Last week we wrapped principle photography on The Fitzroy. A few days before wrap, one of the crew members asked me what the biggest thing I learnt from the production and I told them to ask me again at the end of the shoot – this was simply so I had a few more days to think about what to say as I had no idea at the time. When we were de-rigging the set the other day the same crew member asked me again. Again I didn’t know how to answer it and I said I’d have to think about it and come back to them. At first I felt really bad for not knowing! I mean this is the first feature film I’ve ever produced, its something I've been aspiring to my whole life and its been a massively ambitious undertaking, so there should be a huge amount to learn from.
The measure of inexperience
I’m very far from an experienced producer at this level of filmmaking and I have a hell of lot to learn. The Fitzroy is my first feature film and its a project that I’ve personally been developing for a year with Liam Garvo and for the writer director Andrew Harmer its been much, much longer. So everything is fresh, everything is new, and everything is very exciting. Even the problems, of which there were of course many over 16 days of production.
For the rest of my career and what ever I achieve and do, I highly doubt I’ll ever work and have the feelings I have had on a film like The Fitzroy again. For any future films I'm lucky enough to produce, The Fitzroy will be a reference point, a learning curve to base my experiences. This may be for the how to learn to do things better, how to improve things but it also may involve holding back due to a fear factor from experience that wasn’t there the first time round.
If I’m lucky enough to get the opportunity to produce another feature after the Fitzroy its likely to be different in scale and nature of the film. We have done things on this film and how we have attempted to get it made that I imagine very few people have ever done and I may never do again. That’s partly because of the nature of experience telling me it’s just not possible, in that sense naivety can sometimes be a powerful aid.
Ambition pays off
I wouldn’t change a single thing about how we have made this film so far, I believe we have been bold and brave, and if all goes to plan this will continue through to how we eventually distribute the film. Our cast and crew have supported us in this, taking a gamble in their belief of the project. Much like the support of the kickstarter backers the cast and crew continue to simply humble me in the generous support and commitment to the project. The cast and crew even gave up their Sunday to come in and help us out with the schedule over running, so most worked at least 9 days straight and some 17 days straight. No one is earning a living out of this film right now, so the fact that everyone got on so well during the production is testament to their talent, temperament and their belief in the script. Later in May we are going back to the studio and sub to shoot pick ups then off to shoot some beach scenes, I really hope all the existing crew can join us as I couldn’t ask for a better team.
The schedule has been a very tough learner curve on this production. We only had a budget to shoot for a set number of days and to begin with we were very keen to stick to this. However the quality of what we are getting, we’ve agreed its worth us stretching out the production – so now we had to get the extra funds together to add around another 6 days to the production.
I always have in the back of my head I may never get to make another feature film again, so this better had be the best possible film it can be. Don’t settle for second best in any area, and thankfully everyone else we’ve assembled seems to have that exact same mindset. It’s very inspiring to see everyone bringing their A game and pushing each other to greater heights. Even the chicken was a phenomenal!
One of my favourite moments on the film happened a few days before wrap. Andrew, Liam and I were having quite a stressed conversation in the afternoon about how were we going to possibly finish the film on the schedule we were working to. It was one of those conversations where sadly theres no happy answer, where the best possible solution is the best negative. Ken Collard (playing the Inspector), walked up to us and said to Andrew, "Just remember you're doing something that millions of people dream about everyone day - you're making a movie, your movie". He was spot on, very wise words and something that can easily be forgotten in the heat of the moment. We aren't saving lives, we are making an art form that hopefully people will take pleasure out of and we've been lucky enough to make the film with the support of thousands in a very public way.
The people count
So I think in the end the biggest thing I’ve learnt is to have respect for people involved with the film and having a project they believe in is the most important thing. I never what this industry to become strictly business for me, there a much easier and stress free ways to make a living. So I always want to be involved with projects I believe in and work on films I personally want to see. Because if you have a film everyone involved in believes in and cares about, that makes for a perfect dynamic to potentially make a fantastic film.
If you're interested in seeing more of the behind the scenes from the Fitzroy shoot check out this Kickstarter update, the Director's blog and one of the brilliant behind the scenes filmmakers Alex Scott's blog. If you have any questions, as ever feel free to get in touch.