Archive for May, 2011

Intruder – Day 1

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Whew! After 3 action packed days production on “Intruder” is complete. It was pretty full on, tough going at times and definitely fast-paced, but also a lot of fun and I can’t wait to get it all into the edit to to start putting the film together. I think this is the most confident I’ve felt upon finishing a shoot. Hopefully that doesn’t change when I start going through the rushes – you’re usually moving so fast on a production you never have a chance to go back over and assess what you’ve done until afterwards. You kind of just have to keep moving forward, trust in your planning and hope for the best! I’m going to steal a quote from Sylvester Stallone now, who said shooting a movie is like dressing for the prom in the dark, you don’t know until the lights come on afterward what you’ve been left with. And he made “The Expendables”, so if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I don’t know who does…..

We were shooting split days, from 12pm-1am each day, as the entire film is actually set at night, so whilst some interiors could be cheated during the day we also had to make the most of the darkness once the sun set around 9pm. We wrapped around 2:30am last Monday morning, after which myself and the lighting camera-man James Blann stayed on location to film some establishing shots for the opening titles.

We had a lot to do (20 pages) in the 3 days, averaging around 5 ½ to 6 pages per day and whilst dialogue in the film is minimal there is a lot of action to cover, plus we were also shooting in a large space which required a number of set-ups to establish the geography and to chart a characters journey from one place to another.

The final day Sunday was certainly the toughest as this is when we had a SFX team on set rigging bullet and squib hits which was a first for me and whilst awesome to watch (more on that later!) took a lot of time, plus there was a lot of action taking place as it was for the finale of the film – and action always requires much more set-ups. In hindsight I probably would have scheduled a whole fourth day just for this one scene so that we could really take our time with it. We actually ended up slightly re-writing the final scene in the end – so as to condense the action down and to keep it in one location, as initially the script called for it to be spread across two separate locations inside the warehouse which ultimately we just did not have time to do. Time is just one of those things on a shoot you never ever have enough of, no matter how well prepared you think you are!

A quick note now on the camera – although I’ve used it for a few corporate virals, this was my first time directing a drama on the Canon 5D and going in I was a little apprehensive, I knew for sound it could be difficult, plus focus is critical and it’s not necessarily a camera best suited to the rough, handheld style we were going for – or so I thought. However, that being said I have to say I was very impressed and would happily use it again. Not only do you get such a distinctly cinematic look from the lenses, I actually found it to be extremely versatile – you can run with it, shoot in small spaces, it copes very well with low light, and it made things very easy on the final day when we had to move quickly between set-ups. It’s also very easy to check playback. I must point out that a lot of the credit for this should also go to James Blann, our camera-man, who was pulling focus himself, often on the move, and without whom I’m sure we wouldn’t have been able to shoot half the things we did. Thanks James!

THE PREP:

The week before was pretty hectic, not only did I have to source a sound recordist last minute, when a move in dates meant that unfortunately our previous recordist could no longer commit, there was also the race to obtain a licence for our child actor and then I was told just a couple of days before shooting commenced that I needed to source an armourer if we were planning to have any replica weapons on set. Whilst I knew this was the case if you were shooting blanks, I was unaware that simply to have prop guns, be they air-soft or otherwise, on-site, even on private grounds out of the public eye, you are still required by law to have an armourer present.

DAY 1:

On the Friday we started with our only day outside of the warehouse, shooting a small sequence inside the main characters flat, where he returns home briefly to say goodbye to his daughter.

This was a day for night sequence so upon arrival the first thing we needed to do was black out all of the windows to cut off any daylight. We actually shot segments of this sequence MOS (mute of sound) with a skeleton crew on the Thursday evening, including a couple of POV’s and some shots of Paul entering from outside, so as to save time on the Friday as I wanted to be wrapped and over to the warehouse location as early as possible. We were actually able to move very quickly as not only had we done this shooting in advance, our child actress was also extremely talented, she delivered her lines perfectly on every take and took direction well. I wish I could take more credit for this but despite only being 7 years old she was very professional!

Angel Galloway as Tracy, Kevin's daughter.

We arrived at the warehouse around 5pm and began prepping for our first interiors.

Once the sun started to set around 9pm we moved outside ready to shoot the opening of the movie, where we see a huddle of employees, including Kevin, our lead, exiting the warehouse. This is where the Canon really helped us. As the exterior of the factory was so well lit anyway, we only needed to put up a 2k inside in addition, to back-light the employees (which was actually more of a stylistic choice), and then for one shot suspend a 300W lamp above our lead in order to cheat an effect where he is plunged into darkness. It was around midnight when we wrapped this sequence, at which point I decided to call it a night. We had till 1am but the final scene scheduled for that day I knew would take a while to shoot so we decided to pick it up first thing Saturday morning, as opposed to getting halfway into it and then having to stop. Plus it was an interior so could be cheated during the day.

