The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster. Starting with the mother of all problem solving on production on The Fitzroy, having to take a more hands on roll with the film than I’d usually like, through to going to various talks and now doing something completely different. Though this is the very reason I got into producing in the first place and why I love it so much!
Panic on The Fitzroy!
Two weeks ago we started production again on The Fitzroy, and you may have read about the chaos we had not having a camera for the first morning of the shoot in my last blog. The good news is by the end of the following day we were back on track and on schedule, thanks to all the cast and crew's hard work - especially the brilliant art department who worked through the night on turning around the set. By the end of the week we had got everything we wanted out of the studio shoot, a fantastic feat and probably not what we expected when we had no camera kit on the Wednesday morning. This meant I could go off and do a couple of talks on crowd funding trouble free.
First off I was kindly invited by the Drone Strike team to explain my top 5 most common crowd funding mistakes and how we learnt from our own Kickstarter campaign at a Digital Shoreditch Festival night. It was a really great night with some really open minded discussions about crowd funding going forward. I went after the Drone Strike team of Chris Richmond and Mike Sedgwick who explained what they learned from ultimately their unsuccessful campaign, and before Orestes Kouzof who discussed Raindance's successful campaign. Their presentation was probably much more visually stimulating that mine, as I decided to go for the more dry content heavy route which probably extended the evening by an extra 15 minutes or so – sorry guys! Now I’ve done a little bit of public speaking before, but nothing on crowd funding on my own. I really enjoyed it and I hope the audience did too. I think it helps that crowd funding is such a buzz term right now and something I’m genuinely fascinated in how you can see it changing the film industry for the better before your very eyes, whilst crowd funding itself rapidly develops as an industry.
On the evening of the last day of the studio shoot I went down to a farm in Kent as part of a weekend run by The London Short Film Festival down on the farm. The lovely people at Shooting People were kind enough to invite me down to discuss crowd funding with the team behind the successful campaign of the Blaine Brothers film ‘Nina Forever’. It was a whole weekend of talks and activates from the Friday night to the Sunday evening, so by the time I got down their events were in full swing. I had a chance to chat to Katie McCullough and Harriet Fleuriot who ran ‘Nina Forever’ a brilliant campaign, and it was great to share similar stories about the stresses of running a crowd funding campaign – whether it be the joy of seeing pledges rush through in the final hours or the worried sleepless nights endlessly checking your phone with no new backers. They also very generously said they had taken some lessons from ‘The Fitzroy’ campaign; which was very kind of them to say. The talk itself was much more of a Q&A type structure run by Stephanie from Shooting People, there were some really interesting discussions about best practices and approaches, it was great to see so many people looking to do crowd funding campaigns and taking it so seriously. I was lucky enough to meet some fascinating and talented individuals.
A production twist
The next few days couldn’t be more different. On Monday we had to take everything from the studio back onto the submarine for a couple of days of shooting. Essentially means a long day of loading, unloading and loading a lot of gear – not fun but needs must. I awoke to an email from our 1st Assistant Director who had an emergency and sadly couldn’t make the next two days of shooting. These things happen and she recommending a couple of people to approach to take over, one of which had already reached out to us and I called her up, went through the project and she agreed to come on. All seemed well…
The following morning was very exciting. We were going back on board the sub, we found out a lot of media were coming down to cover The Fitzroy and everything was seemingly on time with no problems. I met the new 1st AD and took her through the sub and introduced her to everyone. 20 minutes later she was feeling too unwell to stay and had to get the boat back to the mainland. I won’t pass judgement on how she was or felt, but again it was one of those problems that you have to deal with very quickly. Now if you don’t know much about film making and what a 1st AD does, they essentially run the shoot, keep everyone moving looking after everyone and making sure we are getting through the schedule. It’s a pretty essential job, you can just about make a low budget film without one but you really don’t want to - chaos can insue and the shoot will probably run over schedule. Often you have 2nd & 3rd AD’s who can step up in such a scenario, we didn’t have that. So what do you do when you’re stuck in the middle of the Kent Medway on a floating submarine? Well the only thing I could think of was to step up myself. Quite a worry when I knew there would be lots of media on board and the last thing we wanted was the shoot to look a disorganised mess with the press around.
I’ve done probably couple of days of 1st AD work before, only through necessity on two low budget commercials with very small teams, certainly on nothing the size of The Fitzroy. Though I knew the schedule as good if not better than anyone else, and I also knew all the crew very well so saw no other better option. What ensued was essentially two days of me pretty much shouting at and teasing the crew as much as possible, not sure if they enjoyed it too much but they gave as good as they got! The good news was we managed to get everything we needed and a little more, which is no easy feat on the cramp conditions of the sub. To top it off all the media interviews and coverage went down really well, with the BBC even doing two live feeds from the top of the sub while we were filming. Hopefully there should be more exciting press coverage for the film coming soon.
I then afforded myself a couple of days off before going on to something completely different…
Back to a day job
Its been a few months since I left Hugo & Cat and had any paid work as The Fitzroy has had all my time and energy. So with The Fitzroy nearly completely wrapped, its time to start paying the bills again! On Wednesday I began working at an agency called Seven where I’m project managing digital content on the Sainsbury’s account. Its certainly a departure, though a really interesting one and everyone has been really cool, so should be a good place to spend the next couple of months. If I'm honest, it will be good having a little bit of structure and routine back in my life for a while. I’m lucky the skills of producing and project managing over lap one another, even further my work with digital agencies compliments modern film making as shown through the funding of The Fitzroy and our marketing and distribution of the film.
Its this kind of variety experience that makes producing never dull and even if it ever did, there are so many different directions you can take your career in so there’s no reason to ever stay still. In my mind its ideal to always be progressing and creating new challenges going forward.