Wednesday, 7 September 2016

YOU WILL NOT BREAK ME - The Making Of Pick-Ups - Pre Production

I was going to Copenhagen to see one of my best friends and fellow film maker Mark. We had a very definite film making past together, being that the first film either of us ever made was with each other, in his bedroom.

Hang on, that sounds a bit dubious.

Basically our first film was shot on his dad's camcorder that had to be attached to a VCR, so we had to improvise something in his room, which resulted in some strange film following a secret agent (Agent 009.5) and his arch nemesis Fez Head.

We were young(ish)

It was actually the throwaway, daft energy of that first step into film making that I wanted to recapture. I was bogged down with my films The Crunch, Stranded and Goodnight, Halloween all being at various long winded stages of production/ post-production. My stupid feature film from years back was also going nowhere. I just wanted to do something fast, fun and free and it didn't really matter whether it was a work of art or a success or not.

So I came up with two ideas - one was "A Date With Death" which would have been a silly travelogue around Copenhagen while a woman goes on a date with, well, Death - row boat on a lake together, that sort of thing. I can't remember if I'd figured out the ending, perhaps Death didn't want to take her in the end or something.

The other one really was using the Robert Rodriguez approach of writing to what you I figured if I could get Mark to act in it again (though he'd long avoided doing that, being now behind the camera...though I thought he might be up for it) I'd have an English actor abroad in a foreign country...he lived in a flat, so we had access to a flat...then if we could get a female friend involved (perhaps even Mark's girlfriend, even though she wasn't an actress) then perhaps there was something in those aspects that could set something up.

So, possibly inspired by Mark and his girlfriend Sabine's own career roles (director, production designer) I had the idea of a slightly socially awkward film director who has had a relationship with some crew member on a film (perhaps platonic, perhaps a little bit more...or maybe perceived a little bit more) while on a shoot out of the country. In an almost mid life crisis he's ditched his married suburban life, full of over enthusiastic young love and gone off to be with this woman in her home country...but like a teenager not quite in control of his emotions and senses, he never quite picked up on the signs the woman was telling him...and I had the title of Pick-Ups based on the whole filmic idea of going back somewhere to do the pick up shots, or finish off what you didn't get to finish before...I thought it fitted quite well, with an undercurrent of trying to "pick up" the woman...

I figured it was a starting point, enough to do something undemanding and easy to achieve in a day with no expectations of greatness, just something fun to do. I may have written some sort of outline as scant as the one above, I'm not sure, and sent it to Mark...who said that it could do with some developing.

If I remember rightly, this was about a week or so before I was planning to go over to Copenhagen and it was just supposed to be something we just have a go at making, not something that is developed and goes back and forth and...I dunno...I guess I felt deflated by the comment, maybe I explained badly, maybe he didn't want to act in it and I presumptuously thought he'd be okay with it, perhaps he was being a bit cautious over what the point of it was and where it would end up - at the time Mark was involved in various things and perhaps wanted to make sure it didn't damage any reputation or possible work opportunities. I don't know.

The end result was that I went to Copenhagen, but we didn't make either of the films together.

But there was something about Pick-Ups that I liked. Just the simplicity of it appealed massively to me in comparison to my then filmic troubles. While Terry and I struggled through the editing of Stranded (see that separate making of) the Virgin Media Shorts competition came up in conversation - I paraphrased my idea for Pick-Ups to him and Terry laughed at the punchline to the film, thinking it was genuinely a good idea. I thought that I'd be able to get the film in on the 2 minutes 20 seconds then running time limit on the Virgin Media Shorts competition and so spurred on by Terry's enthusiastic response I decided to resurrect the idea. Memory maybe failing me, but I think Terry may have agreed to star in the film there and then.

I also mentioned about Mark's need to develop the idea, which I was resilient to as I felt it was a simple story, a simple idea and I didn't want to over egg it. Terry told me he had a tutor at college who used to say "A chair is a chair" and this no nonsence, is-what-it-is feeling and ethos stuck with me.

