Blood + Roses (2010)

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Every filmmaker has to make a feature. It has to be done. And this was my first attempt at making one. One that took 4 years to be finished, and one that I'm still paying off. But it was a hell of a learning experience, that has shaped me as a filmmaker. I consider there to be two ages in my career. The one before Blood And Roses and the one after Blood And Roses.

Let's go back to the time I decided to make this film, 2006. I had decided to shoot a short a month, which didn't quite work out that way, but it was a most productive year. I shot Post-its, two test adverts called Jack and Jill, and Monologue Triptych. 6 projects in total. It was on the set of Monologue Triptych, that I turned to screenwriter Ben Woodiwiss and asked him if he would be interested in writing a script for me. He replied "yes" and so began a year of writing.

All I knew at the time of starting that I had a location I could use. I had worked on a feature down in Cornwall, called White Admiral, at holiday home called Merryfield Manor. I thought the film hadn't really used the location very well. It was a great looking place and I knew I could use it better. I was friendly with the owner, so I knew I could get to film in there.

So Ben and me worked on a script that would use Merryfield Manor, called The Refuge. A story about a man on the run, who finds a place of refuge, but it turns out to be worse than what he was running away from. We did about 14 drafts, but with each rewrite the budget would get bigger and bigger and bigger. In the end we had to abandon it.

Merryfield Manor In Cornwall

We wrote another script called In The Valley Of The Shadow Of Darkness, a story about a group of campers who survive a nuclear blast and dealing with other survivors, but again budget came into play. It was then I was given a present, the idea for Blood And Roses.

Ashvin-Kumar Joshi was an actor I had worked with on my previous shorts Blocked, Goodbye and Kareem's Vengeance (Ashvin directed that one). He told me about an idea he had for a film, about a wife who is looking after her dying husband and a vampire turns up at the door and tells her that he can cure him. It struck me as intriging idea and told Ben Woodiwiss about it. He went away and in a weekend wrote Blood And Roses, or as it was originally called There Will Be Blood.

As you can guess, when we heard of a film being made Paul Thomas Andersen by the same name we had to come up with a new name for the film. I decided to do a brainstorming session, where I write down as many titles I could think of and see which one was the best. There were titles as Rivers Of Blood, My Love For A Vampire and Blood Loss, but Blood And Roses was the title that jumped out to me.

Ben Woodiwiss working on the script of Blood + Roses

I remember the first time I read the script. Ben had taken Ashvin's idea and used it for the basis of the first act, then from Act 2 it's pure Ben. It's all about the transformation. Act 3 is takes another turn and becomes a revenge story. It was a fast read, and that final act. I literally fell out of my chair by the final scene. I had no idea that is how the film would end, but it just made me want to make the film even more.

After Ben had finished the script, I started Pre-Production. It was now 2007. I booked the location, Merryfield Manor, for 3 weeks. I got the crew together. I approached people who I had worked with before on Monologue Triptych. And I started to cast the film. I offered the role of Seth, the vampire, to Benjamin Green. I had met Benjamin on the test adverts I made back in 2006. I then cast Benjamin in the lead of Monologue Triptych, and I had so much fun working with him on the shoot. I knew that I wanted him to work on this as well. Thankfully he said yes.

Benjamin Green practicing his vampire face

When it came to casting Jane, the main character in the film, I first approached Emily Booth, who I would go on to work with later on the Habeas Corpus Teaser Trailer. Unfortunately she wasn't availalbe, so I did an open audition for Jane. When I do auditions, I always have an actor there to read with the other actors. I find it's a real help. I asked Marysia Kay, who I had worked with on White Admiral. (It keeps coming back to White Admiral) I audition many actresses, but Marysia was always better, so I asked her if she would like to have the role. Thankfully she said yes.

I found Kane John Scott through auditions. It was actually his then girlfriend who was auditioning for the role of Alice, and she asked if Kane could audition. He did an amazing audition. He worked really well with Marysia, but he was unproven. Kane hadn't acted in a film before, but there was something about him. Something that I thought would be great. I took a risk and offered him the role. Thankfully he said yes.

Brendan Lonergan geting a mold of Kane John Scott's teeth

The rest of the cast were either found through auditions or they were people that I knew. Marq English was a filmmaker who runs the Sutton Film Festival, and the nicest guy, so of course I cast him as a rapist. It's what you do. Pamela Flanagan was a real find. I remember Ben Woodiwiss was having problems writing the character of Alice, hence why she isn't in the film much, but after seeing Pamela in the film, he wished he hadn't written more for her.

Once the cast and crew was in place, we were ready to shoot. I remember the week leading up to the start of filming. It was a lot of running around. Meeting with actors. Meeting with costume designer, Eleanor Wdowski, to pick up costumes. We had a script reading with most of the cast, with Ben Woodiwiss filling in for 2 roles. I had to pick a rental people carrier, to take all the props, costumes, camera equipment and some of the cast. I packed the vehicle Friday night and Saturday morning we were going to drive to Cornwall.

Script reading with the cast of Blood + Roses

When I decided to make the feature, I aslo decided to keep an online blog that followed the making of the film. It was called My First Film. (The website no longer exists) You only make your first feature and I wanted to document my experience of making it. I was able to keep a diary of the shoot and the following is from this blog.

10th November 2007

Got up at 6am this morning so I could be ready for the journey down to Liskeard, Cornwall. Showered and ate some breakfast. Double checked I hadn’t forgot anything. 7.30am I was ready.

My first pick up was Benjamin Green. I picked him up on my way to Wembley Park Station, where we were going to meet the others for 8am. We were the first ones there. Then one by one the rest of the team turned up - either by the tube or by car.

Marysia Kay joined Ben and me in the people carrier. Charles Weisfeld (Sound Recordist) drove Kane John Scott down and Stephanie Odu (Production Designer) jumped into Sophie Liddiard’s (Makeup Artist) car. Now I wanted to drive down as a convey, as Merryfield Manor is hard to find, but Charlie was having problems with his car and Sophie doesn’t like driving in a convey. So I had to let them make their own way down there and hope they could find the location.

The journey down was motorway all the way. Nothing worse then motorway driving. Those long black lanes that never end. One motorway leads to another and they all look the same. Saying that the roads were clear - no accidents, no road works. The weather was clear and the music was good. The journey went very quickly and before I knew it we were in Liskeard. Now I had to find Merryfield Manor.

I didn’t have Sat Nav - I only had printed route from the AA, which Marysia helped read out the directions to me. It got us as far as the main road, leading out of Liskeard, which you had to turn off into a narrow lane which then leads to the entrance to the Manor. I had to go by memory, as I was there 2 years ago. I did make one wrong turn, but knew straight away that it was the wrong road. The road had trees branching over it, making it look like you were driving down a tunnel. I found it on my second attempt and drove down the private lane to the place we were going to call home for 3 weeks. 2pm we arrived.

We were met by Simon and Joy Brodie - the owners of Merryfield Manor. The Manor is a 5 bedroom old country house. You can rent it out as a holiday home, but for the next 3 weeks it was going to be our main location, production base and residence. 11 people were going to share the house. For the final week, I was renting the other property on the location - the farmhouse, for when the Adam Bambrough, Pamela Flanagan and Brendan Lonergan come down to stay.

Waiting inside was Andy Trace (Focus Puller). He had gotten there by train and then a cab from the station to the Manor. He had been waiting and was happy to see us. Simon and Joy had been keeping him company. He had been given the guided tour and now it was our turn.

Joy showed us around the Manor. Showing us all the rooms. Showing us the Rayburn, an cast iron cooker that uses coal to heat up. It also runs the radiators and hot water in the East side of the Manor. We are shown how to use it. Then we are shown the fireplace in the living room. We are shown how to put the wood, kindling and coals on there. Real fireplaces are new to me. I come from London, where if I want to heat the house I just turn a dial. This fireplace looks complicated.

Before Joy had to go, she gave me some words of encouragement and told me that there was anything I needed that she and Simon would be there to help. I thanked her for this and then my mobile came to life.

It’s tough to get a mobile signal down in Cornwall. I have been told that Orange works very well down there. Anyway I had all these missed calls and messages. The others couldn’t find the location. I got in touch with Charlie and told him that I would be waiting at the entrance to the country lane on the main road. I jogged there, as it is a good 15 minute walk to the main road. I got there in 5. I didn’t have to wait long until I say Charlie’s car and following was Sophie. I told them to drive down the country lane and turn into the private lane, marked Merryfield Farm. Charlie offered me a lift, but I decided to walk back.

Good thing I did, as I walking along the country lane my mobile sprang to life. It was Richard Wood (Director of Photography). He too couldn’t find the manor. I described the country lane and the entrance to Merryfield. The description sounded familiar to Richard as he had already been here before. Because the entrance didn’t read Merryfield Manor, he didn’t think it was the place. Anyway, he knew where it was now and he was on his way. I arrived back at the manor just as Richard and Lee Akehurst pulled up.

Samantha Price (Production Manager) was the last one to arrive. She had traveled down from Cardiff by train to Liskeard. We were all now arrived. Joy gave another guided tour for the those who hadn’t been shown it and then we were all shown the swimming pool and sauna. Then I had to allocate the bedrooms.

It's a tough life being an actor

11th November 2007

I got up at the crack of dawn this morning. I got no sleep last night. Ok. I got a little sleep. An hour at least. I couldn’t settle. This bedroom is so damn hot and dry. It’s a dry heat. The light in here doesn’t help. The room is pitch black. I am used to street lights lighting up the room. I put my hand up to my face and I can’t see it. Then as soon as the sun starts to rise, the light level jumps right up. I decided to get up and see what the dawn is like here in Cornwall. I’ve got 2 scenes to shoot at dawn and it is a vampire film after all. (There isn't much of a sunrise here)

Once everybody is up, I go straight out and find our first location - a place for Martin and Jane to breakdown in their rental car. Since booking the manor, I haven’t had a chance to do a recce of the area. Though I find a lovely place just down the country lane that Merryfield Manor is connected to. It’s more then I could of hoped for. It is very cinematic with all the ground covered in leaves and the sun coming through the trees. Looks like that scene from Miller’s Crossing, set in the forest with the hat being blown away by the wind.

I drive back quickly and tell the crew the good news - the location has been found. Though there is a problem. There is only enough parking for one vehicle. I will have to take the first lot of people down in the people carrier, then come back to the manor and then travel back with the camera crew and the car we are using for the film. While we have done this, the weather has changed. The clouds have rolled in and it has greyed over. Though the location still looks great.

So it’s the first scene of the shoot and also the first scene in the script. We start off with a wide of the scene. That goes well. We start going in for closer shots and then the interruptions start. We have to keep stopping for tractor noise, rain and bird cries. One of the joys of shooting on location. At least we don’t get airplane noise interrupting shots.

We finish the scene just in time for the rain. I bundle into the car with the camera crew, so I can get the people carrier and drive back and pick up the rest of the crew. How a runner would of helped?

Our Runner didn’t turn up today. They didn’t turn up yesterday either. A runner could of really of helped with the driving people back and forth to the location. Now I have to race back to the manor with the camera crew and then race back to pick up the rest of the crew before they get drenched. I am able to get back quickly without killing myself. Those single lanes. Any oncoming traffic and you get stuck, that’s if they not driving at speed.

The first clapper board of the shoot

12th November 2007

We all got up early as the Unit Call was 6.30am. We are shooting a scene, that happens near the end of the film, at dawn. We don’t have much time to shoot as we have to get it shot before the sun is fully in the sky. I got out of bed at 5.30am and went straight down for breakfast. The actors were already up and in makeup. Had no time to shower, as time is against us, so once I have eaten I go straight out and start to prepare to shoot this scene. We have to move all the cars, so it doesn’t look like there is a whole film crew staying at the house.

The actors come out in full costume and makeup. Ben is looking sharp as Seth. Marysia comes out and shows me a little detail she added herself. She is wearing a pair of rose studs in her ears. They really add to the costume. I didn’t say that at the time. I wanted to get started, as time was against us. The sun was rising and we were gaining light. But I am saying now that they looked great.

The shooting of the scene goes well. We get the wide shot, we get the close ups of Jane and Seth. Then we go into the car for a 2 shot and that’s when the problems started. The sun was getting higher in the sky. We started getting reflections in the windscreen. Richard started to breaking out the polly boards, so to block out the reflections. With every take more polly boards were appearing around the car until the car was surrounded with polly boards. I am looking at this and I am thinking why don’t we move the car into the shade. But then would the background match up with what we had shot previously. I didn’t say anything and persevered with the shot. Seems Richard had the same thought. With hindsight we should of moved the car and got the shot finished, as it took us forever to shoot. I also had to drop a shot I wanted to get. (And of course the interior scene was the first thing I cut from the film)

Once we finished that scene, we went straight in and got some food. Still no runners to bring out food and drink to us. We could of really done with a hot drink during that scene. Might of waken us up on that last scene. Sam is on the case, trying to find local runners, but no joy.

We went back outside, so we could re-shoot the scene from yesterday - Martin and Jane’s arrival at the manor. We get through that quickly and it was inside for scene that follows their arrival at the manor. It’s the first scene we are to shoot in the living room. We move through this scene very quickly. Richard sets up the lights for the scene. We then block the scene out with Kane and Marysia. Then we shoot it. And we get the whole scene in the can just in time for lunch.

