Friday, 19 July 2013

Pre-production Panic and a Butterfly Caught in a Web

Originally written Friday 19th July 2013

I'm filming tomorrow.

No biggie, right? I'm a filmmaker. I do this ALL the time. 

Er, wrong. 

Unlike most other shoots I've been part of, I feel relatively prepared for tomorrow which makes me...anxious. I have covered everything I can think of, gone over each shot in my head, prepared catering, stocked up the first aid kit, charged batteries for the camera, packed up props and make-up and even compiled detailed shot lists and storyboards. I should be feeling like I totally got this.

Instead, I feel as though I might have missed something and not something small, something completely obvious. 

I have gone over this shoot in my head hundreds of times this evening. Even while making brownies for the cast and crew, I was less concerned with eggs and flour and more focused on the film (so apologies if they suck!).

When we filmed Unlocked last Summer we were prepared for the majority of it (the big things at least, because all the small details worked themselves out - the joy of having several creative minds working on one project!). We all co-directed, co-produced, each wrote an episode and shared out the responsibilities. We basically collaborated on everything (which is at the very heart of Cheesemint Productions). We all work on individual projects but anything we do together is the crux of our company. 

I've been filmmaking since 2009/10 so as it stands, I've had a lot more directing experience than I realise. Although the only solo project I have worked on was Montelimar (a three minute art-house genre parody). It had some dialogue but it was all recorded in post production. My only experience in directing with dialogue is Unlocked but due to the collaborative directing approach we took, that experience doesn't feel like real experience. I know, I know, it sounds silly and I am being completely illogical.

But tomorrow, two actors will be performing a script that I wrote, looking to me for guidance, advice and I will be responsible for the WHOLE film - I hadn't realised until today just how daunting a prospect this is for me. Responsibility is a scary thing...

So in all of my preparedness, I'm expectng my shoot to be tainted by fear and anxiety. What if I can't direct as well on my own? What if my project isn't good enough? What if I let Cheesemint down!? Argh...God help me tomorrow.

*EDIT - Saturday 27th July 2013*

I wrote the above last Friday and left it in my drafts as a cathartic release, looking back at it now - a whole week after filming - I feel pretty stupid. The day went so well, I couldn't have asked for more. Laura and Kara (my amazing actors!) we're both so professional that during the first script read through of the day, all my fears were alleviated. At one point a dog walker wandered past and I thought we might have to stop but no, Laura screamed her lines at the top of her lungs and Kara epitomised her character perfectly as she spat her words back at Laura. I am so excited to get this project into post production now!

Of course, the only thing I couldn't control was the weather. It was overcast all day but luckily it was also optimum filming weather as the lighting stayed consistent, plus it felt right for the overall tone of my film. The temperature wasn't ideal and at times it was freezing. Coupled with light drizzles of rain every now and then we had to stop occasionally. Poor Laura was dressed for the day before, which was 29 degrees Celsius. But I was impressed how the cold didn't affect performances from either Kara or Laura. I am truly grateful for that because, despite starting a little late due to make up application and having to stop for weather occasionally, we finished under the time I had scheduled. That's efficiency, yo! 

It appears my "experience" has paid off because I adapted to my actors performances, added additional unplanned shots, made changes to the script as we went and had everything under control. I did worry I was being a bad director at times though because I barely had any feedback for my actors other than walk here, move that, keep going - they were giving great performances every time.


So other than the weather, a dog attacking one the actors (well, jumping up and covering her in mud!) and a disruptive butterfly which needed saving from a spider's web (we seriously halted fiming for this), filming went smoothly and despite starting later than I had planned, we were done well within schedule thanks to my awesome cast and crew. Reading that last line back I realised that the butterfly caught in the web was a very good thing - because I was able to film it trying to escape the web which made for a very beautiful shot which rather perfectly encapsulated one of the themes of my film. I love those unplanned accidents that happen in filming. It's what we at Cheesemint like to call "Mint Luck".

I also feel incredibly proud of the footage. Oh, and I made those demon horns... From now on, I want to make all of my props!

Hope you enjoyed my behind the scene pictures from the day, more can be found at over at our site, just click on our logo and it'll take you straight there! Also, you can subscribe to our Facebook page for news and updates about the film and all the other exciting films we have lined up! Just search for "Cheesemint Productions" or follow us on Twitter @Cheesemint 

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