The Voice Pre Production

This film had been in pre production for over a year and the script/original idea was written by my friend Carly Gregory. I was introduced to Carly by my colleague and friend Rob Craine. Rob recommended I direct the film as this was Carly’s first project. I felt the script/idea was good, so I took up the offer.

The script went through plenty of drafts until it got to its final draft. Because Set Point took up most of 2014, originally The Voice was supposed to be shot in July of that year, so it got pushed back to early 2015, however Carly and I met up regularly. Eventually I became a co-writer because the script needed extra work, and by by November 2014 we had the final draft and was ready to put the film into production.

For the role of Courtney, I had in mind Sophie Airdien. I worked with Sophie before on a film trailer; she was a member of cast and I was a production assistant whilst working at Cherryduck Productions. Sophie had a fabulous screen presence and acting ability and I swore to use her in one of my projects when the time came. That was so a few years later and the role of Courtney fitted Sophie perfectly. Thankfully she was happy to accept the role and I knew Sophie would deliver a good job.

Now becoming a routine, Faye Sewell was to return to a Pattern Maker Films production. She was going to play the role of Fran. Initially I had her in mind to play Courtney, but decided with Fran because the character would be different to the roles I am used to giving her. As ever Faye delivered an exciting performance; full of surprises and a performer you can fully trust. Due to the nature of one scene in particular, we had to really trust each other and I believe we found that ground.

Next was finding the characters Mr Clark and Boyfriend. Originally the script was a three hander and the role of Boyfriend developed in later drafts. I wanted to steer away from typical script techniques and introducing Boyfriend helped made me achieve that. His character is small, but vital. Plus Mr Clark wasn’t even a teacher, he was just Clark. But due to script development his character developed accordingly too.

The auditions were held in a pub in Belsize Park whom were very co-operative and Carly and I saw a variety of renditions for the characters. Mr Clark was narrowed down to three people and in the end Paul Hughes got the part. He had more of an all round take to the character and was a confident choice. Boyfriend was narrowed down to two candidates. Michael Kinsey got the part and I was pleased about that. However the role was originally awarded to the other actor because he brought a harder side to the character, which Carly and I was looking for. But he couldn’t commit to the shooting dates so the role went to Michael. It was meant to be because I really like Michael and I knew in rehearsals and my direction I would get the hard side of Boyfriend out of him. And it worked.

Once the cast had been found there were two rehearsals before the shoot. They were held at a pub in Swiss Cottage whom were also very co-operative bearing in mind I was a student briefly at Central School Speech and Drama not too far away. All of the cast were professional and it was great to see them work together at a high level.

Because this film is based on teenage school children, Carly and I had to decide where to buy the school uniforms. Costumes was an option, but we bought real school uniforms instead for quality reasons. It was a worthwhile investment because it added to the realism of the film – which is what I was aiming for with The Voice. A costume designer wasn’t employed for this film, but Carly and I did a decent job to cover that.

This was the biggest crew I had worked with on a Pattern Maker Films shoot. Once again I was aiming for quality and to achieve that you have employ more departments. This was the first time I worked with an Art Director. Dave Anga took that role. I was introduced to him by Hubert (3rd Assistant Camera.) I learnt a lot working with an Art Director and how much quality that department brings to a film. Every scene is dressed and and that department can bring excellent ideas to props and locations. Dave brought his assistant Noela Salvatierra, two very fine assets to the movie.

My D.O.P and 1st Assistant Camera, Valerio and Marcello were returning. It was great to have them back. I trust them and we have worked together a few times now. They also brought some friends to help out: Cal and Guillermo. Cal took the role of Gaffer and Guillermo was a Production Assistant. Cal also supplied me with lights and other equipment, which was handy because it was at a discounted rate than hiring from a rental company. The highlight of his equipment were battery charged lights which meant you could use them outside and not be reliant on a generator to power them. Totally set friendly!

Vani was returning as the Make Up and Hair Artist, also a new comer to that department was Jennifer. They were both professional and could handle the demands of blood and SFX which this film required. I was happy with them. My star runner Andoni was returning as Head Runner, I was introduced to Sophia by my friend Rob Craine again. She wanted set experience and took the role of Photographer. My friend Retro wanted set experience too and was a runner on day three. Kostas, my sound genius returned on sound duties, I can say a Pattern Maker Films set isn’t complete without him. A friend of mine Amy Jackson helped out on set and brought a friend to be an extra. Their were two extras in total and were all I needed.

Having worked previously on all Pattern Maker Films projects with the Canon 5D, I knew with this project  I was ready to upgrade. I decided to shoot on the Canon C100 which is a much better camera. I am used to the Canon C100/C300 from my days at Cherryduck Productions as a runner. I knew from working around those cameras then, I wanted to one day work with them on my shoots, and that time came with The Voice. It was going to cost more money to rent it, but it was money very, very well spent. The Canon C100/300 have a really a clean finish on screen which I love and I would happily shoot a feature film on it.

Finally budget. This film when it gets to marketing and festivals stage would cost a total approx £6000. I funded the film out of my own money which I always do at my company Pattern Maker Films. But I also started a crowd funding exercise for the first time to help me,  it was effective. As the Producer, crowd funding took a lot of time and hard work and there were a lot of upsets along the way with prospects changing their minds etc. But all came good in the end and the money for The Voice was achieved.


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