Going to great lengths to block out the sun

We eat lunch quickly and then it is back to the living room. For this scene we are going to use the dolly Lee has brought with him. This is great, as I don’t have dolly moves in my films. A dolly is a luxury that I have not been able to afford one on my previous productions. The shoot is set up to dolly out from Jane as Martin approaches her. It takes a couple of attempts to get right, as Richard has to move the dolly and tilt up, and Andy has to focus pull, but they nail it. It also saves time as we cover the whole scene in less shots then I had envisaged. We finish the scene early and then we have to wait for it to get dark, so we can go out and shoot the final scene of the day.

It is actually half a scene we are shooting. It is a long scene that starts with a woman called Nicole (Etta Bell) being chased through the fields by Bob (Marq English). Jane saves Nicole from Bob and then Seth enters the scene to talk to Jane. We are shooting Seth’s stuff tonight as Ben has to go back to London next week for an injection to his back. He hurt his back 3 weeks ago. Fortunately he can still do the film, but he can’t do anything strenuous. So we got to shoot most of his scenes this week. Of course Marq and Etta aren’t available until next week. The plan was to shoot the whole scene in one night, but such is life.

I had made the decision early that day to let Marysia wear more clothes for this scene, then was originally plan. In the script Jane was supposed to go out in just a nightie, but I decided that it being November that wouldn’t be a good idea. She still wears the nightie but underneath her jeans and a cardigan. Good thing I did as it was very cold. The stars were out tonight and it was very frosty.

We got though the scene very quickly. Richard had lit it so each actor was in a pool of light, keeping the background as dark as possible. So we didn’t have to re-light for each camera angle. The only time we had to stop was for a helicopter to fly over. Though it must of been the slowest helicopter ever, as it took 10 minutes to fly over us. Even in the countryside you can’t escape from aircraft noise.

As soon as we were finished, I helped the camera crew pack the equipment up and put it into the back of the people carrier. Everybody else high tailed it back to the manor to get warm. We got back and had to wait for dinner. Both our cooks (Ben and Charlie) had been on set, so had no time to cook. Together they russled up a meal and I was very happy to have some hot food in me. We are having problems getting the fire in the living room to stay lit. We can get it going, but it doesn’t stay lit for long. Will have to talk to Simon about it in the morning. I am off to bed now. Late call time tomorrow as we are filming in a pub and we can’t get in there until 2pm. Hopefully I will get some sleep tonight.

Filming in a field

13th November 2007

Another night of no sleep. I get about an hour or 2 and then I woke up, and that is it - I can’t get back to sleep. I even try letting out the Rayburn, so the heating wouldn’t be on. But it is still too dry in the room. Also my mind won’t shut up. I can’t stop thinking about the shoot. I usually get this the night before a shoot, but once I am into it I will sleep. But it just won’t leave me alone.

We are filming in the afternoon and evening at the Polgooth Inn - a pub in St. Austell that Sam found for us. We are going up by convey. I am taking the actors. Richard is driving the camera crew and Charlie. Sophie is taking Stephanie. And Simon Brodie is coming along in his van so he can be an extra and to help out. We have to stop along the way at Liskeard Train Station, so we can pick Eria Sainio up. Eria is our first supporting actor to arrive in Cornwall. She plays a small part in the film, and we are filming all of her stuff today. Then tomorrow she is back to London.

Before we set off to St. Austell, Marysia comes to me with a request. She would like to move out of her room and move into my room. She wants to move out and give Kane her bed. Kane is finding the bunk beds uncomfortable and isn’t getting much sleep. Join the club. I agree to it, but I ask that she share the double bed with Eria tonight, I take her bed and then Kane can take the bed tomorrow night. I speak to Sam and Kane, to see if they are alright with sharing a room together. No problems is the reply I get from both of them.

We are packed and ready to go to the pub by 1pm. I lead the way, with Sam giving directions to the Polgooth Inn. Richard and Sophie’s cars made up the middle, and the rear is brought up by Simon in his blue van. Eria is waiting for us at the station and then it is straight on to the A38 towards St. Austell. Of course what we didn’t know was that there was traffic works on the road today. We hit about 3 of them. There wasn’t much traffic, but it did put extra time onto our journey. We got to the pub at 2.20pm (20 minutes late). This is bad, as we only have the interior of the pub until 6pm, before they reopen to the public and we have 2 scenes to shoot in there.

As we arrive, there are people waiting for us. Sam had put a call out on the local radio for extras for the film. Not many turned up, but enough. I didn’t want the place to be full, but I didn’t want it empty either. Sam took charge of the extras, making sure they all signed release forms and got them something to eat and drink.

We get in there and straight away with the questions. Where are we filming? Where can we put the equipment? I didn’t know. It was my first time there as well. I had only seen the place in photographs, so didn’t have a real good grasp of the layout of the place. So Richard and me decide that over by the fireplace would be a good place to shoot. So all the equipment is placed away from that corner and we set up for the first shot.

Charlie went round the pub and starting identify problems for sound. Pubs are very noisy places, even the ones who don’t play music. Fruit machines and fridges are the main problems, but the staff at the pub are very accommodating and allow us to turn these off. When we started shooting, Charlie let me listen in on one take. The sound was the cleanest I have ever heard recorded in a pub.

The first shot is an establishing shot of Martin and Jane. We are going to use the dolly. This little rig is great. It’s a suit case dolly that uses skate board wheels and plastic piping for the rails. The shots are smooth, but what let’s us down is my tripod. It is suppose to be a fluid head, but isn’t very good. It always gets stuck in the middle of a pan. Our dolly shots always include a pan or tilt. Rarely is there a dolly shot without one. Note to myself: Buy a better tripod.

Sam comes to me with a problem - we haven’t brought Eria’s costume with us. Stephanie and Sophie have looked through all the costumes and they can’t find it. Thankfully there is an Asda near by. Simon Brodie volunteers to drive Stephanie to the store, so to buy a new dress. To give them time to buy the dress, I arrange to shoot all the shots without Ben and Eria (Seth and Elizabeth) in. Stephanie has found a dress and it works just as well. Phew. We got lucky there.

We continue to shoot, skipping back and forth from one scene to another. Though time is not on our side. The pub staff start arriving around 5pm, so to get the pub ready for 6pm. Each time they enter the pub, it is when we are shooting. Every time we turn over, another staff member comes through the door. So each shot takes a bit longer to shoot.

It's true! Lens Adaptors do flip the image upside down

also have to direct the extras. This is something I haven’t done before. I am used to directing actors with experience in front of the camera. So when I shout “ACTION!”, they know it is time to act. I have to run up to the extras on each take and explain each time what I want. Every time they just don’t get it right. In the end I have to shout out cues to them. Maybe I’m not good at directing extras, but we got the shots in the end.

Though my favourite extra is this old man who is sitting behind Kane. He is reading the paper, then he has to stop and stare at Kane, then back to his newspaper. He would continually stares at Kane or look up at the wrong time. I would have to run over every time and ask him to change his performance or his timing. Though watching the scene on the monitor, I would be watching him instead of Kane thinking this guy is going to steal this scene.

6pm arrived and we hadn’t finished. All that was left were shots with no dialogue. The actors looking and reacting, all in Close Up. The shots of Ben and Eria were taking a while, as Richard had to keep changing the lighting. So we would do a take, cut and Richard would readjust the light, as we would get a shadow or a flare from one of the house lights. In the end we got the lights turned off in that corner and that sorted out the problem. It was a lot of flaffing about for one shot, but it was a very important shot. It is when Jane sees Seth for the first time and feels an attraction to him. It has to be a great shot or it doesn’t work.

We finished at 7pm and had dinner. We ordered food from the pub. It was really nice, but I was so tired that I didn’t eat much. I think my stomach might of shrunk. I was so hungry while we were shooting and then when there is food in front of me I can’t eat it all. I am starting to worry if I am going to make it through this shoot.

Once everybody has eaten it off outside for 2 more scenes. Its cold. Its windy. Its drizzly. Things we could do without. Most of the action takes place along the side of the pub. I chosen the side nearest the car park. There is space for us to set up the camera and for the action to play out. The other side is nicer looking, but there is no room. It also quieter than the side I have chosen. Charlie asks me to reconsider my choice of sides for sound. The side I have chosen has an noisy industrial fan running. We tried to turn it off, but no joy. As there is no dialogue I decide to go with my original choice. I am going to do foley for the scene anyway.

We shoot all of Marysia’s shots first, so Sophie can get Ben ready for his vampire shot. Blood and fangs are needed for this scene. We finish Marysia’s stuff fairly quickly. Then we need Ben - he’s not ready. They are having problems with the keeping the fangs in. Sophie is using Polygrip to keep them in and it ain’t gripping. Though after several attempts they stay in, so we get out quickly and shoot all Seth’s shots. He is having a quick bite with Elizabeth in the pub’s back alley.

We also have fake blood to deal with. Ben has to hold a mouth full of it in his mouth and then release slowly down Eria’s neck, so to show a blood trickle. This is off course were the Chaos Theory comes in, because every time the blood trickle takes a different path down Eria’s neck. This meant doing take after take and Ben having to take another mouthful of blood. The man is a trooper. Didn’t complain once.

We finally finish at 12pm. We pack up and drive back to the manor. On the way back, we encounter a diversion. Thankfully Sam knows the area, as she gets us back to the A38. One time I take a wrong turn and lead the convey down the wrong path. As we were turning back, Richard sped off in a cloud of smoke. He went tearing off leaving us alone. The rest of us got back to the manor about 1am, expecting Richard and the boys to be waiting there for us. They were nowhere to be seen. They turned up half an hour later. Seems they had got lost. The guys were looking a bit worse for wear. Seems they were suffering from Richard driving about a hundred miles per hour down country lanes. They look like they needed a drink.

With everybody home, I decided to retire to the bed in Sam’s Room. But one more thing to do. I looked in the costume wardrobe for Eria’s dress. It was hanging there bright as day. Well good thing I found it, as the dress belongs to Eria and is the only costume that wasn’t bought for the film. With one less thing to worry about I go to bed in Sam’s room. Hopefully the change of locale should help me get some sleep.

Clean up on Aisle No 9

14th November 2007

I slept rather well last night. I think I only woke up once. But I fell back to sleep. It was weird going from a double bed to a single bed. But the room was cold and I prefer it to be cold then hot. The call time this morning is 10am, so I got to lie in a bit - 8am I got up.

My lights arrived today. Good thing too as they were going to become very handy for today’s shoot. I took them straight over to Richard, who started to set them up in the bathroom. Because they were small, they could fit into corners very easily.

This scene involves Martin and Jane taking a shower together. As you can imagine it involved semi-nakedness. So to keep Kane and Marysia comfortable I made it a closed set - only the people who needed to be in there were in there - Richard, Andy, Charlie, Sam and Myself. I also had dressing gowns on stand by for the actors, so that in between set ups they aren’t stand around cold, wet and naked. I have worked on shoots where they had no consideration for the actors. They didn’t even have a towel.

I could see that Marysia was nervous about this scene. She has to be really vulnerable in this scene - emotionally vulnerable. And it doesn’t help that she is semi-naked as well. But I knew that she could do it. Though I tried to help her out by doing her shots first and to get this scene done in the least amount of takes. Of course this was when the problems started. The camera lens started to fog up from the hot water from the shower. So in the middle of a shot, the picture would completely fog up. We would have to stop, clean the lens and start again. To help us, Kane would turn on the water in the shower after the camera was rolling. This helped. It also helped that we ran out of hot water. Not good for the actors, but they didn’t complained. They just got on with it and we got the scene finished.

Through this scene, it was suggested that Kane do a ‘Butt Shot’. Kane was up for doing it. So once we finished all the shots we had planned for that scene, I told Richard that we were going to shot the ‘Butt Shot’. Richard was confused. He thought I was joking. I wasn’t. I needed a shot of Kane leaving the bathroom. Richard wasn’t too pleased by this, but agreed to do it anyway. It’s the one shot Richard would go on about. It was so funny the shooting of it.

So for this shot, Kane has to go completely naked. The camera is set up. We have blocked out the scene with Kane. We are ready to shoot it. So Kane throws his pants away and stands there bollock naked - made Sam’s day. All Kane has to do is walk into shot. Stop. Say some lines of dialogue. Throw a dress at the spot were Marysia was standing and then walk out the bathroom. To do this he has to stand right next to the camera. I wasn’t in the room, as it was pretty cramped in there, but Kane had to stand right next to the camera. I heard that Andy and Richard didn’t know where to look. Though after every take, Sam would ask if we should get another take, which of course I obliged. The second take Kane throw the dress on top of Richard’s head, so he couldn’t see. So another take was needed. Sam was very happy.

We wrap the bathroom scene and we go straight to lunch. The conversation turned to the lack of runners. We could of done with drinks being constantly brought into us. Sam did arrange one round of drinks, but we could of done with more. The guys went straight into the kitchen and discovered they had to make their own sandwiches. They weren’t very happy about this. Richard wasn’t very happy about the addition of extra shots in the bathroom this morning. He did find the ‘Butt Shot’ very amusing, but he felt that it could of ran a bit more smoother in there. We had a dream sequence out in the private lane to Merryfield Manor to shoot next and he was worried that we would over run again.

Once we both had eaten, Richard and me walked out to the private lane. The weather had turned. It was sunny in the morning, and now it was raining. Regardless we had to shoot. We couldn’t postpone. Out there we talked through each of the shots I wanted to get for this scene. I would block out the action for Richard, showing him where the actors would be. Again I wanted to include extra shots that weren’t in the script. Richard was very receptive and suggested using a flare filter on the lens and using the fig rig, so to give it a more dream like feel. It sounded like it would be good for the scene, so I agreed to this plan.

