Category Archives: Short Film

Iceland Pre-Production – Days Three to Nine

When the opportunity arose to be part of a film making task force in Iceland, I dived straight in! For a start, I have always wanted to visit Iceland, a mystical country of spectacular scenery and amazing adventures. Also, the chance of having “I made films in a different country” would look like gold dust on my CV so I thought it would be both a fantastic experience and incredibly beneficial to me. But finally, the most significant factor was the fact I would be working with lecturers who have both experience and knowledge that I could learn from.

At first, we had to apply for roles. I had just finished producing a documentary and quite fancied doing it again on a bigger scale. However, my history as an Air Cadet and my passion to always push myself made lead me to asking if I could overall manage the productions. I was used to managing people and junior ranks to me in the cadets as I progressed to the highest levels of the senior roles and I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to implement my abilities. I felt that my leadership, level-headedness, initiative and people skills would be a great aid in a producer role and I knew I could be relied upon to co-ordinate the other crew members. Initiative is something I have always had a knack for but I am constantly rethinking my ideologies and trying to make myself even more initiate. I feel this is a very valuable and sought-after skill and therefore I constantly push myself to get better at it. Composure is also something I am gratefully gifted with; even in the thickest of disputes or chaos I still manage to think straight and instead of complaining about a problem, I set about fixing up a strategy to overcome it.

I was generously given the role of Executive Producer. My charismatic approach to my peers quickly let them approve of me being given this prestigious role which put a lot of responsibility on me to inspire confidence in them that I was competent and could bring together the projects. The first job I had was sitting in on the interviews for other top roles (Director, DoP etc). This felt strange and very imposing on me as in all fairness I felt I had no right to be the one to decide whether people got the roles they applied for. However, I had to be confident in my decisions whilst at the same time hold valid reasons for my choices. I tried to be as unbiased and fair as possible – this showed people that I did not favour friends etc. If it was my choice that somebody did not get the role they wanted then I would have to state a reasonable argument as to why. Joining me on the board were Bex and Ross, my instructors and lecturers with a lot more seniority and experience than myself, so I thought that despite my opinions, their word was final. However, Bex and Ross were extremely democratic and took into account everything I said during the interviews and the feedback I gave them afterwards. When we allocated roles to the group, this gave me a power of authority; I wouldn’t be challenged by people thinking I was incompetent. Although this statement comes across as big headed, I don’t mean it too. It was more the fact that people didn’t feel the need to undermine me before the project kicked off and therefore I could apply myself with the best of my abilities. It also gave me a huge confidence boost that people trusted my opinion and also accepted me as a leader.

Now was the challenge…to prove I met their expectations.

Before roles were given out, we had to research as much as we could about Iceland; it’s culture, food, people, lifestyle, stories, previous filming work that had occurred there, trade, politics etc.  My research stemmed from films that had been made there to their national cuisines (I wanted to try whale and rotten shark!) to their historical stories. I also looked into the weather conditions, terrain and what the chances were of seeing the Northern Lights.

When everyone pulled their research together, people went off to write pitches. These were then narrowed down and developed into treatments. The favourite four ended up being “Cats”, “Outdated”, “Snowblind” and “Together”. It was decided that these scripts be written by the people who came up with the ideas.

I put fuel into people’s drive for the films by creating another group who would document our trip to Iceland as well as all the pre-work we did before hand. They were coined “The Making Of” crew and ‘borrowed’ camera operators and sound techs from the other crews. I wanted this documentary to have its own director, who would conduct interviews with the cast and crew, and producer, who could manage where the crew needed to be and when. This would also support our IEMS funding as we would give them back something for assisting in our paying of the trip.

