It’s been a year since I finished writing the script for my short film ‘Beehive’ and now we are nearing the end of post production, excited about sending it to festivals and sharing it with audiences. We are just nearing the end of our crowd funding campaign.
Where did Beehive come from?
Beehive is a short film which I wrote a little over a year ago. I had been freelancing for 18 months and was looking for an opportunity to push my creativity further than what I was able to on other projects that were operating on a shoe-string budget. I wanted to overcome my fear of writing and create something that would be visually stimulating as well as, at the core of it, have a solid story filled with great characters.
I also wanted this to be a great opportunity for the crew so I decided to put more funds into the project so each department could have a budget to play with to help create the world of the lead character ‘Penny’ as well as have some creative input themselves. What is the point of having a fantastic team of creatives if they can’t bring those skills to your project?!?!
Other than my personal desire to grow as a filmmaker Beehive certainly came from a few things. I had seen moments of a child playing cricket with his mum in my apartment car park, of frustrating customers who don’t appreciate vintage and was all too familiar with women who confidently flirted with men to feel better about themselves but would drop them in an instant. All these and more became moments in the film which shaped the story.
Developing the characters
For some time I had been wanting to write a character that was riddled with flaws and was completely oblivious to it. I loved the idea of a quirky girl who loved to twist, had her own style and was infectious. Once I realised that it was a great tool for her to hide behind, then the story followed shortly after.
The story was of a seemingly confident girl who needed to find courage to be vulnerable and show that she needed someone. Regardless of whether she finds love at the end or not it doesn’t matter, it’s her inner battle that needs to be faced and is the essence of the story. I also wanted to write a very flawed character because people have bad sides to their character and sometimes that can become a huge problem for people if they get caught up being one side and ignoring other parts of themselves.
I also had a good base for each of the men at the beginning of the story who I feel every girl has come across, the confident cocky guy who tries so hard to be cool it’s daggy, the guy who thinks that a few killer dance moves will have the girls begging for him and the one that parties just a little too hard that it ends up ruining the evening. They were fun characters to explore and I couldn’t be happier with who we cast for them.
Angus was a challenge as I wanted to write him as the ideal suitor for Penny. But then he seemed very two-dimensional and with some great feedback from Ted Crosby, who ended up playing the role. He was too nice and needed some bite. So I rewrote him as a bit of an impatient jerk and I think he is somehow all the more charming for it.
Writing the script and building a team.
I worked on the script for a very long time. As I had pretty low confidence in my abilities as a writer I was also facing my own personal battles with it – so it took longer. I hadn’t written in a long time so took time to face the weaknesses I was aware of until I felt I had overcome that hurdle.
In the end I feel very proud of the script and was excited to hand it over to Alastair Wharton who directed it. It was certainly a struggle to let go completely of the script and let someone else bring in their ideas, but I feel better for having done it and am well aware that much of the strength of the film is from the creative input from the whole team. It wouldn’t have been the same with out them.
If you would like to read more about writing the script (and writing tips) check out my script writing post here: ‘The Making of Beehive:The Script’
When the script was almost complete I brought on Chloe Lawrence-Hartcher as producer to help me as I hadn’t done a film out of school, so it was the first time that I had a film from scratch-no supplied crew or gear. So I wanted the best help I could get.
We asked Alastair to come on board, after having worked with him on ‘In Transit’. After which we then talked to him and started filling in the roles. We ended up having an enormous crew but they all played a very important role.
If you would like to read more about how we found the crew and how to deal with finding a team for a no budget project read my post here: ‘The Making of Beehive: Finding a Crew’
Finding the Cast
Alastair, Chloe and I pooled our ideas of people that we thought would be suitable for the roles but we also wanted to reach further to see if there were actors out there that would be better suited. So we had open auditions. We saw about 50 actors of various ages and levels of experience and it was absolutely mind-boggling. For me, this was the first time I had seen my script read aloud and it certainly showed me a few areas which needed work in the script but also highlighted areas that were much better than I had realised.
We all learnt a lot from the auditions and many of the actors gave us great food for thought when it came to shaping the characters. We couldn’t be more thankful for everyone who showed an interest and are so pleased with who we found in the end. We saw some fantastic actors across the board but are so happy with who we chose to bring our characters to life.
If you’d like to read a bit more about the auditions check out ‘Auditions Day 1’
Obviously pre production was very important. Once we had locked in our crew it was all systems go in regards to finding costumes, locations, set dressing and then of course rehearsing, scheduling, booking and borrowing gear and managing a tiny tiny budget so it could stretch to all the departments. Somehow Chloe and I managed without killing each other.