We were walking back to the manor, when my phone started to beep. I had a voice message. So Richard get in out of the rain, while I stayed outside to listen to my message. It was from Sarah Seale, a reporter from a local magazine called Fresh. She had heard our radio ad for extras and was requesting that she could come down to set and do an interview with me. I was really chuffed. I haven’t been interviewed before for a magazine, so I was really looking forward to it. So I called the number that Sarah had left and left a message agreeing to her coming down to the location.

The shooting of the dream sequence went very smoothly. We shot the scene using a Fig Rig - it’s a camera support that was designed by Mike Figgis. It looks like a steering wheel that the camera sits in the middle of. It ain’t a steadicam, but it works well. We did a lot of shots where we were moving towards and away from characters. Charlie needed a cable basher - someone to hold the cable, so he wouldn’t trip over it. He was quite surprised that I grabbed hold and started to cable bash. Directors normally don’t do that, but then I am not normal directors. I am very hands on and if anything needs to be done to get the film done, then I will do it. We got through the scene very quickly, even with it raining. Actually the rain added to the scene. Each rain drop falling would flare making the shots eerie.

Once we were done, it was straight back to the manor and wait for it to get dark so we could the shoot the scenes with Jane and Seth. I tell the crew about my interview with the magazine. Lee suggests that we film an interview, so I can have a practice. See Lee has been going round the set shooting the making of Blood + Roses. Lee asked me how the film was coming along. Asked me about the history of the film - where did the story come from. Is there going to be a sequel. I don’t think I gave a very good interview. I was starting to feel tired.

On the phone to Fresh Magazine

Ben had his chest shaved, at my request, for the seduction scene that we are going to shoot later tonight. Ben had Sophie shaved his chest, because he had a dream the night before where he had cut his chest while shavingand it wouldn’t stop bleeding. He didn’t want it to come true, so he had Sophie do it.

Ben and Marysia came to me with an idea for the seduction scene. They wanted to make it a bit more sexy then how it was in the script. I couldn’t agree with them more. I like sexy and if they were comfortable with doing it, then I was happy to shoot it. Just had to let Richard know about the change of plans.

Darkness fell. Stephanie Odu had dressed the kitchen while we were waiting for the sun to go down. Then Richard set up the lights. The scene is set in the middle of the night, as Jane creeps down to have a drink of wine. So it was lit to look dark. I had envisaged it that Jane turns the lights on, but this was so much better that I went with it. The first shot of Jane’s entrance went without a hitch. 3 takes and we had that shot done. Seth then enters the scene and this is when the problems arrived.

Seth is now in the kitchen with Jane. He appears behind Jane, grabs her, says a few lines, kisses her and then whisks her off to the have his way with her. Like you do. So it is a lot to do and to cap it off Ben has to tilt backwards - to start the whisking off motion. I don’t want to do this many times, as Ben has a bad back. After 3 takes, we have it and I wanted to move on. We discovered that the sound wasn’t plugged into the camera - there was an air gap. Shit. So we have to do this shot all over again. We do 2 takes - for safety, in case of drop out. (Drop out is when you get interference on the tape and of course makes the shot unusable)

The next shot is when Seth glides Jane into the living room. As you can imagine this is a very technical shot and the timing of the action has to be just right. So first Richard had to set up the shot and the equipment to do the shot. That takes time. We have to practice the “glide” over and over again until it is just right. That takes time. Then we shoot it. First take was good. Second take was bad. Shoot again. Third was alright. Next shot.

The next shot is of Jane looking at her own reflection in the window and then Seth appears on the other side. This shot took forever. The setting up the lights takes a little while. We have to light Marysia inside, so we get a good reflection on the window. Then we have to light Ben from inside and outside. And we have to do it without ruining Marysia’s light. Richard works quickly, but it does take time to get just right.

While Sam was on the phone ordering our Chinese, Richard was ready to shoot. I was really tired at this point and just wanted to get the shot done. Of course I wasn’t the only one who was run down. Andy kept missing the focus pull from Marysia’s reflection onto Ben when he appears in the window. We had to do it again and again. He seemed Andy was cracking up on Ben’s move into shot. It’s suppose to be un-natural and I was getting angry at Andy. I suggested that we take a 5 minute break, but Andy insisted that he could do it. So we did it again and he nailed it. He got over it and I started to calm down.

I then realized that Ben’s performance was not quite right. I told everybody to stop what they were doing and wait for me to talk to Ben. I ran out and explained to Ben what I wanted changed to his performance. Once Ben said “Ok Chief”, I knew he got it. Ran back in and had quick word with Marysia to change the timing of her performance, so to complement the changes in Ben’s performance. She said okay too. I ran back to my monitor and we shoot. And everybody nailed that shot. The actors did a great job and there were no focus problems. Looking back with hindsight, it is a good thing that Andy was cracking up, otherwise I would of missed that opportunity to change the actor’s performance.

Mood lighting

It was onto the last scene of the day - the seduction scene. It continues on from the kitchen scene, the last scene we just shot. I ask Ben and Marysia to block out the action, so that Richard knows were to put the camera and for me to decide on how many shots we need to cover the scene. It’s damn sexy. Richard gets to work on setting up the camera and lighting the scene. I get to work on lighting the fire.

The action takes place in front of the fireplace and there needs to be a roaring fire. (Like you do) Of course I am trying to do what Simon Brodie showed me, but I am having no joy. Andy steps in and in no time has a fire going. It’s just a matter of keeping it going throughout the scene.

We were able to keep the fire going. The shooting went well. We had to stop in the middle to eat dinner and for Ben to get his fangs put in. It takes about 15 minutes for Sophie to do this. She has to give them time to set in their mouth. Once the fangs are set, we get him in position. Richard adjusts the lights. We get the shot and then Ben has to go back to Sophie to get the fangs out. The fang shots take time, but it is worth it. The shot of Ben bearing his fangs looks like it was taken out of An American Werewolf In London. That amazing scene when David turns into a werewolf for the first time.

We finished late - it’s midnight. A few of the cast and crew have already gone to bed. I just collapsed onto a couch, exhausted. This is when it kicked off. Charlie was upset that we had just done a 14 hour day without being asked and not having not much to eat. Richard argued that a 14 hour day on a low budget shoot was the norm. We could of done it quicker if we had runners. Sam chipped in that we had tried everybody in the area and nobody wanted to do it. Then it turned back to the lack of food. This was aimed at Sam. We were going to have someone come in and cook for us. Then it went back to the amount of time it took to shoot today.

The arguing was going round in circles. I had to intervene. I had to shout to be heard. I shouted that we had to shoot all the scenes with Ben as he had to go back to London, so to get an injection for his back. I shouted that we would find runners to help out even if they had to come from London, we would get runners. I shouted that Simon Brodie had found someone to cook for us and she was starting Saturday. I was very angry and the guys could hear it in my voice because the argument stopped.

I had my first beer tonight. I needed to calm down and Richard very kindly got me one. Charlie apologized. He didn’t knew what was going on and he didn’t want today to become the norm. I reassured him that we wouldn’t have a day like today for a while. There will be a few more, but they won’t be like how it was today. We will have help by the weekend.

I sat chatting for a while with Sam, while I was drinking my beer. We talked about other films we had worked on and where to get runners from. 1.40am I went to bed. The light had been left the light on for me. I climbed into bed and fell asleep very quickly. Nothing like exhaustion for sleep.

Do you think Benjamin enjoys being a vampire?

15th November 2007

10 o’clock call time, so I am up at 8. I go downstairs and get something to eat. Then I am on the phone trying to find runners. I call everybody I can think of who could possibly know any. I get one possible. I call him up. No joy. Too short notice. Too far away. If I was in London it would be easy to find runners, but out here in Cornwall it is near impossible. Annoyed at my failure, I go back inside. Sam hasn’t had much luck. Runners will have to wait, as the task of shooting the first scene of the day takes over.

Richard is setting up for the first scene of the day. This scene takes place directly after the seduction scene we shot last night. Martin comes downstairs to find Jane covered in blood and babbling. It suppose to take place at dawn, but not wanting another early morning we are cheating dawn with the lighting. Thankfully it is a dull day outside, so cheating is easy.

The lighting takes no time at all to set up. We get the actors into position. Marysia is made up to look withdrawn and has puncture wounds and blood on her neck. The shooting of the scene goes very well and we get it all done by lunch. Ben has cooked us lunch, so it is great to have a warm meal at lunch time.

The next scene isn’t until it gets dark again - it’s another scene with Seth in it. Richard suggests we go back to the country road and shoot that wide shot of Martin and Jane broken down by the side of the road. Kane and Marysia quickly get made up and into costume. Then the five of us, including Andy, drive off in Richard’s car back to the location. I am slightly worried the leaves on the floor have rotted away, but thankfully they haven’t changed one bit. It looks just like the day we shot there. We get the car in the right position. Kane and Marysia get into their positions and the rest of us try to find the spot we shot the wide shot from before. Once found, it didn’t take us long before we had done the shot and were packing up to go back to the manor.

We got back and people were chilling out. They were watching films or playing cards. Sam has found some runners. They are students from a Cornish University. I forget which one. They are going to start on Saturday. One more problem sorted.

Darkness fell and we were getting ready for the scene were Seth attacks Kane. The boys had been rehearsing and felt they could add to the scene by having a tussle when Seth appears at the door. I ask them to show me. Martin takes a swing at Seth, misses and then Seth overpowers him. I make a few minor adjustments and they do it again. It works, so I agree to do the action at the door their way.

Then Ben is rushed off to makeup, so to get ready for the scene, and we started shooting the first part of the scene - dialogue between Martin and Jane. We take it as far as a knock on the door. We do several takes. Kane keeps tripping over one of his lines. I have to stop and sort this out. So we go over the line, with assistance from Marysia. The sentence he keeps tripping over has one word too many. I tell Kane to drop the word. Once he did that, no more problems. We got back to shooting.

Now it was time for Ben’s reveal at the door. We are shooting this part of the scene in two parts. First we are shooting the initial attack on Martin, then we break for Kane to get made up. And then we come back to shoot the second half of the attack, where you see the damage inflicted on Martin. Makeup takes a while, so we shot Jane’s reaction shots to the attack. We get through those quickly and then we have to wait.

I go and sit with Kane as he is getting his made up. It looks pretty gruesome. Sophie is doing a real good on the makeup effects. I thinks she gets annoyed when I am around, because I keep on asking on how it long is it going to take for the actors to be ready. Kane’s spirits are high, as he jokes and laughs while he has to sit still.

Once Kane is ready, we get back to it. The first shot is a one take wonder. With the blood and effects we only get one chance to shot it. Once we start we can’t stop. If it goes wrong, we have to reset. Kane will have to go back to makeup and will have to wait again. I tell Ben and Kane where the point of no return is on this shot. If they feel it is going wrong before this point - stop. Otherwise just keep on going. The boys executed the action beautifully and made no mistakes. Excellent. Print. Next shot.

The last shot of the day - Martin hitting the floor. We do one take and Kane nearly brains himself on the marble floor. I ask for one more... and I tell Kane to take it easy. If he hurts himself that I would have to rewrite the script so Martin disappears half way through the film. I am only joking, but if he did injury himself it would have serious consequences for the film would be dire.

After we got that shot - with Kane not hurting himself - we were finished for the day. We all moved into the kitchen for a drink. I asked everybody to come in. Once the cast and crew were all assembled, I address them all. I apologized for the teething problems we had during the week. I told them we had runners and that we had a cook. They would all be with us on Saturday. I thanked them for all their hard work. TOld them to enjoy their day off tomorrow and then as a token of my gratitude I paid them all half their fee there and then in cash. This made them all very happy.

Once that was done, we all moved into the living room to watch the rushes from the previous days, especially the stuff we shot on Wednesday. I think it was good for them to see what we had on tape. To show them that all that hard work was for something. The rushes look really good. Better than I imagined. I am used to the “video look” - flat, everything in focus. The only way I can describe them is that they look like they belong in a film. Richard is doing a really good job. The first week of the shoot was now finished.

Sophie applies a makeup effect to Kane's neck

17th November 2007

The alarm goes off for 8.30am. We need to get out of the room early so Stephanie can come in and dress it. Our room is doubling for Martin and Jane’s bedroom. Today is first day of shooting in here. Stephanie needs to get it done before the call time of 10am. It will need to be kept that way as we will be shooting in here over the next couple of days.

I jump out of bed and grab a quick shower and shave. I decide to try and keep myself presentable for the rest of the shoot, instead of going for the stubbly look I usually have. Then it’s straight downstairs for breakfast. While I'm eating breakfast, our runners turn up. They are 2 students from a local university. I introduce myself and tell them that if they have any questions they would like to ask me, then please do as I don’t mind answer questions. If anybody has the slightest interest in the art of filmmaking, I can eagerly bore their ears off.

We have a lot to do today. 6 scenes are schedule for today. First it is in the bedroom, then outside in the corridor and then into the bathroom and then for the evening we are back in the bedroom. We are filming the scenes that way because I want to shoot them in continuity - it helps with actor’s performance and we don’t have to change the makeup. Plus the other bedroom scenes need to be shot at night.

Stephanie is adding the finishing touches to the bedroom, as I enter the room with the camera crew. The bed sheets have been replaced with our own glamourous ones. There are pictures of beach huts on the beach at sunset on the wall. The dresser has makeup and women stuff on it. Stephanie has done an excellent job. Did I say what an excellent job she has done on the whole location. She has dressed every room in the house for this film. Stephanie is doing all this work for the film and doing her dissertation for university at the same time. Actually she is using the work she has done for the film towards her dissertation, which I am very happy for her to do. She showed some of her designs for the dinner scene. The drawings of the look of that scene look excellent. We filming that scene in the last week of the shoot, so Stephanie has plenty of time to set up for it.