To brand ourselves and have some sort of uniformity, we discussed names for a production company which we could operate under. It also gives our project a sense of professionalism as well as a title to which we could assign our work under.  “Gryla Productions” was put onto the table. The name Gryla came about from our research into Icelandic mythology and legacy. Gryla was a witch who lived in the mountains and terrorised children’s dreams. The story itself of Gryla was not that important to our company name. Instead, it was a name that would grab attention; Icelanders would identify the name Gryla and therefore be interesting in what we produced; Non-Icelanders would look at the name and be curious as to what it was and therefore pursue looking into it. Also, since we were making the films in Iceland, we decided that we wanted an Icelandic feel to our company and Gryla suited perfectly.

The film “Cats” was set to have animation in it. The story (in a nutshell) is about a boy escaping his life filled with sadness by imagining he is a cat and prowls around with other cats. These dreams are envisioned on screen by animation. We enrolled on board an animator, Sasha, of incredible skill and talent. To give her opportunity to be part of the pre-production stage early on, I asked her to construct a logo for our film company. It would make us even more professional and hopefully get us recognised as a brand. After a view edits and reviews back to the main group, we decided on one of her designs. We all now felt part of something that was really happening.

Logo Ideas

Early on, as part of my Exec role, I wanted to make sure people had plenty of time to get their paperwork in order to travel to a foreign country. Iceland is not technically in the EU although it applies its policies etc. I made sure everyone either had or was getting a passport so they could travel to Iceland. From my research, I learnt that the expiration dates had to be at least 6 months after we got back to the UK so it was my responsibility to check everyone’s details. One girl had a passport from a different country and therefore needed to apply for a visa to be able to travel. I researched what she needed to do and sent her to complete this task herself. Next, we all had to have European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) to cover medical costs outside the NHS. Again, it was my job to make sure everyone had one of these and they were all in date. I myself had to apply for a new passport and EHIC so I did this promptly as inspiration to the rest of the group. I had to check both student and lecturers – no one dodged my checklist!

Our next step was to pay for the trip. It was decided that this be paid in January and it was my job to check this was done. Steve, the trip organiser, took care of documenting people’s money but it was down to me to make sure they did it. To support us financially, we applied to IEMS to help us pay for some of the trip or give us some spending money whilst we were out there. Once again, I had to make sure this was done by everyone. We all had to write a brief to IEMS stating why they should give us money. But it paid off in the end as we were all offered a small chunk of reimbursement.

Budgeting was a big issue for the films. We had to pay for the films off our own backs as we were not employed or being given money from an institution. We estimated a budget of around £4000 and decided that fundraising was a way of going about obtaining this target figure. I decided with Steve that everyone must raise £200 each to go into the pot and pay for the films budgets. This would be split as equally as possible over the films. At this point (mid January), we decided that we could not afford or crew four films in the time we had. We decided to drop a film and we voted to lose Together. I would like to produce this film in the future however as it is a beautiful story.

Fundraising was slow to start off with and many people needed a good kick up the backside to get a move on. I asked for a day walk where people could get sponsored and delegated a predominant member of the group to organise it. We set a theme – film characters, being media production students – and proceeded to get names on our sponsor forms. Despite the cold and horrendous downpour of rain, we persevered and had fun with the walk and raised a fair bit of money. But we needed more. We started kicking other people into gear to do their own fundraising events which we helped with. Cake and bun sales went down a treat and brought in a nice chunk of money and we continued to do this for a few weeks. As we drew nearer to going on the actual trip, we needed a big event that would bring in people and therefore money. A few group members organised a night out at a local bar/club. They arranged the deal that we take the money on the door and the club takes its money behind the bar. However, it costs us £100 to use the club for our event I think which meant we either had to break even or gain a profit or risk losing money we didn’t have. The gamble paid off and through immense promotion and word-of-mouth, we managed to get a tonne of people there and raised a huge chunk of money. Just to point out, I managed myself to raise just over £300 which I am very proud of.

