Monday, November 28, 2011

Behind the Scenes

Some behind the scene shoots from various cameras on Set:

Base Camp. Two story below the floor we were shooting on we had our break room. It was a cozy little corner, food, fridge, tea and coffee, couches, chairs and a rug. Tech station for sound and camera. Room for make-up and props. Back to the Future, Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen hanging on the wall to watch over us. It was still chilly, dusty and I'm sure everyone was glad to see the back of it when they left!!! Still was a nice break from the pressure cooker of the top floor.

Everyone hanging out in between shots. I remember it was chilly, I never really felt the cold that much. I know it effected some people more than other... probably the ones who were hanging aroun for hours at a time, but I was constantly running around. But when we went back for the pick up in October, the temperature drop made me grateful we'd shot in September, then again in November! That was cold.

Steve gets Make-up from Mary Ellen while I figure out what we're doing next.

Setting up a shot, shooting day for night.

Roger Ryan, our Gaffer. He rigged most things on set, all the wiring, electricity, lights. He was always on hand with his trusty Duct tape. There would be a probably, I'd say 'Rog, we need this to do this so we can film this" - he would disappear for ten minutes and come back with some tool, or rig, or invented contraption I'd never seen before that would make it work. He also has a great attitude, brought levity. Employ this man on your set.

Below is Wendy Tinsley, John's girlfriend. She has been a friend for many years and has worked on all of my films in one form or another (even played a part in one of my dodgy amateur efforts back in the day). Wendy came to the mill on the Saturday before the shoot and spent the afternoon with me, John and roger sweeping up half a ton of pigeon shit! Thanks Wendy!

Steve Gunn, playing Davey-boy, takes a moment between scenes. I enjoyed working with Steve. He brings a lot of energy to the set and is fully commited to making the scene work, hitting the right beats and understanding everything each character is saying, why and where it leads. He builds the archs of each scene, each exchange and delivers.

Play-back. John shows Steve the last scene.

The Van Scene... Gerry Shanahan and Patrick O'Donnell. Patient Men! They waited around all evening to shoot this scene. It was supposed to be an easy day, this was the Tuesday and we didn't have Michael, so we only had two scenes to film with out him. I thought we'd be done by 8pm... we start shooting this scene at mid-night! I forget why. But the boys pulled it off.

Slightly evil look of from me! Pat was great to work with. He really changed the character of Tone to something all his own. It's a joy to watch an actor take something you've written, read it line for line, but change the character and meaning so completely you feel like you had nothing to do with it's creation. I was thrilled with Pat's take on the character. It was a surprise, and I love surprises!

Me below, dancing as I leave set!

Michael during pick-ups in October. The effects of the shoot beginning to show!

Michael was great to work with. As the lead of the film he set the tone and created the over mood of the piece. J became a dark, brooding character, one who tries to do good and keep himself contained. Michael did a great job of showing that. As he slipped into make-up and character I often felt bad for putting him in such a dark place, it must be a draining thing to portray someone so tormented... but then cameras would roll and I would feel so bad anymore.

That was a brief look behind the scenes. There should be some more pics to come and there is plenty of behind the scenes footage which I'll try to get up as I'm going through the edit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


We shot the last day of pick-ups today, which included the opening scene, some pick-ups we dropped on the last pick-up days (so pick-up pick-ups) and an a final scene in the Mill between Michael Bates and Steve Gunn. Went great, really good. Couldn't have been better in fact. I was slightly worried about it because we were fighting against the light. First we were up at 4 am for a driving scene that had to be filmed on empty road in the dark, so we were fitting against the sunrise. And then later, we were shooting day for night and so fighting against the sunset... why is everything backwards in film?

Steve, Michael and John really pulled it off this morning in the van. I was left sitting in the back peeping through a window... which I almost went through at one point when Michael slammed on the breaks to hard and the entire contents of the back of the van slid toward me! It was a fun scene though. The lads read their lines and then improvised a lot of stuff. So I'm looking forward to cutting it.

