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361MC Production

  • Red Scarlet & insurance – 3 days rent fee – £750
  • Lighting team & equipment/expenses – 3 days rent fee – £500
  • Sound recording/mixing & equipment/expenses –  3 days rent fee – £560
  • Make-up artist & expenses — 2 days – £292
  • Hotels – 2 nights for 3 rooms – £150
  • 3 main actors – £50 a day for 3 days – £300
  • Food catering (KFC, Greggs, Costas) – £100
  • Drink tab at the Dog – £200
  • ClubM x120 drink tokens at £1.20 – £144
  • Misc Actors/Extras total – £300
  • Sound design – £100
  • Website fees – £50

Grand total – £3446

Fees avoided: Venue locations fees for ‘Club M’, ‘The Dog’ & ‘SQ Bar’ nightclubs, colour grading done by myself & professional photographer was keen to help for free.

3446 divided between the both of us = £1723 each.

Due to the amount of cast and crew members we had on set (40+ during ClubM and The Dog shoots) health and safety was of paramount importance. After performing a risk assessment form I established 3 main issues;

The biggest issue we had was the plethora of cables lying around from the lighting equipment and Red camera. To minimise any risk I delegated the task of warning everyone about cables to the runner – who would welcome people to the set and inform them about watching their step especially where the lighting equipment and camera was being held. As a pre-caution, myself along with the DoP, lighting tech and 1st AD would do the same.

Secondary issue consisted of alcohol on set. One free alcoholic beverage was provided to each cast member so that it would not only give them incentive to be part of the film but make the nightclub scenes look as legitimate as possible. Originally I had planned to give 3 free drinks of any kind, but dropped this number to 1 in order to minimise any inappropriate behaviour that might occur. If anyone wanted a drink after, they were provided a non-alcoholic one.

Final issue was the lowlight conditions of the club once we were shooting. To minimise any risk of harm and injury me and the 1st AD carefully positioned extras on the dance floor with careful instructions on how to and where to move until they heard ‘cut’. They were also told on what places they should avoid going to minimise any contact with filming equipment.

We worked very closely with the assistant manager of ClubM at the time as well as the events manager at The Dog to help us ensure the highest quality of health & safety. The staff members at both locations were also friendly and made sure to inform any extras and lay personnel that filming is in progress.

At SQ Bar the only issue we had was avoiding any contact with the items stored in the storage room we were shooting in. This was not difficult as it was a carefully planned filming environment with a very small amount of actors (2) and crew (5). During the outdoor filming the only thing we avoided was cables yet again, however it was thanks to the light conditions outside that made this far easier to control and be aware of.

After a long, well-deserved break, it’s almost a wrap. Failure is now non-existent. Just that last stretch before the final reward.

Our budget had run so low that we could not afford a RED nor professional audio recording anymore. So the most I could do now is use the university loan shop, like every other student. So we settled for a 5D and a H4N (with boom) audio recorder for this final scene. This was all planned because we knew that we would not have enough time at The Dog to do Scene 9. You’d think that everything is going to go well but no, that wasn’t the case. The actor who played Bouncer #2 (who turned up every time in the past) did not turn up at all. His reasoning was that he overslept but my reasoning is because I failed to pay him in the past (he did have to leave early when we were shooting at The Dog) he simply could not be bothered another day, which was really a shame because I was prepared to give him a nice bonus thanks to his dedication. But no, someone always has to mess you up – and it’s never accidental and there is always a reason or ideology behind it. Even though this was this particular bouncer’s big part of the film we had to perform a drastic on set re-write. The 1st AD agreed to act as Bouncer #2 and his continued actions from the previous scene, e.g. he’d throw Ted into the room. We carefully captured this shot from an angle that did not reveal the 1st ADs face, so based on the suit he was wearing the audience would assume the bouncer is still the same bouncer. Bouncer #1 then rushes in and steals the stage with his performance from a variety of different angles to take the audience’s mind off the original actor. The whole security camera-style shot also aids in explaining why the Bouncer #2 did not want to show his face. Funnily enough not everything is random, everything is done for a specific purpose to tell the story and fix these kinds of problems that occur on the day. It is all thanks to quick thinking and smart minds – I am very thankful to have met some really cool people who actually care about the production and are not there for just the money. And finally, it was a wrap.