As ever with my work, not much happened for some time. Some films got finished, some remained unfinished, other ideas dragged their feet...I must have written a script for the film and I now set it in some unnamed former Eastern bloc country - though in the end I went with the Czech Republic although that was never mentioned in the film - with the male role now named Joseph Francis Little, quite why I don't know, I just wanted him strutting with a suitcase at the start with JFL on written on it in tape, close to JFK but I can't think why now. The female role was Nula Ruzova, which I think meant Rose Flower in Czech. Terry had a film making friend named Mark (Tew)who lived in Worthing in a small block of flats - the interior hallway and landing had a blandness to them and the outside of the flat could possibly pass for an Eastern European nondescript modern block of flats, although the inside of his flat wasn't particularly Eastern bloc, but with his film posters and such like in the flat the filmic backstory aspect could have hopefully been insinuated quickly and he agreed to let us film there.

So around May 2011 I started casting the female role in the film - as the role was for an East European I did receive many requests, some of whom did look the part, but many were in London, which made it difficult to audition and there would always be the additional cost of transport from London too.. The script wasn't the easiest to audition for, being that it was mostly responding to Terry, so it wasn't easy to gauge a performance. Funnily enough an actress named Joanne Gale got in touch for the role - I'd auditioned her for Stranded and it was basically between her and Natasha, but Natasha got the role for I knew Joanne was good and I was keen to work with her, she could also be local with family still in the region so that helped secure her for the role, though I did have concerns at the time that she may have looked just a bit too young...not that Terry looked very old in comparison, but certainly older...

I tried to arrange some dates for filming around the start of September - my daughter was due in November so I knew realistically I couldn't risk filming any later than early October and would be busy with baby preparations during that time. However, in the middle of August I was dealt a bit of a blow - Terry was going to be busy with a play in September, so would be unavailable...I was still keen to have him in the role and said I'd postpone until next year. He replied back suggesting that I recast, as he was "not as jazzed about working on it" as he was when I first told him the story - as he was committing himself to finding worthwhile acting roles he found himself no longer willing to do just any role just for showreel material.

Damn it.

Looking back at some emails I really didn't waste any time - I was determined to shoot something new this year and was still aiming for September. I didn't really mind if the film didn't turn out perfect, I still very much had the relaxed attitude of the film being what it was - the chair was still the chair. I didn't want to stress myself putting casting calls up, auditioning male actors and killing myself, spending a lot of money on something so "light" but I also wanted to try and meet this September/ October deadline.

So that same day (!) I emailed an old friend, Nail, who I used to work with in Nottingham in a record shop. He was always a character and I could always see him in a film, but strangely I never ended up using him in my feature Gettin' Some, strange that pretty much anyone and everyone else rolled up in it out of desperation to fill some roles. We'd seen each other not long ago at a screening in London of The Crunch and he half jokingly lamented when I was going to put him in one of my films. Much that I did genuinely want to work with Nail, I thought he'd put in a fun comedic performance and it'd be fun to be spending a day with him again there was also the hope that he might also be up for doing some soundtrack music for the film, and being (at the time) part of the critically lauded electronic/ chill out duo Bent would hold some kudos when trying to promote the film.

We spoke about it and Nail, though understandably a bit nervous, was up for the role. I'd seen a photo of him recently wearing some old fashioned 60s style glasses which looked really good on him, really helped me visualise the character and so asked him to wear them, though I have a slight feeling he may have told me he'd just broken them! So I was off trying to locate a pair of similar looking glasses with plastic lenses - as I knew Kerry, an optometrist from Nottingham now living in Brighton, I was hoping to borrow some samples from work just for the shoot....

So the role was recast. The other male role, for the sting in the tale, was to be played briefly by Brian, who was the brother of the make up artist Jeanette. But then after myself and Mark (T) had sat and discussed the ending of the film, being that I felt I really needed an absolute beefcake of a man to pull the twist off, Mark suggested I go the other way and have an older man be the twist...which was a brilliant suggestion and really made the film. So I quickly got in touch with local actor Dick Douglass, who I'd met at several film networking nights, and he seemed to be up for the role.

All was looking good for the mid September shoot - there was an issue that Mark (T) was going to be busy on the shoot for his short film House Trafalgar but I was hoping that I'd still be able to have access, being that he'd be elsewhere anyway, but in the end this ended up being an issue as he said he may need the space to stash production equipment and that it maybe a bit too much with two shoots happening at the same time.

Having recast my actor with 4 weeks to go, I now had three weeks to find a new location to film in.

