Young, High and Dead Film Blog


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YHAD shoot Marks it’s 1 year Anniversary - DAY 9

Day 9 - Tuesday 28th September 2010

We are up early despite another late night of minimal sleep. I feel awful this morning, cold sweats throughout the night and coughing. I ache all over and the last thing I want to do is get out of bed. Today are due to do a days shooting at our pub location, I am glad we don’t have to go to the forest today and that most of the day we will be warm and dry, this is just enough motivation to get me out of bed.

Once again the good ol van gets loaded again. The pub location is about a 30 minute drive from where we are, but is worth the journey. When scouting for this location, I must have seen about 50 pubs, none of them right for the film.  This was a really important location to get right and the second I saw it, I knew it had to be in the film.
I’m in the rickety red car with Portia, we make a quick stop to get sweetener, I need to replenish the fake drug bags. We arrive at the pub and are lucky enough to have a huge function room as our base, which is separate from the pub. The actors arrive soon after and so does Edward Law who is playing our pub landlord character. It’s not long before the cameras are rolling. Unfortunately we can’t use Edward at the moment as the pub is quite busy so we just get the shots from his POV. I have good feeling about today, we have about 12 pages to get through and a lot of dialogue but I’m feeling positive about the scenes and what we have to shoot. We have Thabo & Daniel on camera, Jonathan on sound and Portia as 1st AD. Whenever Portia is 1st AD’s we seem to get well over 10 pages, she has become our page count mascot and lucky charm in this role.

Andy the owner of “The Fountain Inn’ is really accommodating so we quickly get the first scene of the day done with Nigel. The pub has quite a few locals there so we explain what we are doing and that if any of them wish to be in the film they need to sign a release form. Its pure fluke they all agree and not one of them looks out of place, well why would they? They are locals after all.

Thabo and Dan get to work, getting lot’s of nice shots of Nigel. It’s supposed to be a slightly comical scene, it was the first scene I wrote for Nigel’s character ‘Gary’ and knew if done a certain way it would work. Nigel reliable as always makes the comedy go far, he totally utilises his surroundings and hits each moment with perfect timing.

We then head outside to get some external shots of the pub and Nigel arriving at the pub in Sam’s car. On the way down Sam’s car got a puncture, I only found this out after we shot the scene of NIgel pulling up in his car. It’s things like this that make you realise Sam has been the one dealing with all the stressful cock ups that had happened each day so we don’t have to worry about them. I would bet that there are many more that I am still not aware of.

We have a big scene to shoot before lunch which involves Nigels character revealing something for the rest of the group that he has in his car boot. It makes sense to shoot this quickly now and that should cover all the outside shots, the weather looks a bit moody so if stays dry for this scene then it doesn’t matter after that because everything else is to be shot inside. We are on quite  a busy country road so sound is tricky to get right. It’s a lengthy dialogue scene but all the cast get the scene down quite quickly, we get a few hand held shots and we are done. David & Gemma have already taken everyone’s lunch orders, today as we are having a lunch at the pub, I for one am extremely excited and looking forward to this, I opt for the easy but biggest thing I have been craving all week a simple cheese burger and chips and with a super malt  and it goes down so well.

After lunch we jump straight into getting our next big scene which is where Hannah, Matthew, Philip & Louisa meet Nigel at the pub. We get all of Edwards shots done straight away, it’s a really simple job for such a great actor like Edward and I feel bad that he’s travelled far for a short time on set, but I have no regrets with his performance, he brings a lot to the role without over doing it. I know these scenes are going to cut really well in the edit.

With two camera units we seem to be flying though these shots. I still feel like a calm Director and despite being up against a fast schedule everyone appears to be handling everything easily. The rest of the afternoon is spent getting more group dialogue, I play about with some of the dialogue and we also include some improvisation. With everyone nodding that the picture and sound is good once again we move on. I think having done so much filming in the forest and outside all internal shots feel like a luxury. None of today feels like hard work.

The final scene in the pub is a tricky one, it’s where Louisa is in the bathroom upset after Philip’s character makes fun of her. It’s cramped being in the ladies bathroom, so there is only room for Jonathan, Daniel, Louisa, Hannah & Me. This is one of them moments where I know we won’t get loads of takes, I want the Louisa in the scene to be really upset, all actors deal with crying scenes in different ways and today we have been having so much fun I know Louisa isn’t anywhere near upset. We try a few times but Louisa and I know it’s not where it needs to be. She want to go and get tear sticks to help her cry but I don’t allow it, for me personally just because someones eyes are watering that’s not enough to register what’s really happening. I take Louisa to one side privately and shortley after we turn over. This will be one take only on this and as I call action in a few seconds it all comes wrenching out of her. Hannah & Louisa get through the scene and I think we got it. Daniel nods happy with the visuals, Jonathan edges slight concern about the sound in such a confined space. I quickly decide that there isn’t much we can do about that and that hopefully the performance will be what counts with this scene.

I go see Louisa and she’s still really upset. The thing with actors who really connect and commit is that if they actually go through these emotions for real, it’s not easy to just suddenly switch off. This is testament to how great Louisa is as an actress and that with the right sort of guidance she can go anywhere in a scene. I take her to one side and I unravel my notes from her head. It’s important as a Director to help get actors both in and out of a state, in a few moments we are both laughing and joking, she’s still a bit shaken but I know she’s proud of what she did, we didn’t result to any trick or tear sticks, when you see that scene she is genuinly upset and it reads just so.

After a long but fun day, we all treat ourselves to a couple of drinks in the pub (we couldn’t go all that way and not have  abeer!). We take lot’s of pictures and relax for a while. It’s so nice to all sit around chatting with no shots lingering around the corner.

We head back and are at the accommodation before it even gets dark.I think the few drinks we had got most peoples taste buds going, I know I had quite a few beers that evening. We data wrangle all the days footage and have a snack. It’s quite late before we get to bed and tomorrows schedule is really busy again. By this point of the shoot my voice is on tipping point one minute it’s fin and the next it feels like it’s going. I am feeling extremely tired too and know that having an off day could put the film in jeopardy. On top of a few beers I dose up on cough medicine and slap on some Vics I don’t want another sleepless night. My suitcase is now unpacked because I seem to have run out of clothes. I’m not sure if this counts? I guess I need to do some washing tomorrow.



YHAD shoot Marks it’s 1 year Anniversary - DAY 7

Day 7 - Sunday 26th September 2010

I rise from bed and the sun is beaming through the window, Im really tired today, it was another late night trying to figure out the schedule, but without any of the big arguments. With Daniel still back in London we are a man down again, but today should be highly productive. Thabos is 1st AD today with Portia on Sound and Jon Directing, plus I will be shooting the second unit if needed.

We load the van again and make an early start. Today we have two locations to get done, we need to get all the final shots of Lara’s scenes as this is her last day on the shoot. The schedule is largely based around her stuff so we have to get all her shots done today. First we head to the new location that I found the day before. Sam clears the location, thankfully the road is private land so we have free reign over the entire location, how lucky is that?!

Today we have lots and lots of small scenes at various points of the script, lots of running about scenes and a few action sequences. In some shots Louisa has to run about with a giant hunting knife. I have two large knives and both are real, sharp and extremely dangerous. My first task is to blunt and make them safe. I whip out the angle grinder and grind the edge of the blades flat, sparks fly everywhere and I can sense my cast all watching thinking this fucking guy has lost the plot, if he’s not chopping down trees or waving axes about he’s cutting or grinding metal. This is not normal behaviour for any film Director I’m sure, but then again this isn’t a normal shoot either.

I actually love this, it gives me something to focus on that I enjoy doing, I love making things and love DIY so grinding metal is a good way for me to clear my mind before directing. I round the tip of the blade and attempt to stab myself with the large knife, great no blood or holes in my belly, I run the blade firmly along my arm, brilliant no blood I call Louisa over who gingerly approaches. I show her the blade, she’s clearly not as excited about the knife as I am but she tests it out and is happy it’s safe to use as a prop.

Gemma found the chain yesterday, which I immediately spray with several different shades of silver to give it a galvanised look. It looks really great. As soon as it’s dry, we get Louisa chained up, It’s a big weight off her mind to be using a fake chain, as it would have been impossible to run with a real chain.