The employees line up to shoot the opening sequence.

May 2011

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Simon’s short film “Brian the Bear”, filmed for last year’s Virgin Media competition, has been “highly commended” by the judges and recently selected as one of three runners up in the 2011 John Brabourne awards for Best Newcomer, sponsored by Production Wizard. For more information on the competition and to view all the runners up, including the winning film “Barry”, click on the link below:

http://www.productionwizard.com/news/13/apr/2011/

Meanwhile, Simon is preparing to shoot his next film “Intruder”, over 3 days, on the 20th-22nd May in Bristol. Danny Hargreaves from REEL FX (Being Human, Doctor Who) has recently come on-board to provide the practical FX for the film.

One week to go!

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

So “Intruder” starts shooting on Friday and of course no self-respecting film shoot is complete without something going wrong in the 11th hour, so in the course of the last week I’ve had to replace 3 members of the cast, my sound recordist, and one location! Unfortunately this is purely down to the dates of the shoot having been moved which has then clashed with other paid commitments for some people. This again came about as Sky are shooting a new sitcom at the same location so we’re having to work around them.

I’ve managed to replace the missing actors and the recordist, and am almost there with the location – viewing two possibles tomorrow afternoon. One of the new actors is also a 7 year old girl so in a first for me I’m having to request a child employment licence from my local city council in order to have permission to take her out of school for the shoot.

Previously the girl I had lined up for the part was much younger and hadn’t actually started school yet, so provided her mum was on-set as a chaperone there wouldn’t be a problem, but unfortunately she was one of the people who became unavailable when the dates of the shoot were forced to shift so now I’ve cast someone a little older. It’s a new experience for me as a producer/director to have to work with not only such a young actor, but also the various admin associated with it – so it’s good to be doing it, I’m just a little nervy about cutting it so close! Usually the licence would take 21 days to process, but the council have assured me if I get all the relevant information to them (doctor’s note, birth certificate, proof of insurance, letter from the school) by Tuesday, they’ll clear it for Friday – so the race is on! Never work with kids and animals as they say…..

Experiences like this are what makes these kind of projects such a great learning curve though, as next time I’ll be much more prepared should I need to do it all again, and the new actors and recordist I’m sure will all prove to be vital new contacts for future projects so it’s no bad thing.

In some exciting news this will also by my first shoot working with practical FX, as Danny Hargreaves from REEL FX (Being Human, Doctor Who) is kindly offering his services, providing some bullet and squib hits for the action packed finale of the film.

Meanwhile, I received word last week that my 2 minute short film entry to last years Virgin Media competition, “Brian the Bear”, has been highly commended by the judges and selected as one of three runners up in the 2011 John Brabourne Awards for “Best Newcomer”, which is great news. Thanks to all those who helped make the film. You can now view it online via the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmFRZfcBozA

The competition winner was a short film called “Barry”, and you can view that along with the other runners up here:

http://www.productionwizard.com/news/13/apr/2011/

Finally, with the final mix now delivered and the film completed, here is the DVD cover for my last short “Broken”:

I’ll be having a cast and crew screening in Bristol soon as I prepare to send it out to festivals.

Recommended reading…..

Monday, May 9th, 2011

So production on the next short “Intruder” is now just less than two weeks away, set to take place on the 20th-22nd May, and some hectic last minute preparation is underway – but in the meantime I thought I’d point you in the direction of a couple of things I’ve been reading lately. The first is a fantastic book on screenwriting by Blake Snyder called “Save the Cat”, Blake has made millions selling scripts on spec in Hollywood and if you are even remotely interested in selling commercial/mainstream scripts to the major studios, this is the book for you. It’s pretty short and easily digestible compared to some screenwriting books out there and is certainly one of the few written by someone who has actually made a living selling their stuff.

I was put onto it by my friend and writing partner Chris Marshfield, and speaking of Chris – the second thing I wanted to recommend was his own blog which he just recently started. On it he’ll be sharing some of his thoughts, theories and observations on writing, as well as a few other musings that may or may not be of interest!

Worth checking out if you’re an aspiring writer yourself or maybe just bored…..

http://chrismarshfield.blogspot.com/

Once production on “Intruder” starts I shall be uploading some pics and video here to give you a little preview… speak soon!

Simon Pearce Blog

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