It’s Halloween, the day before I shoot my film Newborn. I’m running about like the headless horseman in Sleepy Hollow, scrabbling together the only thing that makes me feel like I’m part of this much anticipated pagan festival.
I squish in my werewolf contact lenses and cyborg corset along with a pair of jeans and start my day. It’s a casual look for Hallows Eve but it makes me feel like I’m not missing out.
I have three pick ups to do in one day across different parts of London and it’s only now I realise the real meaning of making a low budget independent film. It means you have to do practically everything yourself. In an ideal world, I would have my Gaffer/Lighting guys collect the lighting equipment, the DOP arrive with his desired camera gear and anything else a runner would run to the edge of the earth and back for. However, as I’m also the Producer of this film and all of my contacts are doing me favours, I am the face of the film and need to meet, greet and show my absolute and utter gratification for the favours that have been granted.
My mind skips to the night before when my heart sank after reading the weather forecast. It predicted rain all weekend. I’m immediately on the phone to my Gaffer who gives me a list of things to invest in to make a contraption for the HMI Light (2.5K) in case it rains. Even then there’s no guarantee that it’ll work or that it’s safe. And the last thing I wanted to do was be at risk of an exploding HMI and having to foot a hefty bill.
I’m panic struck, but Louis, my DOP, reassures me that we’ll have to just redesign the lighting setup. Of course for me this means time and I’m utterly doubtful as I know we’ll be working to fight against the diminishing winter daylight. If you think the number 13 is unlucky, just think how I felt about 4pm onwards. A HMI is needed outside and that is my decision. I’m aware we need to keep the light consistent because we could run out of real daylight time if we go over the shooting order.
3 tarpaulins, non-slip rope, tent pegs, tent/awning poles, multiple power cords and one huge umbrella later I’m almost prepared for the inevitable. ‘Expect everything to go wrong for your first movie’ are the words that swirl in my head. It’s actually great advice given to me by two industry professionals and I’m grateful because these are the realistic expectations I need. There is no time for naivety in this game.
I’ve just finished collecting the lights kindly given to me by Cherryduck Productions, and with help from another convoy (in the form of my dad) we load his car and mine and I continue my journey across the river to the deep south leaving Dad to drop off the lighting at the set.
When I arrive at my friend’s studio, there is just so much kit to fathom. He has carefully collated rigs and contraptions for my shoot. I leave like a kid rewarded with trick or treat goodies, loading my car full of rugged cases.
The day has been long. I don’t get back home until after 1am. Only a few hours to go until the early call time.
I prepare my props bag for the movie. My SFX Designer, Sammm Agnew, is still texting me and sending me images of the Monster’s progress. She’s been up several nights in a row preparing the materials to paint onto Christopher Clark (the Monster).
It was only the night before last that I found the old woman who would play Marris’s mother. She appears only in a photo that will sit on the mantelpiece. The things we do for cutaways.
I’m tired, hungry and nervous, mainly for the forecasted rain and potential lighting issues, but deep down inside the vortex of my anxiety I’m silently excited.
For more information on how project Newborn started please take a look at
and for more monster action
Thank you all and please keep reading!