We set up pretty quickly for the first shot in the bedroom. The runners are really helping. In the middle of the scene, Lee appears with a bottle of champagne, so to celebrate the 100th slate. It’s tradition that you toast the 100th slate with champagne. Richard and the boys had smuggled a bottle onto the set, without me knowing. (There are a lot of things that go on set that a director doesn’t know about) It’s a shame that Ben isn’t here to enjoy a glass. He left for London this morning . I saw him off with a hug and one of the runners drove him to the train station. Ben will be missed, but at least he is coming back next Friday, so it’s not fare-well.

I go back to the Bedroom, back to making the film. Richard has a suggestion. Why don’t we take the scenes outside the corridor and do the action in the bedroom. I think about it and then decide that we should do it. Richard starts setting up the shot. He has to set up the Blonde outside the door to the bedroom, so to make it look like there is sunlight coming under the door. Sunlight is dangerous to Jane now, as she is turning into a vampire. It works very well. It makes this scene work really well.

We finish quickly and it is time for lunch. I am introduced to Francis - the lady who is going to be cooking for us. She was recommended to me by Simon Brodie. She had a garden on Simon’s property where she grows vegetables. It is really nice to have a cooked lunch. The food is really good, though Charlie thinks it needs spicing up. That it is touch too bland. I don’t think there is nothing wrong with it, but each to their own.

After lunch we set up for the bathroom scene. This scene follows on from the last one we just shot. Jane has to run in and block out the sun with a blanket. Then she has a look at the bite marks on her neck. She has to put up the blanket with pins, which we can’t find any. A great search begins - 2 are found in the whole house, so we have to use them for the time being. We do the wide shot with no problems, but then we have to shoot a close up of the pins dropping on the floor, as Jane struggles with the blanket. The pins we have are not enough, so another search is made of the house. Then Sam has the brain wave, why not look in the pool house. Sure enough there are plenty of pins, all up on a board full of tourist attractions.

The rest of the scene goes smoothly, with the aid of plenty of teas and coffees delivered to the set by the runners. But the pin problem has put us behind schedule. It is already dark when we come round to shooting Kane’s part of the scene - which he has been waiting around all day for. Once we are finished, I look over the schedule with Sam. We decide that instead of rushing the next scene, that we move the last scene of the day to tomorrow night. And we move the kitchen scenes, that were planned for tomorrow, to another day and continue shooting in the bedroom.

So we were back in the bedroom. It’s a short scene. 4 setups and we finish early. The runners say their goodbyes and drive back to their halls of residence. Having runners is really helping. I go outside to check my messages. There is one from Ben, saying that he has arrived home. I leave a message on his phone. Today was a good day.

100th Slate

18th November 2007

We are spending the whole day in the bedroom today. We got 6 scenes to shoot in there. The first scene has a makeup effect in it, so is the most complicated shot of the day. The rest vary in size from being a one shot scene to a 2 page scene. And they all take place at different times in the film, so there are a lot of makeup and costume changes, so a full day.

Stephanie has reset the Bedroom, after Marysia and myself sleeping in there. This is the scene that I used in the auditions for the part of Martin. I find it weird to be doing this scene, because I have up to this point seen this scene played so many different ways and now today this is how it is always going to be. Feels strange.

Because of the makeup effect, we are shooting this scene out of order. So we shoot the second half first and then we go back to first half. It’s a little confusing for Marysia and Kane, but as they know this scene so well they get through it.

For continuity reasons, the tray Kane is carrying, the glass and plate are stuck down. They are stuck down with glue, so they won’t move. Nobody told Kane. He tried to pick up the plate in one shot unsuccessfully. That was funny.

The scene went well, but we did have to stop for sound near the end. As Francis was cooking directly below us. There was nobody to call “Quiet on Set”. That’s a runner’s job. Where we were they? I asked Sam if she knew the whereabouts of our wayward runners. She had got a message from them saying they were going to be late. That last night they had been kept up by another student playing their stereo at full blast. Ok. From what I have heard about halls of residence that kind of thing is commonplace, but still when I was a runner I would never dream of being late to a film set. Hopefully they would turn up soon.

We had lunch and then Marysia was straight into makeup for the next scene. I was in there talking to her, Sophie and Stephanie when I realized something. A shot that was schedule for today could be done later. I had schedule this shot, because Marysia was going back to London for her stage combat classes. And I had got it into my head that we were going to shoot the rest of this scene while she was away. But the scene had Adam Bambrough in it and of course he was arriving on set the same time as Marysia was coming back. It wouldn’t make sense to shoot it today. The lighting could be wrong on the other day. So we don’t need to shoot this today. I run off to tell Richard and Sam.

We are ready to shoot the next scene. I see it as a simple reaction shot of Jane. It cuts in between a scene that is taking place elsewhere in the house. Richard suggests that we get that shot, but also, to make it interesting, do a dolly shot. We dolly into her reaction. I like this idea and as we have time from dropping that other shot out, I decide that we do it. We set up the dolly first.

The shot dollies into Marysia, so we go from a medium wide to a medium close up. Of course the dolly shot takes a while to set up. The tracks have to be set up. The dolly movement has to be practice. All this ate into our time. So the time we gained from dropping a shot was to lost by adding a new shot. But it is worth it in the end. When you are shooting in a small room, the more varied the shots the better the scene is.

Once the scene is finished, everybody went off for a break while we wait for nightfall. I was able to sit in while Kane and Marysia rehearsed their lines for the next scene. I have found that when actors read their lines they like to do it in privacy. I don’t know if this is the case for all actors, not being an actor, but I did find it interesting to sit in on this one. I was asked by Kane if what they were doing was correct. Yes. The way they were playing the scene was good and if they continue doing it in front of the camera would bring the scene to life. Well, that’s what I meant in my ‘Yes’.

Marysia wasn't a big fan of toast

It’s now evening, we are ready to do the next lot of scenes and still no sign of our runners. I guess they aren’t turning up. What is it with runners? You think they would want a chance to learn. When I was a runner I would give anything for a little one-to-one time with the director. I think what it is that because you can get some decent results with a digital camcorder, that anyone can be a director. That anyone can make a film. Personally I don’t think so. There has to be some form of training. Be it film school or on the job. (Rant over) Sam can’t get through to our wayward runners. I guess they are not interested. But! Sam has another runner lined up. Her name is Shauna Osbourne and she is going to be starting tomorrow. Well at least that is something.

It’s back to the bedroom to the shoot the scene we dropped the day before. That goes well. Kane gets to kiss Marysia. Well really Marysia kisses Kane. I believe it his first onscreen kiss. Well it won’t be the last. Marysia is playing the darker side of Jane really well.

After that scene it is clear that we are going to overshoot our predicted finishing time by an hour. I ask everybody if they are willing to work. They all say yes. Cool. We crack on with the next 2 scenes. We are shooting it like one scene, with a transition using a clock to get us from one scene to another. We pan the camera back and forth to the clock, to show the passing of time. It’s like when you get lost in your thoughts and then you see that an hour has gone by.

This shot takes a bit of setting up, because we are going to do it in camera without any cuts. We have a clock with hands and someone is going to wind it to the different times. I’m going to do it. We practice it a couple of times and it goes smoothly. So we go for a take. The camera pans from Marysia in bed to the clock. Then it pans back. I starting winding the clock to the new time. I get it, but I continued on winding. Realizing my mistake, I wind the clock back to the time it should be. The camera is holding on Marysia for a long time. Too long a time. Finally I am done and the camera pans back to the clock. So we go again. I nail it, but Richard isn’t happy with the pan. One more time. We both nail it. After all that, I decide we all need a break.

I go downstairs to grab a snack, when I am approached by Charlie and Lee. Charlie thinks we should finish now and have dinner. We can’t have dinner until we are finished, so he would like it to finish now. Lee agrees with him. For some reason I agree. My stomach rumbling and I feel tired. So I go and tell Richard we are finishing for the day. Richard argues that we should continue on and get the scene finished. Lee is there as well and he agrees with Richard. I feel like getting pulled from pillar to post. Charlie joins us and argues that we should finish. Sam too joins the argument on Richard’s side. It would be silly to stop now as we nearly finished this scene. Charlie gives in and we continue on with the scene. Me, I feel utterly stupid for letting this argument happen in the first place. I just can’t seem to put my foot down on things. I think it is the lack of sleep playing it’s part in all of this. I’m not keeping control as I should.

We finish the scene an hour later and we finally eat. It is good to get something to eat. And I put on the Making of The Shining just to reassure myself that today’s events are nothing in comparison to the making of that film. A few of the others join me in watching it. Kane hasn’t seen the film before, so I let him watch it after the Making Of has finished. He didn't like it.

I pledge allegiance...

19th November 2007

I got up at 8am. The call time was 10am and we were shooting again in the bedroom. I am getting sick of shooting in here. There are not many ways you can shoot this room and I think we have shot most ways. But 3 more scenes and then we are out of here. Well that's not entirely true, we do have a couple more scenes to shoot in the bedroom, but that’s not until next week.

At 9am Marysia and Kane headed into makeup. These first 2 scenes have makeup effects. More blood. More fangs. So more time is needed to apply them.

Shauna, our new runner, arrived at 10am. Very pleasant woman. She gets stuck in with helping Sam dish out bacon and egg to the rest of the crew. Andy comes and grabs some plates of food, and then heads back to the camera crew’s room. The guys are getting breakfast in bed. Why aren’t I getting breakfast in bed. Only joking. Imagine what time the poor sod would have get up to cook me breakfast in bed. Early! I am always the first one up.

Though the camera crew are the last ones to get up, they are always the first ones on set. I pop my head back into the bedroom. Stephanie has just finished redressing the set and Richard is starting to set up the lights. For this scene the room has to be dark, so the room is completely blacked out, and Richard is using my Dedo Lights and the bedside lamps to light the scene. It looks atmospheric.

I left Richard and the boys to finish setting up and I pop my head in to the makeup room to check how things are going. Marysia is getting her makeup applied and Kane is sitting on the bed. He has a very realistic bruise on his forehead. Sophie’s work is really good. I will have to thank Brendan for recommending her. They need a T-shirt that can be ruined for the next scene, but don’t have anything in wardrobe that they can use. I donate one of my T-shirts. A plain grey one. Kane tries it on and it fits. Good thing we are the same size.

I leave the makeup room and I step outside to make some calls. I give Brendan a call. I need to find out what time his train is next week, so we can arrange to pick him up. I only get through to his voicemail. I leave a message and then I give Marq English a call. He is going to be arriving today, so I want to make sure he is on his way. I get voicemail again. I leave a message asking for him to call me back, because he will need directions to find the location.

I get called back in, as we are ready to start filming. Shauna is shown into the set and given the clipboard with the camera log sheets on it. She has to record the timecode, so when it comes to editing the editor has the start and stop times for each shot. And also if the shot is good, bad, indifferent.

This time it is Kane’s turn to lie on the bed, while Marysia moves around him. I think Marysia is glad to be out of that bed. The filming of this scene goes slowly. First we have to get a shot of Marysia’s reflection in the mirror. It’s tricky because we don’t want to catch any unwanted reflections in the mirror. We only want to see Marysia and Kane. A lot of moving around has to take place so to stay out of the mirror. Secondly, trying to get different shots around the bedroom is getting harder. With each shot, the list of other possible shots grow thinner and thinner. But somehow we keep finding them. Shooting this room is a real challenge.

We have to stop the scene at the end while Marysia has her fangs fitted. Shauna goes off to make us all teas and coffees as we wait. Once the fangs are in, and the drinks are cleared away, we get the final shot of that scene. The next scene takes place a few moments on, so we don’t have to change the lighting, but we do need to add blood to both Kane and Marysia. So again all we can do is wait, while Sophie applies the blood.

While we are waiting, Richard comes up to me in the kitchen and starts asking about the dinner scene (the one that takes place at the end of the film). He wants to know where we are filming it. I tell him we are going to film in here. He asks about the kitchen in the Farmhouse. I say it is more modern than this one, not so rustic. Why? Richard points out that it is going to be difficult shooting in here. What with the beams running along the ceiling and there isn’t much room in here to shoot. If we could use the farmhouse kitchen, we could make it look like a dining room. I don’t know if that could work. I can’t remember what the place looks like, but we can get into the farmhouse tomorrow to have a look.

Stephanie walks in at this point. I tell her about looking at the farmhouse kitchen for the dinner scene. She is a bit confused, because we had planned to shoot it in this kitchen. She had drawn the plans for this room. Richard points out the problems. I say that’s have a look at the other kitchen tomorrow all together and see what it is like, then make the decision about whether to shoot in there or not.

After that, Marysia and Kane were ready. It was back to bedroom to shoot the next scene. This scene goes slowly as we are just running out of shots in this room. Poor Kane is getting cold from his blood soaked T-shirt. I had no idea blood could be so cold. I noticed him shivering on the bed. But Kane is a trooper and doesn’t complain. He just waits quietly until we are ready to roll.

Charlie is getting annoyed by other people in the house not being quiet while we are going for a take. Francis is cooking downstairs. She doesn’t know the set etiquette. When we are running up for a take, there should be absolute quiet from the crew. Francis has never worked on a film set before. Charlie says the call is not getting out to the house when we are starting and stopping. Sam goes downstairs, so to have a word with Francis. She stays down there so she can signal Francis when to be quiet and when she can get back to cooking.

