We started filming Bernadette’s Crucible again yesterday. Unexpectedly, I was roped in to perform my first speaking role in front of the cameras. Quite what I was expected to do there I’m not sure, but all went well and I might even survive the cut. That counts towards my equity membership. I just need two more speaking parts and a nom de plume. Given my current rate of picking them up, I might get that membership in 2012.
Actually Day 6 as was, but one of the cast members had a family emergency so it was cancelled. Today is the first weekend we’re working Saturday and Sunday and thus the first day in front of the cameras for our male lead David who plays a Seth-like (no explanations given) character called Jimmy. David is based in London so he’s only around during our ‘double-headers’. Like everyone else on Day 1, he gets lost finding the location. We're due a spout of gales and rain this weekend so there’s a wet schedule and a dry schedule. A short shower (rather than a long deluge?) prompts the ‘dry’ schedule into action and montage footage is shot while ‘stunt chicken dinners’ and more gaffer tape are being retrieved from the shops.
All this weekend’s scenes bar one are being shot ‘day for night’ which means that even though we’re using daylight for the most part to see the shots, we’ve actually fooled the camera into recording everything as twilight by telling it that yellow is actually white. Sounds odd but true. We’ve actually bin-linered most of the windows to remove as much light as we need to as well but it’s a great effect and looks really nice.
It’s too cold for today’s main scene to be outside as originally planned so it’s rewritten inside a potting shed where a heater can be switched on between takes as required. Of course, there’s only so much space in a potting shed and the lighting guy is forced to spend three hours outside doing a jig to keep warm while making sure that the moon, or rather the spotlight shining through the shed window doesn’t fall over or move in the wind. The lamp itself is quite a nice heater though. Melts skin if you get that bit too close though.
With the main shot done by six o’clock, there’s a fish and chip supper to be had before David \ Jimmy has a bath. Of course, we’re filming that too so not quite the relaxing time for reflection that it might otherwise be.
Today’s pep talk is about trying to increase the speed of setting up shots. In general, we’re not doing too badly. Most of the day is in the kitchen where our stunt chicken dinners bought yesterday are being shot in various stages of preparation and devourment. Hopefully the cast like them - they smell far too tasty behind camera. Day for night again and its only when the bin liners are taken down at the end of the day we realise that the gale force winds and rain forecast yesterday have been attacking our location throughout the ‘night’ as we’ve been shooting.
Background noise remains a problem. We are only two miles from a motorway which is clear to hear with the wind in the right direction. Trains are usually the main problem though with a branch line just over the road. Today they were cancelled thanks to the weather but sometimes we need a trainspotter as much as King Kong needs a planespotter.
We are now 20% of the way through filming.
The beauty of no budget film making is that there can by definition be no great amount of studio time, so we’re always on location at a real place. Today we’re in a local theatre café. Schedule has us doing several shots looking from outside in. Indian summer means this is possible, although the brightness of the sun may pose problems due to it creating our reflections in the glass. Ironically, if it’s overcast, we can shoot bits of a 3 minute scene from 9am to 7pm. If it’s not, we have to hope the light levels don’t change so much between takes.
12 noon. First shot set up and ready to go. Café has inner alcove so ‘outside’ shots have been made simpler. Newcomer actor to set Anastacia (sp?) brings a broad US drawl a la Roseanne Barr with her and a new sense of humour to us all. Which should be fun. Introduce self as Lord of Shadows and proceed to use three of the crew as areas of darkness to block out some of the exterior light to prove this.
2pm. All going smoothly. Largest worry so far has been whether or not we can find a knife to make sandwiches. Those apparent are props and may not be used for the trivial task of making the crew some lunch.
4pm. Anastacia’s character likes her wine. Which means that she is drinking a lot of grape juice. Which is fine – it looks like wine – for the first couple of hours. Unforeseen side effect however is that our lovely lady now has a case of the burps. Take begins, she’s worried about burping rather than acting. Some things you just can’t account for.
5pm. Last shot of day. Other crew newcomer Stuart – he of the Eric Bana circa Black Hawk Down looks and the more husky Graham Norton voice – has been put into service in front of the camera as spliff smoking student. Random blatherings about lack of student housing and Revenge of the Sith are recorded as he eats numerous ham sandwiches leftover from lunch.
Epitaph. Not all done as required here. We shall be returning to the café at a later date. Final male role still not cast. The part is scheduled to start shooting next week. Ooo lummy.
Started work on my first feature film today as part of camera crew. Most of my weekends through to Christmas will be taken up with this. Mike, who usually produces has had this project in head for past two years and has taken up directorial reins this year with his co-conspirators in Dark Eyes taking up production and art direction duties respectively. Hopefully Bernadette will be as well received as their previous effort.
10am. Auspicious start. Today’s location is confounding some of the crew members as it’s not on their A-Zs. While we wait for them to arrive for 9am call, acquaintances are either renewed or started afresh. DoP Mark for example is an escapee from realms of shopping TV. Lack of gray matter down cheeks appears to indicate his brains have not melted from filming hands modelling 9ct gold necklaces as puddles of gold in endless repeat.
1pm. All present, correct and signed in. Mike provides pep talk and welcome as filmed by making of crew of one. Spent morning in garden with Mark taking shots for opening credits. Need bee wrangler. Damn things wont stay put on flowers to film them and even if they do, wont stay long enough to sign release form. Spiders are better they just hang around (sic).
4pm. First official shot is in the can. First bit of black gaffer used feels like progress. To this point, first AD Sarah has been taking polaroids of all leads’ costume changes for entire shoot and we have been setting up for a garden shot. Unfortunately, first shot ends up in a bedroom and we have only one camera. Director promises we shall spend rest of day in garden.
7.30pm. Sun has gone and time has been called. We’re two shots ahead even though we started an hour late. Director is dead chuffed and were dead tired. Day one ends nice and smooth. Here's hoping the same for day two.