Counting down the days now until we shoot Beehive. 14 to go.
It was always destined to be a tight pre-production schedule.
Weeks 1 – 2 Finding my key team and Christmas
I tried to start 6 weeks ago with the hope of shooting at the end of January. Christmas and New Years didn’t help at all. I tried to counteract that by getting people on board a month before Christmas, but obviously December is just a busy time of the year.
So after a slow start, we decided to push the shoot back, which at the time meant missing out on a feature I was working on, but better to get it done late, then not at all.
In a fantastic turn of events, the other project, The Margin Of Things, has just been pushed back also. So now I don’t miss anything. Woohoo!
That was just a bit lucky really. I guess in future I’ll think twice about trying to get a film going so close to the holiday season, at least, an unpaid one.
First point of call was to lock in a director. It took a few weeks but finally I found the amazing Alastair Wharton who was keen as beans to take on the film. Months earlier I had already locked in my producer Chloe Lawrence-Hartcher (I was quick to realise that she was a woman I wanted on my side). Once we got the key team locked in, things started to run a lot smoother. The director Alastair Wharton and I spent a fair bit of time discussing the film and the characters and got the storyboard done early as it helped him get a good idea of what kind of vibe the film had, when he had only a short time with the script before we had to start casting. I had written it, but for a director, I was aware that he needed to grasp it very quickly so we could move on and start casting.
Weeks 3-4 Story boards and visual style.
The first two weeks were slow. It wasn’t until the new years vibe really worked off that we started to sink our teeth in. As I mentioned we did the storyboard early. By the 3rd week it was locked in and the shot list had been drafted. This was really helpful to me as a cinematographer as it meant I knew what gear to look into and could do that in my free time while the rest of the team started to work on their own prep.
We also thought a lot about the visual style referencing many films ‘Heartbeats, Cemetary Junkyard, A Single Man, A Simple Man, In The Mood For Love, My Blueberry Nights, Closer, Mad Men, Pans Labyrinth, Blade Runner, Revolutionary Road, The Commitments, Black Swan and In Bruges – Just to name a few (are you getting a sense of the style.
With this in mind I threw together a mood book for the designer to give her an idea of what feel I was looking for and my ideas for the lighting.
Weeks 5-6 Casting and building the crew.
This last fortnight was enormous. Mostly for casting. We had 3 days of back to back auditions for all 10 roles (slap me next time I write a film with so many characters!).
We had the wonderful help of our producing assistant, Liam Egan who helped us out as a reader. For the male actors, our brave and fearless producer Chloe Lawrence-Hartcher stepped in and read (and danced) for us.
Our auditions were fun. It was hard because we saw so many people and the repetition was a challenge. Thankfully, because part of the film involved dancing, we got people to show us their dance moves in a cheeky cat and mouse style between a ‘flirty girl’ and her next victim. With a swingin’ tune it was all smiles and in most cases a fantastic experience seeing each new persons dance steps. Even I had to be a reader for a handful of people.
Following our auditions we had an extremely hard time picking our lead characters, for good reasons; they were all so talented! Alastair and I tossed and turned over our leading lady and our leading man. We held call backs for a handful. I think it may have only been the second time I had done call backs for a short film. It was certainly a different dynamic, and really did give Alastair the opportunity to really hone in on what he was looking for in the character.
Soon after the call backs we were able to lock our male lead in, but it took us a little while to settle on our lady. Everyone was so good. After many long conversations and nit picking of tiny differences here and there for the various actresses – we came to a decision (which I can’t reveal just yet.)
Also a big thing for weeks 5-6 was the push to get the art department going. We met with the production designer Diva Abrahamian who had the most wonderful ideas for the hair, costumes and set dressing. I was a wee bit excited. So after those initial meetings she set off with her stylist to start sourcing props and locations.
Which brings me to today. After locking in the look we are going for, today we have the joy of location scouting. A bit of an arty film, is really limiting the kinds of locations we are looking for. I’m up early this morning to head out to Kings Cross to then make my way through Surry Hills, Newtown and back to mine (thank goodness it’s tidy). So hopefully by the end of the day we will have made a solid start on our locations as we will need to lock them in soon.
Speaking of scouting, I had better go. I’ve got to try to beat peak hour traffic.
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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.”