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.”

But we can’t give them the money they deserve. So compromises have to be made. This is a production with amateur resources but a professional attitude. I don’t mean we’re using amateur equipment, far from it; as I noted in the last post, our equipment has been used to make feature films and television shows. But the money didn’t come from grants, fund-making bodies, investors, ‘angels’, or even bank loans. It came from us. It came from people putting in cash they couldn’t afford to spare, or were hoping to live off one day. Because they believe in film. They believe in creating art. They believe in entertaining you.

Film Crew By A Wall

Film crew by a wall (Photo credit: garryknight) – click on image for source

Anyway, the point of this post is that our limitations – whether that’s money, time or experience – have meant it hasn’t been a completely smooth ride. And it may not be completely smooth over the weekend. In fact, it won’t be. We’ve planned it as best we can, but we haven’t planned it perfectly. Some people are going to be unhappy. Maybe one or two will be very unhappy. And there’ll be times when one person turns to another and snaps, “why didn’t you think of this before?” That’s foolish talk, because there’s little point in asking that question when knowing the answer won’t solve the problem. But it’s an understandable human response.  The fact is, though, when it’s too late it’s too late. The time is ticking by, you’ve got to get the shot, even if it’s not the shot you thought of originally, even if you have to get it from a different angle, or simplify the action, or decide not to assemble that complicated bit of grip equipment you hired specially for this shot. Shrug, curse if you must, and move on.

“And yet… and yet…” (prize for whoever can name the song and the film!)

And yet there’ll be moments when it all comes together and it works so well no one notices the time go. And maybe, if we’re very lucky, there’ll be times when we glance at our watches and go, “oh, no, it can’t be time for a break, this is fun, I don’t want to stop.” (Think it can’t happen? It’s happened to me in post-production, especially when working in After Effects.) And maybe we’ll wrap and think, “you know, that went well.” And we’ll go and eat dinner, and bond, and tell each other stories, and get a good night’s sleep. And all those problems will melt away, because it won’t matter any more. No matter what happened, no matter what we went through, no matter whether it was precisely what we wanted or not, we made a film.

There’ll be more on this blog after the weekend, when the shoot will be finished. In the meantime, keep up with our activities on our Twitter feed, @onthetrainprods!


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