Lady luck shined on me - make up artist Jeanette and my wife's friend Helen had moved in to an amazing basement flat in Kemptown in Brighton - the hallway was fantastic with clouds painted on the ceiling and lovely coving, the lounge had mirrors on the walls and inset behind faux columns - it felt very bohemian, like something from Nic Roeg and Donald Campbell's also seemed to fit the new sting in the tale of the old man, being that the set up is that it's his flat that Nula lives at, not her own. Although the outside was an old fashioned Brighton townhouse it had scaffolding and tarpaulin up completely covering the outside, which with some simple CG could have some Czech builders firm writing put on it. Directly opposite were a bunch of flats which looked far more Eastern bloc than Mark's flat, which meant the opening walk to Nula's flat could simply be shot across the road and around the corner.

Phew, the stars were in alignment!

Except around the 11th of September Nail's ankle was not. After a night out he rode his girlfriend's bike home, fell off and fractured his ankle, which suddenly put any shoot in absolute disarray. Never wanting to give up complete hope on shooting the film in 2011, I had to wait for him to get the all clear 10 days later to see if it would all be okay.

The really great news was that the fracture wasn't too bad and was sorted after a very brief period. The bad news was that the x-ray which confirmed the good news also showed a hairline fracture that they'd missed the first time round, so Nail would be stuck in the cast until mid/ late October at the earliest.

So basically, despite my best efforts, I had to finally admit defeat on filming Pick-Ups in 2011.

2012 got off to a bumpy start - somewhere between October and the end of the year Helen and Jeanette's flat became unavailable - from one email all I can see is a reference to Helen saying "it's not suitable" though I can't remember what the reason was back then...but it seems that shooting was back on at Mark's flat in Worthing.

It looked like everything was heading towards a late February shoot...however, I then had the blow of losing Nail from the film permanently. I won't go into the reasons here, but it was a pretty significant life decision that he undertook and one which has been a positive one in the long term, but it suddenly meant he wasn't able to be in the film. I'm not sure when the change happened, but with the slight change to the ending Terry was now keen to play the role of JFL again, so he came back on I got my first choice actor back in the end after all a month before shooting!

The only current concern was that Darren, my DOP friend, along with all of his kit, had moved back home to Wales around the end of the year - I now had to sort the transport cost, which wasn't excessive, but it was more a concern of him coming so far for the film shoot, although he was local at the start of February to shoot the sequel to Jenny Ringo, another short he'd previously been involved in. I also needed to get hold of a sound recordist - as we were shooting on a week day I wasn't able to use Toby who had previously sound recording on a variety of films - but each avenue I went down seemed to be a dead end...

But then two days before the shoot I was hit with the news that Darren wouldn't be able to do the shoot - after struggling to get hold of him I finally spoke to him on the Sunday night, when I seem to remember him saying "We're shooting on Tuesday, yeah? Yeah, that's not going to happen I'm afraid." I wasn't exactly sure why, but that was that and he asked if we could postpone to mid March at the earliest.

With everything else bar sound recordist sorted I was going to go my damnedest to try and make this 28th of February shoot happen.

Immediately after getting off the phone to Darren I dropped Anthony, who shot Stranded, The Crunch and Goodnight, Halloween, a desperate quick line in the hope that he may be able to help me out. That was a no go. I contacted James, who shot House Trafalgar for Mark...also a no go.

Around the same time Jeanette also told me that she was no longer available to do the make up. And I still didn't have a sound recordist.

I was trying to get a friend to help out possibly do the sound recording and clapper, if push came to shove Mark could use Terry's DSLR and we could still shoot the film...

But then Mark let me know he couldn't really commit to shooting the film - due to work issues his days off were shifting around and he couldn't guarantee being there all day if required to go out to work...

Luckily I managed to convince our friend (and writer of House Trafalgar) Simon to crew for me...

Mark dropped me a line voicing concerns whether doing it in such a scrappy manner, with a scrappy crew, with not much dslr experience was really the best thing to do - from one film maker to another.

I don't know if that convinced me, or what was the final straw, but in the end I had to postpone the 8 hours before I was due to commence filming the next day I was already canvassing replacement shooting dates...

(My description of that painful scrambling somehow make the film was "Arguably less painful banging your head against a brick wall while your nether regions are stuck in a plug socket while being dry humped by a rhino." It's a description I stand by.)

This is how you lose a year in a page...

As I tried to arrange a new shooting date Mark then gave me some bad news - he was committed to getting House Trafalgar completed in time for festival screenings in April and could no longer commit use of his flat to Pick-Ups while he was still in post production on his short film, probably May at the very earliest.

