What kind of nutter decided on a 7am call in the middle of February?!? Oh that’s right – me as the producer. Yikes! Something tells me I failed to think this through properly… And poor director Schuman had to sleep on my sofa ‘cos the camp bed folded up in the middle of the night with him in it. Whoops! Also the baby stair gate tried to kill him in the middle of the night. Sometimes you have to suffer for your art, right?
Anyway, we get up at an ungodly hour on a saturday – and Him Indoors heroically does too, even though he didn’t have to AND he made us artistes coffee and toast while we swore about How Damn Cold It Is. I had a fair few props to get ready – Older Man needs a newspaper; “Julie” needs some flowers, plus a coffee in a takeaway cup and “Teenage Girl” needs a mirror and some coke. We have everything except the coke (naturally). Now what? Hub says he’ll get on it while we’re on the shoot. Schuman and I leave for the graveyard, the first location of the day – with me hoping Hub won’t score drugs while we’re out, not least because he’ll have the children with him! [But question: is it okay to score drugs if it’s for art? Discuss.]
So, ten to seven and we’re standing in a graveyard in Bournemouth and it suddenly strikes me I did not check out the zombie situation in Bournemouth. Is it as bad as say, London? After all we’ve seen *that Danny Boyle documentary*. Luckily though neither of us get our brains eaten and Lucy Moses, our “Julie”, turns up on time. Plus she has croissants. Unfortunately, our make up artist, confusingly called Julie (who also plays the lead, “Gemma”) is not there because of the ice on the road – and the situation is TREACHEROUS. You know that “Dancing on Ice”? It was like that – only without the sequins and in a graveyard. Finally however Julie/Gemma arrives with her makeup box, only she’s forgotten some and has to ring her poor Mum to brave the elements again – which she duly does. Kudos. In the mean time, my phone completely dies – even though I charged it up the night before in readiness. Talk about a Diva. Anyway – the graveyard shots go according to plan: “Julie” (Lucy Moses) has to place some flowers on her (pretend) dead son’s grave. She also has to walk around sombrely – rather difficult though when you’re trying not to skate all over the place. Weirdly, two Korean students are there, though they keep their distance. Perhaps they thought we were zombies?
With the graveyard shots over, it’s time to leg it to the park. My phone comes back to life for as long as it takes for “Older Man” Rob Talbot to call me – I attempt to answer, but it dies again and it looks like I’ve hung up on him. Handily there’s a bus stop right outside the graveyard and we catch one round the corner to the park, just for the sake of warming up for five minutes because all of us were FROZEN. We arrive at the park and Rob is waiting, with Toby aka “Young Man” round the corner hiding amidst some trees. Poppy Gosling, aka “Teenage Girl” is nowhere to be seen – uh oh. Toby, Lucy Moses and Rob sit in Rob’s car and warm up whilst Schuman does some shots of “Gemma” (Julie) while we wait for Poppy.
I turn my phone on – there’s a text. Poppy’s here apparently – but nowhere in sight! How odd. I borrow Schuman’s phone because mine dies again and call her: she wonders if she’s in the wrong park. Cripes. But it’s okay – she’s also hiding amongst some trees, like Toby. We gather them all together: we have our actors for the park scene. Schuman’s keen to do a wide shot to start as it involves all the actors; however the ice situation is total madness and our actors end up doing it slow motion for the first time. Once they get to used to it, they become a little more sure-footed – though the odd slip still gets in here and there. They’re all great sports though and no one sues us. Throughout this schenanigans, I end up being The Dog Walker Distracter: a variety of men and women walk past with a variety of dogs and they’re all very interested in what’s going on. One rather debonaire chap with about three million very fancy-looking pedigree dogs stops next to me:
CHAP: So what’s going on here, then?
ME: We’re making a film.
CHAP: Oh, marvellous. For school, eh?
ME: No, it’s a real film.
CHAP: Fantastic… For that Cannes Film Festival is it? So all the stars will see it?
ME: (trying to keep a straight face) Maybe.
And with that he’s gone again… Schuman take shots of everyone from every angle, but we still end up an hour ahead of schedule. Which is just as well, since Schu and I are the only ones who DON’T get to sit in Rob’s car to warm up!
Now for the interior shots… We race back to my house for coffees and teas which the Hub gallantly serves up. Our two child actors are there, dressed and ready to go – we decide to go with the girl first ‘cos she’s younger and more moody. She doesn’t take to the idea of being in a film much and pretends to be asleep whilst Schu is filming her… Giving herself away by actually eating cheerios at the same time. Eventually she perks up when offered chocolate bunnies. Lucy Moses has to pick her up for one shot though and she’s really not having that. Eventually it’s decided that last shot will be got later when she’s more used to Lucy, though we discover a pillow in a blanket serves the same function should the girl go ballistic again.
Next are the rest of Lucy’s shots, such as finding the body and poor Julie/Gemma spends a lot of time lying on the stairs upside down and ends up feeling a little dizzy. Poppy, our Teenage Girl, stands in for her at one point too so actually it’s her arm hanging through the stair bars. Hub stands in as The Lighting Guy at this point and gets rather excited at the top of the stairs when I lean over Julie/Gemma at the bottom in a rather compromising pose to put blood on her (Men). In the mean time Toby entertains everyone in the kitchen with his surprising knowledge of children’s TV and impressions of Sportacus from Lazy Town. At one point the actors decide to count fairies from a board book called The Princess In The Castle. As you do.
Next are the boy’s shots with Lucy Moses as her son as well as the “unseen child” Rob, The Older Man, menaces in the film. During this, our “Girlfriend” character, Maia Gibbons arrives, so she and Toby go out to the garden to practice him beating her up. Turns out Rob has a lot of experience beating women, only on film (!), and he has much advice on technique. It’s now Poppy’s turn to shine – or rather, get completely skanked up: Julie/Gemma does a fantastic job of making her look like a junkie with sores all round her nose. Hub reveals he hasn’t scored drugs, instead he crushes up some Lucazade sweets and Poppy rather heroically snorts the whole lot right up her nose like a true method actor. She will be BUZZING later.
Anyway, Lucy Moses’ shots are over and Hub takes her to the station so she can get back to London – later we discover she’s left her phone behind. Argh! Poppy, Maia, Rob and Julie/Gemma take their chance to record the voiceover for the film whilst the Girl is asleep. Poppy goes home soon after, as does Julie/Gemma and Rob. We only have Toby and Maia’s scene to record – and then it’s a wrap. Or it would be, if poor Toby didn’t feel so bad about beating on Maia who seems to take it all in her stride. It’s decided eventually he will grab her around the throat, instead of put her arm up behind her back as in the script. That goes more smoothly and a few angles later it’s all done. SAFE is shot… Yay! And then I discover the actors have completely raided our stash of Jaffa cakes. Gits! ; )
INFO: View more photos of the shoot here and join The Safe Films Group here.