A third year then told us about a method of fundraising called crowd sourcing. Basically, we ask a lot of people for a little bit of money each. We used the website IndieGoGo which specialises in crowd sourcing and uses a pay-pal account to gather funds. Our target was $500 (it’s an American site) and we had two weeks to raise the money. Word of mouth, constant emails, messages and phone calls eventually helped us raise our total. It was a great achievement; we managed to hit our 4K budget in time. However, to help promote our film and to give something back to the people we were asking money off, I organised a short promotional video. I delegated people to book out the photography studio, a camera operator and a photographer. I wanted people to sell their film and make the viewers as passionate about it as we were. The key players in each crew were filmed; the director and producer of Snowblind, Outdated and the making of, the animator of Cats and finally myself as the executive producer. We filmed this promo in a matter of hours and it was edited and online the day after. The money started rolling in as people who donated also got a chance to see what our films were about and who would be working on them. We also did portrait photos of every crew member so our audience could see who was making the films happen.

IndieGoGo Link

An executive producer regularly meets with their crew to discuss what their next plan of action is and find out/chase where we up to in pre-production. I organised weekly meeting for people to do this. I had to resolve a lot of issues in these meetings and also plan how to get to our next stages. After Christmas, I made the crews organise and conduct test shoots. They needed to know exactly what they were doing and how they would film their shots before they went over to Iceland. One of Snowblind’s shoots was outside and involved a car. I went along to this to show my support and also to help them – I chose not to actually help film but to observe as an outside eye. I could then feedback the points I felt they needed to work on and also the things they did really good. It was looking optimistic for them. Originally, in Outdated’s script, there was an ice skating scene. This would need a careful but precise form of filming and we headed to the local ice rink to test it out. I was going to be an observer there too but ended up filling in as an actor because firstly, they needed every one of their crew and secondly, I was competent on the ice enough that I could skate around for them whilst they tested shots. I am no Robin Cousins but I can maintain momentum and not fall over. A third year in the crew, Sam, also volunteered to go on the ice and we kept spirits high when things were not going to plan. Take after take we strove to keep our performance the same so the crews could get the shots just right. For the next few shots, I was needed to purposefully fall over on the ice. This was probably harder than staying up on the ice as my brain kicks in and tells me not to do it because I could hurt myself. But it needed to be done so time after time I threw myself to the floor, fell, dove – anything that was a losing battle between me and gravity. It proved to greatly aid the crew however as they practice catching the event from different angles.

As well as executively producing Gryla Productions, I was also the sole producer for Cats. My role was to organise and plan how we got from script to shooting the film. It was my job to organise meetings and sort out what my crew would do in the lead up to the trip. Part of this role was finding actors for the film. This proved near impossible as the lead role was a little boy! If we flew our actor to Iceland we had three problems. Firstly, we would have to pay for his flight and accommodation. Secondly, we would have to pay for a chaperone for him as well. Thirdly, we would have to look after him whilst over there. We scrapped this idea as our budget didn’t stretch far enough (we were tight as it was). I started looking for child actors in Iceland as well as someone to play his mother and father. This was also tricky as I did not have a fixer over there that could help me and getting hold of the Icelandic film companies and acting agencies was just not happening. I was stumped with a problem – however, I used my initiative and came up with a solution which I will divulge into in a different post.

I was also in charge of the script development (well, making sure it happened and fitted the director’s choices), making sure costumes and props were taken by (which I had an artistic director for). Other things under my stead were keeping the crew members on tasks that they had been set and chasing them up when they hadn’t. This happened a lot and required a lot of work. I was also required to keep an up-to-date production folder with all our plans, script revisions, storyboards and the like in. Every member of the crew needed to know it all backwards so when we were in Iceland, we could film exactly what we wanted with speed.

