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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Lights.. Camera.. Campaign! Part 2: The Day of Reckoning

On Friday we went down to the location for The Fitzroy.

The mission? To shoot the pitch video for the crowd-funding campaign.

The location? A decommissioned Russian submarine nick named the Black Widow (love that name).

It was great to visit the sub again, I shot my short film SUNK there last year. It is a stunning location. The sub sits at a lean in the middle of the Medway river in Rochester, you have to take a boat out and then climb a rickety ladder up to the deck, not easy with a tripod and camera.

Inside it is unbelievable. As you descend the stairs and the natural light disappears an eeriness surrounds you. It is like stepping into a time capsule.

The sub hasn’t really been touched since it was decommissioned, the submariners pinups up’s are still up by their bunks and old Russian newspapers are still lying around.

I do not envy the men who had to live and work on the submarine, away at sea for three months at a time. It is a tight cramped space. I’m 6ft 7in and there is only a couple of places I could stand up straight. Needless to say I cracked my head on pipes and valves a couple of times. Goodness knows how we are going to work a full cast and crew down there… but we will.

For this shoot it was just Liam and James, the producers, and crew wise we had Bruce on sound and (another) James on camera. We can’t thank the guys enough for their work, it looks and sounds brilliant, they did a great job.

I can’t quite say the same for me… turns out I’m not the new John Craven. As you might have gathered from last weeks blog I was ‘bricking it’. I am not an extrovert and selling myself doesn’t come naturally. BUT, after some initial nerves and a lot of fluffed lines I did start to get the hang of it… I think.

It took us about five hours to shoot the video and I’m so glad we shot it on the location. Not only is it incredibly cinematic but it is lovely to be able to show it to you guys as well.

We also spent an hour taking some publicity shots as well as some measurements for our production designer. Although the sub is amazing it is going to require a lot of dressing if we are to turn it into a lived in hotel!

The next stage is to crack on with the editing… in the meantime here are a few stills… and for more updates do sign up for our newsletter on our website.