Whats the worst worst thing that can go wrong on a film set?
I write this blog in a blaze on the morning of the 2nd day of the Fitzroy pick up shoot on my commute to the studio. I don’t usually write these sort of things in such a rush but I felt I had to get down my thoughts that were running through my head of what was at times the most stressful day of my professional career and in the end an extremely rewarding one.
The drama started two days ago, in the afternoon as we prepared to go back to and shoot The Fitzroy for 4 more days in the studio and 2 on the sub. We were just finishing off the pre-light in the studio when fellow producer Liam Gavro and I found out that there was a problem with getting the camera kit to the shoot on time for the following morning to start shooting. I won’t go into the details of how and why, but essentially the problem lay between our insurance and the company renting us the camera kit. Nothing had changed for us from the previous shooting days, same equipment – same insurance, so to us it was a huge surprise. We didn’t have time to fix the problem that afternoon before the insurance underwriters left for the day, but we felt confident it could be resolved first thing in the morning so we pushed back call time by a couple of hours to give us time to sort it out and get the kit to studio. The morning came…
… we were unable to resolve the problem as straight forward as we had been led to believe. Now filmmaking is an expensive business and even at our very low end budget of filmmaking its expensive, every moment counts on a shoot – the term “time is money” is never truer than on a film set. In many ways, its even more relevant to us as we feel every budget problem more so because of how little we have to play with. You also don’t want to waste people’s time. So the idea of having everyone ready to go, the actors, the crew the set in place and lit, but with no camera to shoot with I’m sure you can appreciate is a quite frankly terrifying idea!
So the worst thing that could go wrong for us was not having a camera (barring any serious injury happening to anyone, which has never happened and I certainly hope never happens on a shoot I'm involved with). You can make do without almost anything for a while on a shoot, missing actor, crew member, art department...but there is nothing that can be done without a camera. You can't shoot anything...though we could tell people the film looked really nice I'm sure.
Funny enough though different, a similar thing happened to me on a Nokia N9 shoot I was producing with Jon Sykes directing - on that occasion it was resolved very quickly. On this occasion we soon found out there was going to be no quick fire solution, which meant not getting the camera within the next hour. The news quickly spread across the cast and crew. The reaction I expected was a series of very frustrated and annoyed people. In fact quite the opposite, everyone fully understood the issue and the stress we were going through and didn’t mind hanging around until it was fixed.
For about hour at around noon we faced the very real possibility that we may not get any filming done for day. That’s when the Director of Photography, Ciro Candia said we have to film something today one way or another. We exhausted every possible option to try and at least minimal kit to shoot with in a couple of hours, when finally something fell in a our favour. At 2pm we found out we were able to get all the original kit delivered for in an hours time, which meant me could start filming at around 4pm. It was huge a massive relief.
The momentum we had in the afternoon was fantastic; we reached possibly our best rhythm through the entire shoot. It was really fantastic to see everyone turn round a tricky situation to make the best of the day we possibly could and in the end make it a success. A lesson in whatever problem you face to keep trying to find a solution until every possible route is exhausted.
On a separate topic, I’ll be at a couple of events this week discussing crowd funding. I’ll be speaking tonight (29th May) in Shoreditch with the team of Atticus Finch, Scout films and Raindance. It’s a free event, you just need to register - check it out here: http://lanyrd.com/2013/digital-shoreditch-festival/scghcz/
I’ll also be at an event down in Kent on the 1st June run by Shooting People and London Short Film festival: http://shortfilms.org.uk/projections/47
At both I’ll be talking about my insights into crowd funding and my experiences on the campaign of The Fitzroy. Feel free to come along