Charlie isn’t the only one who is getting annoyed. I look at the faces of the crew and they are not their usually happy selves. They are bored and just want to get out of this room. How do I know this? Because that’s how I feel. I just want out of this room. But we are getting it done and what I have seen, it is worth it. One more scene and we are out.

It's tough being a vampire

Once the second scene is finished, we break for lunch. Charlie is continuing to go on about how bland the food is. The rest of the crew do enjoy this, so I don’t stop it. And Francis doesn’t take any notice of Charlie’s gentle ribbing. The food is good and very welcome.

Once I have finished my food, I go outside and see if I have any messages. There is one from Marq. He is on his way and should get to the location for 6pm. I try to call him back, but his phone is turned off. I let him know that he will have problems finding the place.

It’s back to the bedroom. In this scene Kane is weak from being bitten has to fall off the bed and try and reach for the door. Every time I call action, Kane throws himself onto floor with such gusto. He always at the receiving end of all this rough stuff, but I think he enjoys all the stunt work.

I am having to sit outside the bedroom for this scene, as there is no room for me and my monitor. I am glad to be out of that room. Sitting next to me is Shauna with the camera log sheets. I have to laugh. She keeps asking for the timecode at the wrong time. The guys will be changing the camera angle and you will hear this sweat voice go, “Timecode please”. I try to explain when she should ask for it, but she continues to ask at the wrong time. The camera crew are starting to get annoyed by it. But she is such a sweat thing, that none of them tell her off. Who could when she finally gets a timecode, she goes “Thank you lovely”.

Finally we finish with the bedroom and you can see the relief on everybody's faces. I don’t have the heart to tell them that we have to film in there again next week. I’ll tell them at a better time.

The final scene of the day is downstairs in the living room. It’s a straight forward scene. I get Kane and Marysia to block the action out, so to show Richard where the action is taking place.

Richard gets to work, while I get a message on my mobile. I go outside, so I can get enough signal to listen to it. It’s Marq. He’s lost. He is in the village of Rosecraddoc and he can’t find the place. I try to explain the route, but I don’t really know the way from Rosecraddoc to Merryfield Manor. I tell him to get to Liskeard and then I can direct him here from there. Doesn’t think that is a great plan. I tell him to wait, while I get Sam.

I have a word with Sam, because she has been doing a great job of directing people to the location. I asked her to help Marq find his way here. Sam talks to Marq on the phone and agrees to meet him on the main road. Sam heads off down the private lane with a torch, while I go back in to direct the scene in the living room.

When I got back in, I asked Charlie, as he had a spare bunk, if he was alright if Marq could stay there tonight. Charlie says that he doesn’t want to sleep with a rapist in the room. The camera crew crack up. Charlie was just joking. He says it alright that Marq can stay in his room, just as long as he doesn’t try anything. I’m glad that Charlie has got his humor back.

Sam arrives back with Marq just as we are about to do a take. I am very pleased to see my friend. He is really impressed with what he sees. He quickly comes over and says hello. Then quickly sits down in a corner out of the way to watch the filming. In between takes I call him over, so he can watch the monitor. Wow. Is what he says when he sees the image on the screen. Of course I do get asked why is it upside down. It’s the first question I always get when people see the monitor for the first time. I always explain that it is the M2 Adaptor. Marq is really impressed, which mean a lot to me, as he directed a feature film.

The rest of the scene goes well and we finish on time. We all sit down for dinner. The guys out to the pub for a drink. I decided to stay in and watch The Fountain. (Great film)

Richard setting up a light

20th November 2007

Today is a very technical day. We got to shoot the final scene of the film, a scene with a stunt and to pick up a scene that we shot last week.

Instead of going straight to breakfast, I went to the makeup room. Kane was being made up for the final scene. The makeup job is a big makeup job. We have schedule four hours for Sophie to get it done. They had been at for an hour all ready. It is funny to see the beginnings of a makeup job, because it doesn’t look like much. But as I checked in hour by hour, I could see the makeup job come together. It looks really good.

While Kane is in makeup, we prepared the location for the scene. Originally we were going to film it outside, but due to the rain we can’t do it. Anyway, I prefer to be inside. Inside we have more control over the light. Richard and I discuss a lighting effect that is needed for this scene. Richard has an idea for how to do it. He comes up with a system to pull up a polly board in front of a light, using lighting stands and ropes. It’s very basic, but it works very well.

Kane is finally ready. The crew are really impressed by Sophie’s makeup job. Kane sits down in the chair and just as we about to begin, I see Marysia standing in the doorway looking at Kane and it gives me an idea for this scene. I get Marysia to change into costume and stand in the doorway. It adds an extra dimension to the scene.

The scene is taking longer than expected. It is a technical scene with lighting and smoke and makeup and it has to be done correctly. This means taking time. The next scene has a stunt in it. I can’t rush that scene, as I don’t want anybody to get hurt. So with Sam I reschedule it for tomorrow.

Kane in makeup for the final scene

We finish the scene in the afternoon and then had lunch. Once lunch was finished, Richard, Stephanie and I went over to the Farmhouse to have a look at the kitchen. We get in there and Stephanie is impressed with it, it looks like a dining room. My gut is telling me that this could be good. Stephanie is going to need a few bits and pieces to dress the set. Stephanie is going back to London on Thursday, so while she is there she can pick them up. Happy with the set, we all go back to the Manor.

Etta Bell arrived as we got back. I greet her and take her and Marq over to the Farmhouse, their accommodation for tonight. They pick their rooms and I leave them to settle in. While I was there, some the crew came over to have a look. When they saw the games room, they had to have a go. There was a dart board, pool table and table tennis in there. I had a quick go on the pool table, the dart board and the table tennis. The quick go became a while. I had to stop, because I had to prepare for the scene tonight. It’s still raining. This is going to be a problem as it freezing cold when we shot the second half. It not going to cut together.

Richard has an idea how to solve this problem. As we hadn’t really shown the surroundings, we could cheat the scene inside. I can’t see how this could work, but Richard says leave it to me. What can I do? The rain won’t stop. I’ve only got Marq and Etta for tonight and that’s it. I don’t have much choice. I leave Richard to it.

As I wait, Lee suggests that we do another interview. He has written some questions to ask me and has set up the camera up in the corner of my room. As I don’t have anything better to do, I agree to do it. Charlie has set up a lapel mike for me to wear. It looks very professional. I sit down and we start doing it. I have to say that I am not very comfortable being in front of the camera. It doesn’t help that I have an audience. Marysia is sitting on the bed, watching the interview take place. We get through the interview fine, but as there is a shadow of a light stand on the wall, we have to shoot it all over again. This time it doesn’t go well. I keep laughing when I try to answer the questions. Marysia asks if she can conduct the interview. Lee agrees, as I am not responding well to him. This time it goes well. I am more comfortable answering Marysia’s questions. So comfortable that the interview goes on for some time. So long, that it is interrupted by Sam. They are ready for me to shoot downstairs. I will be interested in seeing how my interview turned out.

Going downstairs to the set, I was amazed to see that Richard had recreated the look of the field inside the house. The lighting was exactly how it was in the field. What an elegant solution to our problem. We shoot the scene very quickly. In the middle of the scene, the rain stops. We can go outside now to shoot the establishing shots of the scene. We finish the shots inside and make our way outside.

We use the fig rig to follow Etta running and Marq chasing. It is tricky for them to run, as it still wet from the day’s rain. But we get the shots quickly and we are wrapped. The day has gone quickly. It feels like it is late, but it is only 7pm. We go back in to eat.

Over dinner, Marq talks about his paranormal investigations into ghosts. He makes an online show called ‘Spiral’, where a team of paranormal investigators visit sites of hauntings and folklore. Marq regales us with stories of some these investigations and seances. The crew are so interested, that they want to try a seance in the Manor. I say no. As we are working and living here, I don’t want to upset any spirits. The shoot has been going well. I want it to continue that way. It is suggested that they do it in the Farmhouse. That I don’t mind. I will have to find out how the seance went in the morning. See if anybody saw a ghost.

Etta, Marq, Andy, Charlie hanging out

21st November 2007

Got up this morning and went straight downstairs to find out how the seance went. Richard was telling me it was a bit of a disappointment. No ghosts turned up. They sat there in the dark and nothing happened. Though Lee kept seeing something. He would point it out to Marq, who would dismiss it straight away.

So today we got to shoot the stunt from yesterday as well as some short sceness. We set up the stunt first. To give the illusion of Kane falling down the stairs, we break it down into several shots. It starts with him at the top of the stairs and then we cut to the end of fall. At the top of the stairs, we have Kane move backwards and he is supported by 2 members of the crew. It started with Andy and Lee supporting Kane, but Lee had to go. So I took over from Lee. Lee had to go to back to London for a job interview and to check on the editing on his own feature. I also said goodbye to Marq and Etta, as they left to go back to London. Our next lot of guesses are not arriving until next week.

The second part of the fall is Kane landing. Andy set up some mattress at the bottom of the stairs. I wasn’t going to let my actor try this without me trying it first. I did the fall onto the mattress and it caught me. I didn’t hurt myself, so I will let Kane try it now. He has a go and lands fine. Actually it looked like such good fun that Andy had a go. Then when it was time to roll the camera, Kane did the fall again and again and again and never hurt himself.

We broke for lunch where we had a lively debate about the Apollo Moon Landings - faked or real. Andy was on the side of faked, while the rest of the table was on the side that it really happened. Andy wasn’t being swayed by everybody’s points, so we had to agree to disagree on this one, even though Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

After lunch, I went through the schedule with Richard. We had some shots in the bedroom, looking out into the garden at Kane. But looking at the scene, it would work better if Adam was in the shot as well. So more rescheduling for next week. Richard was worried that the dolly shot of Kane in the living room, that we shot at the beginning, wasn’t good enough. He wanted to get a close up of Kane to cover ourselves. Dropping this scene, gave us time to shoot this shot, so Kane changed back into his costume from the beginning of the film, and Richard set up the lights quickly. We got the shot very quickly and it was onto the kitchen.

This scene involves Martin making breakfast for Jane. Richard was setting up the camera for a wide shot on the dolly, but he was having problems. The shot looked like crap. Richard asked me if we could do close ups instead. To shoot the details, instead of the whole. I agreed. I thought it would be great and make the scene stand out. Though boy did we have problems with it. It should of been so easy to shoot, but we had problems with every shot. It was the toast’s fault. The toast wouldn’t pop out in time. It would burn. It wouldn’t cut properly. We got it finished, but that bloody toast, it was the bane of my life in that scene. (And another scene that didn't make it into the final film)

So we finished before the sun went down. I got a voice mail from Lee. He had decided to stay in London and wasn’t coming back. He wanted to stay and work on the edit of his own feature. He also felt that he wasn’t helping much, which wasn’t true. He was helping out alot, and who else was going to shoot my behind the scenes video.

Catching Kane at the top of the stairs

23rd November 2007

First scene today is back out in the field. This scene takes place after Jane had an extreme reaction to Martin’s cooking and Martin goes out across the fields to cool down. It’s suppose to be sunset, but I couldn’t find a good spot where we could shoot this scene at sunset, so we are going to cheat. We are going to use a Sunset filter over the front of the lens, so to give the illusion of the sun setting in the sky.

We are back over to the field where we shot Jane’s meeting with Seth. The field rests on a top of a hill, which has a great view of the countryside. We decide to shoot on the cusp, so Kane can be framed with the great view in the background.

A small group of us - Kane, Richard, Andy, Charlie, Sam and myself - go over and set up. We weren’t the only ones in the field today. There were cows grazing. They started off in the distance, but they soon came over. I have to say that this made us all very nervous. Especially when we say a bull amongst them. We hoping that it’s not true about bulls charging red, as Andy’s jacket is red. Then we had the donkeys come over. We couldn’t get any work while they were all watching us.

After a while, they got bored with us and went back to chewing on the grass. We got back to shooting the scene. It went smoothly, but boy was it cold. Winter is definitely on it’s way. I had a look at the rushes once we were done and they looked really good.

While we were watching the rushes, Richard asked if we could see the bathroom scene from the 17th. He wanted to check something. I got the tape off Sam, she is looking after the tapes, we watched the takes from that scene. In the window was the rental car. It can’t be there, as the bathroom is suppose to be upstairs. Shit! Thankfully we had time this afternoon to shoot it, as the next scene wasn’t scheduled until this evening.

So I got Marysia back into her wardrobe and makeup from that scene. Sam found the blanket we used before for covering the window and I got the same drawing pins. We re-shot Jane tackling the window without a car in the window.

Today was the day for my interview with Fresh magazine. They were coming later in the afternoon. I kept my mobile on as Sarah Searle was going to call me when she was on her way. Also, I was waiting for the call saying that she couldn’t find the place. It didn’t come. She was able to get directions. Sarah had turned up with her son and daughter. The magazine is family run, so both the kids worked on it too.

I welcomed them in and we sat on the couches in the living room. Sarah told me a bit about the magazine and then we went straight into the questions. Sarah certainly had done her research. She asked about setting up Independent Runnings, my production company and making my first short film. Then it went onto why I was shooting a feature in Cornwall. I told her about how I like the area while I was working on White Admiral and wanting to use this location again for my own film.

There were lots more questions about the feature. Once we were finished, I asked if Sarah would like to ask the actors questions. She said that she would like to, so I lead them upstairs to makeup room, where Kane and Marysia were getting ready for this evening.

Sarah asked them a lot of questions about their parts in the film, how they were hired for the film and other such questions. While the interviews were taking place, I was thinking that it was a shame that Benjamin wasn’t here. He was scheduled to come back later this evening. It’s a shame that the vampire didn’t get interviewed, but I am sure there will be more interviews to come for this film.

