Hurdles Pre Production

The pre production for the next short film has begun. A lot went on and still is going on with the companies last short film “Growing Pain.” But with so much in the pipeline I was too excited to wait. This next project has been ‘living’ before GP was in production and the idea has been modified various times to find it’s final concept.

I’m happy to say two cast members are confirmed for the film, they will be disclosed when the film kicks off properly, but are two people I know and are top quality performers. I can’t wait to see them go head to head! Tons of extras will be needed which I have already started to assemble. This film is going to be raising the bar of GP by a long way. It will be a totally different challenge and one I want to stretch too.

As the producer again as well as the writer/director, I’m going to have to assemble everything. That is starting to happen even though the shooting for this film is planned for October – it’s always better to prepare early. The biggest obstacle for this film, by far, was finding the right location. It took a few weeks and to confirm everything, but it has been a success and one is found. Dani and I took a trip there over the weekend (scorching hot Saturday – hottest day of the year) and we did a location scout for the day. The place is just as exciting in the flesh as it is in the pictures. A gallery of them is below and further updates to the new project will follow.

See the full gallery Here

And a small interview on the day ahead of the film Here

As with any film it always starts with the script, and like most they tend to start out totally different to the final draft. Originally the idea was to have a bunch of friends (children) in the woods with the mission to complete an obstacle which was supposed to be ‘impossible’. Then a sub plot being a murky character in the woods, and then the friends use  him with force to complete their mission. Hence why the original and what became the working title ‘Assault Course’. Somehow the whole idea just wasn’t working. I also had this tennis racket issue with the genre’s for a while. It was supposed to be a comedy.

Idea B was to have some sort of comedy story about children based at an assault course, taken from an experience in the Isle of White on a primary school trip when I was ten. Going over and over a brainstorm with passion, eventually the right ideas come and they start to flow, if you don’t give up. It may take a while, but it will gel, it took a couple of months in this case.

I worked closely with my editor colleagues Danny and Rob and the drafts were smoothing. I wanted to keep the film with the same kind of tone as Growing Pain, a feelgood drama, but this time replacing comedy with action. It is going to stretch my abilities absolutely and is going to be my first take on action. I think it was the necessary route to take with the story being at an assault course, the drama was going to be  weaved in through the relationship with the characters, which is my strongest and favorite genre. Originally in the earlier drafts the antagonist was a lot meaner and had a ‘cold’ end to the story, but after much scrutiny, the character was too stereotypical and had to be modified and made more real. Ultimately leaving the story with a warmer end which compliments the the film better. The protagonist didn’t have much problems, she was as believable and warm in every draft with the third character in the same fashion. And with thanks to my friend Rob, the project found it’s title “Hurdles”.

I already had the lead confirmed from Growing Pain, it was going to be the totally talented Faye Sewell. I was blown away with her excellence playing Lotti in GP and I promised to give her a bigger role in the next film, as Lotti was a small part but one of the most important characters in GP. Annabelle (antagonist) in Hurdles was also given to the exciting Angelique Llewelyn. She came in second for the role of Lotti to Faye, and I also promised her a role in the next film, there was no question about it. Her audition was ten out of ten, but Faye just got it. So there were two roles already written. The character I had to hold auditions was for Lawrence, the sub plot character, so that process was under way again.

A lot of applications came through as they do, but unfortunately this time half no showed for their audition. However the guys whom did come brought their acting powers and the variations of the character was interesting to watch and compare. It came down to two, but Nicholas Anscombe got it, it was a hands down from me, but a decision that had discussions from the photographer Michael and I. Dave Chawney was the only one behind Nicholas. I loved Dave’s audition and he would have easily got the part until Nicholas arrived. But ultimately Nicholas had the look of Lawrence, the depth, the slightly awkwardness, the all roundness. I am very proud of my choice and very happy for Nicholas to have attended. Those three were the cast.

There were more props to get in this film than there were in the last, and they were more tricky to complete. Such as; a ribbon with text on it, a jumper with text, a poster, university work, Olympic sweat band and lots of other stuff. I’m not at that production stage where it is big enough to employ a costume department, so all the costumes had to be bought and made by retailers. It was hard work. The poster I designed myself and got a retailer to print and laminate it. Other stuff I just had to buy. Once again, it was demanding, took costs out of the budget, but it had to be done.

The hardest part was finding the crew, by far. My friend Dani decided against the project for certain matters so I had to go out and find new people in different departments. It did me good in a way because it made me experience what it’s like to build a new team from scratch after having a first. I had to find a cameraman, sound, editor, composer and engineer. Trust me it was hard work with people saying they’d do it and changing their minds, then saying the pay was too low, some not even getting back. I went through hell trying to build a crew. But I got there in the end. I met each of them, meetings were frequent during pre production. Goran, a gem of a colleague is editing, lovely Emer is composing, well connected Javier is sound and then the big guy Valerio is D.O.P. Me, very proud of my new team. Being thrown in the deep end makes fighting for the reward more fulfilling, hence why I got these superstars on board. We have returning crew coming back, Saffie doing the photography and my long time Pattern Maker friend Michael as Cameraman B.

Extra’s was a big obstacle as they are needed to play the teenagers based at this summer camp. Luckily colleagues from my day job agreed to help out and take part, and to bring friends, but the numbers dropped getting closer to the shoot, but that is to be expected. Hopefully there should be enough, as I’m sure there will. Rob is playing a supporting character as the Summer Camp Instructor and also bringing a friend to play his Assistant, with much thanks to him, he has been a big help to the project and Pattern Maker in general.

Rehearsals were held, two of them. A thanks to Michael. We held them at his compatible home to say the least. He also cooked for us which was wonderful and it gave the cast and I a chance to bond as people which is important I believe on a film set, it is a work place after all. We filmed the rehearsals and got cool footage. Faye, Angelique and Nicholas performed beautifully and I got some great directing practice and camera shots also. It was very productive.

In regards to the money, it is all coming from me. It is the truth that this film has been bleeding me dry and it isn’t even the production yet. Extra things included equipment for the lighting and camera, the slate, but it is better to have absolutely everything covered. Michael helped out with the lights. However thank God to my day job, without that this film wouldn’t exist, but also a pat on my back for busting my ass to make the cash happen. My investor friend Bronwen helped again with a little contribution which I am very grateful for. It is greatly noted and will be returned. This is the second time she has helped, the first being with Growing Pain. As with any business you’ve got to build it with your own cash, or a loan, in this case it is practically all my green and eventually when Pattern Maker gets successful, the money will be returned in healthy portions. That is the reward of hard work, return.


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