Archive for horror

Making ‘Get Well Soon’ – Part 13.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by michaelwoodman

On October 6th, Rael Jones began working on the score to Get Well Soon. Up until this point, we’d been using Nick Cave’s bleak score to  The Road as temp music, as well as some earlier ambient tracks Rael had prepared.

Rael and I had been members of Thumpermonkey Lives! for a while; what we needed for this short certainly wasn’t like the music we made in the band, but I had an idea of the sort of material he’d produce. Rael had been composing for TV and film, and working as a session musician for quite a while when he started working on Get Well Soon. Ian and I didn’t have to explain much, beyond giving examples of the kind of material we were interested in, and then letting him run with it. As usual I banged on and on like a broken record about Tilt by Scott Walker, (listen on spotify), and we also discussed Brian Eno style pads and drones for a lot of the cues, (along the lines of the first bit of temp music that Rael had made for the mood reel).

The only changes we made to the music Rael produced were the placement of some of the cues, and the addition of some new material to help anchor what was happening on-screen. BRAG’s opinion of one of the final cuts of the film had been that the pace was still a bit too slow. To counter this, (and reduce the running length), Ian had re cut the footage to create ‘flashback’ sequences. This was so that the story could be told more quickly, without the speed of the edit seeming contrived.

It isn’t totally clear straight away that one scene being viewed is actually a flashback, so we tried associating specific music with the past and the present. Broadly speaking the past is indicated by some sinister bass gurgling. When we cut back to the present, (Theodore being viewed ‘remembering’), there is a delicate little motif which hopefully works subconsciously on the viewer to create an association of being back in the present.

You can hear some of the music that will be featured in Get Well Soon by visiting Rael’s website – (scroll down, under miscellaneous film). You can also read an interview with Rael (by Michael Price), re his experiences of writing for the screen.


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Making Get Well Soon – part 12.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by michaelwoodman

During mid-July, Ian arranged to meet again with Rory and Robin Freeman, (Ian’s band-mate in Hag). Robin is a chef – he supplied a number of ‘delicacies’ which were perfect for creating flash cuts of an unspecified surgical nightmare. I had plans to attend and make an ‘offal documentary’, but I thought better of it on the morning of the shoot. Hot lights + calf brains + dragon stout hangover = a short movie about vomit.

For those who are unhealthily interested, here’s some photos from the day.

We've run out of pancetta. This will have to do.

We've run out of pancetta. This will have to do.

Ian finished another cut; it had gotten longer due to all the extra meat. Previous cuts had been stark and uneasy, but now the film opened with a fair amount of gore. We spent a little time trying to get the balance right – finally settling on quick cuts here and there. Where there were longer shots, these were now close-ups on pulsing flesh, patterns and textures – perhaps a bit more abstract, and strangely beautiful.

This ‘final’ 12 minute cut was especially interesting when contrasted with our original mood reel; its atmosphere had certainly been influential.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

At this point, ‘The Bath’ became ‘Get Well Soon‘. We’d been fishing around for a title for ages. I was initially keen on a very metaphorical title; something that might prompt the viewer to research what we were alluding to, and thus gain fresh insight into the core meaning of the film. This was, of course, a terrible idea.

Most of the ideas I came up with at first would have alienated any potential audience. However, I liked ‘Get Well Soon’ because it was a familiar phrase, but also one that I hoped became unfamiliar in the context of the film. Not just a journey through physical sickness, but also the ‘wellness’ associated with mental health and emotionally unhealthy perceptions of reality. This was somehow appropriate, because by end August, I had developed my own unhealthy perception of reality. This was my first experience of working collaboratively on a film – I was probably a bit of a nightmare to be around by this point, but it was a good learning experience.

I’d driven myself totally spare. I was obsessed with my perceived mis-placement of a couple of shots in the supposedly locked ‘final cut’. In Ian’s dry terms, I ‘threatened him with violence’  if he wouldn’t make the changes which I felt were essential. It’s closer to the truth to say I threatened him with whining that must have made him feel violent. The point is that the changes to the cut weren’t a big deal to Ian, but I had worked myself into a frenzy over stuff that I’d either misunderstood or didn’t matter. It’s easy to do. Communicate consistently and openly. Stop to take pleasure in what you’ve achieved rather than turning it into an obsession. It is a hugely collaborative process, and that is practically always a positive thing.

