changed on 24/4/18
UPDATE ON SHOOTING.
We brought together a fantastic group of people in early August aiming to shoot as much of the script as possible. We had over 70 pages of script written and complete with around 400 individual set-ups to cover them. To be honest we didn’t anticipate that we would be able to shoot more than 60-70% of it but we went into the 2 weeks booked with optimism that we would strive to complete as much as possible.
The core of the team, director Jake, cinematographer Phil and producers Julian and Marguerite visited the set on the Friday before to get a mental image of the space available and to plan the first few days of shooting. A 4 hour drive to Portsmouth and the same back but well worth the effort.
We all returned on Sunday with 3 cars driving down full to the brim with catering equipment, food, film equipment and personal belongings for a crew and cast of up to 20. We booked into Portsmouth University halls and set up the craft kitchen ready for the shoot. Producer Julian who had studied in Portsmouth over 30 years ago found it very strange to be back because everything in the city has been rebuilt and although areas were familiar it was all very disorientating, he also set the record for the shoot by locking himself out of his room in the first 30 seconds in the accommodation.
At some point in the fortnight everyone managed to lock themselves out, usually after a trip to the showers… we won’t share those photos!!!
Monday was Director Jake’s 20th Birthday and the first day of shooting, we were remarkably efficient with the camera rolling at around 11am, a simple scene with just 1 actor to let everyone settle in. We managed 7 more set-ups that day which was fantastic and allowed us to get an idea of how the film might look.
Day 2 was another Birthday, this time Richard – our military advisor, and our first opportunity to shoot in the trench. it was really exciting to see it fill with soldiers. As the day went on we began to be joined by our occasional actors, those who were with us for less than the full 12 days.
Jordan from PQA Wolverhampton, Marcus from PQA Telford and Joshua from PQA Guildford were all quickly roped in to play various soldiers with Jordan having the distinction of being German and British on the same day…
As the week went on we managed to stay on target right through until Friday when for some reason the whole thing ground to a halt, everyone was trying to keep the pace up but somehow it just wouldn’t come together, forcing us to exercise the option to shoot on Saturday as well, something we had hoped to avoid. Fortunately we were able to use the time on Saturday effectively and get a tiny bit ahead plus to audition an actor to replace one who dropped out just days before his scenes were due to be shot, a normal thing but still irritating.
We declared Sunday a day off and everyone split to do their own thing. Several of us came over all historical and trooped off to see the Mary Rose, principal Julian had been there the day she was brought to the surface so he was particularly keen to go, a great day out we can heartily recommend.
The second week began slightly ahead of schedule but we were keen to use Monday to set up the rest of the week. We shot 15 set-ups that day with everyone pulling together to ensure a fantastic days shoot, remember each set-up can involve up to 6 or 7 takes and requires resetting of all of the lights, camera settings, rehearsals and much more, plus the scenes are not shot in order so we all have to work out where we are in the script so the actors can get the correct emotions to follow on from the previous scene.
Day 3 of week 2 we moved to our second location, some barns and stables about 3 miles from the main set. Only a few people were needed that day so lots of the cast got a day off while a small drew and cast ran the shoot for the day. Our newly appointed actor playing the Doctor came in that day and was utterly terrible… where his supposedly ‘upper class accent’ actually came from no one knows but despite the efforts of everyone on set he just wouldn’t take direction at all. We are certain that we will have to reshoot the scenes from that day next year, he was truly awful. On the bright side we discovered Emily-Jayne who played one of the nurses, a graduate of PQA Swindon she was fantastic and great to work with, she will definitely be invited back next year.
On our return to the main set the next day the sappers tunnel had been built while we were away and we were able to shoot those scenes. These far exceeded our expectations and will be some of the mot intense scenes of the film.
We finished on the Friday with the last scene of the film, we hadn’t planned it this way, it was just how the scenes happened to come around. Some incredibly heavy scenes for the actors as the German and British troops meet in no mans land amid the smoke of war. I can’t say much more without giving the game away but it was all rather emotional. It featured our 2 German actors who were great friends but had never actually worked together before, both had flown in specially for the film and did a magnificent job, helping us with a few minor changes to dialogue to ensure accuracy as well as fulfilling their acting roles…
Watch the short here