We finished bang on 7am, just as the sun started to poke its head up. Then back to my house for a delicious breakfast as prepared by Maryann. Then back to the Mill for 9am. Shot the pick-ups with Michael we missed on the previous pick up days and then up stairs for a final, and important scene between J and Davey-boy.

It went great, the boys gave awesome performance, really ratcheted up the tension in a 6 minute one take wonder! It looked fantastic.

So that is it. Derelict is in the can. My first feature film. A dream I've had since I was small and an idea I've been working toward for 10 years. I'm feeling a bit sleepy right now (4am wake up call) but very happy, very satisfied, it feels like an achievement.

I want to thank everyone who was involved, who believed in it, me and stuck by me and the project.

The Cast: Michael Bates, Steve Gunn, Gerry Shanahan, Elaine Reddy, Rory Mullen, Catherine Wrigglesworth, Brian Fortune and Patrick O'Donnell.

The Crew: John Lawlor, Susan Downey, Richie Quinn, Marie Valarie Jeanalot, James Mullholland, Roger Ryan, Mary Ellen Darby, Eddie Quinn and Keith Ward.

Seek these people out. Work with them. Employ them. They are talented, reliable, hard working, committed and awesome.

To all the encouragers, supporters, sponsors, friend and family who stood by me and this project, my thanks.

But of course, as always, most of all, thanks to my wife Maryann, who bears the brunt of compulsion to make film! Who must be the practical thinker in our household. Who must figure out how to buy food and pay bills and balance life when I come in bright eyed and excited saying "I have a great idea for a film, I've already called the cast and crew and they're in, we're shooting in September..." She is the most patient and incredible woman I've ever known and I'm very very lucky to have her as my wife!

Thanks everyone. More new soon. Hopefully some footage. Maybe a trailer!

I'm off to lie down...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Picking Up

Post from a couple of weeks ago after pick-ups I forgot to post:

Just finished two days of pick-ups and feeling good about them. Saturday we shot 12 pages! Well done everyone, haven't done that since the madness of Day 1, way back when. We even managed to grab a couple of cool little extras with Patrick O'Donnell. He had only come in to (SPOILER!!!) lie unconscious in the background, but sure while he was around we threw in a few extra bits and pieces.

We picked up all the shots we dropped with Brian Fortune and Michael Bates, important scenes that needed the time by themselves, really the moral centre of the film. So I was glad to have the time just to concentrate of them. Admittedly we spent a long time concentrating on them!!! I thought we'd be finished the day's shoot at 9pm, maybe 10pm! We went till 3am!!! But that's nothing new. Still, it was good, we were getting nice stuff and remaining creative, even at the end of a very long day.

One lesson I've learned on this one, some worth baring in mind, for a reasonable day of shooting, where you're not stretching yourself, rushing, running into silly hours, 4 pages is probably realistic - and if it's a complicated fight scene, maybe just do that in a day. Although, in saying that, Derelict probably would have taken a month, of shooting everyday, and when people are working for free, giving generously of the time and talent, a month would just be impossible to ask. I hope I get the chance to repay, and pay everyone who worked on this with a paid gig at some point, and not one that's crammed into a short time period, but has room to breathe!

Again, in saying that, we got great stuff and for an ultra-low budget film shoot in a week, I think we did OK.

Today was complicated, we were shooting day-for-night (that's when you shoot during the day and colour it to look like night - quite common in film and when done right unnoticeable) So that meant we were burning daylight. We already lost the morning be we shot so late yesterday, giving us 5 hours to do 4 pages. Doable, sure, but again, fight scenes, and a stunt. Fights get fiddly. We were belting along, get stuff in the can one shot after another. But it's just incredible how time slips by on a film set.

So, we unfortunately ran out of sun before we were done and had to drop the end of one shot and another (short) scene entirely. We have to go back anyway so better to do it right than do something rushed, or unusable. It also meant we finish at 5pm, which was lovely!

Still one day to go. Feeling good about it overall and looking forward to getting back and finishing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In the News

Just a quick one, have house guests so not much time to blog, but thought I'd post these before they passed.  Oh, and I came up with an idea for a sequel to Derelict which I might write!!!