This morning is not a huge page count so we whizz through the shots, Lara and Louisa make a great team, and Lara again could not be anymore perfect. I get some amazing cutaway shots of her screaming into the camera (you may recognise this pic).

It really feels like we have a slick operation happening, we’ve split both camera’s up so we can get through the shots much quicker. It’s hard not being their to over see everything but I trust my crew. We get an amazing shot of David running towards the car in the rear view mirror, it’s one take and it’s timed perfectly, David is so fast at running which adds to the fear factor in the shots. David is making my main killer really creepy it looks effortless. Today Davids not feeling too well he has a touch of flu, but is so dedicated he presses on, I think he’s more unwell than he’s letting on.

In about 3 hours ish we’re done so we quickly pack up and head back to the forest.My aunt and uncle live in the village around the corner and have turned up to the forest with home made leek and potatoe soup, with loads of crusty bread. All the veg is from the allotment, it’s gotten quite cold today so this is a real treat for us. She’s even thrown in a load of home made rock cakes! She looks a bit concerned for me as by this point in the day my voice is croaking really bad, Iv’e lost a lot of weight too and look really gaunt. Iv’e not eaten a huge amount I guess I’m just burning off way more calories than I’m taking in. My other cousin Carly, her husband Tim and their son Finlay pop by the forest to say hello, another nice surprise. I’m glad they have turned up on a relatively sane day unlike earlier in the week.

Lara and her mum have driving really far about a two hour journey so I don’t want to keep them here late. I aim to get Lara’s stuff done by 4pm. We have a quick bit to eat, and quicklys et up for shots of Lara running about a bit. She looks so great running about we make the shots as fun for her as possible by turning everything we do into a game. She gets a little tired so we give her a break. Thabo Jon & Portia get some shots of David and Louisa running.

In the next main scene we need to hold one of the large hunting knives to Lara’s throat, I show the blunted knife to Lara’s mum and she seems fine with it. Before letting Lara see it I talk to her about film making and how they make weapons look real in films but in actual fact they are perfectly safe. I show her the knife and get her to poke me with it to show it doesn’t hurt and cannot do any harm. Any strangers watching would be calling the police no doubt. This poor kid is going having to do some bizarre things. Lara seems a little tired and isn’t sur eshe want’s to do the scene. I tell her that’s it’s totally fine and she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to. I tell her she’s the boss and is in charge of us so, I don’t put any pressure on her, I just sit there and play a few games with her and her mum. It’s not long before she gets bored of me talking and decides she wants to do more filming. She’s the boss so I don’t argue. We quickly get the camera’s ready, tehse are her final shots and the window for this could be short. She has no problem with the knife, David is great with her and we get some really great shots.

Lara is done for the day and it’s sad she’s leaving, she tells me she’s had lot’s of fun and that she wishes she could do more. We get a few pictures taken with her and all say our farewells. She’s a genuine talent for such a young kid. I don’t know how many kids would let me tape up their mouth tie them up in a sack, get chased my a big man weilding an axe, and get a knife held to their throat. Never work with children? Whatever!

We retreat back to the caravan as it begins to drizzle. Louisa is done for the day but I have one more important scene to get involving David, Hannah & Philip. Everyone is tired and poor Philip has been waiting all afternoon for this scene, David’s cold is getting worse. He doesn’t look well and I’m worried about him now. The rain is on and off. I give them all the option individually to see if they want to do this, we have just about enough light to get it done as the sun will go down in about an hour. They are all up for it, It’s gonna be hard going as this is a major running scene. I have a route worked out it’s  afull sprint handheld long take, with David chasing Hannah & Philip and me. I’m gonna grab the camera as i know exactly what I want to get, we only carry the bare essentials and all head off into the forest. WIth the camera set, on our marks go…..

We are running full pelt, David is so fast we really have to run to get away, this is actually quite scary stuff, Philip nearly slips but manages to stay up somehow, we head fast and deeper into the forest and jump into 4 foot high bracken, It’s dark in this point of the forest and David’s torch pans near us, the footage looks great, Philip and Hannah and me hide. as David follows behind as Philip, Hannah and me creep further into the forest, with the camera still rolling we get the scene done. We don’t have a walkie talkie and have been running for a long time we can’y see anyone but can hear everyone in the distance, I think they are just the other side of this dense part of the forest. It’s really tricky to manouvre through all this and we get kind of stuck, we are surrounded by thick brambles, Hannah only has leggings on and will get scratched to hell, I don’t want to go back the way we came, In all honesty I’m a bit lost all the running and filming has me disorientated. I hand Philip the camera and Hannah hops on my back, this part of the forest is really dense but finally we make out way out and back onto a path everyone else is there, phew. Hannah’s wieghs next to nothing but I’m absolutely knackered, running & carrying another person, this is like training for the army.

The sun as all but gone time for a quick cigarette and a check of the footage. The scene looks great but hold on a minute, wheres the sound? I glance at the camera and notice a switch on the side, it’s off. Fuck, after a brief panic, I decide we can get away with it as this will all be lined up to music anyhow, if I need any dialogue I can ADR it at a later date. There is no-way I could do all that again.Thank goodness it was me who messed, I’m not likely to shout at myself. I realise at this point that the past two day’s have been so different since Dan’s wise words. He’s back tomorrow and I can’t wait to show him what a slick happy crew we have become.

Back to the accomodation and Nigel and Matthew have had the day off so we have a few beers and catch up. David gets an early night, I hope he feels better tomorrow. Then it’s back to that bloody schedule, It’s getting easier though now that we have got well over half the film shot.

I fall asleep as soon as my head hit’s the pillow, The suitcase is well and truly forgotten today.


YHAD shoot Marks it’s 1 year Anniversary - DAY 4 

To mark a year since our shoot each day we will release a new blog documenting each day of the shoot from Luke’s (Writer/Director) POV.

Day 4 - Thursday 23rd September 2010

As I rise early again at 6:00am with just 3 nights of about 3 hours sleep, each night is now beginning to catch up with me. I don’t have as much energy today but after getting so much done yesterday I’m positive today should be alright. The only thing slightly concerning thing discussed last night was that the weather report for today was supposed to be quite bad with potential downpour all day. But when have the weather people ever got it right?

In a zombie like trance I head for the kettle and glance outside, fog and mist blankets everywhere I look through the cabin’s windows, It looks like it’s been raining quite heavily too. As groans and yawns bounce around the cabin the rest of the waking dead rise to join me, perhaps we shouldn’t have had so many beers to celebrate last night, I mean it wasn’t like we’d split the atom or even finished the damn film yet.

We go about our normal daily routine of loading the van and getting ourselves washed and ready, as I step outside I notice how the sky is really dark and looks like it threatens to downpour any second, I think to myself that anything we get done today will be a miracle, I truly hope that this clears up and that it at least stays dry for us to get something down on camera. We don’t need brilliant sunshine we just need for it to be dry.

Today we plan to shoot a whole bunch of scenes where the main characters wake up after their night of drink and drugs, a slightly ironic parody I fear, judging by the various shades of bleary red eyes sauntering around the cabins. As an additional parallel to our day this scene is a main turning point in the film as well as us as film makers, we need to balance out this page count today, we need to get a minimum of 9 pages down. It’s also the first time all the main cast are together as a whole group and this particular section of the script will most certainly put them all through their acting paces, this will be a difficult days shoot no matter what happens weather wise.

The actors get into make up at the accommodation as the crew and I head off to the forest. We are on the road for only a short period of time when the rain begins to fall, in a matter of minutes it gets harder and harder, the windscreen wipers are now going full speed. This is not good, this is a bloody disaster.

En route we discuss that even if it does stop raining, the ground is going to be drenched and might look odd on camera and that it won’t match up with the footage we had shot previously, I am hoping that if it stops now we might still be able to get some footage shot. The plan for Co Directing today is both Daniel & Jonathan, with Thabo on Sound and poor Portia has been asked to 1st AD again after doing such a great job yesterday.

