Behind the scenes at The Ditch (2)

Here’s another look at the shooting of The Ditch. Donna (Katie Pattinson) gets splashed with fake blood by our specialist makeup artist, Bunny Stanway-Mayers. What can Donna have done to get in this state? Whose blood is it? And – most importantly – what does stage blood taste like?


More photos from the shoot!

We’ve just discovered there were a few equipment problems at the lab, so it’ll be another couple of days before we get the rushes (nobody’s fault, but still – grrrr…). Anyway, in the meantime, here are some more lovely photos from the shoot for your delectation.

And there really will be some video up soon, we promise!

(Photos by Adam Greenwood.)

First photos from the shoot!

The first two days of shooting The Ditch are over. We didn’t get as much material as we wanted, but that always happens on a shoot. The crew worked very efficiently, and the performances by our actors were incredible. We were lucky that the weather stayed dry all through the shoot, although it got dreadfully cold in the woods because the tall trees block direct sunlight. Poor Lucy, who plays Nina and had to spend much of her time lying on the cold ground in a short dress, spent much of the shoot wrapped in blankets. A faulty generator on Day 2 didn’t help matters, and we had to finish the day’s shoot in natural light which is never ideal.

Still, here’s the good news – what we captured looked incredible on the monitor, and we look forward to seeing the rushes when they come back from the lab. In the meantime, we’re going to be posting photos and video from the shoot, here and on our Facebook and Vimeo pages. Stay tuned for more updates!

(It’s just been brought to my attention that the photo gallery may not display properly to IE or Firefox users. We’re looking into it. UPDATE: This appears to be a known WordPress issue, so we may have to wait for them to fix it. 😦 )

Production Diary No. 5 – it’s too bloody late, you should have thought of that before

It’s almost D-Day. Whether D will mean Disaster or Delirium (in a good sense) remains to be seen. It’ll probably be somewhere between the two, which is where most things lie (“if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster…”).

There are still some things left undone. We have to face the facts, this is a low-budget production in a big-budget environment. People have real lives to lead in this world where many of the ways they choose to spend their time will net them far more money than they’ll get from us. Those things have to take priority, because that’s how life works. Earlier this week we lost one of our runners because he got a paid job in Edinburgh. I can’t blame him for taking it, and I can’t blame him for giving me short notice – that’s how it works in the entertainment and media industries. Most people are just scraping by, living in scabby accommodation, eating Pot Noodles and other filth, sitting at home watching the rain run down the windows because they can’t afford to go out. They do this because they love art and entertainment. They love making movies, they love creating magical worlds for other people. They love stories. And so they’re happy to spend twelve hours a day or more in freezing temperatures, standing around watching other people make decisions, watching other people handle expensive pieces of equipment, watching discussions they can’t be part of – because for a few minutes they’re going to be holding a boom or snapping a clapper or helping top up makeup. And when they look at the fruits of their labours up on the big screen, they can beam a huge smile and truthfully say (or at least think), “I helped make that.” Continue reading

The Ditch – yes, it’s a proper film!

Those of you who have been reading this blog regularly, and may have got the feeling you were watching a man slowly drowning, will be relieved to hear that there’s some good news. The Ditch is going to be shot on 16mm film and not, as originally planned, on digital video.

English: 16mm film

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is this such a big deal? Well, for those who don’t know, film is still the standard format for major motion pictures. While these movies are generally shot on 35mm, there’s also the smaller 16mm format which has been used for several feature films – including Black Swan, The Hurt Locker and the cult classic Clerks (you can see a list of significant feature films shot on 16mm here). This means that The Ditch is, from this point of view at least, a ‘proper’ film.

Despite advances in technology, video still can’t quite capture the look and feel of film. Although HD video images are extremely high quality, and crisp and sharp (sometimes glaringly so), they still don’t have the depth of colour and the ‘glow’ of film. It’s almost impossible to explain to the layman how the difference manifests itself, although you can start with this Wikipedia article if you want to get into the debate.

We’re not abandoning digital. For the sheer convenience (and to keep the cost down) we’re having the film images scanned into a digital format for editing. Most cinema projection these days is done via digital projectors (which has put not a few projectionists out of a job…), and it’s a lot easier to edit digitally because it allows for flexibility and speed in adjusting the image. However, the source material – the stuff we shoot on set – should look magnificent, so there should be less adjustment to do! The look of The Ditch is very important to us and we feel shooting on film gives us the edge visually – not to mention the added benefit of raising the production’s ‘status’.

But, you might ask, isn’t it a lot more expensive? We’d have thought so, too. But we found it’s surprisingly affordable – because fewer people are using film, now that digital has been declared The Future, it’s possible to get better deals on renting film equipment. And if you’ve got a camera team that’s been trained to use film, as ours has, then you’re able to exploit all the benefits of the older format. Our director of photography is as excited as a small boy with a train set!

You’ll be able to see shots of us using the equipment on set after the weekend’s shoot.

Production Diary No. 4 – four days on the phone

There are only four clear days remaining between now and the day we start the camera rolling on Take 1.

Four days sounds like a lovely long time, doesn’t it? Imagine if you had four whole days to yourself, and no commitments. You might lie lazily in the sun, or you might catch up on that book you’ve been meaning to read. Maybe watch that DVD you bought ages ago because it was one of the Films You Really Ought To Own, but you could never quite summon the enthusiasm or find the time. You might phone an old friend and go out for the afternoon – pub lunch, walk by the river, or just sit and gossip about whatever came into your head, until you suddenly realised it was getting dark and the afternoon had crept away to be replaced by evening. You’d want to do some shopping, perhaps, but it would be fun shopping, not groceries. A game of Scrabble. Surf the internet until your eyeballs popped out. Half a day wasted on Draw Something or Cut the Rope. Beer. Curry.

English: Jump! Deutsch: Spring!

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Continue reading