Jul 27, 2015

‘MUTE’ Production – Week Four

Would you run a marathon if no one was watching? Would you go that distance, and put yourself through the pain and exhaustion for no instant gratification? That is what it’s like making a feature film. You know you’re sprinting every day, struggling to make sure the thing even gets made, having to maintain a stupid pace, and then when the production phase is over there isn’t anything to show for it yet. It’s months before people get to see the film you shot the year before. There’s no reward for all the hard work you’re doing at this stage, and that’s something you have to reconcile yourself with. You have to be sure it’s what you want to do, and be doing it for the right reasons.
Our final full week of filming was a HUGE one. One that I dreaded and was excited for in equal measure. Day One was the climactic scene of the film, and like Day One for Liam and Chas, we dropped them right in the deep end. Having never acted together before, we put them in one of the most extreme scenarios that would have to deal with. Obviously, again, no spoilers, so I can’t say too much, but they nailed it, and with the support of Tom Bridger and Shaun Woodgates, we captured the most important moment of the film, and the most dramatic moment of any of our films to date, with ease.  Well, with ease, if you don’t take in to consideration the extreme shoulder pain thanks to holding up the DJI Ronin for the majority of it. A big concern for this week was time again. We had the location til 5pm and then a few shots to pick up later that day, but due to necessity we had to fill Monday and Thursday with a tonne of scenes. There was no room for error and we all knew it. After starting with the heaviest scene, we moved on to several smaller scenes, in which Liam and Chas’ characters were a little closer. We got done on time and knowing that this big day was out the way was a huge relief. The next day should be straight forward but the final two would still be testing.
On the Tuesday we were back in the office shooting scenes, this time between Tom Bridger, Shaun Woodgates, and Liam. We had to reschedule this day from the week before as Tom had an audition in London. But luckily we were able to move days around still, even this late in the shoot. All three scenes were spot on. The strangest thing that has come out of this shoot (besides the Behind the Scenes Videos) is the way that I’ve had to direct some scenes. As there is no dialogue in most scenes, I’ve been reading out the messages that characters have been sending to each other and prompting actors from behind the camera, but in the scene. It’s been strange. Usually you know the beats of the scenes based on when a bit of dialogue has been reached. In the afternoon we captured some more pickup shots, and then had another full evening to recuperate…or get drunk. As we knew we weren’t going to be up early and would be starting at 11pm the next day, we decided to let loose (well more so than we already had been every day of the shoot). This was fun…less so when it came time to shoot again.
I must confess, we’ve been burning it at both ends during the shoot, and at times that hasn’t helped the exhaustion. Wednesday was a prime example of that. We hadn’t got much sleep, and we had one of the larger scenes (at the Speakeasy location) to take care of. A logistical nightmare with dozens of extras. By this point in any shoot I’m worn down, this time was really a test, because not only was there so much to get through, we weren’t really in any fit state to be tackling the challenge. There are Behind the Scenes photos on our Facebook page which perfectly illustrate just how burnt out we were this week. With the support of some great extras, production crew, and the usual ragtag group of Quandary misfits, we fought the day and won, with some of the more memorable images of the shoot (again, no spoilers).
Thursday, marking the end of the final full week, saw us tackle the final scenes between Chas and Liam. Time again was against us. We had to be out just after 5pm and Liam had a train to catch. So the pressure was on again. I’d had an awful nights sleep again, and was running on empty (the photos show that). There was one scene in particular that we all knew was going to be hard, and right in the middle of the day, if anything went wrong, it could throw the rest of the day off completely. The first few scenes flew by. They were easy enough, if not a little rushed (luckily I only work with actors I trust can deliver). By this point Chas and Liam had struck up a nice rapport and we were sailing through. Then came the big scene. We had some really emotional stuff to work through, and everyone was feeling the pressure. By this point I was hating the fact I’d chosen to film the entire scene on the Ronin. My shoulder could barely take it, but I knew we had to plough through (I’m broken as a result). We only just managed to get the scene done in time, and we had to really push through to get the rest of the day done, but both Chas and Liam nailed the scene. It’s one of my favourites so far. They brought a lot to the scene, I’m gutted I can’t gush openly about what took place, but needless to say it was rewarding. And at this point in the shoot it was exactly what I needed, to ensure we got the rest of the day complete. Once done, I bottomed out. Nothing left to give. You could see the same in the cast and crew. Everyone had given everything. It was done. Aside from one full day of filming the following week, the film was pretty much complete. Well, at least Liam’s bits were now all filmed.
It’ll be weird filming next week without Liam there. He’s been here for 90% of the whole thing and is an important ingredient to not only the film itself, but the way we’ve filmed in general. It’s been a hell of an experience, and we are all waiting for the comedown to creep in. Something that people rarely talk about is the gap it leaves in your life when you finish filming. Obviously I’m still in it, as I’m editing for months on end, but once production stops, you’re left with an emptiness. The experience is over. Now it’s only memories and a skewed image of it up on the screen. Instead of ending on such a melancholy note, below is the penultimate behind the scenes video, in which you’ll see how close we all got during the filming, and how much (despite how it almost ruined me) we enjoyed actually making the film. It’s a love-hate thing, but I can’t see myself doing anything else.