Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day for Night

Location by Day
DoP John Lawlor and I took a recce to a couple of locations yesterday. Two locations I had previously visited with producer Richie Quinn, but remained undecided on. One was free (and featured in the kickstarter video) but small, the other was expensive, but huge and offered a lot more n scope and scale. Yesterday was a second viewing to make up my mind. With John in tow we could really look at what both sites would give us visually.

Location Graded for Night
The first site was an old flour mill, pretty cool place, lots of interesting features and certainly workable. We spent a good hour there, thinking about where we could stage scenes, where actors could play, interact and what new aspects the location might change or lend itself to the script. You're constantly looking for ways the location can inform and be a part of the story, rather than just a backdrop.

So overall the location was a 'No', it was too small, didn't offer enough in terms of story and as John pointed out 'It's not derelict!' - it was also right on the doorstep of the owners house. Slightly impractical. While they had a 'Work away' attitude, I'm sure they have no idea just how intrusive a film crew is, especially one shooting at night. We might find on the second night, at 3 am, having woken them up for the fifth time, a grumpy housewife walking into shot in her nightgown telling us to find somewhere else to make our film!

We headed straight from there to the second location. One Richie and I had looked at late one evening as the sun was going down. It was pitch black inside and our only source of light was a candle and the light from our phones! So I didn't really get a sense of the space. But it was a different story during the day. As we pulled up to this large old mill, complete with rows of shed and 80 foot chimney stack, John said 'I don't even have to see inside, this is the place.'

Me at Location
But we did go inside. And spent an hour getting very excited and imagining all kinds of scenes in various areas around the four stories of vast rooms. We shoot a bunch of footage, just looking around. And talked about the idea of shooting Day for Night (shooting in the day and colouring the footage to make it look like night time, commonly used in film)

Me at Location Graded for Night
Shooting in the day would certainly make life a hell of a lot easier. So we did some grading test, just very quickly, and honestly, didn't work for me.

I'm never sure about shooting Day for Night, I always see it in films and it jars me out of them. There's a big difference in the lighting, the skin tones, how shadows fall and the overall quality of the piece. It creates the wrong type of atmosphere. I love when it's done in the old Hammer Horror films, makes my smile. But not for this. I'd rather work as close to the environment we're trying to portray as possible. Shooting at night lends a certain atmosphere that is simply unobtainable in the day. And I want that to translate to the screen.

While the second location is expensive it gives us so much more that, for me, makes it worth it. I'm getting very excited about getting in there to dress the set and to light it. It's going to be a challenge I'm sure, probably ten times harder than I'm imagining, and who the hell wants to work from 8pm to 4am! But I think it's the right choice and will give us the dark, atmospheric, gritty crime thriller I set out to make two years ago!

Can't wait to get stuck in!!!

In some other news, the short film I directed and edited last year, Raise My Hands, is finally hitting the road - starting with the IMDB page. We've started entering festival and I'm cutting the trailer on the other screen right now, that should be up soon! More news coming.

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