Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Apocalypse now

A rare moment for reflection as Britain burns around us. A prescient moment to be documenting the end of days, it seems.

Anyway, we are now eight days into the shoot, and a set of lessons for the next time round has already emerged.
  • Don’t work with blood gags. Just don’t. They are messy, sticky, mess up your continuity when they cover actors’ faces and clothes in a different way to how you expected, and never look as good as had you imagined them in your head. One face cast prosthetic which should have spurted gore from the temple sprung a leak when pressurised, and pissed red syrup out from under the chin. Not what we were hoping for.
  • Continuity. Man, oh man – it is such a pain in the arse to get this right. We have already had to re-write two bits of script to get around continuity problems, and our opportunities for fixing future problems are getting fewer and fewer. And this is with an absolutely awesome Script Supervisor on the case.
  • Night shoots are a massive ball-ache. You spend every day squeezing in shots to chase the sun-rise, and are forced to compress and improvise diet-versions of gags and action on the fly to make your shots at a time when everybody is powering down mentally.
  • Why didn’t we write in more acting moments? Big action sequences are a massive drain on the actors: yesterday was one of our set pieces, and we ended up having to splatter our already-knackered cast up at 5:30 am just to get a single shot of them braining a zombie with poles. Some of them are excused for being a little pissed off on their way home.
  • Sleep. Shooting hours, stress and never being able to switch your brain off make this an extraordinarily valuable commodity. I have taken to smashing a couple of impromptu beers at the end of each day just to give myself a fighting chance of falling asleep; alcohol as medication. Not a positive step, one imagines.

And the saving grace - our stellar cast and crew. We have chanced out here and somehow avoided any divas and dick-heads. Most of these people I have never worked with before, and it is absolutely down to luck rather than judgement that we ended up with the soundest of all posses. I can’t imagine what it’d be like if we had to put out fires all day long as well.

Oh well – back to the front we go. It’s a day of acting to look forward to (with a few pick-ups from yesterday thrown in for good measure); let’s hope this resets everybody in time for another hitting and biting session tomorrow.

But are you actually enjoying yourself, Andy? It’s not an easy question to answer. I absolutely loved the mega-horde day last Friday (a day that was itself responsible for more than one sleepless night over the last month), and I really get off on watching our cast when they’re given a chance to act. But the stress is just enormous. One dropped continuity moment; one under-dressed set; one missed edit because we were forced to busk it to make our shots and be sure we wrapped on time – all things that drop a viewer out of the film.

And here endeth the lessons on the most important one of all – be careful what you wish for. Ask me again on the 28th. Tense.


  1. Stand firm, dear boy! Zombie#48 has every faith in you fine people!

  2. Being on set was a great experience, and I completely agree that you got a winning cast and crew. Everyone pulling their weight and having fun at the same time. Great times. Everyone is confident that you'll make a great film.