Conclusion

I hope people read these set of blogs and see WHERE I went WRONG and hopefully not repeat my mistakes. Yes, I was dedicated and fought to the last stand but it could have been easier if I organised this slightly better in pre-production. These 4 days of production have given me more experience and knowledge than 3 years of University combined. It is also a lot about money, but more so the careful organising that goes with it. The production was filled with flaws, errors and many issues, but because of so much hard work and pure talent, an amazing film still surfaces. Without failure you can truly never succeed.

The phoenix rises from the ashes, just as a director rises to the challenge of completing his film. We managed to secure one last opportunity. We were to give it everything. Failing this we were not fit to be media producers. This was it.

The hardest and most stressful Good Friday that I have ever lived through turned out to be one of the most successful days of this projects life. Having said that it is apparent that everything that we wanted to reshoot was reshot and everything that was missing was shot. I will focus on the things that didn’t quite go to plan/things that we had to cut from doing and why, so that I can only improve in the future.

PRODUCTION STILLS FOR THE DOG CAN BE FOUND HERE:

It is very hard to describe the level of stress myself the 1st AD faced on this day. Whilst the footage may look beautiful, flow well, and tell a good story in the final edit, it does not show the amount of blood, sweat and tears that the director had to endure. Every other crew or cast member could easily relax, get their free drink, socialise or generally wait around till they were required. I was running about trying to get this whole thing shot so I had time for nothing more. After from the ‘failure’ I have honestly never felt so emotionally and physically drained after a hard day’s work. The day started poorly however, as the manager at The Dog, although agreeing to open up to us earlier than 10am did not open the place till exactly 10am – the same time it opened to the general public. I found this slightly infuriating because she agreed to see us at 9am to discuss the free drink tokens. I made the schedule state that people should get there for 9. The good thing is the majority of people do not turn up on time, but instead 30mins late. So this gave us time to wait outside whilst the club manager was busy opening up the place or whatever she was doing, again I am grateful she let us use it but what she did was not professional. Luckily the club was set dead in town so I could forward people to a Starbucks café that was a couple of seconds away. Some people are just incredibly hard to work with – I should have specifically said open to us at 9am, no later. I really should have made it far clearer to her and insisted how important this was to me (and to her).

Roger Payne gained his executive producer credit because he helped far more than anyone else did. He went to great lengths to organise 10 extras for the club scenes. If he had not done this this day might have possibly been a failure too. The good thing is I stuck in contact with him the day I met him at ClubM. I kept him updated every step of the way and he was able to secure 10 extras which was beyond fantastic. That and the little number of people we got ourselves (which we organised properly this time) added up to form what looked like a full club.

Moving on to the actual shooting on the day; everything that was shot in the ClubM’s main club room could not be used as the insides were beyond completely different in The Dog. Furthermore, the insides were now much smaller and far more manageable for us to work in and for us to fill with extras. There is a little interesting flaw however, he goes up the stairs and then down them into the club – I decided to keep this in because I thought it demonstrated the craziness of club architecture (and an artistic choice) in this town – you have to go up and then go down. Unfortunately not everyone could make it to this cast and crew re-union – the actors playing the Alpha Male and Victim were not present funnily enough, so their scenes had to be removed. Whilst this was a slight shame I somehow see this as a blessing in disguise because that scene would be far easier to do, and probably make more sense. That level of hostility may have been a tad too much and probably would have deterred Ted staying there for long; plus realistically police would have been called to remove the Alpha Male character from the premises. However it still looked good in the trailer. At the time we still thought we could use ClubM footage by working around it with clever editing BUT we decided on reshooting everything from the start, and how right we were in doing so. We had the whole day so there was no harm in re-doing everything from the box-office scenes onwards – I am glad I made this creative decision to.