We arrive at the forest and lucky for us we have another set of hands to help us out, Chloe a daughter of someone my girlfriend works with has come down for two days to get experience on a film set, I am not quite sure what she is expecting but I know she will be shocked by the amount of stuff she’s going to have to do carry and move about. We quickly unload everything and begin to make the various journeys back and forth to the second camp area further into the forest where we shot the second day’s clips. Even during the day it’s quite dark in the forest, an omen of the bleak mood about to descend on our film. The rain doesn’t let up and begins to thrash down, even in this dense forest we are getting soaked so we quickly get our giant gazeebo up ready to try and keep things dry. By now the actors have arrived and are waiting back at Richard & Dianes caravan, they all agree that they are happy to hold off until the rain stops. Due to the muddy boggy ground sliding beneath our feet, shifting stuff about and setting up is a very slow process, we don’t want anyone to fall over or hurt themself and with no sign of the rain easing off decisions need to be made about what to do.

As I stand at the camp and look about my heart sinks, this is a disaster. It’s absolutely pissing down and the weather had rain forecast all day for tomorrow. The one time the bastards get the weather report right, and the first full day that we plan to shoot in the outside in the forest. Everyone is in a bad mood now mainly because they are drenched through and having sore heads from the night before only adds to the storm that’s brewing amongst the crew. I feel physically tired and my mind is not focused. Tempers begin to flare and everyone begins to get on each others nerves. It’s a long way to be carrying stuff from the van let alone during a mini monsoon. Time for a rethink and regroup.

Sam, Dan Portia, Thabo, Jonathan and I stop to discuss the day. Firstly we all agree that there is no way we are going to get any filming done and decide it’s best to send the actors back to the accommodation. Shooting in a forest is difficult and dangerous enough so we cannot afford to risk any cast or crew getting hurt or ill, the same goes for our equipment, if one person or piece of equipment fails we are double screwed. Everything and everyone is fully insured but thats not an option we want to go down with such a low budget shoot, plus no insurance company will pay out if we do anything stupid and take unnecessary risks. It wasn’t an easy decision because everyone knew the knock on effect this would have on the rest of our schedule, after such a great day yesterday today is the exact opposite. I feel defeated and like any loser in a battle pride and confidence has taken a severe kicking, these wounds won’t heal quickly and could scar the film permanently.

After letting the cast go, we regroup to discuss the shoot as a whole, with everyone in a bad mood now included myself it wasn’t long before big arguments started, the main dissagreement being talks of aiming to shoot just 75% of the film. I flip my lid big time, and quite literally go ape shit. Upon reflection it was totally logical to be realistic about the fact that it would be impossible to get the full schedule done at this point. But I wasn’t in anyway whatsoever going to be realistic about amputating a chunk of the film, at this point I dug my Director diva heels into the mud and went fucking mad. In a blind rage I vaguely remember arguing that I didn’t set off to make 3/4 of a film. That if we didn’t get it all done we might as well not bother at all and all go home. Everyone could tell how gutted and angry I was, they all were dissapointed too, they were just being more realistic than I was, seeing my film crumble down in front of me was not something I had prepared for and as the arguments heated to a peak where we couldn’t shout at each other anymore, we naturally hit that exhauseted wall and came back down to earth, nothing had changed it was still raining so a new approach was needed, it was time to cool down and get some individual space.

After my rant and a much needed cigarette I felt much better. I still felt cheated, years worth of work all hanging in the balance because of the flipping weather ( I hate England right now) and I hate all other film makers who have enough money to not let this sort of thing ruin their shoot, I hate this forest and I hate myself for being so stupid to think we could get 90 pages done in ten days. But it’s time to put all that to one side, we need ideas and solutions. Firstly we decided to try and find a different part of the forest that was more sheltered, if we could find somewhere more sheltered we might still be able to shoot tomorrow, Dan and I went off and so did everyone else in pairs on the hunt for a more reliable location.

Dan is the best person to be around when things are shit, I have known him since university so after ten years he knows how to get my mind back on track, his words are like a soothing cup of herbal tea in your ears. We discussed lots of things about the shoot and ideas about how we can continue forwards. We couldn’t find anywhere suitable though for a new location so we headed back to the second camp. It’s now approaching mid afternoon and collectively we decide something that was the make or break of the whole film.

We noticed that behind where we had originally shot the second camp the area was really well sheltered, it shared the same pathway in and out of camp and mirrored what we had already set up. Maybe and just maybe, the audience will never notice if we flip the whole camp 180 degrees. It looked pretty similar and with the props in the right place for continuity we could probably make it work. I the hell have none of us noticed this before! We all feel pretty stupid and a few smiles crack amongst the group. Only one tall problem though. Right where Nigel’s character had previously stacked wood to build a fire in a scene we shot yesterday was a 50ft high tree. This is a major continuity issue with only two options, we either re-shoot some of the setting up camp scene or I we have to find somewhere else to shoot.

We all stood looking at this tree, such a shame as otherwise it would be prefect. We could rig up ground sheets high up into the trees to keep the set dry, so even if it did rain tomorrow we could still shoot stuff, if only that tree wasn’t in the way……….

Tree Felling YHAD STYLE

Click the picture above to view the video.

It took about 2 hours of constant chopping and was extremely dangerous and scary, but after we fell that tree, we felt like we could do anything. One of the best team building exercises on a set ever and just what I needed to let out all my frustration. We all felt like we had worked together to overcome a big obstacle, 50 foot is quite big so we had every right to be happy with ourselves. After the tree came down, we rigged up groundsheets about 20 foot above the set with 4 large ones all linked together with cable ties. This is why it’s worth bringing lots of random stuff to a shoot. My giant axe was needed, my pliers, eyelets, cordless drill, saw, giant ladder. rope. You name it we used it.

Even if it did rain tomorrow our set would be dry and we could still get a whole days filming done at this location. It came to the end of the afternoon and we packed up for the day, tomorrow will be an epic day with tons to do. Rest is definitely needed and my shoulders, back, arms and legs ache like hell from all that chopping. My hands have loads of blisters but it was worth doing.

We head back to the accommodation ready to plan for the next day, even though it wasn’t an entirely wasted day everyones mood was still quite low after all the arguing and stress. With no data wrangling we had dinner a few beers to unwind and headed for bed the earliest nights sleep so far. I feel bad for rowing and bad for Chloe’s on set experience which only taught her how to argue, carry stuff and chop down a tree, she must think we are all absolutely mental. This is just the sort of on set experience that could put someone off film making for life. In a few days time we need to throw about some fake glass, so I fill a load of ice cube trays with translucent sealant, once it sets in a few days it will look like chunks of broken glass (hopefully).

I once again look at my suitcase at the foot of my bed, but haven’t the strength to be lifting it up and unpacking it. It will keep for one more day.


YHAD shoot Marks it’s 1 year Anniversary - Day 3

Continued blog of last years shoot to mark it’s 1 year anniversary

Day 3 Wednesday 22nd September 2010

Despite another late night I wake up feeling charged for today. So far everyone seems to be relatively happy, each day so far the real world seems to move further and further away from me and I become more and more immersed in the film, it’s amazing to see the scenes that I wrote come to life, for split moments I allow myself to enjoy this.

We have a system now where we make our lunch the night before, we fill our giant hot flasks with tea and coffee as today will be the first whole day we spend in the forest, it’s also the first time all the 5 main cast are together. The night before we set ourselves an ambitious schedule, if we can get most of it done we will have caught up on page count. Today we have Thabo Co Directing, Daniel on Sound, Portia as 1st AD and Jonathan helping out anyone who needs it. Sam as always is making various trips to make sure we have enough food, money, and he’s busy setting up the next schedule as well as looking for a new location.

As the cast go into make up at the acommodation we load the van and cars and head back to the forest. Its about a 20 minute drive to the location so we use this time to go through shots and set ups etc. An extra nice surprise today is that a friend of Gemma’s is going to join us to help out as an assistant - David Courtneidge. Once we arrive everyone gets straight to work unloading the van and setting up camp. We also had to go and retrieve everything we chained up the night before, whilst everyone does this Thabo and I head off into the forest to plan out our locations and shot list.