Everyone involved started throwing dates back at me, but I could easily see the film slipping further and further back - if we didn't hit a date in late March, it would then be late April at the earliest we could then reconvene...but that was assuming I could even find another location, when everything seemed to be around Mark's flat for the rest of the shoot which would make it convenient and all in one package.

So I decided to postpone until Mark gave me the nod and filming at his flat was all clear. I had other things to be getting on with (in particular my other horror short Knock Knock, which I was also hoping to shoot this year) so figured I could get my head down and come back up in a few months.

May would rapidly skip June and then head towards July, as Mark's post production sound design woes on House Trafalgar would continue, along with jury service and work late June this shooting date was realistically now mid August at the earliest....but a momentary reprieve suggested a date at the start of August, after which it would then be mid September by the earliest...which Terry sadly wasn't available for...but then YE GODS somehow the stars fell into alignment for the 12th of August - IT WAS ALL GO AGAIN!

(Mark wasn't available due to a double booking of a family BBQ and asked for us to be finished by 6pm, which I of course said we would - ahem - but this wasn't an issue...)

Losing my actress was an issue though.

Joanne dropped me a line to say that something had come up and she could no longer do the 12th...she had also taken on a new teaching job and was planning to go away to India for a month, so she wouldn't be available again until November.


Terry suggested a friend called Hulya for the role, thinking if we could quickly fill the role then we'd be able to film on the 12th. But whoever the actress was she needed to look young, so that there'd be some differentiation between her and Terry and then a further difference between herself and Dick.

I didn't recast in time.

The next scheduled date was early October and I spent September trying to recast Nula...I really can't remember what the outcome of this was. The next note I can see is from the start of November, optimistically trying to get the film shot in December and checking in with Terry and Dick...which with some back and forthing took us to the 20th of December..I'd also dropped Joanne a line asking if her circumstances had changed as I'd failed to recast her and was still superkeen to work with her....which turned out to be a yes - she was still up for the role if we could make the dates work!


But December wasn't to be - Mark had a screening for House Trafalgar and we couldn't make the dates work - so we were then looking at some point in January before Joanne left the country again (!) at the end of the month. But by the end of November we ended on a positive note - the 6th of January was all sewn up and was all good for everyone.

A week later things changed sadly when Mark had some terrible news and understandably it wasn't right to film at his flat, so two days before Christmas I was location hunting again for a shoot two weeks later.

2012 ended with neither Pick-Ups getting shot, nor Knock Knock - a very frustrating year juggling two projects which resulted in nothing.

But on New Year's Eve I contacted everyone to say I'd managed to secure a new location and we'd now be filming in Peacehaven, at Debbie the make up artist's flat.

And in 2013 this time it would actually happen.

Murder In Hi-Viz: The Making Of Black Spot...Part 2 - Production

It's been over two years since the shoot of Black Spot and my memory has probably become a bit hazy, but it would end up being one of the oddest I've ever done. It was all my fault, by just not testing my camera properly beforehand and being presumptuous about certain things.

I picked up Andy and Mark from Worthing and we headed over to Brighton to get Jason, then we pulled up to pick up Alexxa. I nervously waited on the double yellow lines across the road from her flat until she came out. She jumped in the car and seemed very quiet, very shy...I was a bit concerned that it was going to be a bit awkward and that perhaps she would end up giving a subdued, self conscious performance.

I needn't have worried about the latter bit...later Alexxa did explain to me why she felt a bit nervous - she was basically getting in a car with a bunch of men, none of whom she'd ever met, to go off filming in a remote location. It suddenly struck me how naive I can be with presuming everything is cool with everyone getting together filming and never even gave this any regard upfront but once she explained it made absolute sense.

We headed out to the location. I'd ironically wanted a cold, crisp day for the shoot and was disappointed that with a spring/ summertime shoot I was unlikely to get this. Instead, I had a supremely grey, drizzling day with odd flashes of clear skies. It was very temperamental. The layby was thankfully empty so we pulled up and waited for Raine to turn up, hoping he'd spot us and find the correct layby.

He arrived and parked just slightly in front of my car - enough that his car wouldn't be in any profile shots of my car, where most of the action would take place and he'd move his car for the moments where the road ahead had to be clear. We tried to crack on as soon as possible - I had a very very long shot list, which I was optimistic about as there was no sound crew or lighting to wait for, so in theory there wouldn't be any hold ups in that regard. So, leaving the others in the car, myself, Mark and Raine set off down the road to capture footage of Raine's solitary walk and finding the Missing Persons notice (with a photo of myself cunningly placed on it.)