Once Marysia and Kane were finished being interviewed, I lead Sarah and her children back to their car. She told me that the piece would be in the issue in the new year, as the magazine is bi-monthly. I look forward to it. (I never did see that interview)

While we were waiting for night to fall, Charlie and me went back to the field. We were going to record some foley (sounds) for the scene with Marq English and Etta Bell. I was there to carry the camera, as the sound has been recorded directly into the camera on this whole shoot. It’s so when it comes to editing we don’t have to sync the rushes up, as they would already be in sync. And because I couldn’t afford to rent a field recorder.

So we got sounds of leafs rustling, stones being kicked over, footsteps. Charlie even fell to the ground, so we could record the sound. We got every sound we could think, so Stephen Cartwright (Sound Editor) could use them in the edit.

Darkness fell and it was time to go back to work. We had three scenes to shoot in the kitchen. One long scene and 2 short ones. Richard and Andy work quickly to set up the lights and the first shot. Lee’s absence is not effecting the camera crew’s performance. Shauna is still asking for timecode at the wrong moments, but Richard and Andy don’t mind as she still asks so sweetly. She also pitches in, which is a good quality for a runner.

In the first scene Marysia has to catch a glass and then eat some raw meat. The raw meat that was presented to myself and Marysia was covered in food dye and looked horrible. I wouldn’t want anybody to eat it, let alone Marysia. Thankfully we had some steak put aside for dinner. It had to be sacrificed for the sake of the film.

While we were shooting this scene, Shauna went and collected Benjamin from the train station. He got back in time for the 200th Slate. We celebrated it this time with a shot of Vodka, straight. Seemed to be a good idea at the time, but the looks on their faces after they drank it was a picture.

I don't think having a vodka shot on the 200th slate is going to catch on

After that small interlude, we got back to shooting the scene. Again, a scene that took time to shoot as there was a lot going on that had to be shot correctly. Also getting interesting looking shots in the kitchen. One of the pains of location shooting is that you can’t pull away a wall and get a new angle. But with a set, you have to build it, while a location is just there. So pros and cons for both.

Marysia was wrapped first, and went off to catch up with Ben. Kane we had one more scene to shoot. It has been a long day for Kane, but he got through it with good humor. There are some scenes he has problems with understanding, but he won’t leave until we get it. I keep forgetting how young he is. He is the baby of the group, but you couldn’t tell. I predict big things for him. All needs is a little luck and he will make it. (I don't know what happened to Kane. We don't talk anymore.) We finished on time and wrapped for the evening. We had dinner and drank alot that night.

Catching the glass

24th November 2007

We only got 3 scenes to shoot today. The first 2 are very short and can be use as cutaways through out the film. They are both called Scene X, as they weren’t written in the script. They are eXtra scenes. They came out of conversations with me and the actors about extra material we could shoot. We decided to shoot scenes that in the script were talked about, but you didn’t see.

For these scenes, Richard was going for an usual color scheme. In the first scene, Richard used green and pink gels over the lights, in conjunction with a slow shutter speed on the camera, giving the shot a eerie and dreamlike feel. For the second scene, Richard used a red gel over the lights. It was like being a photographer’s dark room. It definitely made thess scenes different and unusual.

We got through these scenes really quickly. We only had one more scene to do in the evening, so it was a case of waiting for it to get dark. While I was waiting, I did some rewriting of the scenes, so to include some new lines and details for Ted. Not much has to be done. A line change here and there. It fills my time until the sun goes down.

We are now in the living room for the final scene of the day. It is a continuation of the scenes we shot last night. Most of the action involves Kane and a phone call. I coming to conclusion that the scenes that look easy on the page are a pain to shoot.

The action starts at the window, where Kane’s character, Martin, is pondering the events of the day. He hears something and twirls round to see nobody there. That was easy to shoot. Then feeling paranoid, Martin goes to the phone and calls Ted. This is the part that took time. Kane paces up and down while he is on the phone. You think what’s the problem with that? It’s a problem for focus puller, Andy, as he tries to keep him in focus as he paces back and forth.

We block it out so Kane turns at the same place and the same place in the script. I am reading Ted lines, doing my best Adam Bambrough impression - it’s not very good. Andy is doing his best, but you really have to have the experience to get all the focus points correct in the one shot. We shoot it enough times, so that in the edit I can use a part from each take.

We even shoot Kane straight on as he paces up and down. For this shot, Andy marks the focus points on the floor using white tape. So along the floor are the white strips measuring out every foot. It looks like a zebra crossing or the markings in a school playground. But these really help Andy to nail those focus points.

For what seems ages of shooting the same part of the scene, we move onto the end, where Martin takes a bottle of pills out of a draw and marches upstairs. We first shoot a close up of the draw. We need some props for inside the drawer. I have brought a whole lot of stuff, that I have collected over the years. Cards, ticket stubbs, flyers for shows - stuff like that. They were first used in the short film, Blocked and have appeared in most of my films since then. So once more they come in handy for this film.

Then we all have to shoot is Martin walking upstairs. We do a wide angle of it from the ground, then we shoot it from upstairs looking down. Kane has to squeeze by the camera at the top of the landing. There is a real art to squeezing by cameras. You got to make it look like you are walking out of shot normally. We only have to do a couple of takes and then we were wrapped. Marking the end of our second week of shooting.

As it is a day off tomorrow, we have all decided to go in town for a drink. Sam orders some cabs to pick us up and take us into Liskeard. Everybody gets dressed up to go out, so I decide to join them. I wear one of Martin’s jackets, as I haven’t got one that is smart. Once the cabs turn up, 2 people carriers, we bundle in and go to town. We let off a lot of steam that night.

Setting up the dream sequence

26th November 2007

Last night we had us a little excitement. Kane and Sophie had gone out for a moonlight stroll along the narrow roads near the Manor. As they were walking along the road, something popped it’s head over the tall verge. It was white and looked like a big cat. Though that’s all they could describe, because instead of hanging around, they got out of there as fast as they could. They didn’t stop until there got back to house.

Could they have of seen the “Beast of Bodmin”. The famous cat that for years have stalked Bodmin Moors. The Moors weren’t that far away, though the creature has always been described as being black like a panther or jaguar. I wanted to see it for myself. So did Benjamin. We did what all men do. Benjamin grabbed his telescopic nun-chucks and I got the car, and we drove out there. The plan was for me to hit the “Beast” with the car and then Benjamin finish the job with his nun-chucks.

We went to the spot where Sophie and Kane had seen the “beast”, but there was nothing there. We drove around the area, but no sign of anything. The only thing we did see were rabbits running out in front of the car. We decided to go back to the manor and check it out in the morning.

We returned to the country lane, where the sighting of the “Beast” had taken place. We had time, as Adam Bambrough and Pamela Flanagan arrive later this morning, and we won’t start filming until they arrive. I check on top of all the verges, as Benjamin checks along the road. We walk up and down the road, but find no sign of anything being there. No paw prints. No broken branches. No dead animals. Nothing. I may not be a world class tracker, but it is clear to me that there was nothing here.

We return back to the Manor and let Kane and Sophie know our findings. They are convinced that they saw something, but the animal they described would of left a trace. Marysia and Kane go out there to have a look, while I get ready to meet our guests.

Pamela getting ready for her close up

Shauna met Adam and Pamela at the station and brought them straight to the Manor. Shauna has been really good at meeting people at the station, because I never received a call asking for a description of the person she is picking up. And she hasn’t brought any strangers to the location, which is good.

I meet Adam and Pamela at the door, and invited them in. They are impressed with the place. I introduce them to everybody and then I ask them to leave their luggage in the living room, and I will take them over to the Farmhouse later. We have to go straight away and shoot a short scene with Pamela. So it is straight into costume and makeup. Today is going to be a long day and we need to get underway as soon as possible.

The scene with Pamela is very quick one. It is a break in between the dinner scene at the end of the film. Alice is leaving the toilet, when she hears a noise. Richard has set up the camera and lights in the corridor outside the main bedroom. There is noise coming from the boiler, a noise that has plagued us every time we have shot out here in the corridor. But we soon found out how to turn the boiler off, and that problem was solved.

Pamela is ready and we go straight into filming. Pamela takes direction very well and does everything you ask of her. Even in a small part, if the actor is not good it can ruin the film. She is so good that we shoot the scene very quickly.

We break for lunch. While we are eating, Benjamin asks Francis, our cook, if see has ever seen the “Beast of Bodmin”. She says that she hasn’t but knows people who have. Ben explains about Kane and Sophie’s encounter last night and gives her their description of the “Beast”. She says it doesn’t fit any description she has been given, but is stumped to say what it is they saw. I guess this one is going to have to remain a mystery. Did they saw the “Beast of Bodmin”, a wild cat or something else? We will never know.

The next scene is scheduled for when it gets dark, so Richard suggests that as we have time we shoot the other side of the phone conversation with Martin and Ted, that we filmed Saturday night. In the script, Ted’s part is played off screen, but it would be good to have this scene in the can, so I have something to cut to in that scene.

We take over the bed in the make up room and turn it into Ted’s. Richard goes in and quickly dresses one side of the room. Stephanie is over in the Farmhouse getting the dining room ready for tonight. Adam is quickly made up and we put him in the bed. We play this scene as if Martin has woken Ted in bed by ringing his mobile. Again we shoot this scene very quickly. Adam is very good and doesn’t make a mistake with his lines. We are able to get in, shoot and get out quickly, so Marysia can get in and start getting made up for the next scene.

Filming nights can be so cold

The next scene is Marysia’s full reveal. She got to look beautiful, ravishing. And the makeup and costume has to be just right. The costume took a long time to find. It had to be elegant and sexy. Eleanor Wdowsky and myself looked up and down the high street looking for this dress. In the end Elly found it on the last day of costume shopping. And on Marysia it looks great. We leave the makeup room, so Sophie can start her work.

In the meantime, I take Adam and Pamela over to the Farmhouse. I bring them in and show them to their rooms. Adam is in the ground floor bedroom, by the front door. It has 2 single beds with en-suite bathroom. Adam will be sharing with Brendan, when he gets here. I then show them Pamela’s room. It’s the largest room with the widest bed I have ever seen. It’s bigger than a king size bed. It must be an emperor size bed, if there is such a thing. It too has an en-suite bathroom. Pamela is very happy with this room.

I leave them to get settled in and I check with Stephanie to see how the dining room is doing. Stephanie is just adding the finishing touches to the set. There is a long dining table with a white table clothe and it set up for dinner. Plates and knifes and forks are set up for the dinner guests. There are bowls of fruit and bread baskets, and of course roses. The table looks like it has come straight from the “Last Supper”. I am very pleased with it. Stephanie has done an excellent job.

It’s getting dark and we should get ready for the next scene - Jane’s reveal at the front door. I lead them back to the Manor, so they can both get into costume and makeup. While Adam and Pamela get ready, I check on Richard and see how he is doing with the lighting. He has set up the Blonde (1K) outside and then the Dedos inside the front door. The lights are up in place. All we need our actors. Adam and Pamela are ready first. We were just waiting on Marysia.

An hour goes by and we are still waiting. I check in with Sophie to see how long more. I walk in and Marysia isn’t happy with the makeup. She shows me the makeup job that Sophie has done and it’s wrong. It was like the previous makeup jobs, when really it needed to be glamorous. It had to be changed. I asked Sophie to change it. Of course this meant more time in makeup. It meant more time until we start filming.

I was getting a lot of pressure from Sam and the rest of the crew. They weren’t happy to wait. But when Marysia emerged from the makeup room, it was worth the wait. I have to say that it was partially my fault for the delay. Between Sophie and myself, we hadn’t discussed the makeup for this particular scene. Also I should of got Marysia in makeup a lot sooner. As we have to shoot more of the dinner scene tomorrow, I won’t make the same mistake again.

We get to work quickly after all that waiting. It cold’s tonight, so in between takes Marysia has to wrap up. The dress is fetching, but not very warm. The shooting of the scene goes smoothly, apart from Adam saying Frankenstein instead of Dracula in one take. It made us all laugh. We finished quickly and we moved into the farmhouse for the dinner scene.

The dinner scene is really 3 scenes. We are shooting the first 2 scenes tonight and last scene tomorrow night. I have scheduled a third night just in case we need it. I hope not to use it. We will have to see. The way we plan to shoot the 2 scenes tonight is to do both wide shots first, then go into the medium shots and close ups for each actor. It’s confusing for the actors to have to jump back and forth between the scenes like this, but it is the most efficient way of shooting.

Richard has lit it to look like candle light. We get through the wide shots quickly. Then when it comes to the closer shots, Richard changes the camera angle on each take. It’s so that we got more coverage in a short amount of time. It’s not desirable, as you only have one take to use for each camera angle in the edit, but it is the best we can shoot it under the circumstances.

In the middle of shooting the dinner scene, Brendan turns up. He is lead over to the farmhouse by Shauna. I introduce Brendan to everybody quickly. I don’t really have time to chat with Brendan, as I am under the gun, but it is good to see him. I point him in the direction of his room and get back to work.

Midnight came and went, and we were still filming. Shauna had to leave at 10pm, but she was a great help bringing us lots of cups of coffee and teas to keep us going. Marysia had started to sing show tunes, in between setups, to break up the boredom.