Just before I went to Iceland, I delivered a Health and Safety brief. Steve had to deliver his own which was signed but I had to make sure people were prepared for it. Over the weeks leading up to the trip, I had given lectures on appropriate kit needed for the Icelandic climate and terrain – my research right at the beginning of the production as well as my experience with outdoor activities in the Air Cadets greatly aided me here. I told people to buy hats, gloves, scarves, waterproof coats (not just water resistant), walking trousers (jeans chaff and get heavy when wet; trakkie bottoms/joggers offer no water or wind resistance), fleeces and most important of all, thermals! I made it very clear that if the kit was not obtained for each person, then that person would not be leaving the hotel in Iceland. Keeping warm and safe was a priority. I taught people how to layer their clothing to provide maximum warmth yet the least amount of perspiration. I taught them what type of walking boots they should buy (ankle support, thick tread etc) and what type of socks they should wear in them. I instructed them on kit they should carry on their shoots or when they were just walking around Iceland – torch, water bottle etc. I went out to an outdoor excursion shop and bought in bulk (for a cheeky discount) a large number of emergency blankets which would be distributed to people. I stressed how important all this kit was for people but I also told them why it was needed. Two weeks before we went on the trip, I held a kit check meeting (which was accompanied by a final paperwork check) where people either brought in or wore all their kit to prove physically they had it. Until I had seen the correct kit in the flesh, I would not tick them off my list and therefore they would not be allowed to leave the hotel in Iceland. This sounds pedantic as on one day most people walked round in just a jumper or t-shirt – it wasn’t always cold. But when it got cold, it got dangerously cold and they had to be prepared for this. As the exec, as the leader, I had to make an example of myself and strutted into the meeting (on a rather unpleasantly warm day) in my full kit to show people that I too had the correct gear. Once the kit was all checked and ticked off on my list, I conducted my health and safety lecture for when we were over in Iceland. I went through every detail I could think about regarding keeping each other safe, fit and well. It had to be done and I made it light-hearted and humorous so people weren’t bored and retained the information I gave them. I have always strived to have that approach to teaching (I’ve done a lot of it in the cadets) – keep it jovial yet get the exact point across. I finished my lecture with a very detailed lesson about hypothermia. We would be facing cold and exposure in Iceland – that accompanied with exhaustion and tiredness (two separate things I might add) could end up with someone in a very dire situation. Given the time and money we put into making the films happen, we couldn’t let something as preventable as that happen to ruin the whole thing however, people needed to be prepared to know how to spot it, what to do if it occurs and how to deal with it.

The preparation for Iceland was a long and arduous process but I learnt a lot from it. I made tonnes of mistakes but I learnt from them and know how not to let them happen again.

(Days: – countless meetings, two test shoots, two fundraising events, lectures and kit/documentation checks)


Short Film – Final Cut and Evaluation

The film is finished. We conducted the final edit, tidied up sloppy shots and graded the whole thing into a nice warm tone. We filmed our pick up shots, added some additional audio and a score and produced “Roadtrip”.

At the beginning of the project, I felt it was important to be uniform and have a brand. Once we had come up with a name I asked one of our group to create a  moving logo to be put in the film. There was a bit of miscommunication in that we didn’t also have a still image but this is not too much of a problem, it only applies to the press release. This went on the beginning of the film creating our image as an institution, far more professional than a student film as we are not students, we are practitioners who happen to be at university!!!

The opening sequence needed to be slow to set the pace of the film. We used a panning shot of a mantle piece which was a slow, smooth transition of movement and also helped give a bit of background to the characters and their life – not much, just a hint. We achieved this with myself holding the camera on the shoulder mount and carefully rocking backwards and sideways at the same time (makes sense when footage is seen). It was a bit wobbly however so we used the SmoothCam function on FCP7 to stabilise the shot. This then led into the opening title, simply Roadtrip (white on a black background – this represented the simplicity and unrushed pace of the main characters lives). The music over the top of this was a simple guitar riff that really suited the slow timbre and mood of the piece. The 50’s theme came from how we imagined the couple to have met in the past; this was the time that they were growing up and therefore meeting each other and falling in love.

The kitchen scene required a lot of grading and colour correction but looks really warm and bright in the final product. There are subtle hints to Geraldine’s forgetfulness in this shot that the quick eyed viewer will pick up on. It is her that leaves the sandwiches and her glasses are on her head despite sending Harold upstairs to get them. The 50’s music can just about be heard in the background and we gave it an effect to make it sound like it was coming from the radio we had deliberately got in shot. This nice transition gave the piece a sense of realism.

