This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
It is now Tuesday evening and what follows below is an account of the last four days. It has been one hell of a learning curve!! Thursday 10 am Go and visit the location and confirm permission to film on it. Absolutely pissing down and the location; being on a quarry, I get covered in about three foot of mud. I go and see Steve Chapman the land-owner, before I had been speaking to his brother on the phone. When I got there, he is not too keen to open up the gate on Saturday, I suggest we could cross the river to get to the land; he gives me an evil laugh and says we are more than welcome to use the land if we cross the river. I take a walk down to the river and realise why the evil laughter, with the rain the river had gone from being about 6 inches deep to about 3ft. Decide to get hair cut. 12:30 pm Go into work with hair shorter than intended, phone back home to see if the Pyrotechnics had been delivered yet; no joy. I call the supplier and they assure me that they were sent yesterday and should be delivered today. Begin to chew my nails. 2:45 pm Got the camera finalised from Genesis Television. The camera we ended up hiring was a Sony AVM 400 Beta SP. Get a blinding deal for £311 to get the camera from Thursday night to Tuesday. 4:45 pm The pyrotechnics had arrived back at my house, stop chewing my nails. 6:40 pm Go to pick up the camera from Genesis, luckily its just round the corner from the White Horse Pub a regular haunt of mine in Soho. Get a bit of a shock when I realise I had seriously under estimated the weight and size of the camera, plus the tripod and the batteries and the battery charger. I manage to struggle round the corner to the pub. Pub absolutely packed, have no chance of getting inside with all the equipment, have to wait for JB or Jim to turn up. 7:30pm Jim finally turns up and I get my pint in !!!!!!!! 9:45 pm Spend the night going through the shooting schedule for Saturday, making slight changes to the script, which I didnt really want to do .. but this film for me is more of a visual thing so let Jim and Jb change the script. Also came up with the shooting protocol for Saturday. 11:45 pm
Spend the night going through the shooting schedule for Saturday, making slight changes to the script, which I didn't really want to do .. but this film for me is more of a visual thing so let Jim and Jb change the script. Also came up with the shooting protocol for Saturday. 11:45 pm Finally get home with all the equipment, I check the delivery of pyrotechnics, on the good side they sent 34 thunder flashes instead of 30 and the smoke grenades were large rather than small, BUT !!!! instead of 40 white I end up with 10 white and thirty orange. Blood pressure begins to rise. 12:00 am Lay out all my equipment for Saturday and check to see everything that I should be bringing is there. 1:30 am Go through the shooting schedule and photographs to get everything memorized so I knew exactly what I am going to be doing and exactly what shots I want. 4 am Finally get to sleep. Friday 9 am Get up and have to deal with some business stuff totally unrelated to the film, which was annoying as I didn't really want to waste time. 11 am Finally get back onto the Deadlights stuff. Jim calls and we arrange to meet up town to go and pick up the Beta SP tape. 11 :30 am Phone bank to check that the money for this weekend had gone through; Blood pressure shoots through the roof as the flipping, fish shagging Muppets who pass themselves off as a bank, hadn't done my TT. Decide not to waste time calling them names under the sun and to get on. Money or not I said to everyone that we were going to film this weekend full stop. Also Jim Realises that his combats no longer fit. 12:00 pm Leave to go up London to get the tape and to try and get a cheque cashed somewhere. 1:45 pm Arrive in London and begin to search for suppliers of Beta SP tape, I have a place in mind in Dean St or Wardour St. Try to get Cheque cashed on the way.