It’s easy to get lost in this forest and one of my favourite things about this location is that it never fails to surprise you. Whilst heading slightly off our normal route we discover a new part of the forest, straight away we agree to shoot one of the scenes here. The plan is for Thabo, Daniel and me to go with the cast and shoot all the scenes where the characters arrive at the forest including some impro footage, hopefully by the time we get back everything will be set up so we can shoot the groups scene where they all set up camp.

Daniel Fenton came up with a great weeks ago on a recce to split the camp locations, basically when the group arrive they set up camp in a part of the forest that looks nice and more open with huge pine trees, he suggested that when the group wake up aftera  night of drink and drugs they awake to find themselves in a darker, damper and colder part of the forest, in the script they awake in the early hours of the morning so it works great. We therefore have to have two different camps, one thats near to the forest entrance a 30 second walk the other where we were the night before. Today we are shooting at the near camp so we won’t have half the trouble shifting and moving boxes etc.

With various people armed with the all important walkie talkies and the cast arriving we quickly go through what we plan to do and Thabo, Dan & I take the cast deep into the forest. Just how it would be in the script they have to carry stuff so it’s quite nice to see our actors lugging stuff too. Thabo doesn’t hold back and shoots super fast, he knows what he wants so we move really quickly through the scenes, Dan on sound with his shades on even makes holding a boom look cool. I too am really happy with my notes and the performances we are getting, Luckily the sun stays consistent and all the shots look amazing. Off camera we are all having as much fun as when the camera is rolling. This is the first time that not only do I see how close my characters are as a group but how well the actors are getting on. This could be such a different atmosphere but this is the moment when I know I have the perfect cast for YHAD.

After locking down the scenes we head back to camp, we decide to do the entire journey back with the camera still rolling and the group all staying in character. Impro is tricky one it can either go really well or really wrong, there is rarely anything inbetween. Hannah, Louisa, Philip, Nigel & Matthew pull it out the bag, they create ideas and dialogue that I could never come up with, stuff thats true to the story and feels real. Heading back we had a blast, completely free from any script or structure. I think everyone enjoyed this a lot.

We get back to camp and stop for a quick lunch, whilst everyone finishes dressing the camp area for our main scene.

We get a few shots of David Partridge’s shot for the top of the scene. It’s a breeze for David and the footage looks great. Easy stuff.

I sit down with the cast and we rehearse the main part of the scene over and over, I make adjustments to smooth out some of the clunky writing, The comedy in the scene is really working with everyone is laughing and joking. It’s a big scene and we have lots to cover but we will be shooting with two camera units for this one and pretty much non stop until we have covered everything. I grab the other camera and we get started. We seem to run like clock work, shooting quickly and I get my notes out fast and concise. As each take goes on the scene gets better and better.

For YHAD in most cases we shoot scenes in their entirety, This ensured that if we did run out of time we would have minimum coverage so the film could be edited. We also shot the whole film hand held which allowed us to set up and change shots in seconds. The afternoon is a great success, Portia does an amazing job as 1st AD, we never see Dan as he shadows in the background rolling sound. Jonathan and the rest of the team whizz about making sure we have everything and that everyone is looked after. Thabo and i have a quick discussion about coverage and we agree this scene is locked down. Kapow, we smashed the shit out of that.

Feeling double pleased with ourselves we have one more scene to shoot and thanks to everyone we are bang on time. We just need to wait for darkness to arrive so we can shoot the scene where Matthew, Nigel & Philip discover something in the bushes.

As the guys rehearse we pack away evrything thats not needed. As soon as weve got these shots we wanna get home asap for a late dinner. As the sun dips the bugs come out, big bugs and flying beetle I never have seen before. We become a beacon for every living creature in the forest with our giant torches, everyone tops up on deet, this needs to be quick before we all get bitten to hell. David has had a lot of waiting around today for only two small scenes so we shoot his stuff first. Like an absolute trooper her is happy to be creeping about the dense forest in the pitch black. The shots look really good so we get a bit more coverage than needed, thankfully David exits the forest intact.

We crack on with the final shots of the three guys. it’s quite late so we decide to run this in one long take, no need to keep clapping. David Courtneidge is in charge of holding a reflector whilst we shine a torch at it to bounce some light onto the three guys. All the bugs go for the light and David keeps it still whilst we roll despite all sorts of horrible things crawling over him and biting him.We have a few false starts due to sound but we get the shots. Its really late but everyones pretty tired so we wrap for the day. It doesn’t take long to load the van and we head back.

Natalie & Bogi her make up assistant have a hot dinner ready for our arrival, what a  great way to finish a hectic day. Tomorrow is going to be busy again and Sams schedule looks great. Hannah’s first episode was on tv with her starring in ‘The Inbetweeners’ Sam got her a bottle of champagne to celebrate, after a brief catch up with my cast I go back to my crew to have some well deserved beers.

With the data wrangling already going, we do a quick page count. We did 5 scenes, about 11 pages, if we can do this every day it might just be possbile to actually get the whole film done. It’s another late night but everyone is in good spirits. Once again I climb into bed with the suitcase looking at me all neglected.


YHAD shoot Marks it’s 1 year Anniversary - DAY 2

Day 2

My alarm buzzes away it feels like I have only slept for about 3 hours. I glance at the time it’s 6:00am and I HAD only slept for 3 hours. I head straight for the shower, and run through the first eventful day/evening.

Upon returning from our triumphant 1st days shoot Sam gave us bad news about a main location falling through. One we were due to shoot today. It knocked our entire schedule out for the entire 10 days. Sam worked so hard drawing up a ‘doable’ and complex schedule now it was gone. It ment that over the next 8 or 9 days we need to find a new location to shoot all our country lane scenes. But it’s way more complicated than just that, we need to shut off a road for some stunts and action scenes. Plus all the cast had their days off scheduled and oh my I need to stop thinking about it.

I click on the ever trusty kettle, no tea this morning it’s coffee all the way, so tired and it’s only the second day! Portia, Sam Dan Thabo and I were up really late working out which scenes we would shoot and all the logistics. It took ages because it’s not as easy as just randomly picking another scene, We didn’t have Nigel Boyle (Gary) or our other main member of the group until the afternoon and neither Su Elliot or David Partridge (Mrs Venner & Charlie Venner) so we had to be careful what we shot in the morning. Lots of the other locations were not available until specific days like the pub scene and the petrol station. So we sat up very late trying to figure it all out, everyone was stressed and annoyed that something like this could potentially stop us from getting the whole film shot especially if we lost a lot of time. By 3am though we finally had a list of scenes and shots that we could do for today and still keep our page count high. We only had 10 days to shoot so we need to shoot at least 9 pages a day on average. Doesn’t sound a lot but for in the world of film 9 pages (all equal to a minute of screen time) is a huge amount to do especially if you want to get lots of different shots etc.

Also my Brother Jon who is also Co directing won’t be down to join us until tomorrow, that extra pair of hands would make a huge difference.

All the crew start to get ready, I haven’t even had time to unpack my suitcase, I’ll leave that till later. We snack on breakfast and begin to check list equipment we need and load the van. Everyone greets each other with a bleary eyed yawn, not much talking going on, after last night we are tired of talking.

Natalie our make up artist will get everyone ready at the accommodation first. Whilst we head to our first location at Pretty’s Petrol station in Ashurst. All good horror films have a petrol/gas station stop it’s text book writing HA.

Portia is Co Directing today with Thabo on sound and Daniel as 1st AD. Portia and i discuss the shots in the van, it’s a shame we didn’t have anytime the previous night.

We arrive after a short journey noticing an epic amount of roadworks heading the opposite way (must plan a different route back). We begin to set up as Portia and I go through the shot set ups. We cheekily hop over a fence to use the pub opposite’s garden as a green room. Lets hope they are in a good mood when they wake up to discover a bunch of filmakers have set up camp.

Portia is Co Directing today with Thabo on sound and Daniel as 1st AD. Portia and i discuss the shots in the van, we have quite a lot to do today to be in with a fighting chance of completing the film in the ten days, the pressure is on for Portia to work fast and get her vision set for this scene it’s a great location but the better the location the more you want to shoot so she has to be very selective of the shots and coverage that she’s going to get.

