Crowd funding campaigns we love

Here at The Fitzroy, we’re huge fans of crowd funding and not just because it helped us get the Fitzroy off the ground. We truly believe it is a great way to create and share new ideas and projects.

So in the spirit of the season, we thought we’d share a few of the projects that have caught our eye recently.

Frogman Returns

Who doesn’t love superheroes and frogs!

“He’s green, he’s wet, he ain’t your pet… he’s FROGMAN, and he’s back in this ‘darker and grittier’ comic book sequel.”

twitter: @Mattfitch81

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Obvious Child: a 2014 Sundance World Premiere!

Obvious Child looks like a very funny and touching film, premiering at Sundance.

twitter: @ObviousChildMov

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Life Itself

If, like us, you love cinema, you really should check out this feature documentary based on the late great Roger Ebert’s memoirs.

twitter: @EbertMovie

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Ralph’s Life Charity Music CD

A great cause and a great idea! Help produce a double CD of unsigned UK Indie bands and artistes, to raise both funds and awareness for mental health in the UK.

twitter: @Fruitbatwalton

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I hope you like them as much as we do and you can give them a tweet or facebook mention and help spread the word. If you have any projects that you think deserve sharing too – please post them in the comments below.

Disclaimer time: We’re not personally involved in any of these projects, some are by complete strangers, some by friends (both online and real world). Some we have financially backed, others we support by helping spread the word. All of them we just think are pretty awesome.

The First Rough Cut Screening

It’s been a while since I last blogged! And that’s putting it mildly.

This isn’t the time or place to go into it, but my personal life has taken some twists and turns over the past few months, which has meant I’ve needed to focus on other things.

 The good news is that I am now shifting my attention back to The Fitzroy and… the blog.

Being away from it for a while has given me a little time to think about the blog…it’s time for a premature New Year’s resolution:

“I am going to try and do shorter but more regular blogs”.

Lets see how it works out.

So onto the film.

Over the past months, Liam, our editor (and also one of the films producers!), has been beavering away cutting the film. Early last week we had our first rough cut screening.

The main reason to have a screening at this stage is for us to get a sense of how the film plays in front of an audience and see what is or isn’t working. Being in an edit suite, you can get too close to the film and not see the wood for the trees.

On Tuesday evening we sat down in a screening room with thirty guests, friends, strangers, heads of departments and investors, and played the film.

To say I was nervous was an understatement. I have only ever seen one of my short films on the big screen – nothing else. There were nearly two hours of story up there for everyone to view and critique. My biggest concern was that the story would hold together and that it was funny. An unfunny comedy is no laughing matter (sorry).

The opening titles on the big screen shot by one of the producers.

Watching the film with an audience was a revelation. All the flaws and mistakes really stand out! You can sense when the film is lagging and people are losing attention, and, on the flip side, when they are engaged. We gave everybody a questionnaire to fill out after the film. This sort of feedback is incredibly useful – you can see the full questionnaire at the bottom of the blog.

What really stood out was that the ‘pace’ of the film needs a lot of work. But considering we still don’t have all the music, special effects or any audio design, I was very pleased with the reaction. People seemed to genuinely enjoy it – and they laughed, which was a great relief.

So where from here?

Well we need to take stock of the comments and then it’s back into the edit suite to keep chipping away and improving the film. We can also now start properly working on the music and audio, which I’m really looking forward to.

Here is the full copy of the questionnaire we put together for the screening. fitzroy rough cut survey

‘The clothes make the character’

 ‘The clothes make the character’ is a famous quote I’m probably misremembering by a famous actor. Well it’s true and I would include make-up in that mangled quote.

‘The clothes and the make-up… er… make the character’ – Andrew Harmer

Pithy!

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One of the real pleasures I had when shooting The Fitzroy was watching the actors come in in the early hours of the morning, often tired, occasionally grumpy, only to emerge a little later from the make-up and costume room as laughing, smiling, characters, completely transformed. It was a joy to behold.

Make-up and Costume are so important to a film, especially when the film is a period piece. We’ve been blessed on The Fitzroy to have a great team creating the look. Spearheaded by Poppy Bell (costume) and Karen Evans (make-up), they have worked wonders on a minuscule budget.

But enough of me waffling on. I’ll let them explain it themselves in our latest behind-the-scenes video.

So how’s the shoot going? 

We completed the six days of pick-ups, four in the studio and two back on our old friend, the submarine.

This section of the shoot threw up a couple of interesting challenges.

We had the worst start imaginable. The kind of start all film productions fear… we had no camera gear!

I won’t go into details (if you fancy that you can read more about the ‘day of panic’ on producer James Heath’s blog). Mercifully, by 4pm the camera arrived and we flew into shooting. Thanks to the hard-working cast and crew (the art department had to pull an all-nighter, what stars!) we managed to shoot everything and claw ourselves back to being on schedule.

ciro with camera

The other issue again was somewhat unexpected. Due to unforeseen circumstances our wonderful 1st Robyn, had to drop out the night before the last two days of the pick-ups.