We managed to trim parts of the film off that people didn’t think worked all that well (received in our feedback) and fill in some extra pick up shots. We had to film a lot of these extremely close up or at a great distance because we did not have the same actors and had to stand in ourselves. Only after watching the footage very closely and repeatedly will you be able to pick up on these shots. We managed to get our man on the bicycle again for these shots to add continuity.

One of our praised techniques whilst filming was from the utilisation of the jib. People really loved our opening jib shot and we slipped another one later on as the couple pull into the car park. There is a slight continuity edit here as the car park wasn’t as busy when we filmed the pick ups but it’s not too noticeable. On a note of our earlier jib shot, we felt that it was needed but it was too long. I asked to film a cutaway shot and insert it here of Harold’s items being placed in the boot.

The car interior shots were a bit too long and shaky. We managed to stabilise them but required a few more external shots to break up the action. The dialogue rolls over the top and flows rather beautifully. We also got a nice shot over the steering wheel of the cyclist going past which added more to the comedy of them going so slow and being overtaken by a normally even slower form of transport. Him whizzing past added a bit of pace to the visuals which was nice.

In the script, the film was meant to end with Geraldine shouting “Harold, you forgot the sandwiches!!!” however, our actors improvised a bit and left us with a lovely extract of dialogue we could play over the ending credit. It really brough this beautiful story to a finale worthy of it’s own nature.

On reflection, there are some things I would like to change with the whole film. Firstly, I did love doing sound, camera, lighting etc (all the technical roles) but I feel I wanted to direct this film in my own way. I would have done a lot differently and would have loved the opportunity to do this myself. I aided in the pre-production side of things as I was needed as I have a lot of experience and did enjoy it. But my passion for this film would have been to direct it.

There are some sound drops I would like to include in the film (of the car driving with the jib shot and also the items being placed in the boot) however, I am really happy with the finished product. The professionalism of the project is something I highly admired; the fact we went and found old actors (completely different to standard student films) and also paid them is something I think will reflect well on us. We took the time out to act more professional than we had ever done before (something I think the group as a whole picked up working in the Gryla Productions films in Iceland) and if you want to a job well, you have to do it properly. I gained so much more experience handling sound, lighting and filming equipment and brushed up my skills as a camera operator (although most of the shoot this was not my responsibility). I helped form the paperwork and production side into something in line with real world film productions (although there is so much room for a great deal of improvement here). I also helped with the directing in some areas where ours was flacking a bit and tried my hand at it, feel I am competent enough and definitely want to take on this role in the future.

Enjoy Roadtrip! :

Short Film – Rough Cut and Feedback

The logging of our footage, audio and visual, took around 4 hours. Despite having clear log sheets, it was still a very time consuming process. Piecing together the sequences and synchronising the audio was relatively an easy process. There was an initial issue with drop frames but we rectified this by re-logging and capturing the footage.

After a late night of arduous work, we managed to shift together something to show our peers the following day so that they could provide some feedback and criticisms on things we had missed or overlooked. It’s incredibly helpful to have an outside eye looking at your work and being brutally honest about things ergo your film can become even better.

We delivered our Rough Cut to the main body of the group and I honestly expected to get utterly slated. There were comments I knew we would get regarding lighting issues, grading and missing shots (something which we planned to pick-up the following day) but I was quite pessimistic about how the film would be received. However, I was surprised at how much positive feedback we received and how many helpful suggestions people put forwards to us.