When the cast arrive we jump straight in firstly getting a wide on the car arriving. Then we hopped inside to do the internal scene. Rob Lyndon does a great job as our weird Petrol Station attendant ( a role well beneath his acting skills, sad there wasn’t more for him to do) and Philip and Matthew are solid in a lengthy dialogue scene. Before we started filming Philip and Matthew rehearsed a lot then showed me what they had prepped, we adjusted some of the clunky dialogue and figured out the actions/timings.

We were getting some great footage but the clock was against us so we had to whizz through the scene. I begin to think that maybe this kind of time pressure is not feasible. Especially as my notes now need to be streamlined and fast so as not to hold anyone else up, everyone is working so fast but to get enough coverage and different shots it’s tough going.Ideally we would have a whole day at this location instead of 3 hours.

During filming an angry pub land lady wasn’t so chirpy, but with some sweet talking on Daniel & Sams part she agreed to let us stay, phew. Her dog seemed happy we were there though!

Thabo had to do a lot of tricky work with a boom pole in a shop with very stacked shelves, it was hard to get the sound close enough without getting in shot. Plus we had a few re-starts due to heavy traffic noise coming from the road. The shots we got look great but do we have enough to cut the scene, it’s a close call and time is running short. We decide to move on 80% confident that we’ve got everything.

I feel bad for Portia as I know she felt rushed but the stuff she got looks great so I’m happy.

Sam arranges for cabs to pick up our cast and meet us at our next location in the forest in Brockham. Opposite the forest is a family who have kindly agreed to let us use a caravan as a green room and their facilities. On a shoot with our budget glamour goes out the window, soon basic needs become luxuries as you will soon discover. We rock up at the Small holding opposite the forest and set up the caravan, Richard & Diane are the owners, and have been really helpful since we found the location, unbeknown to us they will often save our bacon over the coming 9 days.

First thing to do is to set up a base in the forest by where we are filming. Location is key and finding the right spot in a forest is not as easy as it sounds. Lucky for us we had done plenty of recce’s in this forest and knew it well. Not so lucky was the fact that the perfect spot for us to shoot today’s scenes was not near! A good 7 or 8 minute walk with not so easy access and we had a whole Van full of stuff to move. For a crew of 40 you could do it in one trip but theres five of us. SO it’s lots of back and forth. Carrying boxes of so much stuff. It takes just under an hour to get everything there before setting up. WOW that was hard going, we are gonna struggle to do that every morning and after shooting.We need more hands on deck!

The first scenes for the afternoon are slow to get going, Nigel needed to have some sfx make up applied to his hand and working out the logistics of what we had to shoot was very time consuming.

Good Ol dad arrived in his cab with Su Elliot & David Partridge (Mrs Venner & Charlie Venner), I think they picked up Nigel Boyle (Gary) too, by this point so much is going on it’s difficult to keep up. We also had Paddy my parents dog on set (playing the role of Paddy) who had one scene to do. He seemed very happy to be stuck in a cold damp forest, he enjoyed plenty of attention too from everyone. With everyone stinking of Jungle spray and a large amount of set dressing we were finally ready to start shooting. I won’t say what we did as it’s bound to give stuff away, but we got some great footage, Portia, Dan & Thabo pulled out all the stops we feel like we got a lot of pages down. Gemma our Production Assistant worked non stop and Natalie did some amazing sfx make up on Su Elliott, we over ran and it started to get dark, with no lights it’s touch and go if the footage will match up. We won’t know until we check the rushes.

Even Paddy the dog does a one take wonder, he is normally incredible disobedient but today he did exactly as he was told, even hitting a mark not bad for an untrained dog. Never work with animals? Rubbish.

On the final shot Louisa hurts her ankle, I gave her a note without really thinking and she did what I said and plenty more. I didn’t expect her to go so mad, it looked great on camera and everyone was shocked to see her do it and I didn’t realise she was hurt until a few minutes later when someone came over to inform me. Like the multi tasking man I am I am also the only first aider on set. How fucking ironic the only time I need to use this stuff taught and it’s on my own film. All the immediate negative thoughts flash through my brain as I imagine the worst case scenario and an end to Louisa being on set. Louisa is upset and clearly in pain, I take of her shoe and get to work. She appears to be fine but is struggling to walk fully on her leg. Then out of the blue her good friend Jason Maza turned up, Jason and I helped Louisa out of the forest, by this point Jason definitely lifted her spirits and she was oon laughing and joking like normal, They headed back to the accommodation to get some rest. It was definitely not broken but I told Louisa & Jason to get Sam to take them to hospital if it gets any worse.

The sun very quickly disappears and suddenly we realise it’s very dark. We quickly get the rest of the cast out of the forest and begin to pack the gear back to the van. We only manage one trip before it’s pitch black and the torches come out. I’m not scared of the dark but on these trips more often than not you are on your own and this old forest is really fucking scary, You take a lot of comfort when you see a torch in the distance and hear familiar voices.

After several trips we decide to chain up the tents and easily replaced props in the forest. It’s really late and we still have to figure out tomorrows schedule as well as eat.

The drive back is relaxed and everyone is in good spirits, I am worried about Louisa’s ankle. If she is injured and cannot shoot anything else the film is well and truly DEAD.

We get back to the accommodation and Natalie has done dinner, wow it’s nice to get a hot meal, I realise that I hadn’t eaten all day! Today flew by and when we count the pages despite shooting so much we realise we are down on pages we only did about 6 pages. Not good, it now means we have a lot more to shoot and the page count has gone up. We had very complicated action shots today and the footage we got is great. As we finish dinner and start capturing all the footage, we notice some shots might not match up. It got too dark at the end. On a good note Louisa is totally fine her ankle is a tad bruised but otherwise fine and Jonathan my brother has arrived. Now we just need to figure out what we are gonna shoot tomorrow. Lot’s of raised voices and disagreements. It’s 3:00 am again before I crawl into bed, speckled with fake blood and stinking of Jungle spray, I set my alarm and look at my suitcase.

I will definitely unpack you tomorrow!


YHAD shoot Marks it’s 1 year Anniversary

On this very day exactly 1 year ago the first day of priciple photography started on ‘Young, High and Dead’. To mark this occasion I thought I would blog each day of the shoot and what happened including all the things that went right and wrong. Well everything that I can remember that is……

Day 1

I wake up uber early It’s Monday the 20th of September and after 9 months of pre production, 18 months of re-drafting the script there’s no turning back. I get up and do my two most important chores to start the day, I stick the kettle on and have a fag. My dad is a black cab driver so has kindly got up super early to pick up our cast (who are dotted all over London) and bring them to the first location i,e my very own bedroom. Now before you all freak out and moan how cheap that is, yes it’s cheap but weirdly the location actually fits the characters and was what I had in mind for my two characters John (Philip Barantini) & Jenny (Louisa Lytton). My partner Natalie wishes me good luck as I won’t be seeing her for ten days and she heads off to work, I know she thinks I’m mental but I can tell she’s gonna miss me and my annoying habits for the next ten days. My crew begins to arrive, Daniel Fenton (Co Director) Thabo Mhlatshwa (Co Director and 1st AD today), Portia Barnett Herrin (Co Director and sound today), Natalie Guest  (Make up) & Gemma Chitty (Production Assistant). Normal everyday doubts set in like ‘is the house tidy enough?’. Not to worry as it’s not long before my entire ground floor flat quickly resembles a set and green room, the kettle worked extra hard that day and my crew cracked on with the task in hand of shooting a film.

Dad arrives in his cab with Philip & Louisa, everyone meets and greets, on this first day everyone is slightly apprehensive as to what lays ahead for the next 10 days. Dad heads off in his ever trusty cab to go and pick up Hannah Tointon (Katy) & Matthew Stathers (Dan). We are a little slow to set up, Louisa & Philip go straight into make up with the lovely Natalie Guest. The first day was scheduled to be quite easy we just needed to get 4 scenes in the can about 6.5 pages if I recall quite a lot for some shoots a breeze for my Guerilla Film Shooting team.

