Making Get Well Soon – Part 12

During mid-July, Ian arranged to meet again with Rory and Robin Freeman, (Ian’s band-mate in Hag). Robin is a chef – he supplied a number of ‘delicacies’ which were perfect for creating flash cuts of an unspecified surgical nightmare. I had plans to attend and make an ‘offal documentary’, but I thought better of it on the morning of the shoot. Hot lights + calf brains + dragon stout hangover = a short movie about vomit.

For those who are unhealthily interested, here’s some photos from the day.

We've run out of pancetta. This will have to do.

We've run out of pancetta. This will have to do.

Ian finished another cut; it had gotten longer due to all the extra meat. Previous cuts had been stark and uneasy, but now the film opened with a fair amount of gore. We spent a little time trying to get the balance right – finally settling on quick cuts here and there. Where there were longer shots, these were now close-ups on pulsing flesh, patterns and textures – perhaps a bit more abstract, and strangely beautiful.

This ‘final’ 12 minute cut was especially interesting when contrasted with our original mood reel; its atmosphere had certainly been influential.

At this point, ‘The Bath’ became ‘Get Well Soon‘. We’d been fishing around for a title for ages. I was initially keen on a very metaphorical title; something that might prompt the viewer to research what we were alluding to, and thus gain fresh insight into the core meaning of the film. This was, of course, a terrible idea.

Most of the ideas I came up with at first would have alienated any potential audience. However, I liked ‘Get Well Soon?’ because it was a familiar phrase, but also one that I hoped became unfamiliar in the context of the film. Not just a journey through physical sickness, but also the ‘wellness’ associated with mental health and emotionally unhealthy perceptions of reality. This was somehow appropriate, because by end August, I had developed my own unhealthy perception of reality. This was my first experience of working collaboratively on a film – I was probably a bit of a nightmare to be around by this point, but it was a good learning experience.

I’d driven myself totally spare. I was obsessed with a perceived mis-placement of a couple of shots in the supposedly locked ‘final cut’. In Ian’s dry terms, I ‘threatened him with violence’  if he wouldn’t make the changes which I felt were essential. It’s closer to the truth to say I threatened him with whining that must have made him feel violent. The point is that the changes to the cut weren’t a big deal to Ian, but I had worked myself into a frenzy over stuff that I’d either misunderstood or didn’t matter. It’s easy to do. Communicate consistently and openly. Stop to take pleasure in what you’ve achieved rather than turning it into an obsession. It is a hugely collaborative process, and that is practically always a positive thing.

Towards the end of September we’d settled on a trailer. Maybe it made ‘Get Well Soon‘ look like much more of a splatter movie than it actually is, but it was important for grabbing people’s attention. The sound design for the trailer was also by Ian’s friend Robin Freeman.  At the same time, Ian and Rory got together to test grade some shots – they were very happy with the results. Ian’s colleague Simon Bronson made us some wonky, distorted titles.

The next big step was getting the music done. We sent the locked picture through to Rael Jones, and pretty soon he came back with a first pass…

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

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