Things I have learnt while filming #1 - always check special effects in advance of production.
I’m currently in the middle of shooting nano-budget feature, Nightlens. We’ve had three scenes with extra effects needed.
The first was smashing a whiskey bottle. We had a spare sugar glass bottle but they were extremely fragile and there was a large risk we’d break them before we got to the scene. Then the usual pressure of needing to get the take in two. We did it in one! Phew.
The second was a “cerebral rain” effect. David, the director, wanted to show the falling apart of the “brain construct” that the film is set within by having cerebral fluid fall from the sky like rain. David prepped this in advance including screen testing - it looked pretty good. However what we didn’t do was a full run through - we could only use the cerebral rain in one shot but we hadn’t realised that we would then have continuity errors with our clothing once we had been rained on. In the end the cerebral rain had to be cut.
Last night we shot a death scene. David wanted to show “bits of brain” from the deceased. He had prepped this with bread and fake blood. However we had an immediate panic as Alice (makeup) only had a small amount of blood and David needed pints to soak the bread in. Creativity prevailed and Alice moulded some bits of brain from the wax that she bought to create a scar. This looked pretty awesome.
So two out of three ain’t bad. I really learnt that you just can’t prep enough for anything non-standard. What will it look like on camera? What will it be like when you add actors? What will we do if it goes wrong?
Photo: Kim Hardy
Right now I’m on a rest day in the middle of a two week feature film shoot. It’s my first lead role in an independent feature and I’m here because (in addition to the luck and privilege that I’ve had all my life) I made my own work.
In the summer I’m going to Edinburgh fringe festival with a work that I made myself. All of my best and stretching roles have been in productions that I have engineered. Ever since the fabulous coach Amelie Mettenheimer recommended to me that I do my own one-woman show I have progressed and progressed, making gradually more complex and ambitious work.
It’s been hard starting out as an actor, but it would have been even harder had I tried the conventional route - sitting by the phone and waiting for things to happen.