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The Production Team

Try using 2 cardboard boxes, 2 C-stands and some black paint.

We needed to add few shots of Gemma entering the artist upstairs space in The Warehouse to tie the spaces together better but we no longer had access to the original location.

So we mocked up the connecting doors in the studio using some of the original brown material drapped over 2 large cardboard boxes painted with black paint and cellotaped to a couple of C-stands.

The effect is hopefully seemless once Erik, our sound designer,  added the correct creeks and knocking sounds. Our grader Chris never spotted the join and he’s watch the film a few hundred times!

Actually not a last minutes piece of cramming akin to the week before your dissertation deadline. The Warehouse was in fact plotted and developed extensively over six months but a la Mike Leigh we wanted significant actor input, particularly in terms of dialogue. In the end we didn’t exactly manage a Mike Leigh style approach given the demands of a pressing timetable, relenting to ultimately write a script ahead of rehearsals.

We did however, manage a reasonable impersonation in some aspects with much input from the cast resulting from a reasonable length rehearsal period (very recommended). However, the tight deadline for the availability of the key location and the lack of any meaningful pre-production budget (£200 if you please) meant there was insufficient time for the vast amount of improvisation and work-shopping our initial plan would have required.

In a reduced way we still managed to morph, amend and generally improve the script thanks to the actors input into the process. Form a Writer-Director point of view hearing things out loud can be invaluable and saves some blushes when you hear some of you crummier efforts spoken.

We are no experts in the best way to develop a script, but for us, dialogue benefits from a bit of breathing space. I also feel there is a point, fairly early on when an actor’s appreciation of their characters exceeds that of your own – it has too really. In light of this it would be remiss not to listen to what they have to say.

Card sorting and a structural approach to script development.

Me and Andrew developed the script together using a card sorting system that puts each scene on an index card and you lay them all out on a table to see how things progress using the standard 3 act structure model.

Stephen takes the script apart.
After a couple of months of working this way we had a first draft that we were reasonably happy with. We then had Stephen, our script consultant, read it through and give us his feedback. He took the script apart and came up with a lot of very valid point as to why the script didn’t really work. A lead character that wasn’t very interesting and just had things happening to him so was very passive etc. After working with Steve we came up with a new plan for the script but now we had very little time because we had already but a production schedule together for initial filming. Andrew then went away to rewrite the script in a couple of weeks as we prepare for the shoot.

See How to Write a Script in Two Weeks post.

Getting your own back on the Noisy Neighbour.

The idea started from a script evening we use to run in the warehouse in Whitechapel where I was living, and the main set of the film. I use to live in another warehouse in Stoke Newington and below lived someone who was an alcoholic and use to stay up all night playing very loud music with the windows open and also brought random people back from the local pub who were usually very drunk and would end up fighting in the early hours of the morning.

The bloke downstairs had no sympathy for any of his neighbours as he was the first person the live in the block and thought it was our fault that we moved in as he lived there so he could make a lot of noise at night.

He had a point!

So from this came the idea of having an artist live up stairs who was just trying to live his life away from other people and it was the fault of those that were trying to gentrify the area to make money if they couldn’t cope with his noise at night.

Shooting over such a long time period creates a lot of continuity problems.

We had to delay one block of filming for 6 months as both Julian and Richard were about to do major roles in other projects that needed them to drastically change their looks. Julian had to have his longish hair cut right off and Richard had to grow his out and grow a beard. Shorter hair you can cope with using a wig but a beard!

Luckily after 6 months delay Julian’s hair had grown back just enough and Richard went to a barbers for us.

… and in one scene!

We were warned – don’t have your actors wear their own clothes (Chris Hughes).

Great for saving money and great for the convienence on the day, but when it comes to a pick up shot a year later will they still have that shirt!

Don’t have actors changing costumes if it’s not really needed (The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film).

We have Charlie in a white teeshirt, a grey teeshirt, a brown teeshirt, a white teeshirt with a collar! Now we are editing and moving scenes around and cutting bits of one scene into another the ever changing shirts can be a real problem (3 shirts in one 30 sec scene!!!).