Here is what we received feedback wise off the NASSSH blog:

  • It’s a nice narrative and nice to see older people being used in a student film. Different and breaking boundaries.
  • The dialogue is great and it actually sounds like a few people’s grandparents – this means people related to our characters.
  • The tracking shot of the feet at the end – is it needed because it doesn’t add anything and it’s possibly too long.
  • The sound levels need normalising (there are places where they are louder/quieter than others).
  • Technically it needs a lot of tweaking with regards to grading, colour correcting and stabilising.
  • It needs more of a beginning to ease the audience in, rather than just starting the action straight away.
  • Do we need to re-shoot the kitchen scene because it’s too orange and might be difficult to rescue in post production?
  • The exposure needs looking at in a specific scene.
  • A music track would be tremendously beneficial to the feel of the film – this was something we had considered but had not got round to doing at the time we presented.

Armed with these comments we were then ready to improve the film as it was and polish the very rough copy. The technical difficulties that had arose as a knock on effect from our accident on set (which we explained to the feedback group) were the only main areas of issue. As far as the narrative went, people really reacted to it positively and picked up on all the subtle jokes.

Our rough cut needs a lot of polishing and we really have to film our pick-up shots. The suggestion of re-shooting the kitchen scene is out of the question; it would cost far too much to bring our actors up from London or alternatively to travel down to them. We will just have to do a lot of grading work in the editing process.

After the feedback, we met with the lecturers to discuss their advice and what we needed to do next in their opinion. We managed to produce this for them however, we still had a lot of work to do.

Here’s the rough cut:

These are the comments we came up with ourselves (from the NASSSH Blog) “Looking at the rough cut there are a few things we noticed. The side shot of Harold and Geraldine sat in the park with the car in the background is really nice, but the only thing about that shot is that it would have been nice to do a focus pull between Harold and Geraldine when they’re speaking.

The JIB shot at the beginning is nice, apart from the fact that half way through it gets wonky, which other people picked up on, but in our defence the road had a slope and setting it up was difficult anyway.

With the shot of the couple coming out the house, the original was a much less cropped shot as you could see more of the actors and the sign on the house, but I had got into the reflection of the window on the right hand side of the door, and it was our best take, so I had to do some cropping magic here.

We also like the shot at the end, which we had actually reversed. Our original idea was to have this shot as an establishing shot for the last scene and the camera would come down and you’d see the couple holding hands before it fades out, and then the last scene would be the track going away from the couple, but the camera zooming in to give a disorienting, but at the same time, quite cool, effect. But when we tried it it didn’t work so we moved the establishing shot to the end. The other reason for reversing it was because the camera doesn’t linger long enough on them holding hands and it’s nice to see the location at the end, where the camera does linger. There is an issue with this shot however. All the birds in the background fly and swim backwards. Although not easily noticeable it does look rather daft.

The rough cut isn’t too shabby but really needs a lot of work to look great. I’ve showed it to a few people not on the course and they expressed different views (mainly on the story and look rather than the technical aspects as they are not trained to do this). One particular comment that struck me was from my Aunty who has had a lot of experience dealing with elderly people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. She said that Geraldine seemed to show very early signs of this horrific illness and although this was not the decodation I expected, it is still really useful to know as other people could pick up on this. I believe that the piece could be seen as touching on the subject subtly and gently whilst still maintaining a lovely story in some people’s views. This is not of great concern to me as I know I wrote the story and we filmed it without this in mind and therefore I don’t feel I have brushed up on something quite daunting with deliberate intent.

Just wait for the final piece!!!!

Short Film – Shooting Day

We were ready to go! Actors were finalised and had the scripts. We had a costume for our postman character. Sara had brought her car to uni for this term and we decided to use that in the film. Actors were on their way up from London and Birmingham. The weather was meant to be a fine day. Our locations looked lovely. All the equipment was ready to go (there as an issue getting out reflectors so I made some with tin foil and cardboard). We set off to our shoot.

Helena took most of the equipment home with her the day before (due to the fact she lives near the park we were shooting at). With Sara driving, Sophie, Nick, Sarah and I travelled to the location along with the rest of the kit and met her there to set up. Her parents kindly offered their time as people in the background (the cyclist). We set up the kit ready to go for Tom and Abigail (our lead actors) when they arrived. Helena picked them up at 09:00 and after meeting all the crew and getting to know each other and also after a directional talk, we got shooting. Our postman, played by James, was due to arrive at 10:30 as he was only needed later on.

