First set of shots from behind the scenes of this weekend’s shoot. There’ll be more to come, so watch this space, the website and (if you’re one of our donors) your email inbox!
After almost three years of creation, planning and production, we have finally shot all the material for The Ditch.
It feels a bit strange writing that. Sheena and I still can’t quite believe it’s true, even though it’s exactly what should have happened and shouldn’t be anything remarkable. There have been so many times over the years that it’s seemed like an impossible task, a mountain too high to climb – too expensive, too complicated, not enough people, not enough equipment, a story too reliant on good weather, or on the audience’s ability to grasp the subtext. But all of those doubts and difficulties have just melted away.
The shoot itself went remarkably smoothly, thanks to an excellent team. Every department, from cast through to camera, lighting, makeup and sound came together efficiently and co-operatively to make this shoot a pleasure. It wasn’t all plain sailing – no shoot ever is – but I was amazed at how the production just seemed to flow and things just happened the way they were meant to. I suppose this is partly good planning, but it’s also about goodwill. Everyone in the team wanted things to go well, of course, but it was remarkable how much goodwill we encountered from other people as well – the staff at the hotel were fantastic, the staff at the pub where we lunched were really friendly and even some of the horse riders passing us on Wimbledon Common gave us a friendly nod. It was like a perfect storm, only in a good sense – everything coming together in just the right way to make it all work.
This isn’t the end of the road, not by any means. There’s the edit to do, the music and the sound mix, the grading and the final output to digital movie files, Blu-Ray/DVD, etc. Not to mention the festival submission paperwork and publicity material. In some ways, once the camera stops rolling that’s when the real work begins. But this is a major step forward and it’s such a wonderful thing to have got this far at last.
There’ll be more news as we go along – we hope to have everything complete by the end of September. But we’ll keep you posted along the way.
Last September I was sitting at my computer, right where I am now, flicking through a number of online weather forecasting sites – the BBC, the Weather Channel, the Met Office, Weather Online, Metcheck, etc, etc. and they all showed a consistent prediction – heavy rain for Saturday. It was to be the first Saturday of our shoot. The summer had been unusually good by recent standards and of course we had all been hoping this would last. And so it did… right up to the week before the shoot. Then things went downhill suddenly, the prelude to the wettest winter on record in the UK.
As you will know if you’ve been keeping up to date with the saga of The Ditch‘s production, we had to cancel the shoot at a couple of days’ notice. Then we went into our holes a bit, engaged in other projects or in our real lives. After a little while, Sheena worked out how the film could work if we moved the action indoors. It meant a completely different story from the one we had set out to tell; but this new story was closer in many ways to the idea we had hoped to bring across in our original script. And it meant we could set the entire thing in a hotel room – problem solved!Well, nearly. Truth is, there was just one thing missing. We hadn’t actually filmed a ditch, and the film’s title is… So we found ourselves a ditch, and it was very conveniently located, much more so than the one we had originally planned to use. It was even more ditch-like. And it’s the ditch you’ll see in the film. But of course it means at least one exterior sequence still needs to be filmed.
So, once again, I’m looking at weather forecasts and seeing the same thing – a lovely spell of weather, which we’ve been enjoying this spring, brought to a sudden end by showers, cloud and thunder. The exterior shots we were hoping to get this Saturday will almost certainly have to be postponed. However, Sunday looks a lot better and we hope to catch them then.
Thank God for weather forecasting and thank God for creative ingenuity! (Not necessarily in that order.)
By Monday it should all be done – at last! We’ll let you know how we get on via Twitter (@onthetrainprods) and we’ll post an update to this blog as soon as possible.
Click on the link to read Sheena’s thoughts and feelings about finally bringing The Ditch shoot to a close – includes pictures of the new ditch! (Looks more ditch-y than the old ditch.)
Yes, at long last, in just over a week we recommence filming of The Ditch. We are fully crewed again, and raring to go!
This has been an incredibly long haul for a short film – most shorts are shot over a week or so, not over two years. In our case we were hit with a huge dose of bad luck: unable to use the location beyond a certain time, hit by bad weather, continuity issues, having to deal with complicated logistics on a tiny budget… But, with a bit of ingenuity and a lot of pulling together, we’ve put all that behind us and the story will all be in the can by the end of Sunday 25 May – no matter what!