The absolute fantastic and disastrous thing (at the same time) about this club was an open set. Meaning the general public can come in and buy some drinks and sit and chill. At first we thought this was awesome, hell, the more people the merrier – the club will look fuller! But the smiles on our faces were wiped off when the Coventry legion (group of football hooligans) walked in half way; a (nasty and very loud) bunch of fairly hard-looking and dangerous men. This may sound like nothing on paper, but they managed to frighten the main actor out of doing one of his scenes. I made the decision to shoot another scene not involving him (penultimate scene/kiss) but this may have angered the Cov legion even more – due to a black man kissing a white woman. However we expected them to leave but now the main actor feeling bad, he had come up with an alternative scenario in his head which he pitched to me. I liked it, so we set up the shot. And then the Cov legion left, massive sigh of relief, so we reverted back to the original shot, a little annoying but I’d rather stick true to the script.

At one point in the day I almost suffered from a breakdown, although unrelated to the above event, the sheer size, scale and complexity of this production multiplied stress levels to uncontrollable amounts. There was a brief time (30mins) where I was in a state of what felt to be complete confusion and I had to pass some more work to the 1st AD. Knowing that you cannot let anyone else direct your film (otherwise ClubM Scene 8 would happen again, it would look horrific) I had to get back to my feet as quickly as possible. Understand me, I wasn’t in a comfortable house shooting a relatively straight forward short with food and water around me, but instead in a hostile environment myself, filled with people who wanted to know exactly what they were doing. I found it very difficult because I had never in my life did something so big, but I wanted to be pushed to these kind of limits to experience it first hand before going out to the real world, unprepared. It was in fact one of the actor’s performances (Jasmine’s close-up face when she looks at Ted in offense) that brought me back to life and I was able to once again manage my set and shots. I blame my lack of experience for these issues but you have to start somewhere. I would rather start on something as big as this and live to tell the wonderful tale.

Learning from past mistakes (literally mistakes made 10 days ago) helped to make this day a successful one and not a failure like at the other club. For starters, a photographer was arranged to make some production stills and a runner was arranged to assist the project and lessen the load on me and the 1st AD. Unfortunately the runner was intimidated (like me) by the size of the production so he wasn’t the help I had hoped, instead sitting down half the time, he should have been more pro-active. At least he got the food at lunch time and was honest with the money I gave him for it. Food was a massive issue in the past in terms of failure to provide a proper meal for the crew and cast. Keeping them nourished is very important towards keeping a high standard of work throughout – food should be available on set, whatever the set.  One of the extras also doubled as a professional photographer so he too took some photos of the set and what we were doing alongside a short series of behind the scenes video clips.

Managing the set and the extras was tricky but we managed to split the roles accordingly between myself and the 1st AD. I agreed to direct the main actors and the DoP with the shots that we were going to do and when, and the 1st AD would be in charge of directing the extras as well as assist with production. However due to the stress on our hands we may have told different things to the main actors at some point leading to a mass confusion, this however, was partly due to the Cov legion coming in and intimidating us. It is very hard to avoid things like these on set, but at least we are prepared for things like these in the future. Also the fact that we had another club to rehearse half the shots only 10 days ago, made this day easier in the sense that the actors somewhat knew what was required of them – this applied to the crew members as well, they knew very well the kind of shots that we were going for. This really signifies the importance of test shots – something that I will bear in mind for the future. I was able to keep good track of the scenes and shots that were required for the day; knowing what we were doing and when allowed me to delegate tasks to the 1st AD and other crew.

We decided to cut the dialogue the Gay guy says after leaving the toilet in the edit because we felt that it slowed the place of the film down and take the seriousness off that scene. Also the very last scene (10) had to be shot differently because of the nature of the club exterior/gutter. The crew was quick to help me in this instance and we devised a smarter way of finishing the story. Ted would get thrown out; the Gay guy would swiftly follow and comfort him. Then whilst Grace and Levis walk out they do not notice this little scuffle because of the overpowering stature of the Gay man. The film cuts and abruptly ends.