Handily this one stretch of road, with some clever angling, could cover a variety of went along the road and filmed the shots with the missing persons sign, which had some great depth of field of a fence leading up away from the road, horses in the background and the high hills of the South Downs. We got him walking past a roadsign with some aged flowers tied around the sign, another nod of death that I wanted the opening to have. We simply turned around this point to where the road became heavily tree lined and curved around the corner into darkness, which gave a great angle for Raine to emerge from.

But then the first shutdown happened. The battery on the camera ran out already. It probably started drizzling a bit by this point so the three of us quickly retreated back to the cars.

I'd heard the battery on the camera wasn't great and I was aware that there was no way I'd be able to do all the day's filming on a single charge, but my plan was always to plug the camera into my car's USB port so I could charge the camera while filming all of the interior shots in the car. I'd also basically been an ass with charging the camera the night before - as I'd used the camera so little, I presumed I hadn't actually used much of the charge, so when I charged it for filming I didn't think the red charge light ever turned green to indicate the battery was fully charged - it would have done, if I'd left it long enough. So basically I went to the shoot without the battery full charged.

So, damage limitation time - the battery doesn't last as long as I'd hoped, but we could shoot interior shots while it recharges, then once we've got enough charge go back out and shoot more exterior shots. Wrong again. Once the camera was attached to a USB port it presumed it was connected to a PC to upload the footage - it couldn't actually be put into camera mode as soon as it was connected to a USB port, so my plan of filming interiors and charging was, frankly, fucked.

They say that the vast majority of film making is actually waiting. In the case of making Black Spot that holds completely true. We could do nothing but sit in the car and wait for the camera to recharge. Stupidly I also didn't think to keep my car engine running - at one point the car barely started, but thankfully did, which would have been further insult to injury.

The nearest facilities down the road and around the aforementioned dark corner (to the pub, which thankfully did take away coffee) there was a variety of tag teaming and wandering off between spurts of limited battery power.

With the battery slightly charged we continued to shoot in sequence, capturing the rest of Raine's solitary walk (again, two shots conveying passing of time and distance were basically 5 metres apart) with again some nice depth of field - long, waving grass in the foreground, pylons and electricity cables disappearing across the flat greenery - and at one point we had low lying cloud drifting across the tops of the hills in the background. I had no idea how well these moments would come out with the limited quality of the camera, but had to hope for the best.

Once Raine had reached the car and discovered the "dead" body of Mummy McKenzie it was time to prepare for one of my most ridiculous shots. I zipped up my cagoule, pulled the hood up tight, put on some plastic goggles and with Mark's suggestion stuffed some tissue up my nose. The camera was then bound tightly in cling film with the hope that would be enough to keep it water tight, or thereabouts. I laid down on the ground, Raine took a big swig of supermarket own brand chicken soup, then threw it up all over me, splattering the lens in the process (and me)

And here I am afterwards...mission accomplished...

It didn't quite capture it in 3D and Raine didn't quite get it completely on target, but it was a suitably over the top ridiculous shot that I think you expect in 3D films.

There was another "into the camera" shot immediately after this, as Daddy McKenzie first appears, stumbling towards the camera. With this sequence there was definitely a nod to one of my heroes, George Romero and in particular to Night of the Living Dead (a film I appreciate, but don't love in the same way as Dawn or Day of the Dead.) So Daddy's appearance and the struggle between him and Paul was supposed to be similar to Jonny's struggle with the first graveyard zombie in NOTLD, then the push away of Daddy to reveal Junior in the background with the knife was a nod to a celebrated shot from Night, where a zombie is pushed back from the farmhouse porch, but then reveals numerous other zombies approaching the house.

Following a brief stand off with Junior we got the character of Paul into the car, where he would stay for most of the film.

The stop/ start recharging of the battery nature of the shoot added an air of urgency and tension with the shoot - I'd view the run through with the camera in 2D mode (which saved on the battery) then flick it to 3D shooting mode only as soon as we were ready to shoot. But through the course of the day 2 things became apparent - the level of charge in the battery reflected the mode you were using, so we could be rehearsing with half a charge but as soon as we shifted to 3D mode we'd be operating with only a quarter of a charge...and when the battery started to get very low there was no rhyme or reason as to how much longer you would be able to shoot. Sometimes there would be a quarter of the battery left and it would suddenly switch off in the middle of a take, othertimes the battery gauge would flash red and empty and you'd still get some shooting time out of it. It was very frustrating for me to be watching a great performance in camera, watching the battery light flashing and praying that we'd get to the end of the take, but unable to prompt the actors to speed it up or give any direction without distracting them from their performances.

