Monday, 19 April 2010


Remind me to bring in a hat tomorrow so that I can take it off to all the directors out there.
Yesterday was photoshoot day. By the end of the day I could hardly walk for exhaustion and stiffness.

What a marvellous moment though! Picture me smoking a cigarette outside the studio, a very sweaty copy of the script in my trembling paw; and one-by-one our actors and actresses and make-up girl and dogs arrive, and soon the studio is bustling with people greeting one another and pouring coffees, waiting to receive instructions, and all the while my script becomes sweatier still so that it is in danger of becoming illegible.
Well, heck, you don't need to picture it:

Everyone was amazing (thank you thank you thank you), and I learned a great deal from the experience: theory is great, but it does little more than place its hand on your shoulder occasionally when you're faced with the real thing. So here are my biggest lessons:

1) Don't say 'Look worried'.
It makes people laugh and they don't look worried.
Instead, I learned to search for the essence of an emotion and convey the physical gestures: scrunch up your face; grit your teeth as hard as you can; raise your shoulders and make them as tense as possible.
One actress observed: 'There's an awful lot of cheek touching going on.'
Indeed there was! It was a veritable Non Verbal Communication convention! I seem to recall that Hitchcock said: Never use dialogue when the pictures can do the work. (Something like that.)
I had already written a good deal of stage directions into the script, with characters twirling their hair and the like; but I wasn't really prepared for the quantity of directions that I ended up invoking.

2) Closed set.
Next time around, I intend to run a closed set. I think our actors and 'tresses were understandably nervous posing before an audience, and the slightest noise or remark could rapidly ignite a chain reaction of nerves-into-laughter.

3) Lights are asses.
Well, not really; it's just they can take an age to arrange to create any given effect.
I decided to shoot all the 'exterior: night' shots first, before moving to interiors. It messed my schedule somewhat, but I'm quite sure it ultimately saved us a lot of time.
Oh, and whilst those coloured gels are designed to cope with the fearsome heat of the stage lamps, gaffer tape isn't and melts.

4) Delegate.
I near-killed myself hopping around, posing people and moving lights and step ladders and boiling kettles and angling fans and checking the shots and so forth. And people are always keen to help out. Next time there'll be a lighting guy.

I love the process! I love seeing thoughts becoming reality!
Here's what it's all about!

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