Towards the end of September we’d settled on a trailer. Maybe it made ‘Get Well Soon‘ look like much more of a splatter movie than it actually is, but it was important for grabbing people’s attention. The sound design for the trailer was also by Ian’s friend Robin Freeman.  At the same time, Ian and Rory got together to test grade some shots – they were very happy with the results. Ian’s colleague Simon Bronson made us some wonky, distorted titles.

The next big step was getting the music done. We sent the locked picture through to Rael Jones, and pretty soon he came back with a first pass…

Making “Get Well Soon” – Part 11

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by michaelwoodman

By early June, Ian’s son was home. Things had gradually returned to some sense of normalcy, and Ian had begun working on a shorter cut of the 30 minute assembly. Another 10 minutes of footage were shed. At that early stage, a part of me honestly thought that it couldn’t get any shorter.

This cut included additional macro footage Rory had filmed; water droplets splashing from taps, dripping on to aspirin, running over rust and startling high-definition textures. In a sense, I wanted the film to be the bleakest music video in the world. I had no perspective on the pacing, no perspective on the necessity to whittle down all the beautiful images to only what was necessary. I was so in awe of the way the footage looked that I didn’t want Ian to remove a thing.

Unsurprisingly, Gregory from BRAG felt that the 20 minute version still looked like an ‘assembly’ rather than a ‘cut’, so between mid and late June, the film went through another 6 cuts. The running time gradually shrank each time, leaving us with a 14 minute version. Gregory also felt it might be useful to screen what we had in front of some industry professionals in order to get an outside perspective.

We also began thinking about how the sound would be treated. There was a problem with the radio mics that we’d used on the first weekend of filming, as well as several shots where things happened in the distance. Gregory advised that we would want to consider a half/full day of ADR recording and a half day of Foley recording, (as well as some time back at Jack’s house recording silence so that any added noise could be placed in context).

There was also the matter of the trailer; it was difficult to know how to pitch the tone of this. The 14 minute version was neither quite a horror, or a thriller, or a sad love story, but a combination of all three. How could you pitch that tone in a 30 second trailer, and still make it digestible?

Around this time, Rory referred back to an earlier piece of film Ian had worked on called ‘Inside Out God’; this featured a rather abstract use of meat, (for want of a better description).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This clip had stayed with Rory, and he was keen to work on something similar to make ‘Get Well Soon’ a bit more nightmarish. So – Ian and Rory arranged to meet Ian’s friend and band-mate in Hag – a chef by trade, who could get his hands on some brains and lungs…

Making ‘Get Well Soon’ Part 10

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by michaelwoodman


On May 6th, Ian picked up the rushes and took them back to the hospital. His son was still critically ill, (luckily the worst hadn’t happened, as I had anticipated); little Henry was stable at least. Having a chance to look through what we’d shot appeared to be a welcome distraction for Ian. In the meantime, I assessed the outstanding costs.

Inevitably things go missing and get broken. It’s easy to think, ‘ah the insurance shoot will cover that’, but in reality, this is to safeguard you against large, catastrophic breakages. As it was, when we tried to cover the small damages that had taken place in the flat and the broken 5D battery, we found that these would be treated as individual claims – there would be an excess of £500 if we tried to claim against each. This is worth remembering and factoring in to your budget at the begnning.By this point, we had spent about £3000 (about £800 over the projected budget). It was still incredibly cheap considering the amount of equipment we had been able to borrow, not to mention the time and skill of the crew and cast who had worked for nothing.We’d spend about £400 on costume, as we needed duplicates of items that would get covered in wine. Another couple of hundred on props and food, and then ongoing costs over the weekends of shooting; more food, equipment hire, van hire, tights, batteries, coffee cups, diesel, crew expenses, repairs – it was easy to see how the costs had mounted up.

Around this same time, we began thinking about the inevitable cost of festival submissions as well. Gregory from BRAG clarified that this all really came down to how much we were willing to spend. There are plenty of free festivals, (even through the handy festival submission tool Without A Box), but we could expect fees to build up for the larger ones. At that point, BRAG had spent over £400 on submissions for ‘The Mountain Within‘, (a documentary about a group of mountain climbers with disabilities climbing Kilimanjaro). This would reasonably have cost more than we would end up spending, however. The Mountain Within was feature-length, and had been delivered to all the major festivals.

By mid May, Ian’s son was off the ventilator, but having difficulty withdrawing from the medication he had been on. Bleak as the subject matter of our short with, it continued to be the distraction Ian needed, especially when all he could do was wait. Pretty soon, he had completed a 30 minute assembly – a longer cut utilising the majority of the footage so we could get an idea of what would and wouldn’t work. I thought it looked amazing, and initially had difficulty maintaining the distance that would inevitably be required to start shedding content. Ian had used some temp music to help him cut – the first assembly was like the bleakest music video ever made.