Front page of IFTN, here's the article.

Recent article by the Drogheda Leader.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

To the Gathered Crowd in the Dark

Heading back to the mad house this weekend. Back for two days to pick up a few scenes we dropped during the shoot. Seems like so long ago now. It's been a busy time since then. A couple of projects have popped up and distracted me from editing Derelict. Iscariot being one, and a potential project that may or may not yield anything, but one worth pursuing to the end nonetheless. So the edit has been on the long finger. Probably a good thing to have a break. And with these shots over the weekend I'll have 95% of the film to cut.

We will have to go back to the mill, but only for an afternoon and just one scene. And there a scene to be shot in the front of a van, which can be done anywhere anytime. But hopefully soon. Not before Christmas though. These days cost a lot, a lot more than I have. Another grand to do this weekend. Another personal loan I did not want to have to get right before Christmas. But I felt it had to be done. I didn't want to leave these important scenes too long. I had hoped to get everything we needed this weekend, another day will still cost be €400, but wasn't to be. Hence after Christmas. Lessons learned on this one.

It's still an ultra-low budget film, I think at the end of it the budget will be €6500. But it's a lot when you're unemployed, have a young family, and you're paying for half of all that yourself! Sorry wife! I hope one day you'll learn to forgive... hopefully before you divorce me! That's something else that's important at this level of filmmaking - a supportive wife! But even the most supportive can have their patience tested.

I have to admit, the last month has been difficult, perhaps the most difficult and challenging of my career so far. Not finishing Derelict was a pain, and it's costing me more than I had hoped. I was exhausted coming off of it and got into a bit of a slump. Writing on Iscariot helped, and this new project too. They reignited my fire for film. Then I bolloxed it all up by making a faux pa, mentioning someone in an email I shouldn't have and perhaps jepordising a chance to do something fantastic. I'm not sure how it will pan out, but I fear the damage that was done may be irreversible. Thus ruining the best chance at jump starting the career I've been trying to build for 15 years.

It made me want to throw in the towel there and then. And I almost did. But it was my wife, the one who keeps having her patience tested by being married to a stubborn Independent filmmaker, who said - "Give up because you've lost your passion. Give up because you don't care anymore. But don't give up because it's hard." Can't really argue with that.

We make mistakes in life. Nothing we can do about other people. We just have to work around it. And if a chance is lost because of it, then we have to rise above and move on. I've been keeping my head down and moving forward for as long as I can remember. All I've ever wanted to do is make movies. I love them. I can't deny that. They're in my blood. Woven in the fabric of who I am. So I get over-zealous. I put my foot in it sometimes. I want to kick myself as much as the people I annoy do! And I feel like there are as many people trying to stop me as there are people who want to help me. But it's the nature of the game, the nature of the world.

I just have to keep reminding myself of why I love film, why I wanted to make them. It's because I love stories, I love to be taken on an adventure, I love to be thrilled, moved, engaged, surprised. And I love being able to give that to other people. Nothing in this world delights me more then seeing a great film (OK, maybe my daughter - but I'm talking in the context of film... you know what I mean!) I watched 13 Assassins a couple of weeks ago, I absolutely loved it LOVED it! And it came at the right time. It was a reminder. Great films always are.

That's the reason. To do something good. Regardless of the crap that you have to go through. The assholes you encounter. The drudgery, hardship and humiliation you are forced to endure daily. It's about the film. It's about what goes up on the screen and what you give to an audience. That's all it was ever about. That's the beacon of light in the dark, and it comes from a projector, shining out onto to 50 foot screen to a gathered crowd in the dark full of anticipation and excitement. It's for them. No one else. Not the idiot trying to stop you, standing in your way, saying NO NO NO. It's for that 9 year-old kid, seeing Back to the Future for the first time and suddenly realising that's why he was born. To do that.

So I'm going to finish my film. I'm going to keep trying to make more films. I'm not going to let anyone stand in my way... especially me.