Thursday, 14 July 2011

The quick and the undead

It seems that you lot really want to get your respective zombies on.

Our horde is swelling by the minute; our two micro-posses are already over-subscribed, and there’s only a few spots left in the big’un. I’ve always suspected that there’s a whole lotta love for the undead, and now I have the numbers to back it up. Thanks to everyone that’s already got in touch, and to everyone else – be quick.

Anyway, the official count is 17 days till we start rolling cameras. The list of stuff-still-to-do is long and terrifying, with the only thing keeping me sane being the adage that every shoot only falls into place at the last minute. Bruce had an expression for it, appropriated from WWII army slang: SNAFU. Situation Normal – All Fucked Up.

And it’s the little bits that suck up all the time. Phoning around for the best price on 12-seater vans; tracking down splatter-proof crash mats; figuring out when to pick up the guns and corpses.

And that’s why the time between posts is getting longer and longer. Sorry.

But today deserves a blog. Not just because it’s been a disgraceful five days since the last one, but because today has been an especially good day.

I have to say up-front that the college within which we are going to be filming could not have been any more accommodating to the shoot this summer – friendly, flexible, responsive and generous with their time and facilities. All the grief caused by our earlier experiences with the first college is now a distant memory, with a hairy piece of seasoned pork rind on display in the Charmed offices our only reminder of the trauma.

So, to return the favour, today we met up with a bunch of their recently qualified Film and Media A-level students to try and convince them that a couple of weeks of their summer holidays would be better spent by going back to school. At night. To watch a bunch of people who should know better biting each other.

Yup. It’s a full-on Charmed Runner hunt.

I don’t think I've met anybody in the production bit of the film industry that hasn’t started off as a Runner on someone else’s set. Until they’ve worked on a film set, most people have no idea about what they actually enjoy doing in the production process. They may think they do, but chances are they’re wrong.

The smart ones do it once, and then concentrate on becoming lawyers and doctors. But for us unfortunates, it’s only the start of a long and painful process.

Working on a film set is hard. Long hours, truncated weekends, and periods of just standing around waiting. It’s better for smaller crews like ours, as everybody tends to pitch in (if only to spare themselves the social awkwardness of having to watch somebody else move lights across a room one by one), but it’s still not for the faint hearted. The simple fact is that film is essentially a manufacturing industry.

When we’ve been filling the production roles on Resurrection, we haven’t once checked to see what film school people went to. Or even whether they went to film school at all. Maybe if you wanted to become a Director or a Writer, then I can possibly be convinced of the merits of academic study; however, if you want to move into Production Sound, or Gaffing, or Line Production, it seems to me that set experience is the only thing that matters.

Most crew members are extraordinarily generous about sharing their experience and knowledge – find the production role that most appeals, and you’ve got a month of priceless mentoring. You spend the whole shoot on the steepest bit of the learning curve, guzzling down reams of useful information; you’re making contacts; you’re becoming part of other people’s professional networks.

And those oh-so-elusive IMDb credits don’t hurt either. Hoarding.

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