Making Get Well Soon – Part 6

April 2009:

By April, a lot of stuff was organised. Shoot dates were now locked at 24-25 April and 1-2 May. BRAG had managed to get key crew on board. The crew, in turn, had worked wonders in pulling in favours for equipment, and thus slashing our projected budget. We had actors locked in to shoot dates, and a leaner script – but we still didn’t have a location, and this fact was starting to weigh heavily on Ian and I.

The Low Fidelity Disconnect had been great for the test shoot, but without a the kind of bathroom we were looking for it presented too many logistical issues. The effort and cost associated with engaging a production designer / carpenter to build a fake bathroom would be counterproductive. We didn’t (at that stage), have anybody on board with that kind of skill. We needed somewhere that had much of the required visual quality we were looking for to start with.

Ian and I spent one frustrating afternoon ringing round agencies, pining for deals on warehouse and flat spaces that we could film in. We didn’t get very far. The confusion in the voices of the people we phoned was palpable. It wasn’t so much that they were dismissive, it was just that we were so far off with our maximum pitched budget that they felt they were missing something fundamental about what we were asking.

In the end, we kept the very understanding crew at the Low Fidelity Disconnect on standby in case we had no other options but to shoot there, despite not being totally in love with the bathroom as a space to film in. We’d just have to dress it as best we could if it came to it.

By this stage, emails were flying back and forth, referencing equipment for the shoot that I didn’t really understand. Ian was booking a van for the equipment hire pickups; lights and miscellaneous stuff from Panalux, (everything from ND filters, to a bazooka camera stand), Nikon prime lenses for our 5D body from Feral, dolly and track from Take 2, radio mics from Richmond Film Services, and a Fig Rig from The Flash Centre, (am I the last person in the world who still sniggers at the word Manfrotto?).

Gresby strapped to the fig rig - or was it the other way around?

It wasn’t until we were seriously thinking about buying large quantities of blankets and bubble wrap to protect equipment and floor surfaces, that I began to realise the scale of the project. It had grown from a practice run into something much bigger. Although it was still relatively tiny in filmmaking terms, it had taken on an enormous significance to me.

At this very late stage, we still didn’t have a locked version of the script. Ian’s storyboards were informing the text, and vice versa. New ideas were still being added to the pot, and vitally, practical issues and constraints were starting to inform the narrative, to force us to simplify.

Not having had any experience making a film, it was only in the final stages that it became clear some ideas wouldn’t work. Some things would need to me modified, some rethought completely. This was hard work, as I was still trying to construct a list of script days and costume changes to inform continuity, but by necessity, the final draft was still quite fluid. We had to be fluid and adaptable. Luckily, the actors didn’t seem too fazed by this, as the script was very dialogue light. It was great having actors who didn’t feel uncomfortable about minimal rehearsal time. They understood the energy and dynamic of the piece and this seemed enough for them. It also helped us, because it meant we could make quite last-minute decisions based on issues that naturally arose.

Michael Woodman:
This blog is also updated on the Punchdrunk in Matalan blog.

click here to go to Part 7

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