Overall as a combined team of me and the 1st AD, we had secured all the important shots as well as the multiple takes that we needed, which will make editing a pleasure rather than another stress.Our strengths and weakness were apparent. I was able to direct everyone on set with regard to the exact scenes we were shooting now and next, and thus to prepare for. I had noticed that at times the 1st AD had no idea what scene we were doing or that we had failed and had to quit; I had to calm him down and re-assure him that everything would be Ok and that we were on track to completion. He was fantastic as directing the extras and did well in helping me direct the main cast. We both had in equal role as production assisstants but that was due to our very shy runner. Of course in editing there are continuity issues but these kinds of issues will appear anywhere no matter the scale of production. I felt so happy that after a complete and utter fail which I don’t even care to admit, we learned from our mistakes and experiences and were able to make this day a great success. Everyone seems to refer to this as a ‘learning curve’ and to an extent they are correct. But what most people forget that trying to do things in Coventry, let alone on your own, is far more difficult. With the right help (Roger Payne) this project turned out to be a massive success, and at the end of the day, I had succeeded as a director in getting everything completed.

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.

Perhaps the most stressful day of my life that ended in complete failure. Not the best way to start production, but a very important lesson learned for the future and for life.

Shooting was to commence at 11:00 and be completed by 21:45 – the club opens its doors to the public at 10pm so we had to be packed and gone by that time.

We had 1 hour of time for ‘preparation’ (me and 1st AD) had time to greet all the crew and cast needed for the first scene of the day (Scene 7). The makeup artist arrived overnight as she stayed at the local hotel with Grace; the DoP and his lighting team came from Birmingham; actors that were required for the morning all came on time; and the Sound guys were slightly late as they arrived from London, but to make use of this I insisted that make-up began and actors read through their lines. Myself and 1st AD knew that some people were coming from all over the country so we gave ourselves an hour of time for this so-called ‘preparation’.

So far so good, in that time the RED and the lighting in the toilet was being set up whilst the actors were getting their make-up done. Once this was completed we started shooting the first scene at around 11:30. Upon the first take it was evident that my directing was very rusty (I had never directed something of this scale & the last time I did direct, it was on a 3min short) – in this scene everyone was meant to act tipsy after the effects of alcohol was being felt in their bodies, e.g. the way they walked, the way you hold onto things for stability, even the way you look at things. The lines the actors spoke in this part of the script were already matched to their ‘drunk’ characters. So after directing the actors in detail we continued the shoot. It was relatively straight forward, one long take (medium shot), POV shot, close-up, and vanity shot (close-up of legs). The long take had to be done multiple times however so I could (as editor and head of post-production) choose the best parts from each take to edit/cut with the POV and Close-up.

The vanity shot was done to highlight the sexually liberated ‘toilet’ woman rejecting the main character Ted, showing her nature of rejecting the weak. Furthermore it’s not a student shot since it is somewhat controversial. With this project I wanted to avoid the student look/shot as much as possible. It’s a bizarre angle – we’ve always wanted to see what happens when a cubicle is packed in such a way, and thankfully, cinema allows for that.

Post-production note/Toilet flaw

The only flaw in this scene was the fact that we failed to shoot the close-up from start to end. I should have insisted the DoP shoot the whole close-up take from the very start of the scene and every single reaction till the end. Did this cause many problems? Yes and No. I was able to cut around this but at the end of the scene the main character (Ted) should stare at the toilet for a few seconds and then turn back to the urinal; instead he just stares at the urinal bemused to what he had just seen. Both make sense but unfortunately not the way I had originally imagined it.

Furthermore there are two instances of the actor swiftly turning his head, one to the urinal, and one turning away to look at something. They are in fact the same shot, one has just been reversed. Another clever trick to get past the error I had made above – I had remembered this edit being done in a classic 007 film From Russia In Love (1963).

This has taught me in future to do any important takes from start to finish, and not from half-way through to the end and vice-versa.

Another issue is that the main actor had to urgently leave at around 1pm (hence the unusually long break in the schedule) so we had to rush this scene slightly knowing that the main actor had to go away for some time – additional, non-needed stress. Instead of this really long lunch, I should have scheduled some scenes/shots here that would not have required the main actor to make better use of time. I started to notice that problems occur simply when you do not need anymore.