3:00 pm Situation begins to get desperate as no where in Soho seems to be open for Tape, also no one seems to want to cash one of my cheques MUPPETS ! !! 4:45 pm Buy a copy of Broadcast Magazine and Jim begins to phone around, This was not how I wanted to spend the day before the shoot. For future reference and to go on that big stone of filmmaking, is to never make presumptions. I presumed that Soho being the 7 day 24 hour place, would be open on Good Friday- boy was I wrong. 7:00 pm Still no tape or Money, head for a pint and decide to go home and get on the net to try and find a supplier of tape. 7:45 pm Get home and out of frustration and they needed testing anyway, I give the blank guns a final clean and test fire . Also test one of the orange smoke grenades and some good news that the colour only burns for about 30 seconds then they burn white. The only Good News of the day. 9 pm The original 9 am start for Saturday looks highly unlikely, I call everyone and say wait for a phone call Saturday morning. Remember that I said were going to film Full stop. Spend the rest of the night going through the net to sites such as www.produxion.com and www.smallscreen.com getting addresses of Tape Suppliers and making lots of phone calls. 2 am No Tape, No money for a second I have my doubts whether we were going to film tomorrow, but remember the Full stop statement. Saturday 7 am; Get up with list of places to go for tape. 9:15 am After calling everyone with a bit optimistic 11:30 am planned start I meet up with Jim in Bromley, Success as we get a cheque cashed so we now have the money. Jim heads off to The army surplus shop to get some last bits and pieces as I make my way up to Soho. 10:45am Arrive in Soho armed with my list, and start running around like a headless chicken 11:30am
After ticking off most of the places, I see some guys walk out the Kodak place on Dean Street, I run over, but to my horror they were only picking up a delivery, I try and bribe the guy to let us in to get some tape but to no joy. So annoying as I could see the tape in the window ,So Close but yet so far. 11:45 am Jump out of a black cab and run into Channel 4 building, getting ready to beg. A very nice young lady was sitting behind the desk , she tells me that there isn't anyone who can help in today, beg for several more minutes, before admitting defeat, so head off to LWT. 12:30 pm Arrive at LWT after running there as I couldn' get a cab for love nor money and the traffic with busses was just gridlock. Dive into the LWT building and the security guard gives me some numbers to call. Finally get through to someone in the library, tell me yes they have tape but needs to check with his boss. I wait anxiously in the lobby and get a call back. He tells me yes they can sell me tape if I have an account with them, so I ask how I go about having a account, he tells me I will have to come back Tuesday. flipping Muppet. 12:45 pm Cab over to ITN, no joy there either , could really do with my mobile phone at this point. A guy outside informs me that there is a television crew filming by London bridge and there possible filming on beta Sp but he doesn't exactly know where. 1:00 pm Run round London bridge like a headless chicken for the second time that day and think to myself why did I choose to wear all black on a sunny day. Get Jim to start calling around Cameramen to see if any had any spare tapes. 1:10 pm Success a DOP in Wimbledon has got tape, dive straight on the tube over there. 1:40 pm Get the tape, buy three to be on the safe side. Call everyone up to say that will be starting at three. 2:15 pm Get back to Waterloo station, see that my train to Orpington is in two minutes, make another mad dash to catch the train , success again as I make the run from Waterloo international to Waterloo East. Decide on train that this is the bit about producing I don't like. 2:55pm Get back into Orpington and meet Stuart at the Station, dive in a cab and go back to my place to pick up all the equipment which was luckily all lined up all ready to go; go to pick up Jim along the way.
3:15 pm Finally on set, JB and Toby are already there. Luckily the river had gone back down to about 6 inches - dive across and begin to set up. One thing we hadn't counted on was a Craft fair being on in the field next to us, Step's Tragedy is heard coming from the PA; 3:30pm Show everyone what a blank round sounds like and a smoke grenade looks like to get everyone use to it. Give Stuart a 5 Minute lesson in the art of setting up thunder flashes and we test one of those off. To be honest I had no idea if it was going to work, but had used similar stage pyrotechnics before and was feeling very confident. (note: We used electronic thunder flashes that are used in paintball games; we rigged them with doorbell wire and fired them from a 9 volt battery- plus plenty of gaffer tape) 3:40pm While Jim and JB begin to get changed I go through with Toby and Stuart about the first camera set-up and they start lying down the pyros while I go off and set the camera up. 3:50pm As Toby and Stuart continue to set-up the pyros I spend some time with Jim and JB getting them into character, this was something I wanted to spend a lot longer doing but time was ticking. 4:00 pm I call Places for the first time, only 7 hours later than planned but here we made it. phew 4:02 pm Cut the first take as Jb has trouble with his gun, I look at the gun and notice the spring has gone. I force a round into the chamber manually and test fire it. I ask him if he feels happy to go on using the gun. he says yes. 4:04 pm Second take The Smoke goes off and all the thunder flashes look superb as they go off all at the right time. At the end of the take, JB comes up to me with the gun; what I didn't realise, in the second take the gun had exploded when it fired and the slide cover had bounced of his head, luckily he was ok and like a true pro he carried on through the take and the rest of the set-ups. 5:00 pm Now onto our third Camera set-up, the Other gun was beginning to play up by jamming constantly, decide its safer to only load it with one round, and sort out the lack of gun fire in post. 5:15 pm This was the first time I had used a Beta SP camera, and god knows what I pressed, but the view finder went blank.
