Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rehearsals: Day 3

It's almost mid-night, I should be asleep, considering I didn't sleep very well at all last night (bad tummy, and anxiety dreams) and today was long, productive, yet tiring day at rehearsal, but, there's a 21 month old running around my ankles. Someone decided she didn't want to go to sleep tonight. After two hours of tantrum we finally gave in and and our lovely little daughter in happily running around singing and laughing... she won this battle!

Elaine Reddy, Steve Gunn, Me, Patrick O'Donnell in The Factory
 Today was a good day. We blocked a good portion of the script, up page 40, so over half. Tomorrow we'll do the same. It got a little tough in the afternoon.

Discussing a scene
My energy was completely depleted. I could feel that the ideas weren't coming and because the rehearsal schedule has really been thrown out the window at this stage and we're just doing everything we can, when we can, I was finding it hard to focus on what exactly to do with half the cast not there. Sleep deprivation is not conducive to the creative environment... or anything really.

Steve captures the moment

But we got through it and found a pace again. With it we got through several important scenes, so I was happy enough with that. Hopefully tomorrow we'll have all the crew there and can run through the entire script, start to finish and start figuring out the movements. 

It's such a technical piece, I'm so glad I blocked off this week for rehearsal, we would have been up shit creek on set with all we have to do in 5 days! But I know, even with all this prep, it's still going to be intense on set, and I'm sure, like every other film I've done, a hell of a lot more than I'm anticipating... it's this blind optimism keeps us coming back, after the pain of the broken arm has faded we still go back and climb the tree.

OK, more tomorrow. Hopefully. I probably would have missed this one if little miss wakey wakes had decided to be little miss sleepy sleeps instead!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rehearsals: Day 2

Today was a good day. A very good day. Those hiccups I mentioned, we got them solved. Starting with a very welcome phone call from Steve Gunn last night to say he'd mentioned the part to a friend of his, Patrick O'Donnell. He sent me a link to his reel, I was about 30 seconds of it a breathed a huge sigh of relief! My thumb lit across the blackberry qwerty keyboard and the deal was sealed! Patrick was in.

I got to together first thing with Michael and Steve. We hit their scenes together and tried to find the right balance between the two brothers in the opening scene. It went well. We didn't have enough time at it, so hopefully we can back to it, and their relationship during the week.

Everyone joined us, Maryann (my wife) came along to take info on costumes before going off to look for them. We got word then that Patrick was going to be able to join us for a reading. So we hung out a little bit, though I should curb the hanging out, we've only three days left and still a lot to go through! But the reading was great, Patrick brought a whole new take on Tone that changed it completely from how Keith was playing it, which I think is what it needed. I couldn't match what Keith was doing, and I didn't want to try, so I'm glad Patrick took it his own way, we can move ahead now.

What was nice too was that he knew most everyone, and had worked with almost everyone there. I was hoping for that, I think that relaxed atmosphere of friends and colleagues who now each other, like each other and thrive off each other makes for a good working atmosphere and allows us to bipass the getting-to-know-you stage. We can get stuck right it with a talented acting troupe.

Something else that worked out, my previous insurers, the one's I used on Emily's Song and Slán agus Beannacht got back to me, turns out they didn't go out of business but were just bought by another firm. So that is finally sorted - HURRAY!!! That's a load off my mind.

So yeah, it was a good day! And I'm looking forward to getting stuck in again tomorrow.

Meantime, seems we're making Headlines - Page one of IFTN today:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rehearsals: Day 1

Well, we have begun... rehearsals at least. Day one done. We've set up camp in The Factory in Dublin, a studio, rehearsal space founded by John Carney, Kirsten Sheridan, Lance Daly and others. It's a great space (if not a little chilly). Most of the cast gathered at 10am, started by chatting, getting to know new faces, and then got stuck into some conversations about the script, the character, the themes and tone there in.

We had some lunch, soup and sandwiches, warmed us up. Then back to it. We read the end of the script, sequence 18 is a long a complicated piece, so I wanted to hit it first. A little more discussion and then everyone but me, Michael and Brian stayed behind to work on their character's relationship, which is one of high intensity! Even though we only started we got stuck in and it felt good.

It's always fun to see it come to life and watch the choices actors make, changing, improving upon, bringing new meaning to what I've written - and making it real, making the project real.

There are a couple of hiccups that arose over the weekend that have yet to be sorted out. For some reason my insurers are not getting back to me, no idea why they're dragging their heals, usually insurence has never been a worry, it goes through in the first phone call! But I decided to try a different firm this time and I can safely say I wont be using them again, well, maybe at all if they don't get back to me tomorrow!

We will have insurance, we can't do without it, that simple, we wont be allowed on location without it! It's just annoying that I've been put in this situation and made doubtful while I should just be concentrating on the creative side of things. Hopefully it'll get sorted in the next day or two.