Finally it was the big day. We got to the first location early and started to set up. We were in an antique store and soon found ourselves with not much room to move. With at least 20 people moving about trying to do their jobs as well as gear being shipped back and forth, it was quite overwhelming. We found ourselves running out of time very quickly. Eventually we got on a roll and managed to get our coverage. So then we were out on the street to do all our exteriors.
It was hot. Summer was on us, the street was busy with cars and people, the air was stale and we had to walk the gear to each new location. I had scouted King Street in Newtown for a range of places as close together as I could. However the heat was making it very hard.
We got through all our scenes and were pretty excited with how they had turned out. The highlight of the day was an amazing shot we had gotten of our lead actress Aimee-lee Druett walking down the street. She looked amazing!
At the end of the day, we had packed up. As I started to drive home I spotted Alastair and Chloe at the side of the road unpacking Chloes’ car. It seemed she had gotten a flat and had to unpack the car to get to the spare. Al saved the day and Chloe was soon on her way.
The second day ran much smoother. This location proved a challenge, again because of space, but also for production design. Our designer, Diva Abrahamian had to turn the location, which was a boys bedroom into an extremely feminine bedroom. She brought in bed sheets, fake wall paper, lamps, trinkets and all sorts of pretty things to really give some insight into Pennys personal space. We kept the coverage simple and even in the edit we only used half the shots we got. The performance was enough that it really didn’t need much.
We then headed to film a scene with Joseph Famularo and Amanda Wiltshire. This soon became a race against the sun to try to get the performances we needed but also deal with a few surprise challenges. It seemed the car we were shooting in couldn’t open the boot. So instead of filming from outside I ended up having to sit in the car to get the shot. Along with that, the car was very wobbly. So every shake or bump would nearly ruin a take. We managed to get all our coverage even though eventually we ran out of light.
Day 3 was the big one. We had to empty a location which was set up as a bedroom and dress it as a lounge room. We also discovered we couldn’t hang anything on the walls so the art department were stressed. I think what was managed in the end was pretty good. So I hope they can use those ideas for another project.
Aimee-lee was a champion. The poor thing smoked herbal cigarettes the entire day and danced and danced and danced. By 3 in the morning we had wrapped. We were exhausted and people were wrecked. The only thing that kept us going was the fact that we all knew that what we were getting was incredible; the lighting, the room, the mood, the acting; slow motion and some amazing music. It was all happening and it felt good. Needless to say we were happy when we wrapped.
We set the house back up and packed the cars. By 5am we were ready to go. Then my car got a flat tyre. So we had to unpack everything, fix it and then finally as the sun was coming up Alastair and I headed off. Ready for a day of rest.
It was a short-lived break as gear had to be returned. To keep the budget low we’d had to borrow things from all over so I spent much of the following days driving things all over Sydney. Eventually my lounge room looked normal again and my attention shifted to the edit.
The Edit Room.
We decided that Alastair and the editor Alana Greig should spend a bit of time themselves sorting out an edit. It was a bit scary to leave it with them after being so heavily involved but I knew they would be fine. After some time I finally got to check out what they had and it was great. From that point on we had regular editing sessions. Many Sunday evenings of pizzas and Thai takeaway later we had an edit we were pretty happy with.
We took some time to share it with a few friends to get an idea of what they thought and then took on board some of the feedback and worked towards a locked off picture.
The next step – Crowd funding
We have finished the edit but need to do more ADR, sound design – the ever important colour grade – music rights so we can include a huge array of local Australian artists. We found their songs and they are KILLER!!
Up until this point I personally had funded the production but unfortunately need help to cover the expensive costs of post production we started up a crowd funding campaign. We launched the campaign and our trailer at a trivia night. We had 40 friends and family come along to The Vic Hotel in Enmore to show their support for the film but also to have a fun night of trivia. We are now just 4 days away from completing our crowd funding campaign and have about $500 to raise.
We have organised a HUGE array of rewards as a special thank you for your donations. These include a photo shoot with esteemed photographer Stephen Godfrey, Classic bow ties, retro circle skirts, The Rude Heads EP, Handmade jewellery from Sorry I’m Late, Posters and of course a copy of BEEHIVE ON DVD (not to mention our eternal gratitude)!!!
If you would like to help please have a look at our campaign at www.pozible.com/beehive
Check out Beehive on Facebook at www.facebook.com/beehive.film
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“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.”