The first scene is simply Jenny getting ready putting on some make up. Dan Fenton is on Directing duty this first day, he gets some really nice shots of Louisa with the camera raised high shooting into a make up mirror and some cool low down shots of Louisa, the sun is beaming through the large french doors in my living room so the footage looks crispy white and warm. Wow thank you MRS DOP that is Mother Nature. That was pretty darn easy we don’t over do it I’m really happy with how the first few shots look so we move on the next scene.

The next scene we do is where John gets stuff ready for Jenny (I need to be careful with my descriptions not to give away spoilers) Jenny walks in and the audience witness a frosty atmosphere the aftermath of a couple’s argument. Both Philip & Louisa make it look very easy, I barely have any notes to give. We simply do the scene several times to get plenty of coverage with different shots. For a moment this is almost too easy. I know things will be very different starting from tomorrow as the schedule gets more intense with lot’s of complicated set ups. Hannah & Matthew arrive so far everyone is getting on really well and excited about the film. Sam our Producer is out and about all day sorting out the accommodation and doing a million and one tasks ahead of the rest of the week.

By this point we’ve waltzed by with lot’s of tea drinking and snacks and the first two scenes are looking good. We quickly pack up everything and move onto our second location of the day. I do a quick spring clean and try to leave the house in a decent state. I say good by to my cat, my home and do a double check I have packed everything I need for the next ten days. I jump in the rickety red car (more info on this in later blogs) and make my way to Horley.

The next location is an external shot at my cousins house Joe and his wife Rachel (and pets) where Dan & Katy pack a car before heading off to pick up John & Jenny. My cousins road and front garden look perfect for the script, little concrete pathway they even have plenty of cats too, a cat is in this scene so it’s all working out fine until we discover most of the cast and crew are allergic to animals. At this location there are 3 cats (Bella, Boris & Caspa) and 2 dogs (Tikka & Tilly). Louisa and Philip begin to suffer a bit, the excitement of Nando’s soon switches everyone mind to food instead of pets. Gemma our amazing runner goes off to get some food. Matthew & Hannah go into make up whilst we set up.

It’s all running smoothly as Dan & I go through the shots, Portia is on sound and Thabo has been great as 1st ad for the day. For those unsure a 1st ad (assistant Director) is in charge of the whole set making sure we stick to schedule and that everyone knows what they are doing. We run the scene and have a couple of glitches with the radio mics. we decide to stick to the directional/shotgun mic for cleaner sound. In a quiet little county road in Horley may cause quite a stir with lots of curtain twitching. Everyone is really interested in what we are doing. Mainly watching Thabo eat biscuits it seems.

The first load of shots go really well both Hannah & Matthew putting on the characters like an old pair of comfy socks, the end of the scene involves a cat. They say you should never work with animals and children. Rubbish just make sure you write in the difficulties. In the script Katy picks up a cat that looks like it wants to run a million miles away. As if by magic both of my cousin Joe’s cats ‘Boris & Caspa’ did exactly that. There are some hilarious out takes of Thabo chasing a cat with ham, but I will leave that until the dvd extras I think. Poor Hannah suffered a few scratches but the look on ‘Boris’s face is worth it.

A few of the kids in the street stop some of the actors for autographs and pictures, at this point I know how lucky I am to have really down to earth actors on board.

Having survived a duel with Boris and co we evacuate the cast and crew to our final location of the day. Everyone looks a bit ‘petted out’ I haven’t the heart to tell everyone the next location has two cats as well. My other cousins house Lucy and her husband Andy (Smithey & Mitzey i think?). It’s all good as we are mainly outside with onoe shot looking outside from the kitchen. First problem we can’t find the clapper, we use this to mark each clip so in post we can sync sound, we packed the van too quickly and with so much stuff it’s lost in there. We don’t want to waste anymore time so we use our hands. Crude but it works just as well. Matthews driving skills prove a tad sketchy but he safely roles the car to a stop for a one take wonder with the rickety red car. Lucy’s husband Andy arrives back from his work and not long does Lucy a nice reminder the day is nearly over with filming. When your on set and wrapped up with scenes and acting and shooting it’s so easy to let time escape you. Luckily my crew are on form and we are bang on schedule. Iv’e hardly thrown many notes or many changes to the cast as they seem to be nailing the characters really well. I throw in the odd idea but on a whole despite being very busy it’s been an easy first day shoot. We take a few still shots for continuity with the car and cast and pack up the van. The van is a complete mess we need a system to make sure we don’t lose things so easily.

We jump in the cars and Dad takes the cast in the cab and we head to our accommodation down in Horsham.We are all sharing 3 large luxury log cabins, all the girls in one and the boys splitting the other two. Theres a lot of unpacking to do (including finding the clapper) and making sure everyone has everything they need.

It’s too late to do any cooking so it’s pizza’s all round and a few quick beers before we re-group. Everyone seems happy with the accommodation so Sam my Producer, Dan Portia, Thabo and me begin to data wrangle and discuss the next day. Only moments last of us all being chuffed with how well the first day went when Sam breaks some bad news We lost a main location which we were due to shoot first thing tomorrow morning……..

SHIT!!!!! Now we have problems.


YHAD - Marks 1 year since shooting

As a whole year very nearly passes since filming YHAD I thought I would blog a recap of where I am now and where I was back then.

I would like to project you back in time to………

September Wednesday 15th 2010 - Luke 30th Birthday !

After spending the past 9 months with pre production it’s only now 5 days to the shoot of ‘Young, High and Dead’! Panic begins to set in a bit as there is still a huge amount top do despite it being my birthday. Yesterday I was supposed to hop on a plane to sunny Ibiza for one of best mates stag do’s everything was paid for including a huge luxury villa for myself and all my mates, I am gutted I’m not there. I had to abandon my flight and holiday because of all the things that need doing for Mondays shoot. I had planned to have everything sorted so I could go away for his stag do and come back rested and ready to jump into the shoot, also it would have been amazing to have had my 30th birthday in Ibiza! Ive never been and now im pretty depressed, the weight of a ten day shoot hangs over me like a huge shitty black cloud, will we shoot all 90 pages in ten days? What if things go wrong? I still haven’t got all the costumes or props. What if one of my cast backs out? All these crazy thoughts whizz round my head as I sit in an empty Burger King at lunch in Sutton. Sat all on my own even more angry at myself for being so stupid that a ‘Murder King’ might cheer me up! I think one more time about how much fun all my mates are having at the same precise moment whilst I’m stuck in Slutton. I throw the rest of the food away and head to next doors pound shop to do more film shopping. Don’t underestimate the great things you can get in these shops when faced with such a small budget. I exit the shop with bags of stuff for the film and head home. Every moment that day I reassured myself that it was the right thing to do by not going to Ibiza. If I had gone there is no way on earth things would be ready for the shoot. I get home and chase up the late delivery of my shackles and chains that are being custom made by a bondage company in Newcastle. Good news they left despatch today! Phew a film about people being chained to trees without chains and shackles would be impossible to convince without these vital props. I head to the shed to make some more props for the film and begin to make fake axes.

Most days on the run up to the shoot seem to blur into one another, all the jobs slowly get ticked off the ever growing schedule and by Friday Ibiza is as far away in my mind as it is in centimetres. I feel bad for the soon to be groom. I feel like I have let him down but I know he understands how important this film is to me. After the 10 day shoot I have one day off then go straight to his wedding! Hopefully I can attend his wedding a happy film maker and not a broken man! I force myself to not think about things so much and just concentrate on making sure I have everything I need for the shoot.

Shooting a low budget film is like moving house when you own nothing. You have to hire a huge van and then fill it with every possible item you can think of and afford. We were self catering on the shoot so we needed washing up liquid, tea towels, a cheese grater, tuppaware, foil, the list is endless not to mention you need to obviously load all your film equipment, costumes, props, tools etc etc. I took everything. from spray cans, to shovels, to saw, an angle grinder, axes, medical kit, fire extinguisher, pegs, bin liners, chairs, gazeebo’s, umbrellas, wellies, ground sheets. I could go on forever. We had a large van and I intended to fill it! Classic hoarding for a mobile film maker.

The Sunday night before the shoot, I went through the check list one last time. It took hours but I feel confident I have everything I could possibly need. Whether we would be able to use it all to make a film was to soon be discovered………

Jumping a whole 364 days forwards………

September Wednesday 14th 2011 - Day before Luke’s 31st Birthday !

