Production Diary No. 6 – why it takes a year to shoot a 15-minute film

We’ve gone a bit quiet, haven’t we?

There’s a reason for that. Several reasons, in fact. The first is that we’re exhausted – me, in particular. Running an underfunded but fully professional operation (single-handedly for some stretches) isn’t something you can do on a regular basis unless you’re an exceptional human being, or you’re being assisted by regular inhalations of a by-product of a crop found prevalently in Colombia (so I’ve read… Anyway, as a chronic sinusitis sufferer I don’t ever plan on inhaling anything stronger than the scent of pine candles this Christmas).

The second reason is that we’re in an unusual limbo. Normally short films are shot over a weekend or a few days, all the material is captured and then the post-production is swiftly (or slowly) processed and the finished product is shown to a grateful cast and crew over beer and nibbles in a Soho screening house or a specially hired movie theatre, before being bunged up on Vimeo and (all too often) forgotten about. We’re not making that sort of film.

Soho Theatre, Soho – we won’t be screening here (Photo credit: Ewan-M)

Because of the complexities of the shoot (two car crashes and a chase through woodland, not to mention some sophisticated makeup effects) we weren’t able to capture all the material in the two days of shooting we’ve done so far. We did hope to be able to get the unshot material in the can during October, but circumstances conspired against us. If we go back now to the location now to try and capture the rest, it’ll be too cold and too dark and all the nice leaves that were on the trees will now be soggy and underfoot. So, we have to take a break to allow the British summer to return. Normally that happens around July, but the last few years have shown us it could happen any time between March and September. So we have to be prepared to go back out at almost any moment. One thing’s for sure: it ain’t going to be this side of Christmas.

Ideally we’d go back at exactly the same time next year (early September) and carry on where we left off. Of course, life rarely works out so neatly. We were very lucky over that weekend – it didn’t rain at all, it was just about warm enough, the cast and crew worked efficiently (we don’t expect that to change!), we weren’t disturbed by hunters, shooters or fishers. So we’ll be shooting the rest of the material as soon as we can, subject to the weather and people’s availability.

Still, the good news is we’ve all learnt a lot from the experience of the first shoot, and that experience will stand us in good stead for carrying on. As I cut the existing material into sequences, I get more and more ideas about how we can make the rest of the film look even better. It’s great to have this mental space and not be up against any immediate deadlines. We can only gain from this gap in activity, and it’ll make it even more exciting when the finished product is ready and unleashed onto the public.

I hope there’ll be a bit more video up on this blog soon (and maybe also on the website). Watch this space. This one, over here. ➔

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