot (sort of). It was 8 degrees and bitingly cold (hence the title). One actor turned up in a blazer shirt and tie (in keeping with the character) and would suffer the consequences later.
I set up the first scene and expected the actors to run through the whole 10 minutes, which was a big mistake as it was asking a lot. Where was the logic in my head where we break it up into short pages and make it easier for the actors? The actors kept flubbing their lines due to the short rehearsal window I had. This isn’t theatre where you have weeks of run through. The shot list I had in my head (the worst place to store such information!) was falling apart so I had and a lot of improvising had to happen.
The weather really started to bite and slow down momentum. Three hours in and I did 4 pages out of 10… oops. Break for lunch and hope we shoot the rest. After lunch it started to rain even though the 2 respected weather sites said it was sunny (liars!) so the rest of the shoot was sheltering until the light rain stopped and continue until it came back. Never have I looked at the sky for two reasons in my life and don’t get me started on how I was going to get around the continuity. At one point I blurted out that it was my Lost in La Mancha moment, which got a chuckle.
By 3pm the cold just bit the actors who were unable to say the lines properly due to the intense cold I just rushed to get the lines said in extreme close up so I had *something * to cut with. I was line reading them just so I could get all the words filmed and don’t know as of this post whether it cuts together.
Thank god I am editing it because if I had to present these rushes I would have gotten a disheartening response in terms of what I can use. At least I can squirrel away and get something out there and get inventive!
I met a commissioning editor the other day….
I went to the RTS sponsored Speed Date The Comedy Gurus where you get a 3 minute session to pitch an idea to the actual heads of the channels. To people like me who have sent shorts and ideas to the established companies that sit on piles of other people’s genius ideas it is a revelation to actually see how they operate when it comes to what they want for their relevant strand.
My first 3 min speed chat was with Robert Popper and foolishly I tried to pitch two ideas whereas I should have concentrated on one. I came across like Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now with my stream of consciousness speed talk, which was ultimately didn’t win anyone over but he did give me pointed notes on where I was going wrong.
My first pitch, Microphone Fiends, is a semi autobiographical story of 2 people in dead end jobs who decide to try stand-up on a whim and suddenly get drawn into the comedy world. If I were a commissioner I wouldn’t find that unique as comedy and stand-up ideas are everywhere and I realise that people will think that I’m jumping on the currently trendy bandwagon. To be clear for my conscience, it is an ensemble character piece I have been writing for a year and a half and not riding on any trends. The stand-up is just a backdrop to propel the two people’s friendship and the comics they meet. It’s about the eccentrics and the seediness of London’s nightlife. Also I know Ben Miller did a film called Huge which people would unfairly bundle together. My idea (as I kept saying) is a modern Nashville. These people don’t have time to sift through a script (life is too short) so I really should have summarised it to stand out which I have learned.
The second idea was a 6 part show called Fear and Loathing in IT, about an ex-pat American hedonist living in London and working for a large nebulous IT industry. Instantly I was told that was a bad idea as it has the words IT in it and easy connotations to the popular channel 4 series. Again my idea is poles apart from The IT Crowd but in terms of the pitch it could have been better to distance it from a popular brand.
Needless to say for the next two pitches I concentrated on one idea and sounded less demented (i could be wrong).
Three minutes feels like a short time to pitch your idea and one main thing I learned is to get to the point of the idea as a unique logline. Also be aware everyone has to do the quick pitch. I know heavyweight producers who trundle up to the commissioners and do the speed pitch so don’t feel that you are an lesser exception.
In the end just to get access to the talent and feel what goes into a pitch is priceless and good luck to all the people that attended. RTS needs to do more of these and find the undiscovered talent and bypass the development divisions (for an evening at least!).
And for me? I will carry on trying to convince people to realise my idea. I believe in it and hopefully someone will too but that’s another story!
Why did the BBC staff stay quiet when all this was going on FOR 30 YEARS? The victims were obviously scared to come forward when he was alive so the fault falls on those that had instant access to his sick personal life and kept quiet. Forget the bullshit that nobody knew what was going on. It’s the same crap said by the Nazis on trial in Nuremberg about the Holocaust.
One scenario is that the BBC saw how much prestige he brought in and as long as that happened, he (as long as it didn’t come out) could get away with it and he did until he died. Why else was the Newsnight report killed?
The comparison part:
I recently read a fascinating biography about Errol Flynn where it was proved that he was a die Anti Semitic Nazi sympathizer and actually helped the Third Reich with his spying antics. Why did the overwhelming Jewish film factory turn a blind eye to his anti American behaviour? Let’s not forget, there were rumours about him too but the truth is that he made them money and that’s all that counts when in Company Town, just look at Mel Gibson.
The BBC basically turned a blind eye due to a ratings winning personality and now it has bitten them all in the bollocks and all those that thought it was funny to be extremely sexist and more will eventually be revealed, causing more headache for the Corporation.
Cast your mind back to when Hardeep Singh Kohli was suspended because he was inappropriate with a staff member, and I am in no way alluding to racial bias, but the Corporation did its bit for damage control but in the past allowed too many celebrities to go unchecked on more extreme perversions.
This is a story that will destroy many a career, much like Savile’s. Get the popcorn ready and enjoy what the Sun will call SavilleGate.