Virtually a whole year on so what’s different? Most importantly I won’t be in Sutton’s Burger King tomorrow having lunch on my own! My amazing girlfriend is taking me to lunch in a fancy restuarant up town.

Instead of a van full of shit I now am the proud owner of a garage full of shit. I daren’t get rid of anything just incase we have to pick up a shot, once a hoarder always a hoarder.I still have everything from the shoot minus all the alcohol that we drank during the shoot. That was a key essential ingredient to us surviving the ten days. It’s pretty amazing what people are willing to put themselves through if there are a few drinks at the end of a days filming.

Knowledge has changed. I am a year wiser but ultimately my knowledge of film making has grown in so many ways I never knew possible. Before the shoot I had plenty of ‘on set’ experience but ‘Young, High and Dead’ was a master class, a PHD in film making. There wasn’t much that didn’t get thrown at us in the way of obsticles but we managed to problem solve our way through everything, technical and logistical. To the untrained eye it we must have looked like kids running around with a camera and axes. The untrained eye is not wrong on this occassion. Boy did we do some running!

When doing a project of this scale ‘a feature near on 90 minutes’ unlike short films or commercials you very quickly realise that the word ‘quickly’ will not be of any use to you whatsoever. Especially when it comes to Post Production. It’s a pain stakingly slow process, imagine trying to paint a large room with a cocktail stick.

But a year on and the film is done! It’s cut, graded with a 5.1 surround mix on all the dialogue and effects. The only two elements missing are the music (being worked on right now by Blue Daisy) and the title sequence (being animated by my brother Jonathan right now).

As well as the physical making of the film, we have come a long way with the promotional side of things hopefully leading to them all important sales. Slowly we have been gaining interest in our film, it’s now up on IMDB with various articles in online horror sites. Our website will continue to grow and change and we are gearing up for a full scale attack of how we might actually get people to watch the damn thing.

After this weekend we will begin to orgainse a screening for our wonderful cast and another screening for friends, family, cast and crew and any potential people who can help bring YHAD to the masses. Autumn is always a great month for celebrating, most people are experiencing some form of ’ a sunshiine come down’ so I think a huge knees up celebrating the film is needed too. This important night has also been a year in the making.

The most important things to reflect are that making a film is probably the hardest thing I have ever done, both physically and mentally. I don’t expect anyone to understand the amount of hours put into YHAD but for the past few years now I have had 2 full time jobs. YHAD has led to me missing out on lot’s of social events and for any budding film makers about to do a similar project you should perpare yourself for a few years of solitary confinement within your film. YHAD has eaten lot’s of financial holes in my tattered bank account but hopefully It will pay off. I never risked my mortgage or anything silly but I have had to be extremely frugle with pennies and I do believe I haven’t been clothes shopping once this past 12 months, or bought a cd or dvd or anything deemed a luxury for me. Any spare money after bills have gone into the film. Pretty much the same financial struggle I was in a year ago as a would be low budget film maker.

Now I intend to wrap the project, sell YHAD and go back to leading a normal life but If the film works out where people like it and we get paid well enough, I guess I might be doing all this over again pretty soon! I better start clearing out my garage. :)


Sep 8

YHAD Colour grading blog 001

What ya doing?

Not much online activity from me of late due to my eyes suffering some form of screen stress. No I have not been looking at Internet porn (I’m not that lucky). Every spare second this week has been spent plowing throught the final grade of ‘Young,High and Dead’. I am doing the last 8 minutes of the film now and will be finishing it this weekend.

Not many people know but:

Not very Interesting Luke fact #1 I have a scar on my left retina, which basically renders everything in one eye extremely distorted and with colour damage. When I look at things with my right eye shut, the world becomes twisted with what only can be described as a distorted black hole type effect everywhere I look. It’s pretty trippy but not good for someone who spends most of their life looking at screens and video monitors like i do.

For me Grading/Colour correction is a big challenge because.

A)  I don’t have access to a fancy grading suite or a bucket full of gold coins.

B)  I probably lose all judgement of colour quicker than people with 20/20 vision

C)  in the world of Indie film making you simply do not have much time. Unlike the lucky folk who get paid to do a job like this. I have to juggle a full time job and try and make a film.

D)  a feature film that’s 90 minutes long has a shit load of shots to fix and make good.

Sigh, enough of the whinging you one eyed freak what the fuck have you been doing?!

Lots and lot’s, let me see if I can keep this informative and not too geeky?

So we shot YHAD with no Lighting, two camera’s and a bag full of optimism. Was it enough? Hopefully yes. We relied on our lighting from a more natural source called the sun, it’s way brighter than any man made lamps but a downside is that you can’t control it’s position.So in post production we aimed to get the ‘look’ that we were after in the grade rather than waste time on set. That way we shot super fast and virtually non stop over a shorter period of time. Grading & Colour correction is where we hopefully make the film look not only consistant but with some edge of style that unaware to the audience creates a mood and tone to the drama on screen.

So what is colour correction and grading?

They are two different things, colour correction is there to simply match different shots to look like they are continuous within the edit. On a film shoot you rarely can shoot in sequence with the script and you  find that you have to shoot the same parts of a scene on different days.

Grading is where you begin to give the shots a desired ‘look’ this can range froma  haunting cold blue feel to a warm rich orange tinge. When you think of the millions of shades of colours (Hue) there are and the different levels of exposure the possibilities of different looks quickly can be in the millions. Most of them will look shit but many will give a different feel and vibe to what you are watching particulary at an unconscious level.

So you want to do both. in order to make your film look as good as possible. No matter how amazing the raw material may look it will always be exactly that ‘RAW’ so you need to dress it up with lot’s of different looks no different to how you keep your wardrobe and dress yourself, fashionista’s will agree what colours you wear can affect your mood the same goes for film.

I think grading can be quite a scary place if you know fuck all about it and more importantly it can take forever and sometimes lead you down a path that gets you lost.

Hopefully this blog will be of some help to those about to dabble in this addictive rainbow of joy.

I will be using FCP X to give the basics but most software will do the basics at the very least. And all principles remain the same.

Waveforms and Blippy looking monitors:

First thing about colour correction & grading is that you need to know these are your best friends, ignore them at your peril because just like best friends they have the power to make you an outcast from your film!

So on the right hand side you can see the frame of a clip in your timeline (not from YHAD BTW - a straight google lift - it’s a dog sniffing at the camera wearing a red collar). On the left hand side you can see a waveform monitor look carefully at it for a sec.

So you can see numbers going up and down the left in stages (or was you looking at all the funny patterns? The numbers are what counts and this is why?

Regardless whether you are doing something for youtube, TV, Iphone etc. the numbers remain and they represent a huge amount.

All imagery is made up of levels of darkness and brighness and various Hues/shades of colour. On the left the numbers represent what level that is. For example the -20 value is discarded Black information everything that is below the number 0 gets lost this value represent everything dark in the picture (Blacks ETC) zero is where true black lies and at 100 further up is where true white lies everything inbetween is exactly that in between.

So if your levels peak above or drop below you are losing information. When the white levels peak above 100 they ‘burn out’ and below the blacks get ‘crushed’ (this aint a race thing it’s just grade talk). For safety you should aim to get your blacks in line with 0 and your white peaks in line with 100.

Technical note for various different systems the no’s will diff - this example is going by a PAL 0-100 IRE monitor, for info on PAL & NTSC ask and I might do a blog on the reasons why TV looks a funny colour in the USA and why your DVD from Amazon in the US wont work in a UK dvd player that is not region free.

So look at the pic and you can see that the whites peak above 100 and the blacks are way above 0/zero mark and it can be seen in the image where the middle of the waveform peaks is a spike that has a blue tinge to it look at the picture and you will see this object next to the blue door, it’s bright and quite harsh on the eyes because it has ‘burned out’. By bringing the exposure down you will correct this and make it look more natural. You can also see the dogs red collar down and to the left the way to imagine a waveform monitor is to imagine the picture like one of these below (younguns might not know what these are).