Rory was really pleased with how things had come together. He was keen to even out some exposure inconsistencies, and to try to improve the consistency of the night sequences so everything matched up better. This would be tackled in the final grade. Gregory was also pleased – although keen for Ian to whittle the next pass down to 20 mins.

And so began the editing process. Vast emails, full of bullet pointed suggestions began flying around. It was hard for me to shift to the perspective of editing the piece down; part of me was grateful that Ian would have to find a story in what we had shot. It was fairly clear that some sequences hadn’t worked in the way we had hoped, and some of the pacing lent the piece a different feel than we anticipated.

With the luxury of time, the script might have been a bit more refined, we might have had a more developed shot list, we might have got a variety of takes so that we could play around with different edits. As it was I began to see that it would be necessary to manipulate what we had it order to end up with something that had an internal logic to its narrative, but most importantly to me, that communicated something emotionally.

Making ‘Get Well Soon’ Part 9

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2010 by michaelwoodman

1-2 May – Second Weekend of Filming.

The week in between both weekends of filming was pretty chaotic. Ian’s son was still critically ill.  We realised we needed to get on and produce a shot list based on his notes, and that we might also have to cut some corners in relation to coverage. Time management had been tricky on the first weekend, and we had ended up with a very busy schedule for the first of May. Jack would need to direct all the sequences for the second weekend.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

We consolidated all the shots – when filming, we would only be changing setups when there were no more shots to film in that specific context. This would mean costume and make up changes perhaps to get a reverse angle of one line of dialogue if it needed to be shot using the same piece of technology as some other shots. Ultimately meant we would be saving time. I appreciated scenes would be shot out of context, but shooting individual shots within scenes out of context was disorienting.

On the Friday, I hired what turned out to be the most totally broken van in London to transport the hired equipment for the second weekend. One of our runners, poor Beth Aynsley turned up on Saturday in a creaking, crippled van with no working lock. Amazingly it had stayed in one piece during its limp across London and we unloaded all the kit. We were soon underway.

By necessity, a lot of shots were simplified. We shed pages from the script – we had to be brutal in order to produce something that had narrative shape. Scenes that were blocked to be several shots were whittled down to one on the fly.

Additionally, Jack and I ran through a last-minute idea that had been injected into the script. This was a rather miserable dream sequence where an incapacitated Theodore is fed pill after pill by a malevolent alter-ego Janet. This was an idea we came up with on the day, and it was very energising to shoot this despite the bleak subject matter. It was also a really interesting learning experience for me about the actual length of set-ups, and what would be demanded technically to achieve what I had conceptualised as a fairly simple shot.

I remember talking to Gregory about how the shot might work in one, with the camera on a fig-rig being quite mobile. It didn’t occur to me that the act of ‘zooming in’ might reasonably need to be served by putting down some dolly track, or breaking up the action to get different shots and change lenses. Because my knowledge of experimenting with film relied purely on the using autofocus on a cheap DV camera, I had no real understanding of the minute attention to detail required to make each shot look perfect.

There was a strange energy on set after we filmed this sequence. I could sense that despite the morbid tone, people were excited about what we had shot. My first thoughts were that I’d wished Ian could have been there to see it – but also, while filming this sequence, I had received a text message from him which said that things were ‘very bad’ and that there should be ‘no phone calls’. In my own mind, I had basically concluded that his son had died. All we could do was keep going and hope for the best.

We had spent lot of money by the end of the second weekend – van hire, consumables, expenses, travel, things breaking (including one of the camera’s batteries and a toilet macerater engine!) It was all the little things that rolled together to produce cost, and those things that we projected might be very expensive that ended up being less so.

I hadn’t slept much over the weekend, and by the time we finished, I was rather shell shocked.

Exhaustion kicked in after one beer. I stumbled home to bed.

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1-2 May – Second Weekend of Filming.

 

The week in between the two weekends of filming was pretty chaotic. Ian’s son was still critically ill. Occasionally we would exchange text messages and ideas for how things should be shot, but we basically realised we needed to get on and produce a shot list based on his notes, and may also have to cut some corners in relation to coverage. Time management had been tricky on the first weekend, and we had ended up with a very busy schedule for the first of May.

 

Jack consolidated all the shots – when filming, we would only be changing setups when there were no more shots to film in that context: which meant costume and make up changes to get a reverse angle of one line of dialogue, for instance, but ultimately meant we would be saving time.

