‘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



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!


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!


The Audition: A director’s POV

After yesterday’s announcement of Beach Casting and Brendan McNamara joining The Fitzroy, I thought it would be nice to share some of my thoughts on casting and what I look for in an audition.

I should say up front this is just my way of doing an audition and what I look for. I’m sure each director has a different method and it’s going to be a great learning curve working with Brendan.

I have the highest respect for Actors, it’s a tough job, sure the perks are great but the reality is it’s hard graft. Full of ups and downs, long hours and they get asked to do some hideous things. ‘Just sit in this cold wet lake and make it look like it’s the middle of the summer’. Not to mention the thick skin they must have to develop from auditions. No it’s not a job for me, and anyone who is or wants to be an actor you have my admiration.

So what am I looking for in an actor when they walk into an audition?

Three things:

  1. They are friendly and I get on with them as a person.
  2. They can take direction and listen.
  3. They have thought about the character and story.

Now these might sound simple and glib and they are designed to be.  You see so many people during an audition it becomes pretty repetitive pretty quickly.  If you are lucky you might find someone who just stands out and is the obvious choice but that isn’t always the case the truth is there are often a handful of people all good and then I fall back on this list.

I’ll go in to the three in a bit more details.

1. They are friendly and I get on with them.

It’s the old adage first impressions count: And they do. Auditions can be very quick but it’s incredibly important for me to get on with an actor. If there’s a moodiness or indifference in an audition then what will it be like after 11 hours of work on a cold wet set.

We don’t have to be friends and over friendless is just as off putting. We should be fostering a working relationship, with mutual respect.

2. They can take direction.

Often an actor will have an idea of how to play a character, scene, or line but often for whatever reason you will want them to play it differently. Being open to taking direction is really important.

In the audition this is generally how I play it.

The actor walks in we greet, make a little small chat and then I ask them to run the scene. I might give a little direction by describing the scene, where it comes in the piece and what the character is trying to achieve. But that’s it, sometimes not even that.

The actor will perform the scene.

Then I will tweak something specific with some simple direction (even if it was performed perfect), play it faster, slower, more energy, less, etc. Something like that.

The actor will perform the scene again.

And that is it.

From my (admittedly limited) experience it is surprising how often an actor won’t listen and will either play the scene exactly the same again or completely differently to how I asked.

3. They have thought about the character and story.

This might come up at anytime during the audition and normally just in conversation. I want to see signs that the actor has thought about the character, worked through why they are doing something and are not just reading the words on the page.

One of the other things I really like is when actors make brave unconventional choices even if they aren’t right it’s always great to see a creative imagination at play. I look for this in all cast and crew. There is no such thing as a bad idea. It’s just a case of making sure we run with the best option.

So that’s how I run an audition and what I look for. Like I say I think everyone probably approaches it slightly differently and if you have and suggestions or tips I would love to hear them, especially from an actors point of view on what they are looking for.

Like I say I can’t wait to get working with Brendan and start the casting process. We’ll be putting out a few open calls as we go along.

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We have a Casting Director!

We are over the moon to be able to announce this today!

Brendan McNamara and his company Beach Casting have joined The Fitzroy and will be leading the search for the perfect cast.

The right casting is essential for any film and a surprisingly tricky business. Having a casting director of Brendan’s caliber and experience involved really does raise the film to another level.

As well as countless commercials, music promos and short films Brendan has done a number of high profile feature films including Svengali, Ultramarines, Treacle Jr and The Agent.

It’s going to be incredibly exciting ride to see who Brendan suggests for the roles and how that in turn effects the characters.

In the next few months we will start filling roles and have some exciting casting announcements!

We can’t wait!

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Actors: As we are trying to make this film through social media with the power of the internet we will also be putting out an open. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for an announcement of this and character descriptions.