We had planned to press start at 9 a.m. however the four of us that were waiting by the computer from 8 a.m. were stressing each other out by discussing what we thought we might get as our three elements. As we got closer to 9 a.m. the ideas got more and more ridiculous and the anticipation was killing us so much so that we couldn’t hold it any longer and pressed start at 8:56 a.m. The 48-hour Film Project countdown had begun and the three elements that we got were:
- CHARACTER: MADDY SINGLETON – MAKE-UP ARTIST Nazish was excited with this as it allowed her create a character with two personalities, something she loves. Maddy – Makeup Artist by day, Madam – dominatrix by night.
- LINE: Are you sure it is safe? Our mouths dropped when we read this line, as it would fit perfectly in a dungeon scene. Now Nazish had to work out where to put it?
- PROP: HEADBAND.In the first draft, Nazish had made Maddy wear the headband however during the re-write she started playing with the idea of James wearing it. We both had hoped to add a medical condition that we wanted to bring awareness too, as this is a running theme in my films and in her writing, so we agreed on our lead character dying of prostate cancer, something that we both believe needs to be talked about more than it currently is. With this in mind, Nazish started talking about the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity and this helped her came up with the brilliant idea of having James wear a Macmillan Headband, which by the way doesn’t exist however I think Macmillan should think about making one as I would definitely buy one to help the charity. This is precisely the reason why I wanted to work with Nazish. She comes up with brilliant deep twist and turns that make a story just so much more powerful.
As there was very limited budget or time everyone on the team had agreed to bring whatever equipment, costumes and props they had. As soon as we knew our elements we put aside a 30-minute brainstorming session where Nazish and I ran ideas and locked ones that we liked and thought would be possible. My brilliant Assistant Director, Evetta, took notes and then sent out an email to the cast and crew telling them what we had brainstormed and needed, they then all scrummaged though their houses, packed their cars up with stuff that could work and heading to our first location. My amazing Production Designer, Milica, had her runners, who were also our extras, find things in pound and charity shops that the cast and crew could not get their hands on, whilst she started setting up the location and sorting out all the things that everyone brought to her with my brilliant Assistant Producer, Ashley, who is also my wonderful sister, best friend and always by my side on every film set. It’s amazing the things we filmmakers have from past productions. We pulled together so much fabulous equipment, costumes and props thanks to the entire team.
Whilst Nazish wrote, the team and I were coming up with possible titles from what we had brainstormed. Finally we agreed on CHOKE and then Ashley produced all our social media sites so that we could create a buzz around the project whilst we where filming it. It’s great having young social media savvy crew memebrs as these PR things we miss sometimes but they are important these days as they really help keep the project fun and exciting for all involved and interested. Having a title early on also helped Nazish focus her writing, making the editing process much easier and helping our brilliant music composer, Natali out as well. It also gave me a topic to research on youtube. It’s amazing the things you can find on youtube. A topic that Nazish and I had no clue about before we pressed start we became expert in just an hour or so.
Everyone really pulled their weight from the moment we pressed start and in 4 hours we had a script, a schedule and an entire props and costume department ready to go and play with. We had always planned to film the scenes that Nazish wrote in the dungeon first, as we knew they would be the most tricky to pull off and would take the most time so that is where we started. What made things so much easier for us was that Nazish had made the last scene in the screenplay in the dungeon and when Evetta finally read the screenplay we decided to film the last scene first as it was the most technical and important to the story, but also having this edited first would really help Natali.
One thing we didn’t think about when going over logistics was wearing gloves when setting up. Taking on an S&M dungeon as a set had its drawbacks! We were not going to move half the stuff in there without some serious latex protection! Thankfully there was a box of gloves on location and everyone was happy that we had found it. Once the gloves were on things moved in and out quickly.
Setting up the dungeon was filled with laughter and it really brought the team together. It’s not every day you film in a real dungeon and look at the things that are in there and wonder what is this used for???? ohhhhh…. lol It helped the crew who did not know each other get to know one another and it helped everyone loosen up and have fun. This was basically the attitude in the air for the rest of the shoot. We were all having a laugh and so the hours ticked by and no one noticed as we were just having way too much fun.
Being 6 months pregnant, I knew that I had to find sometime to sleep in the 48 hours and it would be better to have it on day one then day two as there would be no way I could sleep on day two even if I tried. I had planned with Evetta to have everyone, in their beds, by no later than 4 a.m. to get at least 4 hours of sleep. Due to her amazing time keeping we achieved this. We had so much creativity flowing whilst working in the dungeon that we ended finishing on time and with so many more shots than we needed. I’m actually now thinking of recutting the short as there were so many brilliant shots we got in the dungeon that I could not use due to it having to be 7-minutes long. You’ll have to watch this space to see if the director’s cut is possible ; )))
The first 24 hours were over. The half way mark had been hit and we were all on a high. That said, much of the hard work was still to come in the next 24 hours. You’ll have to read tomorrow’s blog to see what went wrong and how we dealt with it….