I keep saying the word failure, but the previous day was just that. Having just messed up half of my film I was not keen on repeating my mistakes. A few problems popped up on the way, but extras weren’t required, so nothing too drastic.
The fact that we were far more acquainted with cast and crew meant this day went more efficiently. Still no runner unfortunately. We were due to start at 09:30 but the sound guys could not arrive at such an early time because of the traffic from London which tied in with the DoP being an hour late as well. To make matters worse it was freezing cold outside.
The 1st AD was kind enough to let the cast into his own house to provide them with food (breakfast…) – something I probably would not have done. Unfortunately I had to produce a female actor (no-one got back to me) to play the abused girl in the gang so I started doing that, whilst everyone else was enjoying a nice bacon sandwich (1st AD was making it to keep the cast/crew happy).
I had an hour to get her and somehow managed to; I was part of a “Theatre and Professional Practice” group on Facebook which was a group for my university’s theatre students. Someone had just posted a status on it (1 minute ago as I saw it) – and to the left how many people it had been seen by. 3 people had seen it, I clicked the linked and there were 2 suitable females. I messaged them both and offered a little bit of money for the job. Very luckily for me, and the production, one of them got back to me and we secured an actress. What annoyed me the most though, is that she was familiar with our main actor, who was a graduate theatre student. Even though I had asked him in advance if he knew anyone who could play the part he said no. Again, the moral of the story is you have to do everything yourself and you cannot completely rely on anyone else. In future I should have a backup actor/actress for every role. But what if that role is small anyway? It is simply not feasible to have a backup people for smaller roles unless they are told that and some kind of payment is involved. Money is everything when filmmaking. If people are happy to do something for free they are either bad at what they do, or very rich. 99% of the case it is the former. Nevertheless I shall be more vigilant in the future and make more contacts (better ones too).
Just as I had completed this we made our way back to the film location as the rest of the crew started to arrive. After the sound guys had scouted the location they were not too happy with the sound noise from the main road so myself and the 1st AD made a quick decision to change the film location to a nearby spot – a minute drive away to be exact. This would make the sound recording far cleaner. The biggest problem with was there would be too much grass in the shots. Ideally I wanted a concrete looking jungle, and based on the recces it was perfect – Ted and Grace would be walking along a path and see the subway with the gang and have no option but to go through it because that’s the only way they could get home. However the plus side is that the big open space allowed for some vigorous, really professional looking and interesting cuts when introducing the gang. Plus, they are in the playground why would they bother Levis and Grace? Hence the reasoning for Grace to say, “Oh Comon Ted, we’ll be fine”. Creative decisions like these had to be made on the spot, they had to be right ones too otherwise the film would look poor. You have to be on your feet, constantly on the ball, thinking. But that’s what the director and 1st AD is for, to make them correct. I personally would have preferred the subway, because like in Harry Brown, when shot well, they look deadly. I agreed with the 1st AD that I would direct Ted and Grace’s conversation whilst he would direct the gang, so that we would save time, be more efficient, and eventually meet at the centre of the action and everyone would know what they are doing.
One thing that greatly annoyed me on this day is the slight unprofessionalism of the DoP and camera assistant. One of the shots of Ted/Grace walking down was very bumpy so some kind of shoulder rig should have been brought along. Was it my fault that the DoP who was handling the RED was unprepared? I don’t think so. Yes, I wanted the shot to be shaky and handheld, but not on that level. As an editor too, I had to carefully cut between their backs and front whilst trying to maintain continuity and erase evidence of bad camerawork. Then, half way during one of the Levis’ confronting the gang shots, the camera cut out of memory… saying SSD full. This is where I am sure the DoP should have imported all the files we had shot the previous day because it was clearly evident that he hadn’t. This caused a problem because the beautiful overcast skies of Britain had changed; one shot it’s full of clouds, the next, it’s one solid colour. Once again it is left to the editor, me, to fix the mess. The last straw is when everyone on set seemed to have worshipped the DoP because he was handling the almighty RED, he was merely a professional actor. I am thankful for his job, but I did not need to be disrespected in such a way. Whilst they were copying footage over, people started wanting to eat, etc, and I simply could not allow them to leave for a break until we were done, otherwise people would have just scattered off.
Apart from these hiccups the day went smooth and we got most of our shots complete. We missed a close-up of some reactions due to a lack of time, and the sheer cold everyone kept moaning about but this was easily fixed in post-production with careful editing.
The day was to be completed by filming Scene 1 in one of Coventry University’s rooms. We were told by a lecturer to simply walk in and use a room and that we did. However our DoP was apparently banned from the building so upon setting up the kit and shot, he was lead out by security. Fortunately we managed to rely on his camera assistant to complete the task. The main actor had to go urgently (again you ask? Yes, he was hard to work with in this regard but a very talented actor who followed directions brilliantly) so we were unable to do the close-ups. 4k footage and editing just about saved the day. I was able to crop the shot to make the mediums look like close-ups with relatively no quality loss.
Probably hard to notice unless you have an eagle eye, scene 1 had the biggest continuity issue of the whole film. Half way through the scene the councillor is holding her phone with one hand; then as the shot cuts she’s holding it with two hands. There was no possible way to rectify this issue in post-production but it is not easily apparent. Myself or the 1st AD should have looked out specifically for continuity issues in this scene and prevented them – we will definitely do this in the future.