APRIL 2010: Makeup Test, Locking down location.
It was difficult to predict the total budget, as BRAG were managing to procure a lot of services and equipment very much at the last minute for a drastically reduced price. Although BRAG were overseeing the production, Ian and I were in control of the overall spend; we had some difficult decsions to make. The most difficult scenario was posed by location, or rather, the lack thereof.
Almost at the last post, Greg had identified a contact who was happy to move out of his flat for two weekends. The cost to us would be £1200, including time for a camera test and shooting dates. It was certainly the best offer we’d had, and at this late stage, we knew we needed to commit. The flat was great, although the bathroom was rather small. There were some worries about shooting here. Even with the luxury of using a tiny camera, the shoot would be busy; so many people were involved with so much equipment. Additionally, there was no real storage space, plus it was high up in a block of flats. Loading in and out would be difficult.
This was a tense period. Purely in the context of the project, it seemed to me to be a godsend. It was cheaper than anywhere else we had found, plus we seemed to have more flexibility as far as time was concerned – there were no other bookings to contend with because this was somebody’s living space.
Ian felt differently – his perspective was informed by how much he felt this resource should cost, and how much spending this amount of money might skew the overall budget. But after a brief period of heated emails flying back and forth, we all agreed to go ahead with the booking.
Then something unexpected came up. While we were gearing up for the make-up test, Ian was approached by Jack Burnford – the original director for the project. Months previously, Ian had asked whether we might be able to shoot in his home. Understandably, Jack had been worried about this. He knew what this would entail – having your living space taken over for 4, 10 hour camera days, heavy equipment maneuvering past paint work, 20 sets of feet tramping endlessly through your house, etc. However, now he could see we had production backing, Jack volunteered to let us film in his flat in exchange for the opportunity to come back on board as a co-director. His house was perfect. The bathroom was large and had bags of personality. There was an enormous garage for storing all the equipment.
Realistically, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Before we knew it, the make-up test and location reconnoitre was diverted to Jack’s house in Barnes. If this had not happened, I doubt we would have been able to finish the film – in hindsight we were very lucky things turned out the way they did.
So – on a bright, fresh day in April, we all turned up at Jack’s house. It was strange to see people who had been email contacts up to this point now buzzing round the flat; measuring things (actors as well as furniture), checking for reflections, taking photographs, working through make-up and costume changes. In a sense it was all very obvious what needed to take place, but it was a strange psychological departure for me. It was now apparent that all the ideas from the script had been filtered down, broken up into schedules, modules, units of meaning, practical physical directions. It wasn’t just in our heads any more.
In the following days leading up to the shoot, Ian and I joyously tested everyone’s patience by high-balling new script revisions back and forth. Again, very much at the last minute, we ended up with scene list – but due to chaos of trying to finalise our creative ideas, we didn’t have the practical backup – a shot list. While we had a list of the scenes we wanted to film, (we started by doing everything in the bathroom first), the storyboard was still something to give shape to the whole process as opposed to a shot by shot breakdown of what we wanted.
As we geared up for the first weekend of filming, it soon became apparent why this was so important…