'Some people are in charge of pens that shouldn't be in charge of brooms.' Graham Parker
And some people are in charge of cameras...
I know every creative industry today is about selling yourself, about persuading everyone (including yourself) that you have the greatest product since human beings started to dream...but I prefer to try to be honest. Which is no doubt one of the reasons I'm still doing things with no money.
It is not hype, however, to say that I've been blessed with three gifts in the leading roles. Jess and Megan were not even part of this project three weeks ago, but in the last two weeks of intensive shooting they have been everything a producer/director could desire in terms of commitment and attention to detail. And Talia (quite apart from bringing Jess on board) has battled with the loss of her phone and her home internet and bouts of illness to complete the vital Gypsy scenes before Jess escapes to Dubai. And I would be most remiss not to mention Miranda, who injured her back quite seriously but still struggled up several flights of stairs to film some vital wide shots with Jess.
A filmmaking friend, Dan Harding of 23 1/2 Films was adamant that a large project needed a producer. It wasn't that I thought he was wrong, but where would I find anyone who was able to give the time and energy that was required? So, I've done it all myself. And inevitably I've made mistakes, the most serious of which was a moment of tech-blindness that led to me mis-setting the mic for two days' worth of filming. I have yet to finally confirm whether the sound recordings are usable or whether I will have to resort to my personal bête noire, ADR. (I have never done it except for one carefully planned shot, and swore I never would). I made the same mistake weeks back but it was caught by another member of the crew, and in this case too I was put on the scent by Sophie, who insisted that the sound in her headphones was different. And I had so much on my mind that even after I checked the mic settings I didn't actually see the problem.
I've never had a fortnight like this. It will quite literally be a case of 'going back to work for a rest'. (And on that subject, it was pleasant to hear Megan saying today that her work has seemed decidedly uninviting compared to the time she's spent on set)
Of course there were times when we all wished we were elsewhere - dodging the rain and being buffetted by the wind in the Devil's Dyke area, for example. We may even have to reshoot a small portion of the film due to the conditions, and I have prepared a line about the British summer to cover the difference in the weath- oh, except that no one will require an explanation...
A word, too, in praise of Sharon Salazar, actress and filmmaker, who became my ever first assistant director, organising the guests for the party scene and enabling me to concentrate on getting the shots I needed. This was on the same day we went out into the wilds, and I had two hours in the afternoon to recharge batteries (my own and the cameras') before launching into a crucial dialogue scene while Sharon and others created the necessary party atmosphere (photos to follow).
We have done good work in the last fortnight, and have some lovely moments captured. It's too early to tell yet whether the whole film will hang together as it should (and of course with the right editing it may yet hang together as it shouldn't), but all the cast have a right to feel proud of themselves. There are continuity issues, and I take sole responsibility for those, with the small caveat that I never dreamed I would have to shoot so much in such a short time. I will know better, and plan better, next time.
Which is an encouraging thing to find myself thinking, because there have been too many times in the last month or so when I felt like giving up filmmaking altogether. If I am in a more optimistic place now, it is because of the support and dedication of others in helping me to realise this story - and collaboration is what this work is all about.
Talia, Jess, Megan, Sophie, Sharon, Miranda, Jenni, Hülya, Robert, Jo, Michael, Lana, Lizzie, Crystal, Gemma, Chloe (and not forgetting Caron when she gets to do a scene!) - thank you all.