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

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Week One of the Shoot

Wow, we are one week into the shoot of the film and what a week it has been!
 
I can’t quite believe we have already shot six days. It has gone by in a blur of ‘actions’ and ‘cuts’.
Discussing the next shot

Discussing the next shot with Ken Collard and Ciro Candia

The first week has all been on location on the Black Widow Russian submarine in Rochester.
 
Shooting on a submarine has thrown up quite a few logistics problems. Some we were able to plan for and others have come as complete surprises. Having to schedule around tide times has been an interesting experience for our brilliant 1st AD Robyn.
 

Cramped is an understatement

Cramped is an understatement

The biggest problem by far is simply working in such a tight location. Once you squeeze in a crew and cast, there is literally no place to move. I know how a sardine feels now. Just moving positions between shots is an epic undertaking of elbows and head bashing. We have all got to know each other very well!
 
The limited space has caused real problems with the daily shooting list and unfortunately we have had to overrun a couple of days and shuffle scenes around. We have also had to drop a couple of scenes from our schedule. Hopefully we can figure out a way to pick these up down the line.
 

Stuart McGugan and Cerith Jones rehearse one of the opening scenes

Stuart McGugan and Cerith Jones rehearse one of the opening scenes

This all sounds like doom and gloom but it isn’t! The footage we are capturing is looking amazing and far beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of. I can’t wait to share some of it with you.
 
We have a wonderful cast and crew who are all working their socks off and achieving the impossible under incredibly hard conditions. Everyone has been incredibly patient with us as we find our feet on our first feature film and I can’t thank them enough. From day one this has been an ambitious project for a first feature film and I am constantly amazed by the talent of the people who are involved. I feel very blessed.
Ken Collard and David Schall enjoy a joke between takes.

Ken Collard and David Schall enjoy a joke between takes.

Tomorrow is the last day on the sub. We then have a week of studio. I think I speak for everyone one I say we can’t wait to get to the studio! In some ways it should be a lot easier – we will have space for one! In other ways it will throw up a load of new challenges, including meatier scenes and a tighter schedule! Best of all, we wont finish the day smelling of diesel.
Ciro Candia - the only one aloud to wear a backpack on the sub! (It holds the batteries for the camera)

Ciro Candia – the only one aloud to wear a backpack on the sub! (It holds the batteries for the camera)

If you would like to know more on how the shoot is going, do check out this brilliant blog by Alex Scott who is doing a brilliant job helping out with the behind the scenes filming. And of course as always you can get even more updates on our facebook and twitter feeds.
It's cold on the sub and each morning the lenses need to 'breathe'!

It’s cold on the sub and each morning the lenses need to ‘breathe’!

Choke Mate

Wow it’s been quite a few days!

On Tuesday we were kickstarters ‘project of the day’ and yesterday we were one of three projects profiled in their weekly newsletter. It has really given the project a shot in the arm and opened us up to a larger audience.

And ‘Choke Mate’ our 48 hour short film has been going down very well – which is a relief.

As promised (although a little late) here are a few behind the scenes pics and a run down of what happened.

Choke Mate: As it happened

Throughout the week we had been asking the online community to suggest the story tagline, prop, location, etc. So come Friday night we had the main elements in place

The basic premise? (Suggested by Chris Knight)

‘As an air raid siren sounds two people play chess for the last gas mask.’

We also had to have a snow globe in there and shoot it on a beach – I was hoping for a warm, sheltered house!

With those three elements in place I expanded the premise into some sort of story. Originally I wanted the film to be closer in tone to The Fitzroy but for me comedy takes an age to write. So to save time we went dark! Time is also the reason there is hardly any dialog in Choke Mate.

By Friday night – we had all the elements in place. Although I had never met the actors before or been to the location, I did have a kind of rough idea of what we wanted to make.

Friday morning at the crack of dawn – no scrap that it was about two hours before dawn we set off from London to Southend on Sea. Thankfully Mother Nature was kind to us and the weather was gorgeous, if a little nippy but then it’s December.

We were a tight crew! The two actors, the two producers (James and Liam – multi tasking to the max), Ciro (DOP) and me. Like I say tight.

When we arrived at the location the first thing we did was to scout out the beach. Luckily there were a lot of cool sections all within a few hundred meters of each other.

The actors, Ben and Anne-Sophie, changed into their costumes while we set up the first shot – Ben jumping over the beach brake.

And we were off.

We were pushed for time from the get go. Being winter we only had until 3.30pm of usable light. So we moved quickly and generally didn’t go over two takes, although there were a few shots that required more. The running in the mud at the opening of the film was one.

The actors did a great job and I can’t thank them enough. They really were thrown into it and had to spend the day sitting, lying and running on a cold wet beach. They were both stellar.

We shot right up until sunset and just managed to get the last shot in time.

To be honest I wasn’t quite sure we had managed to capture enough. But there was no time to worry about that. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then it was back to London to cut the film.