The Failure

After scene 7 was complete I felt like we were making progress. Everything was going well, to plan. I went on a few errands and arranged some food for the actors and arrived at the Club for 3 to continue. The actor playing Levis had trouble arriving at the Club as he somehow got the wrong address (the old address of ClubM since it had previously moved). I was very aware of this so I made incredible precision to put the correct address in the schedule and the emails I sent to him. But still, somehow he arrived at the old place; perhaps because his GPS was in need of an update. I had to direct him to the new place and stand outside fulfilling the role of production runner because I had failed to organise one. This was also a massive problem because I had to waste time standing outside waiting for cast/crew/extras, e.g. to direct them where to park, to greet them when I could have spent time organising current actors and crew members. A runner would have also introduced the cast and crew around and made everyone aware who was who. I noted to myself that a runner was of utmost important and that I would have one for next time. Thankfully the 1st AD did a good job in my despicable absence, although he blamed me for ‘disappearing’. Little did he know I was talking and befriending Roger when outside (a legendary guy who would help us secure extras in the very future).

Finally after the long break the main actors were there, the crew was there. So what was missing? Not a single extra. So we waited and waited.. but NONE turned up. This was caused by a number of reasons which I will outline below:

Reasons for no extras (in order of importance)

  • Poor organisation for which I blame no-one but the producers (me)
  • Relying solely on the 3 free drink tokens for each person was a very bad idea
  • Relying on the Facebook group only was a very bad idea again, it is useless and not to be trusted whatsoever
  • ClubM had only previously moved from another location – so some GPS systems/websites had the previous, completely wrong address
  • ClubM’s new location had a bad reputation in the past, it used to be known as Blok. Blok was closed down after a rape injury was launched after a Coventry woman told police she was attacked at the nightclub in May 2011. It was later shut down and only recently refurbished and re-launched as ClubM in January 2013.
  • Early timing – 3pm at a club with free alcohol – too good to be true?
  • It’s Coventry. People here are unlike anywhere else in the world. Very little people want to help and most people want to see you fail. Sad but true.

BlokCluM had a bad reputation in the past

What I would do in the future to organise extras?

I would dedicate myself to organising extras first hand and individually. Confirm each person and take their details – just like I would arrange an actor for one of the main roles. This is so incredibly important and I can’t believe I overlooked it so much.

After waiting for extras (outside in the cold) for an hour or two, the stress was piling so I was losing track of time and reality. Being slightly unwell at the time increased in completely ruined my mood. I felt shit but was determined to carry on, half-dead.The last resort which was agreed by us was to march into the city centre (which was around 5minutes away), armed with drink tokens in hand and attempt to persuade as many people as possible to turn up and be an extra. This was a very stressful experience.  The cast and crew were very friendly and we managed to split up into two teams to cover as much ground as possible. Some people were very reluctant to go, I had the script on my iPad, had one of the sound guys and a very persuasive female actor to try to gain the trust of local Coventry people. This must have taken around 2 hours – incredibly precious time that we couldn’t even spare in the first place. By the time we had arrived the DoP and his team were already preparing Scene 5, albeit 3 or 4 hours late. By this time we had just enough extras for that particular scene so we began shooting it.

Post-production note/Scene 5 (Box-office) flaw

The whole scene was shot in a long shot long take; however in post-production I was able to convert it to a medium shot to allow the viewer to see more emotion in the actors’ faces. It would have been nice to cut to a few close-ups.

At the time we agreed to complete the close-ups later on the day, but I should have insisted we complete them then and there because time was running low and it started to become evident that we might need to return to film.

However I am arguing that this scene cannot drag on for long because I want the main character get into the club as fast as possible where the main story unravels, rather than being stuck for too long in the outsides. The outdoor queue screen is a long take too, stylised in a way with as little cuts as possible, more interesting to the audience because it feels as if it is real time. The first queue scene establishes some kind of hostility, the second establishes the girl who he pays for and is then instantly rejected, not even a single kind remark for his actions. I managed to cut the shot after the 3rd slap on the back to when the girl overtakes him on the stairs to hug her friend (which just happens later in the take) with the bouncers voice becoming an almost voice-over effect “Good Luck, mate” which I find very iconic.