There was one camera angle that was taking time to setup, so I slipped off the set to chat with Brendan. I found him in his bedroom. He asked me how it was going, and I was telling him when I saw Marysia slump down in a chair in a humph. I went onto the set and asked who had upset my leading lady. As I said the words I knew I was being too harsh with my demand, but it was out there. I was told that Marysia was told to shut up, as her singing was getting on the crew’s nerves. It was late at night. Everybody had been working hard, and didn’t want hear another rendition of Shirley Bassey.

I didn’t say any more. I left the matter there and Marysia came back into the room. We finished shooting after 2am. Everything was left as it was and everybody went straight back to their beds. Tomorrow is going to be another long day. As I climb the stairs up to my room, I hope tomorrow goes smoother.

Stephanie adds the final touches to the dinner scene

27th November 2007

I woke up this morning with what felt like a hangover. My head is throbbing and I feel a bit of nausea. I took a couple of paracetamol and got ready for the day ahead. I have no time to be sick, as there is a lot to be done today. There 9 scenes to be shot during the day and then after that we have to go back to farmhouse to finish shooting the dinner scenes. Tonight we also have effects and prosthetics to deal with. It’s going to be a long day.

The scenes during the day are all with Kane and Adam. Adam is up first, as we shoot his approach to the house. Adam goes straight into makeup and I grab a quick breakfast. Sam has bacon on the go, so I make myself a bacon butte and grab a tea. Charlie is there. He wants a quick word about last night. About the “who had upset my leading lady” line. He wanted to complain about it on the behalf of the crew. They had been working very hard yesterday and I had handle the situation badly. Yes, I could of handled it better. I didn’t. At the time I was more concerned about Marysia then the crew. Was it wrong? Don’t know. But I could of handle it better. I told Charlie that it won’t happen again.

I then ask Sam to get the actors, who aren’t working, to get them into makeup and costume. So they are ready for tonight. We can’t afford any delays. I finish my breakfast, and it is straight outside to shoot Adam’s scene.

We are on the private lane, that leads to Merryfield Manor. Adam has to walk down the lane and past the camera. We leave the camera on tripod and I position Adam off in the distance. As Adam is coming round a slight bend in the road, I can stay up there out of shot, cueing him when to start. Adam does it three times and then we are done. We move quickly on to the next set up - Martin meeting Ted at the door.

We shoot the now much repeated panning shot of someone approaching the front door of the manor. Then we move inside to get Kane opening the door. It’s suggested that instead of playing the dialogue at doorstep, that it is played as they move into the kitchen. It’s a pain for sound, as the front hallway is small. But after several goes, we nail it. Then it is into the kitchen for the next scene.

While we had been shooting outside, Sam has cleared the kitchen of breakfast and has helped Stephanie to dress the set. We come straight in. Richard sets up the lights. The actors block the scene out. It’s a long scene - 3 pages. So we block out the whole scene out from them walking in to them leaving the kitchen. The scene is important in the film. I’m not going to say why, because I won’t leave some mystery for you when you see the film. But trust me it is important.

Shooting in the kitchen is difficult. The high beam that runs down the middle of the ceiling makes both Richard and Charlie life difficult. It gets in the way of the lights and the boom. But we soldier on. We have to make the best with what we are given.

I wish I had more time for this scene, but we have to work through it quickly. Richard is using his strategy of changing the angle on ever take, so to get more coverage. Though it’s good to see how well the changes I have made to the scene are working. They really make the scene. You always wonder how well they will play out and how they will affect the rest of the film. I think they will add another dimension to the film and Ted’s relationship to the other characters in the film.

We finish the kitchen scene and it upstairs, back to the dreaded bedroom. We shouldn’t be in there long. Marysia is needed for this scene, so she goes into makeup and gets ready. Ben is standing around dressed as Seth. It’s early afternoon, and he isn’t needed until much later this evening. He has been waiting a while in costume, though it’s good to know that all the actors will be ready for this evening.

Richard setting up the camera for the hallway scene

The crew aren’t happy to be back in the bedroom. Join the club. Thankfully it’s a small scene. We shoot all of Marysia’s shots first. Once she is finished, Marysia goes back to Sophie so to get made up for tonight. I ask Sam if Brendan has started putting the prosthetic onto Pamela. I am told that he will be starting soon. Good. It will take time to apply and then put make up onto it. The sooner we start, the better.

We finish the scene in the bedroom with Kane and Adam. We have to get one shot from the bedroom window, looking down at Kane and Adam. Richard and Andy set the camera up in the window. I go outside to the back garden, so to see where to place the actors. I look up at the camera and there is no sign of the crew. I wait a couple of minutes and still no sign of them. I rush back in to see what the problem is. The guys are having a coffee break. I would of been angry, but as we hadn’t had lunch yet, I couldn’t begrudge them this small break. Anyway, there was a tea waiting for me.

We get back to work. I position the actors so they can be seen in the camera. Then we move outside to get the rest of the scene in the garden. It’s a minor scene and we get through it quickly. We finish at 3pm. We have one more scene to shoot, but we have run out of time. We need to stop now and eat, then move onto the dinner scenes. I decide to reschedule the scene for Thursday, we don’t have much to shoot on that day.

Sitting down to eat, I feel like I am finished for the day. We have shot a full day’s lot and I am ready to relax. It’s a strange feeling. I have to keep reminding myself that I got this evening still to do. I guess the bottle of lager I had didn’t help.

Sophie applying makeup to Pamela

Once I finish eating, I check on how Sophie is doing. She is just finishing up on Marysia and then she will get onto Adam and Kane. Good. I then go over to the farmhouse, to check on the set. Richard is setting up the lights. We discuss the lighting for this scene. Do I want it the same as last night or do I want it more clinical? For what is going to happen in this scene, a more neutral lighting palette is required. I say let’s go neutral. Richard is happy with my choice and gets to work setting up for the wide shot.

My next stop is to check on Brendan and see how it is going. Brendan had set up in the bathroom in his bedroom. Pamela was sitting down, while Brendan worked on applying the prosthetic. Pamela was very happy to have this work done to her. She was sitting there very patiently. I stay there for a little while, watching Brendan work, then I had to go back to the set.

We had a visitor. Joy Brodie had popped in and wanted to watch us film. I said it was no problem, just as long as she stood out of the way and was quiet. She picked a good time to come and watch. We were about to do the blood effects. Usually a film set is boring for outsiders to watch, seeing the same thing repeated and repeated, but when you are doing effects or stunts thats the best time to visit.

The other actors were all ready and brought over to the farmhouse. We were just waiting on Pamela now. I went back to Brendan’s room, to see how much longer it was going to take. I walked in to the bathroom and Sophie was making up Pamela. I couldn’t see the prosthetic. Then Pamela turned round and moved, opening and closing the prosthetic. Wow! It was so good, I forget for a second that it was prosthetic. Brendan had done a great job. My reaction certainly made Pamela laugh.

A few minutes later, Pamela was ready. She was lead through the farmhouse onto the set, with Brendan trailing. He was carrying the tubes that were connected to the prosthetic. Pamela took her place at the table. The rest of the cast and crew wanted to see what the prosthetic looked like, so Pamela moved it for them like she moved it for me. They had the same reaction as I did. This made Brendan happy.

Brendan prepares the blood gag with Pamela

We got on with shooting the wide shot. Brendan had to get out of there and hide the tubes, so they wouldn’t be seen in shot. He thought we were going to shoot the effect first, but we weren’t going to it in the wide. We were going to capture that in a medium shot, which we were going to shoot next. The wide was blocked out with the actors and then we shot it. After the shot I had a quick look to see where Joy was, but she had left. I guess she got called away.

Brendan got back into position and Richard set the camera up for the medium shot. The tubes were connected to a syringe filled with fake blood. Brendan asked how I wanted the blood to come out. I told him and then we were ready to shoot. This was a one take deal. If we messed this up, it would take time to reset. Everybody was on tender hooks. I called out to roll camera. The camera got to speed. I called out action. There was no backing off now. We were fully committed. The prosthetic opened up and the blood started to pour out. Then her head placed down on the table. CUT! We got it. My heart was pounding. The shot went perfectly. It was onto the next setup.

Pamela, for the rest of the scene, had to play dead with her head down on the table. We had one more shot with the prosthetic, when her head is lifted up off the table. That shot went as well as before. I wanted to shoot one shot from above as Pamela’s head is put back down, blood spills across the table. We did one take, but nothing happened. Instead of blood spilling out of the prosthetic, it went straight down Pamela. For the rest of the evening Pamela had to sit in wet clothes. We got through the rest of the shots, that Pamela was needed for as quick as possible, so she could get out of the wet clothes. Though the whole time Pamela didn’t complain once.

We had passed Midnight, when the crew started cracking up. We were shooting all of Seth’s Close Ups. All Ben had to do was drink some blood out of a bowl and say his line. The first take went well. We did another and the crew started laughing. Uncontrollable laughter. I don’t know what was so funny. Ben and Marysia didn’t find it funny either. The crew settled down and went for another take. We got halfway through it and Charlie had to stop. He couldn’t stop himself laughing. The rest of the crew couldn’t stop themselves. They all burst into laughter. I still couldn’t see what was so funny.

Charlie asked if he could be excused for 5 minutes. Richard asked if he could be excused too. They both walked out the back door and all you could hear was them laughing their asses off out there. I think the day’s shooting had taken it’s toll on them and they needed to let off steam by laughing. Ben and Marysia were good humored about it. Charlie and Richard come back in, it all out of their systems, and we got back to work. We didn’t shoot that part of the scene again, and we didn’t have a laughing fit like that again.

The rest of the scene went well. We got all the shots we needed. I could of shot more, but that’s the way it goes. We finished about 3 o’clock in the morning. We were all deadbeat. We left the set as is and all headed to back to our beds. Thankfully tomorrow we don’t have much to shoot, only 2 scenes. We had got through the hard part of the shoot and the longest shoot days I have ever experienced, but we had done it. Only 3 more days left and we will be finished. It will soon be over.

The crew on break

28th November 2007

The alarm went off at 9am. I didn’t want to get up. I just wanted to stay in bed, but I had to get up. We got only 2 scenes to shoot today. One in the kitchen and the other one outside. Though at the moment it is pissing down with rain. If this keeps up, we will have to postpone it.

I got dressed and went over to the Manor for breakfast. Had some cereal and a cup of tea. I was ready for the day. Richard and Charlie were discussing about why they started laughing last night and couldn’t stop. They admit that the scene we were shooting wasn’t funny, yet they couldn’t help themselves. Richard said that he didn’t know where to look. Everyone he looked at were about to crack up. So he couldn’t hold it in. He had to laugh. And once he gave in, he couldn’t stop. I guess laughter is infectious.

Breakfast is quick this morning, as the kitchen is needed to be dressed for the first scene of the day. Sam quickly cleans up, Stephanie dresses the set and Richard and Andy set up the camera and lights. This scene is near the beginning of the film. We had been concentrating on the middle and end of the film for the last week, that it is strange to be back at the beginning. We had to schedule this scene for today, as this is the scene that introduces Ted and Alice.

Richard is instructing Andy on the camera and the M2 adaptor, as he is leaving today to go back to London. Richard is attending the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) at the Roundhouse tonight. Richard has to catch a train this morning and is leaving Andy in charge of the camera. During the week, Richard has been showing Andy how to use the camera, the lenses and the adaptor. I am there as well to help with the camera, as it is my camera. But the adaptor and the lenses are new to me. Having always shot on a zoom lens, primes is a completely different experience fo me. I should learn more about primes, as I will be using them more and more in the future. The quality of primes is very noticeable improvement.

We still got some time before Richard has to catch his train and we crack on with shooting the scene. We are nearing slate 300 and we want to get it before he leaves. We get the actors in and block out the whole scene in a wide. We block it out a couple of times, so to get the timing. Then we shoot it. Everybody is good and we get in the close ups. We start with Kane, as he the only one who is moving around. Adam and Pamela are standing still. Then it’s onto Marysia’s close up, as she enters the room. Then we move onto Pamela’s close ups. It was during Pamela’s shots that we reached slate 300.

Sam brought out glasses and a bottle of champagne. We all took a glass and Sam poured the champagne into them. Richard was busying setting up the shot, while Sam poured. But once everybody’s glass was full, work stopped so we could pose for a group photo. It now become our custom to toast to the film and have our photo taken, before drinking.

Sam pours out champagne for the 300th slate

The photo we took was very special as we had the main cast there and the crew who had stuck with the film to the very end. I took three photos of the group and then Pamela took the camera and I jumped in to have a photo with me in it. Once all the photos were taken, we drank our champagne and we had to get back to work.

We got one more slate shot, before Richard had to go. He passed his director’s eyepiece to Andy, jumped into Shauna’s car and he was off. Leaving me and Andy in charge of the camera.

All that was left to shoot was Adam’s close ups and that would be it for this scene. You think it would be easy, but no. The problem we were having was with the background behind Adam. First it was ugly. Secondly we had these annoying ceiling lamps, that were difficult to move and casted a shadow on Adam’s neck. It took a lot of playing around to fix it. We moved the lamps. Then we moved Adam. Then we put more light in. Then less light in. But eventually we fixed it and we shot the final lot of slates for this scene.

It was still raining, as we finished the last scene in the kitchen. We couldn’t go outside to shoot the other scene, so I rescheduled it. As we didn’t have anything else to shoot, I gave everybody the afternoon off. After all the work they had done over the past 2 days, they deserved it. We all sat down for lunch and then broke for the day.

Stephanie with the clapper board

29th November 2007

My alarm went off for 9 am. I had a good nights sleep and I didn’t really want to get up. I stayed in bed for another 10 minutes before climbing out and getting dressed. I went over to the manor, so to have breakfast. I ate quickly and then got ready for the first scene of the day.