We edited until around 2am, by which time we had a rough assembly and I was shattered. We grabbed a few hours sleep and then got back to the edit. After a few hours we had a locked cut and sent it off to Tom who was doing the sound design.

Unfortunately because we had shot on the 5d the sound was rather awful. We knew this going in but because we were essentially shooting on the fly it was our best option. This meant Tom had to work some magic and create a more ‘alien’ sound-scape. He did an amazing job.

While Tom was doing the sound mix we were working on the grade, titles and a few sky replacements.  Almost exactly when I hit render Tom sent through the final mix and the film was finished. It was almost like it was planned!

So that’s how the weekend went. It was very intense but great fun. I can’t thank everyone enough for the work they put in and thank you to everyone who came up with suggestions and has shared the film.

Don’t forget to check out The Fitzroy’s kickstarter page – we’ve got just over a week left. With a bit of luck and support we just might make it!

Soap Boxes

Well the crowd-funding campaign has been running for five days and it has been crazy. I feel like I’ve aged five years!

We’ve had a great response to the film and some lovely comments. We’ve also had some lovely blogs written about us and even a podcast interview – which was quite fun and got a little geeky as we ended up debating who would win between Ironman and Batman. My money would be on Ironman.

I’ll try and post the links tomorrow!

But it’s not all about an online campaign. We knew when we started this that we really wanted to do as many ‘live’ events as possible. And over the weekend we we did our first one.

Early Saturday morning we headed down to Sci-Fi London’s Post-Apocolympic festival and set up our little stall.

All weekend we (Eve, James, Liam and Me) were there handing out flyers, showing off some of the rewards and just generally talking about The Fitzroy.

If I’m honest I was quite nervous. I am always nervous about meeting new people and I was about to meet A LOT of strangers and try to sell them my film. Why would they want to listen? But I had nothing to worry about. Everybody was really friendly and eager to hear about the film. Well, I say everybody, there was one guy who was running for the toilet. I shouldn’t have tried to stop him!

It was great fun and we had a great couple of days. It really gave us a chance to share the story of The Fitzroy with, which is what this whole project is about – getting this little story out to an audience.

The only downside was by the end of the weekend my legs were killing me. Working for the past decade as an editor has left me with legs like noodles – I need lumberjack legs. Please don’t take that sentence out of context!

Hopefully we are going to try and do another couple of events over the coming weeks. I’ll just give my legs a quick rub down and get back out there sharing the story of The Fitzroy with people. If you get a chance please help us share it too!

Hopefully we can all get lumberjack legs. 😉

And here’s a few stills and video I threw together to give you a taste of the weekend.

The Countdown

If you have been following us on Twitter or Facebook you will know the countdown has begun!

The countdown to what I hear you cry?

Well, the countdown to the launch of our Kickstarter campaign. And it’s just a few short days away.

At 6pm on Thursday we will launch!

Ohhhhh Big Green Button!

We are incredibly excited by this and I want to share everything with you now, but I’m under strict instructions from the producers not to.

On Kickstarter, once your project has been approved there is a giant green ‘launch’ button right next to the ‘preview’ button. I can’t tell you how tempted I am to press that button!

Despite being under strict instructions not to give anything away… well screw it… I’m going to.

We’ve got some great rewards lined up, including a series of limited edition ‘alternative’ propaganda posters set in the world of The Fitzroy. These have all been created by different artists, designers and illustrators and, like the information posters of WWII and austerity Britain, they and incredibly varied in style and message. The guys have all done an amazing job of capturing different aspects of The Fitzroy world and I think you are going to love them.

Some Fitzroy t-shirts arrived today. Not necessarily a reward but for us to wear for the next month. We are walking billboards!

Phew, Okay I can’t tell you anymore of the rewards… but… if you want another sneaky peak at a few of them you can always download the press kit on our website. It’s meant just for the press, but if like me you find press kits interesting, then you might enjoy having a look at it. There is a wealth of information about the film and the campaign in there (link is on the about page).

So the campaign launches on Thursday and we will be hitting the digital world hard just trying to get people to hear about the film! If you could spare a tweet or facebook post it would really help us in spreading the word.

But it’s not just the digital world we are targeting.

We’re climbing out of our underground lair and going out into the real world. Sci-Fi London have very kindly allowed us to pitch a stall at their Post-Apocolympic festival, where they will be showing all sorts of wonderful post-apocalyptic films. If you are in London check it out (not only because they are screening one of my favourite films – The Flight of The Navigator).

If you are going, come and say hi and you might get some free rock!?

Throughout the crowd-funding campaign we are going to try and do as many ‘real’ things as possible. We’ll try and give you as much of a heads up as possible of what we are doing. But let me say just say this. Keep the evening of the 19th free!

We’ll that’s it for today. Sorry to be so cryptic… or not as it turns out.