Hurdles Production Day 2

Coming back from day 1 I felt the demand of what the team were involved in. A lot of the extra’s felt the weight because a few were trying to pull out of day 2 for the usual creative excuses. The thought of being up at 5.30am from getting back pretty late the day before can be too much for some people. One extra couldn’t make it because of asthma reasons and didn’t turn up for day 2 altogether.

The other was being sick on the way home from day 1, but she did come to day 2 after I begged her. She was a star for doing that and she knew how much I needed her and how important the film was to me and the team. Saffie the stills photographer didn’t come because of various reasons, so I thought it was best to only go with the people I could absolutely trust and ultimately ‘had my back’.

It was a later start for day 2 – 9am meet at Dorking station. We pushed it to this time because everyone had to stay until 8pm the previous day and we were all the way in Dorking. All the people arrived in calm spirits, which I was pleased about because I was the opposite. In all honesty I felt day 1 was tough in regards to the schedule, the time and keeping a hold of everyone. Rob and I had a chat and he gave me great feedback and how crucial it was, sometimes you have to hear the full weight of constructive criticism to appreciate it. However when we arrived on set, it was as if the sun had come up.

We had our breakfast in the same place under the location tent and got ready. The cast doing their own make up, me planning the day. We started with the exteriors of the very start of the film. Nice and easy stuff, but had to get right because the frame cannot have ‘holes’ in it. The poster I made had it’s starring role, we got that. Because we were very low on numbers for extra’s, I had to make another directors decision, so I made the story seem like it was only focusing on finalists, so, that meant seven racers. In order to emphasize this, it was done with a sheet a couple of extra’s were holding with the finalists name’s on it. We shot that, clearly outlining a bit of the story at the start of the film.

Annabelle accepting her winners ribbon was next. It was shot in the same location at the start of the film – the summer camp green. Cute scene with the extras clapping, Rob putting the ribbon around Annabelle and then the very last image of the film between Ellie and Lawrence. The film is summed up in this scene through a lot of levels. Lovely cute scene.

Scene 2 of the script was shot next, where we are introduced to Ellie’s problem with the rope and Annabelle giving her a hard time about it. The rope obstacle of the assault course was being used a lot on the shoot as it is introduced in various parts of the film. I think by the time we wrapped, the cast and extra’s would have seen enough of the rope. They were a good bunch to put up with it, as it wasn’t certain if they’d make the jump when they attempted the rope. There were a few occasions where people fell into the mud pool, of course Faye because her character falls in it in the story, but again they were all excellent sports for putting up with it and getting through it.

Race 1 (practice race in the story) was next, so we went back out into the field. The issue with the planes was the same throughout the entire location, but because the field was an enormous open space, we had the light issue enhanced most here. Again we had to get the light to be as much the same in each take otherwise the continuity would look too obvious and different on screen. It was much sunnier on day two, which should have been a good thing, but because it was cloudier on day one, on screen it’s too different, but it wasn’t the end of the world. Also we relied on the clouds, so we had to wait for the sun to come out if it was shaded over by them. We only had to wait a few times so that was handy. Small dialogue was in this part of the race, so we got those and also some dialogue from the Summer Camp Instructor. The owner of the location, Wayne, pulled us up for shooting  on what was crops on day 1 we had to move to the grass section which was very small, but it just about worked. And then the kids set off to race.

Shooting the obstacle course was much smoother on day 2. I believe this was down to the cast and crew being more familiar with the whole thing. So we breezed through the shots and did each part of the assault course in lesser takes. Also we were able to have more fun on day two with the shots, because Valerio and Michael were able to choose angles which were different to the angles on day 1. Day 1 were detailed shots focusing on the actors and then extra’s. Day 2 was focusing on all of them. There was an epic shot from under a net Valerio and I took too, which was a brilliant, gem of a shot.