The battery was of course not the only issue - the rain showers continued on and off throughout the shoot, so sometimes we'd all have to dash back into the cars even in the middle of a take, use the opportunity to continue recharging the camera and wait for the rain to stop.

Eventually we were ready to do something with Alexxa apart from her be an inanimate body...and when the time to scream came, jesus, did she scream, A hollering banshee wail that had everyone's eyeballs popping out (she told me she'd been using some memories of giving birth to her kids) It's always the quiet ones....

It's probably during this sequence where we captured one of my favourite images - Junior to the left of the frame on the windscreen, Daddy in the background, coughing and spluttering at the window, Mummy coming into the right of the frame gasping in pain with Paul in the middle with his head in his hands. It looked and sounded horrible, painful, disturbing in an over the top uncomfortable manner.

We got various images of this sequence and Jason threw himself completely in to the role, especially when raging on top of the bonnet, smacking the windscreen with his hand, I think even going so far as to headbutt it at one point, a really deranged performance, completely over the top but perfectly suited ot the pandemonium I wanted. This continued with us getting the footage of the monkeys running wild, with Junior and Daddy running around the car, jumping, hollering, bashing the car, pushing it, kicking it.

I was probably most concerned about this sequence attracting attention from people passing by (perhaps more than Alexxa in her bloody dress, though for the most part she was hidden in the car) In preparation for the shoot in order to look (ahem) more professional and to hopefully avoid any queries regarding what we were doing Mark and I wore hi-viz vests. I also left a tripod stood up in the vicinity of the shoot which would be very easy to see if passing by. I needn't have worried - not one person every slowed down or showed the slightest bit of interest in what we were doing, the only reaction I really recall was a bunch of cyclists grinning at us as they rode by at high speed. If anything, that showed that the best way to get away with murder must be to be ridiculously visible with it...

As I was mostly shooting in sequential order we then did Junior and Daddy looking for the keys, with Daddy giving Junior a pretty good smack round the head for spoiling their fun. Some shots were taken in the car of Paul's viewpoint looking out (sadly with a blatant continuity error of rain spots on the windscreen - I should have probably put the wipers on but then the windscreen may have been smeared.)

We did some additional shots of Paul and his lonely opening walk - one was a particularly lovely looking low angle shot, with the camera almost on the road, the rain had made the road shiny, there was a tree in the distance and the light was beginning to break behind the clouds, back lighting the man walking the road. It looked pretty good, but then as I was shooting this all hand held, with myself holding the camera in my hands very low to the road, the camera slipped from my hand. It seemed okay, but then the buttons weren't responding. Then the screen was all corrupted. Uh oh.

Thankfully the tried and trusted removing of battery/ memory card and switching everything back on solved the issue before I started to panic at being unable to complete the shoot, but it did make me aware that I was shooting on a very cheap camera, which had no guarantee of reliability over a long period of shooting. I just hoped there'd been no permanent damage.

We were into the final stretch now, which involved utilising a different camera we shot the unconscious Paul POV shoots when his body is carried to the boot of the car - for the POV on Daddy I was carried by Raine and Andy as I filmed. For the POV on Junior and Mummy it was Andy, who played Daddy, being carried by myself, Raine, Alexxa and Jason.

For the final car sequence there's a tiny tiny blink and you miss it cameo from Mark. I'd always hoped to show several other bodies in the boot of the car, to suggest the family had been out on the hunt all day, but it would have been impossible to get myself, Mark and Raine all in the boot (much that I was tempted to try.) In the end Mark was squeezed into the boot with Raine next to him, but so tightly that you never really noticed the person behind him, especially as the shot isn't very long in the final film. Oops.

With all the roadside elements shot, we packed up and headed back along the road to the local pub which had been the source of the hot drinks throughout the day. Outside we got the shot of the family walking away from the car and then we all settled down for a quick drink, Alexxa changed into her conservative Mummy clothes and we got the final image of the family having a normal drink, with Mummy admonishing Junior's speed at guzzling his pop.

It was a much longer day than expected, but that's atypical for my films, and I did feel bad as I'd told Alexxa that I expected us to be finished and back in Brighton for around 3pm, instead it would be closer to 6pm by the time we were back.