The shoot went nicely to start and was ahead of schedule as we were quick setting up shots, doing a take and then moving onto the next one (although there was a few takes to each scene). We had a minor incident at 12:00 when James fell ill which caused us to loose an actor off set and an hour and half whilst we dealt with the situation and replanned. It also gave the sun enough time to break through the cloud base (something which we had scheduled in but thought we would be done by). We were forced to use Helena’s mum who kindly stepped in at the last minute instead of the postman and she played a woman walking her dog – Lady Midnight or Middi (pain in the bum to me) stepped in to for this part as Abigail had brought her dog with her. Abigail and Tom also used this new character in an improvised part of the car journey.

Although there was some lighting issues and sound issues (BLOODY GEESE) we managed to wrap up really quickly. Two new problems then faced us. Our location for the interior was in Coventry and to save space in the vehicles and time, we had already set up our lights there. Since we had been knocked back and hour and a half, rush hour had kicked in and it would mean a very, very long journey back to Coventry to film there. As we were paying the actors by the hour (out of our own pockets as this was how we funded the budget) we were conscious of this time issue. At this point, Mr and Mrs Borthwick (who I can not thank enough) offered to us their house. We sprung on this opportunity and raced there. The only issue was we had no lighting and although we managed to find an old DIY lamp, it still was a poorly lit set and was quite orange on camera (although this might have been a bit more of a technical point from the operator).

But we pushed on and got the shoot done exactly on our scheduled finish time. We would need to re-film some pick up shots and perhaps some audio but we paid and gave goodbyes to our fantastic actors and wrapped for the day.


The group blog post with some photo stills from the day:

Short Film – Paperwork

Most of the paperwork was done by the Producer and Assistant Producer. However, having experience producing and also being familiar with risk assessments, I was asked to lend a hand in a few areas.


Here is the paperwork blog from NASSSH Films:

Short Film – Test Shoot

The test shoot consisted of several things. The first was getting to our locations and working out the shots and angles and lenses needed. Also I had to do a sound check and help looking at lighting issues (the externals depended on the day). The second was deciding what technical equipment would work well and where (ie. where the tracking shots would be and the best place for a jib shot). The third was working out from a logistical point of view how we would film the interior car shots.

I will start with the car interior shots. I used to MLS car mount and played about with that for a bit. I worked out a lot of shots we could do with it. There were two that seemed most likely. One was it being on the bonnet looking through the windshield (although it probably would have too much reflection) and the second was on a car door looking through a window. The only problem was, the suckers were a bit haphazourdous and occasionally slipped. For H&S reason and the fact we really did not want to break any kit, we decided against using it. I then looked at securing the camera inside the windscreen and on the dashboard. It seemed to work really well but was a pain to set up the shot. It would be time-consuming and tricky but did look good. The wider angled lenses (20mm) came in handy here. As did scrumptious amounts of duct tape. I also looked at shots from the back seat which looked into the mirrors of the actors. I tried three approaches; the first was looking from the back seat into the rear-view mirror which, when positioned correctly, let you see “Geraldine’s” eyes; the second and third was shot again from the back seat but this time looking into the side mirrors (left and right) and you could see “Harold” and “Geraldine’s” faces and their reaction shots. I also tried shooting over their shoulders through the dashboard with the depth of field being what they could see on the road/pavement. The final shot was done by walking very carefully next to the car with a shoulder mount looking through a side window. It looked nice but was too shaky.

Just a quick note on the location at the park; there was a lovely looking house next to the pond we would be shooting and it’s driveway ran straight onto the road we would be filming on. It looked perfect. It felt perfect. I adopted the approach I’ve always had – if you don’t ask then you don’t get and knocked on the owner’s door. I asked him if we could use his driveway for the film and he was more than happy to. He even offered us his garden to shoot in which was amazing. It’s bank kissed the water front so beautifully. It was lush and green and filled with foliage (especially daffodils which were in the script)! We just had to shoot in it.