As Richard is away for most of the day, we only scheduled 2 scenes for today and to record Seth’s voiceover for the pub scene. The first scene is outside in the garden of the Merryfield Manor, where Ted and Martin are catching up and Alice and Jane are chatting. They are standing in different parts of the garden. The girls are standing by the kitchen door, while the boys are at the bottom of the garden.

It is a blustery day and the sun keeps dipping in and out of the clouds. Andy asks me what should the scene be - sunny or overcast? I go for sunny. Though this means that shooting has to stop every time the sun goes behind a cloud. It means a lot of waiting. Sod’s law, every time we set up the camera, put the actors into position, the sun is out. As soon as we get ready to turn over, the sun goes in behind a cloud and we have to wait for it to wait for it to come back out. We do get some long stretches of sunshine, but we also get long stretches of clouds.

In the middle of shooting this scene, Brendan had to leave. He had to go back to London for an interview. He was applying to work on another vampire film, this time set in the Philippines. Shauna drove him to the station, so to catch the train back home. It was sad to see him go, but I would see Brendan again once I got back home.

We shoot the second half of the scene first, with the girls chatting. I find a crate for Andy to stand on, so he can reach the camera when it is high up. Andy wishes we had found this crate earlier, as it would made his life so much easier.

Then we shoot the first half with the boys at the bottom of the garden. I decide to shoot the boys sitting on the rocks at the bottom of the garden. Looks great, but the actors have to keep their balance on them, as the rocks are not very flat. Shauna is helping with lugging equipment. She brings my monitor down to the bottom of the garden, but I decide not to use it. So Shauna has to lug it back to the kitchen.

Shauna and Sam waiting on the rocks

We eventually finish the scene about 2pm and break for lunch. Once we finish our food it is straight to the Farmhouse to shoot the second scene of the day. This scene is of Ted and Alice at home, receiving a phonecall from Jane inviting them to dinner.

We set up the first shot as a wide of Ted picking up the phone and talking to Jane. The phone is set up next to the front door and by a mirror. It takes a while to set up the camera and lights, so that nothing is reflected in the mirror. As we go along, we have to move the camera and lights to avoid those reflections.

Once we got the wide, we go in for closer shots of Adam and the phone. Andy and me take a while to set up each new shot. It obvious that we don’t have the experience or expertise that Richard has, but it is a learning experience.

We eventually finish shooting Adam’s shots and it is onto Pamela’s. She is sitting in the living room. Andy is having trouble lighting her. The problem is that it is about 3.30 pm and the sun is setting. So with every passing minute we are losing light from the windows. By the time Andy is happy with the lighting, it is dark outside. We roll the camera. Pamela turns to camera and says one line and then turns back to book she is reading. I call cut. Andy is shocked that the shot is so small. It took all that time to set up the lights for one line. Richard turns up to see the look on Andy’s face.

Shauna had gone to the train station to pick Richard up, while we were shooting in the farmhouse. When he got back, he came right round to see how we were doing. He got there just in time to see the last shot of the day. Richard took a look at what we were doing, saw that we were coping and left us to get on with shooting.

Once we shot Pamela, that was the end of the scene. It was Pamela’s last scene of the film. She was now wrapped. I don’t how it feels for an actor to finish their last scene. I guess a sense of relief and sadness that there will be no more scenes. This is how I have felt on previous shoots of mine. I wonder if that’s how I will feel tomorrow?

The sun is out! Quick shoot!

30th November 2007

I woke up this morning before my alarm went off. I lay there staring up at the ceiling. It was finally here. The day I had been looking forward to and dreading. The last day of the shoot. We only have 2 more scenes. 2 more scenes and that is it. There would be no more after today.

The alarm went off and I got out of bed. I had a quick wash and then got dressed. It was pissing down outside and we still had that brisk wind. Thank god we don’t have any scenes to shoot outside. I rushed over to the manor and had breakfast with the others. We had 3 people leaving today. Pamela, Marysia and Charlie. Marysia had a train to catch this afternoon and Charlie was driving home once we had finished shooting. Pamela left in the morning. She went round and said goodbye to everybody, and then Shauna drove her off to the station.

We set up the first scene, which was back in the dreaded bedroom. Though it was the last time we would be in here. It was also Marysia’s last scene. All she had to do was lie in bed asleep, while Ted bandage her wounds. Marysia was made up to be pale and then we did all of her the shots first. Once she was finished, she could get clean up. Then we shot the rest of the scene.

The problem we were having in there was the noise of the rain. Because there was a skylight in the ceiling, the rain was bouncing off it and making a horrible noise. Charlie wasn’t too pleased with it, but there was nothing we could do but wait for it to die down. It never stopped while we were shooting, but we wouldn’t shoot during the heavy bursts. Though apart from that we got through the scene pretty quickly and then Marysia could come in and get packed for her journey home.

The next and final scene was a dialogue scene in the living room with Martin and Kane. It follows on from the previous scene we just shot. Richard suggested shooting it in one continuos shot. Placing Kane in the foreground and Adam in the background and the camera would pull focus from one to the other. It would be tricky to shoot and the timing on the focus would have to be perfect. I wanted to do it. Make the scene different from everything else we had shot. I wanted to be daring.

Charlie wasn’t too happy. He couldn’t boom from one person to other in time to catch the dialogue. He had another boom mike, but the cradle was in disrepair. Somebody would have to hold it steadily, so it wouldn't make any noise. I volunteered for that job. I would boom Kane and Charlie would boom Adam. I practiced holding the mic, while Charlie listened to see if I was doing it properly. He was happy that I could.

While I was practicing, Andy set up the focus points and then used match stick so he could hit each point exactly and quickly. Richard went through the script and marked down when focus should change. What he was going to do was follow the script and cue Andy the focus change. It had to be quick and exact, otherwise the change would take place over dialogue, which doesn’t look good. It was real bare knuckle filmmaking. One mistake from either the camera department, the sound department or actors and that was the shot - the scene ruined. We all had to be on top of our game for this one.

Before shooting, we broke for lunch. We all sat down round the kitchen table for the last time. It was Francis’s last meal for us. Everybody was complementary to Francis. The final meal was really nice. Then we all said goodbye to Francis and I personally thanked her for all her cooking.

Once we finished eating, we went back to work. We wanted to get it done and finished. But before we could get into it, we had to say goodbye to Marysia. It was 1.30 pm and Marysia had to go and catch a train back to London, so she could attend a class this evening. Shauna was going to drop her off at the station. She went round the whole of the cast and crew, and gave all of us a big hug. As she waved goodbye, you could see that she didn’t want to go. But then she was gone. Another part of the family was gone.

I had no time to dwell on Marysia’s departure. We had a scene to shoot. We got into position and we did a take. It went well. There were no visible mistakes, but we watched the take just in case. Charlie was happy with the sound, but a focus pull had come into late. So we did it again and again and again. Sometimes the actors would make a mistake or the boom would come into shot or there would be a missed focus pull. But then at the end, we all pulled it off. A perfect take. I re-watched it on the monitor, just to make sure. We had nailed it. One more shot and we would be finished.

The final slate

The final slate of Blood + Roses is a wide shot from above looking down on Ted and Martin. Richard set the camera up quickly and we went through entire scene again. We did 3 takes of it and then that was it. It was a wrap on the whole film. I was filled with joy, relief and sadness as I shouted out “IT’S A WRAP!” Sam brought out a bottle of champagne and glasses and we all made a toast to the film. That was it. It was over.

Slate 329 was the final slate. I had a little bet with Ben that we would reach 350. Benjamin thought we wouldn’t get past 300. I guess I was the nearest.

We all drank our champagne and then we got busy packing everything away for tomorrow. Andy and Richard packed the camera and lighting equipment backed into their cases. Charlie packed his sound equipment away. Stephanie had been putting the manor back to the way we found it. She had also been packing all the props away and was now deciding what to keep and what to throw away. People were invited to take stuff that they wanted. I grabbed a few of the pictures and a glass ice bucket. Charlie wanted the soup ladle, that was used in all the kitchen scenes. I don’t know if anybody else took anything. If they did, they didn’t tell me.

Once Charlie was finished packing, he got ready to leave. Charlie went round to everybody and said his goodbyes. Then he put everything into his car and he was gone. I didn’t envy Charlie’s journey back home, as the rain was still lashing down. It doesn’t look like it is going to stop.

As I was tidying away some of the props, I found Charlie’s boom. I got on the phone and called Charlie to say that I had found it. He was busy driving, so he couldn’t really talk. He told me to keep hold of it for him and he would come round to my place to pick it up. I also found that the soup ladle had been left behind. I gathered up, so to give to Charlie.

We also said goodbye to Shauna. She was now free to go home. She went round everybody and said goodbye to everybody. She also handed out her business card for her production company, Medial Productions. Shauna asked us all to give her an email, when we had visited the site. Then after that another one was gone.

It didn’t take me long to pack my bags and round up my stuff. Richard took me through all my camera and lighting equipment, so to make sure that it was all there. It was. The guys had done an excellent job keeping everything in it’s right place. Richard then started packing his car. Everybody finished packing and we went out for a meal at 7.30pm.

It was a great evening. We all could relax now that it was over, including myself. We went drinking after the meal and didn't get back to Merryfield until late. The filming was finally finished. All I wanted to do now is sleep, sleep alot, but I had a long journey home in front me tomorrow.

The relief it's all over

Post Shoot

So I continued to document the making of this film after the cameras stopped rolling. We were in post production for just under 2 years. The first edit was completed in April 2008, after having to completely upgrade my entire editing system. (When you have to rotate every shot the right way round, it takes it toll on a slow computer) Watching this edit was painful. You put every shot, every scene into this edit and it just hurts to watch. You think you have a made an awful film. So you go back to the edit and you start going through it. Taking out what doesn't work and finessing what does work./p>

It was during the second edit of the film, that I decided that we needed a new start to the film. I felt that there wasn't enough screen time of Seth. I wanted to put in a prologue that would shine some light on Seth's character and his motiviation for turning Jane into a vampire. I went back to Ben Woodiwiss and he wrote many different versions of a prologue. We finally settled on the prologue that ended in the film./p>

So I was able to get Benjamin, Richard and Andy back for the 2 day shoot in London. I tried to get the rest of the crew back together, but they were all unavailable. So joining us were Helen Gant (Makeup), Samuel Awosoga (Sound), Wiliiam McLaughlan (Runner) and Matteo Prezioso (Stills). I had 2 new cast members join us - Elizabeth Knight (Lisa) and Axelle Carolyn (Mary). The location was a flat that was owned by Stephen Cartwright, friend and backer of the film. The shoot went very well and not only did we shoot in the flat, but we were also able to shoot a vista of London just as the sun was setting.

Once the prologue shoot was over it took another year to complete. A couple of months to get the final edit just right. Music had to be written for the film by Jon H. Orten. The film had to graded (or colour timed) by Rob Wickings. And the sound design and mix had to be done by Marcelo Fossé. This included getting cast back in to redub their lines. A lot of work went into getting the film finished, but on the 9th September we had the premiere of Blood and Roses.

Standing on top of the hill


We you get to this point you think that it's going to be easy. You finished the film, now it's just going to be downhill. I got reality check for the next year. The work on getting the film released was harder. Much harder.

Now I was always told that if you got a feature made, that it was like a golden ticket into the film industry. The way people made it out was that you make a feature, have it shown at load of festivals, get a distribution deal, and you could waltz into any job. Not true. For a start it was really difficult to get the film into a festival.

The film got it's first festival screening the following summer, close to a year since it's premiere. Then in the end it got shown in 3 festivals out of the 100 festivals I submitted the film to. Portobello Road Film Festival was the first, followed by Freakshow Horror Film Festival and finally Cornwall Film Festival. I was hoping to get into many more festivals. I applied. I contacted festival organisers. Handed out screeners. And the end I only got 3 festivals. I was gutted.

I was contacted by a few film distributors, the biggest being Ghosthouse Underground (a company set up by Sam Raimi), but none of them would pick it up. The problem for them was that it wasn't a straight horror, it wasn't a straight drama, it was a mix of the two and they weren't willing to take a chance on it. It also didn't help that I had taken so long to get the film completed that the bottom had fallen out of the indie market. Distributors weren't picking up as many titles as they used to because of the global crash. Also the Twilight films were coming out, and studios wanted vampire stories that would appeal to teens and not adults, which my film was very adult in nature.

And did it open doors for me in the industry. Kinda. During post-production I made a TV Pilot called Moving Forward. It was written and starred Benjamin Green with Matt Stokes and Catherine Adams. (See the Moving Forward essay for more details) I got to meet a lot of people and make new friends. But the film industry didn't through open it's doors to me. I applied for a lot of directing jobs, but I didn't get a single one. Everything I made afterwards was off my own back. I don't want to sound like "Whoah is me", but you have do have expectantions. The fact that I was able to create a feature and finish should count for something, but it didn't. The film industry can be a cruel mistress.

So what happened to the film you asked? I had to self distribute it. It's available on DVD and VOD in the states via - (It's a region free disc, so you can import it) It's available to stream on IndieFlix and Watchbox. And from time to time I put it up on YouTube for free. It has brought in some money, but nowhere enough to pay off the cost of making this film. (As I type this I still paying off the debts I incurred from making this film)

So in the end was it worth it. Yes. I made a feature film. A feature film that if you wanted, you watch right now. Nobody can take that away from me. Nobody. And I take the lessions that I learnt from the making of this film into the next one that I am currently making.