‘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

The Night Before.

It is about 11pm and the evening before our first day of principal photography (yes slipped it in again!).

We are checked into the BnB, which is about a ten minute walk from the location in lovely Rochester.

Here’s a (bad) picture of my room!

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It’s been a heck of a journey to get here, (I mean to this point of the production not Rochester) and I can’t quite believe tomorrow I will be calling action on my first feature film. It really is a dream come true.

It’s very humbling to think of all the support people have given us, be it by backing us on Kickstarter, sharing their talent, skills and advice or simply by promoting and championing the project. There is no way we would be here if it wasn’t for the support of so many.

One of the producers asked me if I was nervous. The honest answer is no… and yes. We have a brilliant cast and crew on board and I’m very confident that by the end of this two weeks we will have a film in the can. What I am nervous about is the uncontrollable! The weather, the camera breaking, the sub sinking*, that sort of thing.

But that is the thing with movies (I imagine), something will always go wrong and we will just have to roll with the punches. As long as we can keep shooting, we’ll be okay.

I have to be up at around 6.00am in the morning so I best get some sleep.

Fingers crossed tomorrow goes well.

And a huge thank-you to everyone who has made this possible!

*NB to any of the cast and crew reading this – don’t worry the sub won’t sink!

Titles – the first steps

It’s full steam ahead for The Fitzroy and we’ve started to have our first few creative meetings! It’s incredibly exciting.

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The title designers Chris and Marko skyping in the meeting

One of those meetings was for the titles. If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll be aware that the title sequence to the film will be animated and tell the backstory to the world of The Fitzroy (also you can be in it!! – more on that at the bottom).

I consider the titles to be integral to the film and we’ve got not just one, but two really talented guys working on them; Marko Anstice – he did the illustrations on our website – and Chris Tozer who did the gfx in the promo video. Do check out their work. It’s pretty amazing!

I love title sequences. One of my favourite sites is Art of the Title. For me the titles are a chance for the filmmaker to put the audience in the right mood for the film and reassure them that the film is going to be… well, good.

We also want our title sequence to do a few more things. Here’s the actual brief I gave the guys:

The titles must be…

  • Energetic, funny, engaging
  • Tell the narrative backstory of The Fitzroy
  • Answer ‘logistic’ questions about the world of the Fitzroy
  • Reflect the mood of the film
  • Contain all the characters.

Simple really.

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One of the first steps to any creative process (as far as I’m concerned) is to brainstorm and put together mood boards and references.

So that’s what we’ve been doing and we thought you might like to check it out. We’re using Pinterest and you can see all our references for the titles. This is a working tool and is constantly evolving and changing.

Click here to see the references on Pinterest

If you have any suggestions for references then let us know, either in the comments below or on our facebook page and if we like them we’ll throw them into the mix.

“JUST TELL ME HOW I CAN BE IN IT ALREADY!”

Okay one of the awesome rewards we offered during the Kickstarter campaign is to be featured as an animated character in the titles! How cool is that? We’ll turn you into a character and put you in the titles. A bit Like this…

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NB* The style might change a little as we are still figuring out the look of the titles.

If you would like to be in the titles – just head over to our shop. All money goes to making the film better and bigger!

So that’s the first steps of creating the titles. Once we’ve locked down a look we will start working up some tests… I’ll keep you posted.

And just because it’s one of my favourite title sequences, here’s the titles to the Pink Panther.