Footage after this point will never make it to the final film

After the box-office scenes were complete we moved to the main floor of the club to do the main scenes. By this time we thought we had a sufficient amount of extras – it certainly looked like we did (around 10 people arrived from town and another 10 from Facebook event page/friends), but looking back at the footage this was not the case. The club still looked empty, which lead me to believe that ClubM was simply too big for the film and that we should have chosen a smaller venue. Furthermore the club assistant manager and his minions were incredibly annoying and detrimental to the production of the film – they kept blasting out music and verbal trash from the loudspeaker which just made me furious, I kindly asked them to keep noise levels down but they weren’t too keen on cooperating – this made the whole experience agonising.

If I had known that we were not going to use any of this in the final film I would have put more attention to the previous scenes, but at the time I did not know this – If only I’d knew. We were running out of time so we thought we should get as much done as possible.

Directing the actors was hard but it was in everyone’s mind-set that we had to get this done; the most time consuming thing was the DoP’s lighting team to set up all their kit because of the incredibly low levels of light in the Club. This taught me that some shots do take some extra time to setup and consequently I should allow for that in the schedule. Again, this leads me to believe that the wrong venue was chosen because the levels of light were unsuitable for filmmaker, hence all the extra kit.

The following scenes that were done included the brawl between the alpha male and victim, alpha male and Levis, scene 5, and eventually some of scene 8. Physically and mentally I had lost it by scene 8, so I am displeased to say that the makeup artist (which doubled as a friendly runner, everyone seemed to like her) started directing scene 8. As a result, it turned out to be bad and unusable.

Towards 8pm the assistant manager of the club was telling us that we needed to start clearing up and getting out, unlike the previous agreed time of 21:45. This was really hard-hitting because not only had they not kept their agreement, we had to get out and fast knowing that we had failed. Yet again the wonderful people of Coventry messing you up – you cannot rely on anyone.

And there was the failure of the day. Going to town to get extras, getting told to leave far earlier, leaving the location knowing that you messed up your shots and wasted your money (rent fees), knowing that the day had been a massive screw up. Of course this was all overshadowed by the sheer amount of experience gained on my part. Also I met some exceptionally friendly and helpful people, notably Roger Payne who eventually became the Executive Producer of the film.

Unfortunately I had also failed to secure a good production stills photographer for the day, which was particularly crucial for evidence and a general warm feeling of some kind of evidence of completion. It made me realise how important they are so I made myself a promise that next time, I’d organise some kind of photographer. However what struck me is that when I helping out on another project, I was really eager to give advice and my help out so I started using my own phone camera to take stills to the point where someone offered a camera. Why did no-one on the day take a few snaps from their camera? The answer is that most people do not want to help you. Most people would rather see you fail. My personality however is one that never gives up. I will complete this film to the best of my ability no matter the cost to myself.

Thinking optimistically

The brawls between the alpha male and Levis/Victim were without doubt nicely shot and nicely lit. Unfortunately they were incomplete and could not be used for the final cut of the film. So the most I could do was put them into the trailer, after all the whole film is based around the harshness and hostility of society and one man’s inability to overcome it. Perhaps I can imply this even more now.

It was in my mind and the 1st ADs that we would be coming back to the club to finish shooting so we temporarily put ourselves at rest – we’d finish the shots at a later date. However, we were in for a surprise – refer to Pre-production for ‘The Dog, Coventry’. This was the first and last time at ClubM, and I am more than happy for that. Lesson learned.

So what shots were usable from the club? Everything in the toilet was more or less top notch and the box office scenes were good enough to use also. With a bit of talented editing and grading they will look great. Additionally we made even more contacts including the extras that turned up from town – we secured their numbers and names so that we could easily contact them in the future to re-arrange this set of night scenes. Here we met Jasmine, who was beyond perfect for her role. Not all of it was a complete failure; some good did come out of it.