So a lot of tribulations with the camera and weather, but a fulfilling day. I think the aspect I enjoyed so much about the shoot was that it felt like a real throwback to my college days, when we'd be armed with a video camera and we mostly shot from the hip, no lighting, just get a shot and move on. Obviously I was more prepared with quite an intense storyboard and shot list, but the freedom (battery permitting) of skipping from one shot to the next, without slow downs for focus pulling, tweaks to lighting, problems with sound and all that made it feel like such a liberating shoot. Working with such a miniscule camera was empowering too - being able to but the camera in places a normal camera wouldn't fit, or there'd be issues with the lens not being wide enough - was such a refreshing experience.

The rest of the film would be a piecemeal fashion unbelievably over the rest of the back to business as usual! The first bit I tackled was filming footage for the end titles where we travel the road and see the McKenzies as a family in the car. I went to the area around Devil's Dyke in Brighton and with my new suction cup camera mount put the camera low down around the wheel arch and went driving in a long circle, parked back up and moved the camera to the bonnet. Like a twonk on one such journey I hadn't hit record properly...the footage was far shakier than I'd expected, but I was able to claw a few seconds from here and there.

I then picked up Jason one day and did the same with him, this time filming him being the family dog and putting his head out of the window (thanks to the camera mount I could put the camera on the driver's window to get a good view point on this. Another day I picked up Alexxa and did a similar trip again, this time capturing her as she chatted and adjusted her make up. Andy's footage would take a long time to arrange and was finally captured further into the summer - I needed a quiet road where he could drive the car, as for insurance purposes he probably shouldn't have been, but also needed countryside out of his window. Luckily I'd found a good quiet road near Cissbury Ring in Worthing, which was a quiet residential road with houses on one side, but fields and hills leading up to Cisbury Ring on the other. Unfortunately whereas the days with Alexxa and Jason had continued to be grey and overcast the day I finally got chance to shoot Andy driving it was bright and sunny, with an obvious continuity error. Again, for the small amount of screen time this would be for I didn't feel the point in going back to get this again on another overcast day.

There were two things left to shoot - the argument between Paul and Linda and the titles. We shot the argument at Helen's flat on Brighton seafront. Raine and Helen did a little improv sequence which became more heated, leading to the violent scuffle and Helen running to the bathroom. It was a pretty easy going shoot and fun to try and get some levels of depth for the 3D, including a shot of between Raine's legs as Helen's foot comes into the foreground to kick him in the balls (though this didn't work in 3D unfortunately.)

Unbelievably the titles would end up taking me sodding MONTHS to shoot. My regular collaborator Nick Gripton had created me a set up fantastic road signs for the title sequence and I didn't really want to have them just as graphics (plus I wasn't sure how that would work when mixed with the 3D footage) so I was determined to shoot them on the camera. Much that if I had ANY budget for this film it would have been amazing to have got the titles made on something more heavy duty, but this being a Faster Production I had to use the old standby of paper and cardboard, printing the signs out large at home and putting them on thick card.

Typically the corrugated cardboard kinda seeped through, revealing the ridges of the cardboard underneath. I was also concerned that they were very matte and had the obvious paper edge lines visible, so I decided to cover them with contact paper to give them a gloss look, which worked to some degree but in other places left strange crease marks where it hadn't stuck down as well as hoped - the time between making the signs and actually shooting with them probably also affected this, so by the time I came to shoot them many had plenty of odd glossy blemishes and air bubbles. (Sigh.)

Ridiculously trying to find somewhere to shoot these, on a standard metal post sign post that wasn't on a main road which also didn't have buildings in the background proved to be more difficult than I expected. In the end I returned to where I had shot the footage of Andy driving at the foot of Cisbury Ring and attached them to a metal pole there. The first time I went to do it, duct taping the signs to the post, the wind was blowing the flimsy cardboard signs. Upon viewing the footage, I had to admit it looked awful. So I had to go back again another day when the weather was calm, which was no easy task as we hit the autumn and winter months...and unsurprisingly a resident from the other side of the road came out to ask what I was doing, confused by someone duct taping fake signs to a post and grumbling as the wind continued to move the signs about. From this I sorta had okay...ish shots of the signs, though if I remember rightly one or two were still too wobbly, so rather than go back for a third time I attached it to a post near my house and carefully tried to frame the shot to ensure no houses were in view in the background.

With this arts and crafts silliness over, the film was in the can.