Another headache came when I got a call on Saturday even from Keith Ward, the actor playing Tone, and the stunt coordinator, telling me that he had to pull out, just two days before rehearsal! He's working on Asterix 3 in Waterford and the shoot got pushed back because of the weather. Stupid hurricane! I don't hold any grudge toward Keith, I know he was in a tight spot. It's frustrating alright, but these things happen all the time. Hopefully tomorrow we'll have a new Tone. It's going to be a big challenge for whatever actor takes it. He's got to learn a whole character and script in four days! When Keith had it for a year! So watch this space!

OK, that's all for today. More tomorrow. I need to sleep now!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lucky Number 5

Tomorrow is Thursday. That's three days to pick up everything I need. Lights, sound equipment, food, water, kitchen equipment, props, costumes... I'm getting flashbacks to my childhood and Saturday evenings when Challenge Anneka was on! Lots to do. Someone called me this evening and asked if I'd do a music video for them, for some reason I agreed to meet them tomorrow. Don't know what I was thinking, for one, I don't do music videos, and what the hell time do I think I have?! I'm going to have to cancel.

Monday brings the first day of rehearsal, now taking place in The Factory in Dublin. The guys did me a great deal and got me out of a hole! I thought we were getting the Complex, one of the actors helps out there and said we probably could get it, but they booked a show in the meantime. Fair enough. I'm interested to see what the Factory space is like. The palce was a famous rehearsal space for bands back in the 80s, the likes of U2 used to rehearse there. Recently it has been reestablished as a film studio, set up by several well known Irish filmmakers, John Carney (Once) Kirsten Sheridan (August Rush) and Lance Daly (Kisses) among them. I believe it's meant to operate in the same way Coppola's Zoetrope does, or did! A kind of filmmakers collective?! I'm not a hundred percent sure, so looking forward to finding out more. (RTE Radio interview about the place Here.)

Apart from that aspect I'm just looking forward to getting into a room with the actors and figuring this thing out. With all the delays on this, 5 false starts in total, it's actually been a bit of a blessing. It's given us the time to meet again and again and try different things. Things that didn't always work, but you have to go down these roads. I've had the luxury of having lengthy conversations with the actors. Nothing has been rushed and I believe it's all lead to a stronger script and hopefully that will all translate to a better film.

Just mentioning the 5 false starts there - it's interesting, 5 seems to be the constant trend here, fifth start attempt, €5000 budget, 5 day shoot. Hopefully it's Lucky!

Should get to bed. Late. I've already had one sleepless night filled with worry this week, so going to try and get some sleep before a busy day tomorrow! Just thought I'd empty sweep some brain dust under the rug before laying it to rest.

More soon. Once we get into rehearsals it should get a bit more interesting and hopefully I'll be able to post a lot more pictures and maybe some more videos.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


It's September. That means one thing. I'm shooting this month!

Two years ago me and a friend sat in a pub having a few beers and talking about movies. We kept saying we should do something together. I had this idea of getting a bunch of actors together and putting them in one location with an story and seeing what came out (a lazy writer's dream!)

There was a location I had in mind. As it happened another friend was in the same bar, a councillor at the time, so I asked if we could get into a certain location. He said yes. And so it was in motion. I had planned to shoot that October. Just one month later! But... didn't happen. Reality dawned.

We set to writing a script, Mark Lebenon and I. We didn't get very far. The idea kept falling flat. We couldn't find a hook. A reason to keep everyone in the building. Mark and his family eventually decided to return to South Africa after the recession took it's toll on them. But before Mark left we met for one more chat and he told me about a play he was working on, one that took place in a school, all over the school. So the audience would be lead around from class to class to watch different scenes. I thought this was a great idea. And so grew the idea of shooting the film in one take.

From that came the idea of having to shoot in real time. That's when I thought of the Tiger Kidnapping idea, the idea that it would take one of the kidnappers and hour-and-half to go to a bank and comeback. So there it was. That took about a year.

While Mark was still here I started casting. And once again planned to shoot in October of that year, 2010. But then the location fell through. I pushed it to January, scheduling problems. March, money problems. May, more scheduling problems. Finally I said September, and that's it. If anyone can't do it then I'll find someone who can, but everyone committed. If I don't have the money, I'll beg steal and borrow... which I did!

So here we are, September 2011! Finally. Less than 4 weeks out from shooting. I'm meeting some actors tomorrow to talk in detail about characters. I meeting Dermot O'Mahony on Saturday to talk Music and from here on out I'll be working on it everyday. Which is exciting.

And, I can also finally announce that Catherine Wrigglesworth joins the cast playing Louise. Welcome Cath, happy to have you on board!

Catherine Wrigglesworth (centre) in Jason Figgis' Railway Children.
Plenty more news to come as we move forward. Stay tuned.