 

On the Friday, I hired what turned out to be the most totally broken van in London to transport the hired equipment for the second weekend. One of our runners, poor Beth Aynsley turned up on        Saturday in a crippled van with no a lock that didn’t work, but amazingly it had stayed in one piece during its limp across London.

 

Something about coverage – simplification.

 

Jack and I ran through a few last minute ideas that had been injected into the script; including a totally miserable dream sequence where an incapacitated Theodore is fed pill after pill by a malevolent alter-ego Janet. This was an idea we came up with on the day, and it was very energizing to shoot this, despite the bleak subject matter. It was also a really interesting learning experience for me about the actual length of set-ups, and what would be demanded technically to achieve what I had conceptualized as a fairly simple shot.

 

I remember talking to Gregory about how the shot might work in one, with the camera on a fig-rig, and being quite mobile. It didn’t occur to me that the act of ‘zooming in’ might reasonably need to be served by putting down some dolly track, or breaking up the action to get different shots and change lenses. Because my knowledge of experimenting with film practically consisted in relying on the autofocus on a cheap DV camera, I had no real understanding of the minute attention to detail required to make each shot look perfect.

 

1-2 May – Second Weekend of Filming.

The week in between the two weekends of filming was pretty chaotic. Ian’s son was still critically ill. Occasionally we would exchange text messages and ideas for how things should be shot, but we basically realised we needed to get on and produce a shot list based on his notes, and may also have to cut some corners in relation to coverage. Time management had been tricky on the first weekend, and we had ended up with a very busy schedule for the first of May.

Jack consolidated all the shots – when filming, we would only be changing setups when there were no more shots to film in that context: which meant costume and make up changes to get a reverse angle of one line of dialogue, for instance, but ultimately meant we would be saving time.

On the Friday, I hired what turned out to be the most totally broken van in London to transport the hired equipment for the second weekend. One of our runners, poor Beth Aynsley turned up on        Saturday in a crippled van with no a lock that didn’t work, but amazingly it had stayed in one piece during its limp across London.

Something about coverage – simplification.

Jack and I ran through a few last minute ideas that had been injected into the script; including a totally miserable dream sequence where an incapacitated Theodore is fed pill after pill by a malevolent alter-ego Janet. This was an idea we came up with on the day, and it was very energizing to shoot this, despite the bleak subject matter. It was also a really interesting learning experience for me about the actual length of set-ups, and what would be demanded technically to achieve what I had conceptualized as a fairly simple shot.

I remember talking to Gregory about how the shot might work in one, with the camera on a fig-rig, and being quite mobile. It didn’t occur to me that the act of ‘zooming in’ might reasonably need to be served by putting down some dolly track, or breaking up the action to get different shots and change lenses. Because my knowledge of experimenting with film practically consisted in relying on the autofocus on a cheap DV camera, I had no real understanding of the minute attention to detail required to make each shot look perfect.

There was a strange energy on set after we filmed this sequence. I could sense that despite the morbid tone, people were excited about what we had shot. This was confusing emotionally – as my first thoughts were that I’d wished Ian could have been there to see it filmed. While filming this sequence, I had received a text message from him which basically said that things were ‘very bad’ and that there should be ‘no phone calls’. In my own mind, I had basically concluded that his son had died. All we could do was keep going and hope for the best.

We had spent lot of money by the end of the second weekend – van hire, consumables, expenses, travel, things breaking (including one of the camera’s batteries and a toilet macerator engine). Without being too specific, it was all the little things that rolled together to produce cost, and those things that we projected might be very expensive that ended up being less so. We ended up just a little over budget – and in the final analysis.

There was a strange energy on set after we filmed this sequence. I could sense that despite the morbid tone, people were excited about what we had shot. This was confusing emotionally – as my first thoughts were that I’d wished Ian could have been there to see it filmed. While filming this sequence, I had received a text message from him which basically said that things were ‘very bad’ and that there should be ‘no phone calls’. In my own mind, I had basically concluded that his son had died. All we could do was keep going and hope for the best.

 

We had spent lot of money by the end of the second weekend – van hire, consumables, expenses, travel, things breaking (including one of the camera’s batteries and a toilet macerator engine). Without being too specific, it was all the little things that rolled together to produce cost, and those things that we projected might be very expensive that ended up being less so. We ended up just a little over budget – and in the final analysis.

Trailer for ‘Get Well Soon’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2010 by michaelwoodman

The trailer for ‘Get Well Soon, (formerly ‘The Bath’ is now online).

Read the official press release on the BRAG productions website.