If you were to lay the dog image flat you would see the brighter parts of the picture raised and the darker parts flat now because of all the tonalities in the picture you get a more varied range going on similar to the pinpoint gadgets. And in a waveform monitor we have colour. Make sense?

If you lowered the exposure heavily you would begin to get a very dark and greyish image you can test this on your tv with the remote, push up the exposure/brightness and eventually the picture will burn out to a pure white.

Going back to filming. If one day is a tad darker than the previous or your lighting was slightly darker. You would want to match them so you would change the exposure. Light affects how we see colour less light the darker the Hue/colour. So once the exposure is balanced you would want the colour levels to be equal, if the second shot of the dog was darker and his collar lees red the red marks in the waveform would be lower and maybe even a slightly different Hue.

SO as boring as waveforms may appear at first they actually can be extremely informative (unlike this blog HA)

Most decent graders will start off purely looking at the waveform and making sure all the ‘Blacks are ‘Black and the ‘Whites are White’ the monitor is far more accurate than your eye. Especially a wonky one like mine. This is just the first stage of the process and if you can imagine in the 90 minute film I have over 1,000 clips in the edit this takes quite a while.

I have realised that this blog could go on forever, so that is probably enough boring info on grading for one day. If people want to know more and believe me this is just the beginning I will happily post more info about this matter, I might even use some stills from the my computer with graded clips of the film? Hit me up on the following for more info.

Hopefully you will have enough money to get someone else to do all this for you.


The Art of Grading

Just a teaser still of a before and after of the latest grade for YHAD. So far 20 mins of the film has a had a more intensive grade (i,e below) 70 mins to go but it’s really starting to take on it’s own style and look now.

As always let me know if you like or dislike. I welcome all feedback good and bad. Don’t forget to hit us on the following:




Aug 1

YHAD - updates and info - 01/08/2011

Holy Moly it’s now August, London is muggy and I seem to be seeing very little sun this year, firmly locking myself away in dark rooms whilst I put the finishing toches to Post Production on ‘Young, High and Dead’.

Lately YHAD has been doing well and getting lots of hits on IMDB and our popularity is slowly growing amongst indie fans which is very exciting. Every ounce of support counts as we charge to the finish line, Im seriously tired and close to burning out but so far everything is on track for YHAD to prove itself as a great indie film.

I finally revamped the website, it desperately needed doing and at present it’s a work in-progress, lots to tweak but hopefully the site gives a better insight as to what we and the film are about. go check it if you haven’t already seen it and feel free to throw any feedback our way

YHAD is also waiting on about 17 important film festival submissions, we really hope some of these if not most accept us, this will give YHAD the platform it really needs.

We are also about to get an official YHAD trailer cut as well as a sizzle reel with cast and crew interviews so keep a watch out for them, announcements soon once they go live.

The film is also getting an audio makeover this week. As well as the brilliantly talented Blue Daisy creating the score we are mixing the sound from a stereo mix to a 5.1 surround sound mix. I have only done 4 chapters (8 mins) so far but already the difference is massive.

SO despite the lack of blogs lot’s has been going on with the film. I expect this month will be full of news and content for you to check out so watch this space, don’t forget to follow us on twitter & or FB

I am truly excited by the next stages of the film. It’s make or break time.


Jun 7

Death of torture porn films

With recent news that ‘Centipede 2’ just got banned in the UK and has no intentions of an official release it makes me wonder if the controversial genre of ‘torture porn’ has a long term future? With the success of the Saw franchise and Hostel it does seem that filmmakers are required to show nudity and blood by the bucketload with them all ‘important’ gruesome incision shots.


With YHAD we wanted to take horror and fear back to the old style and I hope our audience appreciate that. Im not against ‘torture porn’ but I do think over the years these kind of films not only have de-sensitized it’s modern audience but more importantly they don’t necessarily serve the horror genre very well. For example it’s now very hard for film Independent film makers to compete with these super slick, big budget films.

I think especially with the huge success of Saw & Hostel lot’s have film makers have tried to emulate these formats and in doing so have created unwanted attention.

I researched heavily for YHAD and watched tons of horror and torture porn films. I was hugely disappointed with the focus on the ‘money shots’ and the lack of individuality. Lars Von Tier made ‘Anti Christ’ which was shot and lit beautifully but what a boring, pointless film. As was the British ‘torture porn’ effort ‘Mum and Dad’.

I hope YHAD brings the fun back into horror, rather than the attempt to upset/make people physically sick effort which seems to be the main focus of so many film makers. It’s become a cat and mouse game of who can produce the most controversial film. I had the displeasure of watching ‘A Serbian film’, yes it’s sick and twisted but most importantly it’s a pile of vile shit. No structured story, terrible acting, boring through most parts and not layered or benificial to anyone who watches it.

So the banning of such films is great news for YHAD, hopefully this allows our film to stand out and be different to current trends. I hope as well that ours does become more accessible to a broader audience who wish to see a film that is not just about ‘blood and tits’.

FYI YHAD has no nudity in it! Just classic 70’s & 80’s style horror.



Lara Wollington a.k.a Sammy Taylor

Lara Wollington a.k.a Sammy Taylor

Thinking time. The only way to make a film.

OK so it’s been a hectic few weeks as always, but not with the film. I have been on an urgent mission to decorate my hallway ahead of a carpet arriving next Saturday. It’s hard to believe but outside of making a film, the world keeps moving and you have to try and keep up with both.

But whilst I have spent endless hours stipping paint off of wood, sanding, filling and painting I have found a great way to take some time out from the film without spending money I don’t have on a holiday or watching a box/staring at a screen. Bored of that. In one of my earlier blogs I mentioned how 90% of the writing process for me is thinking, well since the shoot I have done so much work, I have not really put this into practice for Post Production. I am always active on the film where possible so it was nice to have downtime and let things sink in over the past few weeks. Holding a 90 minute film in your head and doing a million and one things can kind of fry your brain a bit, especially when it comes to making informative and direct decisions. Something I am not the best at.

Ultimately, whilst I have been doing DIY (something I am very good at) I have geared myself up for some ‘no nonsense’ work and approach to the next few stages of YHAD.

I am going to finish off the grade, tweak the sound and harrass every person I can find who can help me better the film and sell it.

I made this film as a cash cow and now it’s time to milk her dry and make some steaks. Yes this might destroy poor ‘ol Daisy’ but I created her for this very reason. I didn’t write ‘Young, High and Dead’ for a college project or to sit on my shelf in a fake DVD cover I made in photoshop. She’s a product that is hopefully fat enough now to sell. Perhaps that’s the reason I was always reluctant to name her! I’m still not convinced about the name, but hey it’s out there now.

I am sharpening my knife as I write this and Daisy looks fucking terrified. I look at her like a big fat juicy piece of meat, I don’t feel bad as I know there are plenty more where she came from, I need to find myself a decent butcher who knows how to get the most out of this beast.

Dead Cow

It’s tough kid but it’s part of a films natural cycle, who fancies a beef burger?


Apr 6

YHAD on a big screen….

Managed to watch some of Young, High & Dead on a huge projector last night with my Co Director Daniel Fenton. After ironing out a few technical glitches we came to the conclusion that h.264 is the future for our film.

The picture quality compared to standard definition DVD is far superior, even with these tiny quicktime files the film held up great when projected onto a huge screen. Our main aim was to test some of the regraded shots, a vast improvement but they still need a little work.

Yesterday confirmed to me that the two Panasonic camera’s we shot on really held up well and made our film look far more expensive than it is. This goes to show you don’t have to go and hire expensive equipment to make a film.

So now I just have to get the sections regraded which are still a bit too dark, then it’s onto our Music Composer and just a simple case of getting the right people to watch the Film, EASY! I reckon the latter will be the hardest part of the film.

Exciting times but the hard work is not over yet. I definitely feel like we are very close to the point where we can hand the film over to the professionals who have the capabilities to bring YHAD to the public.

I am hoping this summer brings some good fortune for all my crew & cast of YHAD, everyone has worked so hard bringing my pages to life and for my debut film I could not be happier with how it is turning out.

There are low budget Independent films and then there’s ‘Young, HIgh and Dead’!

What I would love to see one day.