Thursday, 1 March 2012

Pricks and mortar

What is it about owning a derelict building that turns people into the worst kind of capitalists?

With St. Marcelo’s edit viewed, digested and critiqued, a couple of gaps have appeared. Gaps that we kind of knew were there anyway, but are now screamingly noticeable by their absence. And one of these gaps – exterior shots of the derelict refuge within which all the action takes place, to use as cutaways. Nothing says ‘later’ quite like looking at a knackered building.

This was always going to be a pick-up. Our 6th form college made it perfectly clear to us that it didn’t want anything in the movie that could be used to identify the place, and so we rightly postponed getting our exterior cutaways to a later time; we even left space in the shot that opens our trailer for us to composite the building in later. I mean, how hard can it be to find a derelict building when all you want to do is film it from the outside?

Not hard at all, it turns out. There are plenty.

But it’s only when the conversation turns to getting permission that the fleece-the-film-boy process can begin.

An example. Long-time readers of the blog may remember one of our earliest location love-affairs, St Joseph’s College in Brent. When Jake and I went to do our initial recce of the place we snapped off about a hundred photos, took some video on our phones, and basically had the run of the place for about an hour and a half. One of the site security guys gave us a quick tour of the inside, and then left us to our own devices. Disco.

Total cost to the production: £0.00.

Good numbers. OK – but now we need the exterior shots. This place would be great, so it’s a quick phone call back to St Joseph’s. Can the same two people come back, but this time only for half an hour? We don’t need to get indoors, and we don’t need a chaperone. Health and Safety ain’t an issue, and all we’d be bringing with us is a DSLR.

No problems. £1000. Plus VAT. Plus a £100 “library fee”. Plus some more VAT. Total cost to the production: £1320.00.

No – you clearly don’t understand what we’re after. We are going to be considerably less hassle than we were when we came to recce the place; I mean, it’s not like we’re bringing a film crew to the location. We’re happy to consider a location fee, but we can’t stretch anywhere close to £1320. But hey, this is essentially free money for you guys – you don’t need to do anything to earn it other than just letting us back in. You’ve got 24/7 security on-site anyway, so the whole shoot can be arranged for the price of a phone call.

Ah. Got it. That’ll be £1000. Plus VAT. Plus a £100 “library fee”. Plus some more VAT. I guess I should have been prepared for that after the conversations we had last March.

Really? I mean, are we part of the same industry? You must know that it ain’t easy making an independent feature film, but thank God people do otherwise our national film industry would die on its arse overnight. Without independent cinema, where would crews and actors go to get experience working on feature films?

And when all the filmmakers have gone, who’s going to be left to fleece?

So the search goes on. So far we have competing quotes of £1320, £1000 and £600 for three different places, and are running out of easy options. Stock footage hasn’t thrown anything helpful up yet, although we still have a couple of irons in our deeply inexpensive fire.

But, come on, neglectful property magnates of the South of Britain. Throw us a realistic bone, would ya, if only to give you the moral high-ground when complaining that there’s only ever American movies on at the cinema. Homeless.

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