Another quick note on the park location – it was filled with ducks, geese and swans. These would (revised:DID) play complete hummer with my sound/audio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Short Film – Script and Storyboads (revised with location scouts)

The scriptwriting will be an ongoing process so I will just copy in the links of it from the NASSSH Films blog. With each bit of feedback I will make an edit on it. Also, after our location scout, I may have to rewrite certain parts so it fits better in the story.

1st Draft:    

2nd Draft:  

3rd Draft:   

Locked Script (Edit 4):   

Revised Script due to situation (Edit 5):

I wrote half of the original script then handed it over to Sara who finished it off. When we looked back at it, it didn’t seem to work brilliantly because of our writing styles but the ideas were the same. I then took it off and rewrote Sara’s dialogue but with my words (meaning I took the same bits of speech but wrote them in my own way so it fitted together better). Sara edited it and we handed it over to Nick. Once he was happy (after asking us to make tweaks), we showed it to the tutors who helped us trim out unnecessary dialogue.

For the audition, I wrote a mini-script which, if we were making a longer film, would be part of the piece. There was a scene we all really wanted in the script but I didn’t originally write because I knew it would be too long. It consisted of Geraldine serving Harold breakfast and them discussing their days itinerary. It is very dialogue heavy so the actors had something to work with and explore so they could show us their chemistry in the audition. (On an interesting note in revising this post, the actors in fact incorporated part of this mini-script in the actual film when they improvised).


INT. Breakfast scene. Table laid out.Harry is eating his breakfast as Geraldine keeps filling up his plate. She has already eaten and is eager to wait on Harry.

I’ve done plenty of everything. What do you want?

Just toast dear.

Don’t be silly Harold, you are to eat a full proper breakfast today. You’ve a long day ahead. Now, one egg or two?

She puts two fried eggs in front of Harry. Splashes on beans, hash browns, sausage, bacon…the works. Harry’s eyes widen at the prospect of this mountain of food.

I’m rather looking forward to today Harold (as she continues cooking). It will be lovely getting out in this spring air. The crocuses should be coming up. And the daffodils.

Those one’s back of Mrs Quigley’s garden are looking beautiful. I must ask her how she gets them so rich in colour.

I always say it’s the compost, don’t I. The soil here is not what it used to be.

That’s where I am going wrong ey?

Harry obviously knows this is not just the case (being the expert gardener he is) and wavers a light-hearted finger at Geraldine and is comically sarcastic.

I must say my dear, that these eggs are superb! The best in a long time.

Only the best for you Harold!

She hugs him round the back of his shoulder and kisses him lightly on the cheek. Harry continues ploughing through his tremendous fry-up.

Did you finish packing the bags Harold, I did ask you to before you came down.

Yes love, they’re in the hallway ready. I think I’ve got everything we need.

Well you are always forgetting things aren’t you? You’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on. Where would you be without me?

(He looks at her with a tear of utter bliss in his eye)
Not the man I am today, that’s for sure.


 After we finalised our actors, we came across another hurdle. The chap playing Harold didn’t drive but the lady playing Geraldine did. I re-wrote the script so it would have them the other way driving but still so it fitted the story. It turned out as I read and re-read it through that having Geraldine driving added even more charm to the situation and her relationship with Harold. This charm is something we all strived to achieve throughout the whole film!

These are the original storyboards. This helped visualise how we wanted the film to look:

After Iceland, I pushed across the notion (which I picked up there whilst working with a more experienced crew) that we should have a shot-by-shot storyboard so the director knew EXACTLY how he wanted us to set up and have camera angles etc. Also, our initial location recce (at Lemington Spa) fitted the script exactly BUT we felt another location Helena scouted and found an even better location so I felt it even more beneficial to (after our crew recce’d the location) devise how we would shoot there instead (requiring another script tweak).

Shot-by-shot storyboard:

Also, here is the link to the location scout blog posts: