An unexpected addendum to the Out Of Hours story for you all. For the latest, I pass you on to our correspondent on the ground, Stuart Wright…
When I co-wrote Out of Hours with the mighty Clive Ashenden I quickly shut down my laptop, turned around and touched the ground and became the co-producer of the project. There was no logical reason for me to direct and even less logic in me being involved with editing. So with the location nailed and the help and support of Snakegully Productions I hit the steep learning curve of producing a short film. A 13 people cast and crew and a four day shoot later… and we were done. Clive booted up the mothership and set off for editorsville.
The Friday night after the wrap – six days later – Clive beamed down a message requesting some of Day 2’s footage that he couldn’t locate on the hard drive.
Still, I drank from his optimistic half full glass that we would find it and arranged to go and see him with my checklist spreadsheet. Within half an hour of searching for the lost footage the awful truth became clear. We were missing a camera roll’s worth of footage.
Clive scratched his head for a way to squeeze the square peg of what remained into the round hole of what we needed to tell our story. There was only one solution… like Ridley Scott’s need to do the famous street gundown scene before us, we were going to have to reshoot.
GULP! Damn, blast and gutted.
Clive phoned Simon and we soon had our cameraman ready in the wings. I spoke to Maria and Keith … they were free. Virginia was holding the date in her diary and then we had Xav on board. We had all the ingredients we needed to capture most of what I’d lost. What a great bunch of people. And to top it off I was back down to Ladywell for a boom mic and rod from the very kind Alex Brunning. Sound sorted.
Midweek we sorted out a shot list. This included two BONUS Shots: Alice walking past the closed shutter of the underground car park and some SpecialFX … or as I noted it on the spreadsheet filename SPX. Yes, Virginia had visited B & Q and with a bike pump and two litre plastic bottle had built a contraption to mimic gun shots. Either that or she was planning ahead, in anticipation of my next film–Lemon Enema: Clean As A Whistle.
At a secret location in East London we avoided builders on their fag break, drills, jackhammers and police sirens for the duration of four takes to get a wrap on shot 1 of Day 5 – the reshoot. Champagne corks popped silently in our heads after Simon’s tale of celebrating first shots on Hollywood film sets.
Hot footing it across London we got back to Tottenham Court Road, homebase for the last couple of weekends. Here we are again, happy as can be…
A bag of chocolate chip brioche, jelly beans and chocolate chip madelines later (always feed your crew–preferably with caffeine and sugar) and we were in the front lobby with security guard Xav.
Clive’s directorial mastery, Keith’s 1st AD-cum-boom operator and Simon’s always mobile camera on a tripod danced around the front lobby of the office building racking up shots as an important part of the chase sequence was rebuilt.
I learnt that MOS means Mute of Sound, and that Clive wasn’t winding me up when he instructed me to put my fingers in the jaws of the clapper board before closing it.
A pale Xav took his place on the floor of the set. He took it easy as Maria worked up a sweat running from no one to the lift; and then running from an avenging steadycam and boom mic operator. It was like the spirit of Dee and Dum were in the building terrifying poor Alice.
With the time fast approaching for SPX, we realised there was a shortage of stage blood on set. Off to the supermarket for me then… I got the requisite golden syrup and food colouring. As well as some disposable gloves – a must on all bloody sets if I’m honest. Our security body for the morning, Xav, kindly volunteered to be the stunt double for the gunshots. Mucho appreciated and you’ll soon read why.
While I was getting in the goodies I bagged a few carbo treats for the cast and crew… sausage rolls and cheese pasties put a tiger in everyone’s tank for the last, but most problematic shot of the day.
“Have you got a funnel?” was the first phone call I got from Clive.
“Yes,” was my surprise response.
Well, it was a dishwasher salt funnel; and with a bit of rolled up card and electricians tape it was ready to perform the Lemon ene… sorry… it was ready to help fill the surreal plumber’s contraption that would add some much needed splatter to the film. And it did.
Much anticipation and much hilarity followed. All captured in the rushes as the collective thoughts of the skeleton cast and crew willed the gunshot special FX to kick in and convince the director. Instead for three takes nervous laughs and comments like: “That looked good.” All the while Xav was gradually pickling his torso in sweet red goo.
By the 4th take, and with the sound of the bike pump captured by the camera’s mic going hell for leather, the final spurts of bloody liquid gave us a beautiful mix of burst through and fountain. That was a wrap.
When I arrived on the scene a shirtless Xav approached me with a plea for hot water in his eyes… in the background I could see director Clive mopping up his mess, satisfied he’d got the money shot. (fnaar) Well, he’ll see in the edit very soon after. I smiled a relieved man’s smile. My loss of original footage had been the films gain, thanks mostly to Virginia Popova’s ingenuity and perseverance to come up with an idea we could afford on our no-budget production. Necessity had truly been the mother of invention.
As always thanks to the kind souls who helped Clive and I make Out of Hours. The need to reshoot was greeted with the same enthusiasm as Day 1 and for that I am especially grateful.
I’ve learned a lot these last few weeks – much more than any scriptwriting class could teach me. I couldn’t have done it without the support and talent of everyone else involved. Filmmaking is collaboration.
And now we’re back on the flightpath to editorsville. Good luck Clive. I look forward to the rough cut and then the score.
(Me too. My heart went out to everyone when Clive called to tell me the bad news. The already tight schedule to get Out Of Hours complete in time for submission to Cannes has turned into a a bit of a squeaker. Here’s hoping we can get this puppy done!)