5:30pm View Finder still blank decide to load the camera with blank tape and go through the buttons on the camera one by one. Make a note to myself for next time to get a cameraman who knows what he is doing or the operations manual. 5:45pm Still blank, decide to try random sets of button pressing. 6 pm Success Camera working again and we get on with set-up four. Decide while filming that this set-up would most likely end up on the cutting room floor anyway. Move quickly onto set-up 5. I knew what shots I wanted before we got down here but decided to do a Hitchcock half hour and film lots of extra footage of this set-up to see why I wanted the shots I wanted and not what I was filming now. 7pm Get ready for set-up 6, which involved several explosions as Jim runs past, as scheduled, we have a safety chat before hand and spend some time setting up the scene, making sure everyone knew what there cues were and where Jim would be running. Light begins to go now so there is pressure to get this scene set-up but without risking safety. 7:40pm Shot goes extremely well and I have a flash of inspiration, I decide to do the scene again, this time filming on top of the railway carriage. 8pm. Film the scene from above the train carriage and am really please with what is coming through the viewfinder, As the light begins to go down I decide to call it a wrap. 9pm All changed and packed and its ready to hit the pub. We were going to have to come back tomorrow but I was really pleased how everyone worked and how it all went. 9:30 pm Down the pub for a well earned pint by all, notice the lovely ladies in Bexley walking past. 11pm Finally get home and decide to spend the next few hours going through everything on the camera. I watch Body Parts in the background notice that his left arm is missing when he goes into the operation and when he comes out its his right arm they replaced. mmmm 2:00am
Finally feel like I knew how to use the camera after going through everything, still don't know why It went blank though. 5:30 am Spent the last few hours going through all the shots I got today and putting them together in my mind, also coming up with a couple of more shots I would like to get. Refreshed my mind with the shooting schedule for the next 6 set-ups we would have to go through, then decided to call it a night. Sunday 8:30 am Get up and really feel the running around Soho from yesterday , but surprisingly feel refreshed. 9:10 am Arrive on set with Stuart, realise my boots are on the other side and get Stuart to Throw them over, unfortunately he threw them straight in the river and the current picks them up, jump into rescue them and get soaked up to my waist. 9:30 am Try and light a fire to get dry, Jim arrived on set and tells me JB and Toby are having trouble with the trains, give up trying to light the fire army style and just throw a ton of lighter fluid on it. 10:20 am JB and Toby arrive on set, and I do my brief for the day explaining the shots I m adding in, The first shot planned for the day is a repeat of the run from last night, taken from a side angle. As Toby and Stuart get on setting up I spend time getting JB and Jim into Character. 10:50 am We start shooting again, we have to do the shot three times as the timing with the thunder flashes wasn't quite right, due to the angle of the camera and the angle of Toby and Stuart firing them. But confident we have enough footage to play around in editing to get it right. 1:00 pm Step's Tragedy must of played about twenty times so far just today, Manage to get the second gun to fire two blanks in succession, but on set-up 9 the gun jammed with hot plastic down the barrel. After several attempts to clear it from scissors to knifes to melting it out, it is still jammed, I get a bit annoyed and some of the negativity on set as its not helpful. Another thing for the big Stone is that on any future sets that negativity isn't going to exist. There was only a tiny amount this weekend but as a director I want my actors worrying about acting and let me worry about everything else. Finally force a round into the gun and fired it, which cleared the blockage. 2:30 pm
The filming is going well and I m getting the shots I want thick and fast, decided in some situations it was better to get the actors just to repeat a shot straight away instead of stopping, explaining what was wrong. The reason behind this was I wanted stress, I wanted breathlessness and by repeating the shots literally cut, and then action straight away seem to work. As I said this was only suitable for some situations. Break for lunch. Head over to the craft fair in search of food but was not going to pay 4 quid to get in, so we all headed into town with everyone still in costume. 3pm Back on set, for one of our more complicated shots. After going to www.exposure.co.uk we decided to give the blood squirting a go using the hose and weed pump, In hind insight I would say it would probably work better adapting a soda stream doobrie. As we attempted this 5 times, the only time it worked was when someone was handing the pump to someone else and accidentally let the pressure off, unfortunately Jb wasn't ready nor was the camera. But had enough footage from different angles to make the scene work. 7pm Coming to that time of the day where the light was beginning to go and only had one more set-up to do, plus a couple of extra shots I wanted, left to do. Have to admit on set-up eleven I forgot to turn the camera on for one of the takes. Luckily that was the only time I did that all weekend and it was a shot that was repeated several times anyway. For set-up twelve we set-up one of the thunder flashes in the river, waterproofing it , then having Jim's character run through it. The effect worked really well as I was only expecting the water to fly up , but we got the flash and the smoke as well. 7:30pm The final shots of the weekend, this involved everyone in a giant patrol, I only had the idea the night before but as Stuart had been dressed in combats and Toby had bought his down as well I decided to go for it. And I have to say Stuarts Death in the patrol is Oscar winning stuff, cant wait to see the rushes. 8pm Ands it's a Wrap back off to the pub. Keep finding unused smoke grenades and thunder flashes, all good for the photo opportunities afterwards. 9pm Down the Pub for the Debriefing, over hear a conversation about some guy claiming to be a film maker very tempted to show him up but there was the debrief to do, several pints and a round of cigars as we went through the weekend. Everyone agreed that it had all been a huge learning curve, I have to say Toby and Stuart did a fantastic job with the Pyrotechnics, especially as they had 5 minutes training from the start and were pretty much left to it. Over all everyone did a really good job and we all worked extremely well as a team. More importantly we did what we planned to do and that was get two scenes of Deadlights down on tape, everyones hard work in the planning stages had paid off. It could of so easily not of happened with the problems with the tape and money, but I was determined and everyone else was to get filming this weekend. My advice for anyone reading this is, no matter how many things are going wrong keep going and don't give up.