With a few scrambled phone calls and emails we managed to find another 1st. We met her on the sub, introduced the cast and crew and gave her a tour. We started to talk through the first setups and all was going fine. I went to make myself a cup of tea. When I returned I was greeted with the news that our new 1st had been feeling ill and had left!

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Catching some rays while shooting some rare exteriors.

So we were stuck in the middle of the Medway with no 1st ad. Now a 1st ad basically runs the shoot. They hurry the crew along and make sure we are sticking to the schedule – they are kind of the boss. Normally a 2nd or 3rd ad would step up, but we didn’t have those guys on this shoot (keeping the budget tight). The only solution was for one of the producers, James Heath, to step into the mix and become the 1st ad for the two sub days. Thankfully he did a good job and we managed to capture all the shots we needed.

Around 90% of the film is now shot and we are very happy with the footage. Some time in July we’ll be shooting the last few scenes, which will include a day of exteriors on the beach and a day of green screen studio shooting. Then the film will be fully wrapped.

In the meantime we are jumping into the post production and cutting what we have shot so far!

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Bernard did lots of hanging around on the recent phase of the shoot!

Ready for Round Two.

I was trying to come up with a pithy little title for this blog, ‘Back in the Saddle’, ‘The Return of The Fitzroy’ (or ‘Revenge’ if you’re more Sith than Jedi), ‘Picking up The Fitzroy’, etc. But I decided to go with a fighting reference, some how it feels more fitting.

Making this film is a constant battle, it is a blow for blow, bare knuckle dust up between our will and the film! Okay maybe I’m taking this fighting metaphor too far but we are having to wrestle this film in to existence.

David Gant and Ken Collard showing the fighting spirit

David Gant and Ken Collard showing the fighting spirit

Tomorrow morning we commence shooting the pickups for The Fitzroy. Having run over schedule in the initial section of photography we now have to finish shooting the rest of the scenes.

There are many reasons why we didn’t achieve our first section of filming – most of which I covered in this blog. Having to pick up days has thrown up a couple of major problems.

Firstly and always the biggest problem is money! We are trying to make The Fitzroy on a very tight budget, especially for a period sci-fi film. This means we have had to raise additional finance. Then there is the issue of ‘getting the team back together’, which has been a logistical nightmare to say the least.

The good news is we have managed both.

There has been one major benefit of having this break in the shooting, we’ve been able to take stock and put together a rough cut of what we have captured so far. This has allowed us to make sure the story is working and know exactly what we need to shoot for the pick-ups.

So tomorrow we jump back into the ring with The Fitzroy – we’ll be punching harder and smarter, and if the film fights back we’ll be ready for some more ducking and diving.

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Cerith Flinn aka Bernard (hopefully) ready for round 2

The morning after the 2½ weeks before.

It’s two days after the initial shoot for The Fitzroy and I’ve still not recovered. My head is awash with costumes, submarines, lenses, problems, guns, solutions, squeezing into small spaces, smelling of diesel, no sleep, wonderful people and chickens!

The shoot has flown by in a blur and now I’m back home it all feels like it was just a dream.

I line up the next shot with Cerith Jones (aka Bernard)

I line up the next shot with Cerith Jones (aka Bernard)

It was such a fun shoot but ultimately, very challenging for me… and still will be. Because the truth is we overran our schedule and will have to pick up at least a few days on both the submarine and studio.

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Final make-up checks before a take.

Why did we overrun?

Two reasons: firstly, our schedule was too tight and secondly, working in such a confined space proved much more difficult than we ever expected… never shoot on a submarine! On the flip side though, the footage and performances we have captured are stupendous.

This conflict between shooting great stuff and running out of time caused me untold internal conflict (and I’m sure occasionally external). Ciro Candia (the Director of Photography) and I had created an exhaustive shot list prior to filming but it became clear very quickly that we had to throw that out the window.

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Checking out a take – hopefully of something funny!

Ciro Candia lining up a shot in the studio

Ciro Candia lining up a shot in the studio

Scenes that were listed with extensive coverage became ‘one shot scenes’, close up’s became a ‘two shot’ and tracking shots became handheld. Now this all sounds very negative but (hopefully) we didn’t simplify anything to the extent that it has become detrimental to the film. In fact it’s probably the opposite. I can think of at least a couple of places where the simpler option has improved a scene. It certainly pushed me to make some braver decisions.

But it did mean I had to think on the fly a lot more than I would have liked, which I’m sure caused the cast and crew a few problems. But they coped admirably and if it did cause issues, they didn’t mention them to me. I really couldn’t have asked for a more hardworking and friendly cast ‘n crew.

So what’s next?

Well we have to go back and pick up the pushed scenes and shots. So it’s not over yet – not by a long way. Before we do that we are going to do a rough cut of the film and see where we’re at.

In the meantime, if you would like to see more, as always, follow us on twitter, facebook or sign up to our newsletter.

The cast and crew of The Fitzroy

The cast and crew of The Fitzroy

* Photos by the wonderful Angus Young