Lunch was next, once again it was Dominos pizza, it was a good deal of buy one get one free, which was cost effective for us because we were shooting for two days. Faye was looked after as she was the only vegan on the set, I got her something appropriate for her. By this time I was very happy because we were so on schedule and due to the previous days doubts regarding time and schedule, this day was a whole different story for the better.

After lunch we finished the end of the race. It wasn’t too tricky because we knew what to expect from the same sort of scenario on day 1. We got the dialogue covered and all the appropriate shots we needed. Once that was complete the extra’s were wrapped. I was grateful for their help and commitment for staying until the end. That meant a lot and they played a key instrumental part to this film, without them, the story wouldn’t have been the same.

Back to the rope and thankfully it was going to be the last time the set visited that thing. It was the scene between Lawrence and Ellie where Lawrence helps her with her problem. Having shot this rope various times already we knew what kind of angles we needed. Hazard, being the light was an issue, it wasn’t cold this time, the sun was shining really bright. It settled down and we were able to continue with our schedule. It was going to be tricky to shoot because we needed Ellie completing the actions without her actually falling into the mud pool, so trick shots were performed to compliment the edit when cutting. Nicholas was a trooper for agreeing to perform the dialogue scenario on the muddy ground. It being done on the ground was in the script, but on the location it was different when you saw  the space we had, it was muddy. But the actors complied, professionals. We got another epic shot from the floor looking up at Ellie which was another gem for me.

We had a quick break to gather our breaths, little snack for energy levels and went into the showdown scene between Ellie and Annabelle. I love this scene because it brings their conflict together. It was being shot in a carefully chosen space in the woods. It was mainly tracking shots, some from the front and behind the cast which will go hand in hand in the finished piece. Another really cool shot of Ellie achieving her main problem was done and one I’d like to call the money shot, possibly even an image for the front cover? When you’re in the tick of shooting, you can get caught up in the moment and sometimes forget things. In this scene I forget to grab a shot, but it isn’t a massive concern because there is always a way to compensate slight mistakes.

By this time it is getting to the end of the shoot. Angelique was wrapped and she said her goodbyes. I was very thankful to work with Angie, as I was blown away with her audition for Growing Pain. No doubt we were going to work on Hurdles. Her work was top notch and staying in touch will certainly be in order. The final scene of the shoot was changed a bit. Like on day 1 I changed the lunch scene to a dinner scene to coincide with our schedule and time, same thing here on day 2. I changed the bedroom scene to a fire scene which worked out better, for the reasons of; the workers on the site wouldn’t have to stay late again and we wouldn’t have to worry about setting up the lights again. Plus because we were so on schedule we still had a spot of good of daylight left. We started this scene at 6pm.

One of the best things about this scene was the fire, it looked really really epic and cinematic. I thought of the change in schedule during lunch, then I confirmed it with Valerio, Michale and Javi (sound man) and they were in agreement it would be a good idea. So I asked Wayne’s employees if they’d allow us to make a fire and shoot around that area at 6pm, and they said it was fine – they only had to stay until 7pm that day! Sometimes things change and the best things happen after change. This for me was without a doubt the most cinematic shot of the whole film. Because the sun was setting and the open fire was burning, it complimented the mood of the scene like a glove. It is an intimate scene between Ellie and Lawrence and the whole picture was iconic. It was the type of scene that was a blessing for being the very last scene of the shoot. I don’t believe that was a coincidence, I believe it happened for a reason, and furthermore it wasn’t even planned.

We wrapped. It was a massive challenge for me, going from Growing Pain a comedy/drama, throwing myself into action/drama, but it raised my game and I’d like to think the others too. I am confident this should turn out well and sure it’ll be a credible addition to the cast and crew’s CV’s. Also I am thankful for those whom helped out. I was almost doing cartwheels when I got home, as I do whenever I finish a film I set myself, total redemption after day 1. I’ll be keeping in touch with my team I’m sure. And an extra mention to Aine whom was my 1st AD, what a star. She was awesome for me and the ever important link directors need to get through a shoot. Post production shall commence.


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