Monday, 23 May 2011


Our first day of filming is approaching fast, two and a half weeks to go.
I'm trying to sit down and bash out some storyboards and shot lists but instead I'm listening to George Carlin stand-up and playing browser games on my lunch break.

I'm still trying to think about the best way to record sound during the shoot. I'm scratching my head a bit because I want to record high quality sound but I don't really have very much experience, or equipment. I have a strong feeling I'm going to end up using the attached microphone on the Canon XL1s. 

I've got a two day hangover and it's got me pinned.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Filming begins ... soon!

Lots happening right now, I've been meaning to write an update for ages!

We've had read throughs with all of our major characters now, only just this week we met with two of our new cast members and had a good time going over the script together. The project really feels like it's building steam when you start bringing in the actors, and it's not just a bunch of mates chatting over some beers in a bar somewhere.

Our read throughs have been pretty free flowing so far, I've purposefully not taken steps to influence how people read the lines or the inflections they use, because I want everyone to lose any inhibitions about acting in front of others, but now that we have had nearly all our introductory readings, I will start directing the cast a bit more and trying things out. Importantly, the cast need to have faith in me, to believe that I won't make them look stupid on film (well, video). And I won't. I will make sure of that. I may be new to this, but I'm hoping that I know when something isn't right. If they don't have that faith in me, then they will be less willing to really go out on a limb and try something, in case it fails.

HOWEVER the big news is that an opportunity to film our first scene has arisen. An amazing location has become available within a limited timescale, provided we can get everyone together on the same day! This does mean that we will be filming earlier than originally anticipated, probably by at least a month, but if time was no object we probably wouldn't begin filming for til late summer because I'd feel bad about rushing anyone or moving before we are ready, so perhaps this is a blessing because it forces all of us to jump in with both feet.

The scene in question takes place in the hotel room of the manager of Juggernaught Records, and was recently begrudgingly rewritten to take place in a less impressive but more available location, and has now been re-rewritten to take place in an impressive space in London. Right now we're working out all the details, and we will have one day to shoot the scene.

I plan to storyboard this thing out as much as possible. I want to be flexible on the day, and try things as they are available, but I want to make sure I have a solid plan to fall back on, as I won't have time to faff around. If we run out of time on the day then we run the risk of having wasted everyone's effort.

Well, we start filming our first scene in one month! The ball feels like it's rolling now. I guess it's good that I feel like I'm inside the ball and steering it, rather than feeling that the ball is rolling down a hill like a boulder in my direction. I'm sure that feeling will come later!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

An office, an office, my kingdom for an office

All the parts in the short film project are cast, rehearsals are underway, painfully slowly right now, but it's tricky pulling lots of people together, especially when they're giving their time away for free, for which I am eternally grateful of course! Hopefully we can have at least one thing happening each week.

The next step is locations. We've already earmarked and set aside quite a few, houses and businesses of friends being our main source of locations, as well as the odd live venue which will carry their own set of challenges. But one location, which is pivotal, is the office of Juggernaught Records A&R executive Felicity.

I set up a minimalist "office" for the Grenade music video that I did with the Explorer's Collective, it was just a table, two chairs, a laptop and some charts in an empty room. And that is exactly what it looked like. It didn't convince as an office at all. I don't want to make the same mistake. I guess I want to find an office that is almost ready to go. I know I won't find that, and that I will have to compromise, but then I began to even question what it was I was looking for. I don't even know what the office of an A&R executive looks like. What would be in there? Am I looking for something which only exists in my mind, pinned together from various films and books and stories and hollow anecdotes about record labels? Sure, I was in a band for years, but we never made contact with anyone who worked for a record label. Well, there was one guy, from a very small independent label, but that was a brief informal meeting in a pub where he said he wasn't looking for any bands to take on but he liked us. That hardly helps the situation. Then or now.

So what do I want? I want a room that can convince as one office in London or Greater London. Felicity will need a desk, I guess I'm imagining more of a desk in the centre of the room rather than a corner unit like most people have their computers on at home, purely for dramatic purposes. She will need a computer or laptop, probably a printer, and I envisage piles of CD samples sent to her by various bands. A CD player or record player with good quality speakers. She is after all, in the music business. I'm trying to just get by on logic here, but the more I think about people meeting in an office over a desk, the more I subconsciously try to dress up the office like one from a private eye movie. Venetian blinds! Table lamp! Desk fan! Ashtray!

Is she organised or messy? Are the Juggernaught offices in a dingy cellar or a room with a view? Clean white surroundings or dripping pipes and rot? These seem like decisions the script or story should dictate, but interestingly, either option works with the narrative.

Maybe I need to make it a home office just to simplify things. But I feel that I've made too many compromises like that already, and I want the thing to have some production value, and not be set entirely in what are clearly people's houses.

I need to find a location. Somewhere, someone is sitting in a room just like the one I need.

Where are you hiding?