Sunday, a day of rest for some but not for me and the crew working on Newborn. Instead it was filled with pickups and a daytime bedroom scene. Again we were faced with similar problems as in how best to use the space and of course not replicate any of the angles in the previous night time bedroom scene.
All turned out well although I had to make an informed decision – ‘to make up or not to make up?’ In the morning scene, character Marris wakes up. I was unsure whether to have her looking natural and nude without make up or glamorous. I of course went for the latter, reminiscing old movies where movie starlets either went to bed with a full face of make-up or awoke in perfection. In fact it still happens now, I can’t count on both hands just how many sitcoms and dramas I’ve seen where actresses have perfectly applied lip liner after awaking from a terrible night.
The rest of the Sunday relied on pickups and most of my crew were able to scarper off earlier as they weren’t needed after the crucial story telling shots.
Day 4 of the shoot was some days later but not without its problems.
In the script character Marris walks into the bathroom to discover a bathtub full of black water. We had literally five hours to shoot before daylight and this time there was no opportunity to fake daylight as we were located in a top floor maisonette and there was no space to put a HMI outside. Also, because of the limited space, we had a smaller crew.
First we filmed the static shots of the bathroom, a short dialogue scene with character Tupperwear Lady and Marris’s reaction shots and POV’s. It was 1pm when we finished those shots. Time to get down to the nitty gritty, filling the bathtub full of black water and filming the monster’s hand emerging from the black liquid followed by a struggle with Marris.
After lunch we had roughly two and half hours of daylight left. I asked Louis what the worse case scenario would be if we ran out of time. He said he could film around the window in the bathroom. I calculated all of the shots needed where the window was in shot and we planned to shoot those first. It was lucky we filmed those shots because daylight vanished earlier than anticipated. In fact we had to completely change one of the action shots so that the window didn’t feature at all. It was difficult because we had to follow Marris out of the bathroom but ensure that we didn’t catch the glass of the window. It was now dark outside now. If we saw the glass the shots wouldn’t match. And yes, it would have been good if I’d thought of a curtain or blind earlier!
The hand coming up through the water was a challenge. With a bigger budget I would’ve shot the bathroom scene in a studio with a bathtub hoisted onto a platform, a person underneath the platform and a hole for an arm to poke through. But we had to think of other ways shoot with what we had.
“Lucy can play the monster’s arm…she’s small enough to get into a tub,” Sammm had said many weeks back. It was decided then and there…and, of course, after we asked Lucy she was well up for it.
Sammm had been reworking the monster arm as it needed much love after the last shoot. I also scrubbed the monster suit in the bathtub as latex is degradable. If I didn’t wash it off it would’ve eventually rotted! I let it dry in my grandmother’s airing cupboard. The bathtub looked like I had just butchered something and had tried to wash all of the evidence down the drain. The airing cupboard featured the works of a potential serial killer.
Well, at least the monster suit was now nice and clean. You really don’t want to throw away hundreds of pounds worth of monster.
Once the bath was filled with water Sammm got to colouring it with many different materials. We needed make the water a solid black, but at the same time not stain the bathtub. We assisted Lucy, now dressed in black swimming gear, into the bathtub. Then we sprinkled bits of hair and moss-like materials onto the water to create a swampy effect.
Originally we were going to immerse Lucy under the water and stick a tube in her mouth so that she could breath and then pull the tube out for the purpose of the shot for however long she could hold her breath. Unfortunately it wasn’t practical as Lucy found it uncomfortable and the tube wasn’t really big enough to breath through or to feel secure enough going under the water. It is daunting for anyone to go under the water especially if you’re not used to it. Stick a crew and a camera over you and it’s even harder, a bit like sex scenes in films. It’s not as sexy as it seems (unless you’re shooting a porno of course, then why not go for gold and let your body love the camera).
With Lucy being a small size she was able to position herself in a way that we still got a reasonable shot of the bathtub, not as wide as I had envisaged but it worked nevertheless and we were able to keep the water still because she is petite.
Getting high angle shots in a small bathroom with nothing to stand on was a task. Louis would’ve probably broken the toilet seat if he used it and there wasn’t anything strong enough to support him. Then I remembered Sammm’s collection of Demonia platform boots. I asked her what size they were and told Louis to try them. We picked the biggest pair, a set having previously been worn by a male performer.
Louis obliged and slid them on, we had to help him up but he was almost half a metre taller than before. Demonia platforms are certainly a great asset when trying to film in tight spaces. I highly recommend they be advertised under camera equipment and accessories.
Next we had to film the struggle between the monster hand and Marris. I wanted the water to be really murky with loads of textures and bubbles. I placed myself into the corner below the tub and stuck a brass pole in the water being careful not to poke Lucy inadvertently. Sammm passed us some medical tubing from her kit and Lucy also blew through the tube creating different types of bubbles. We intensified the bubbles just before her cue to grab Marris’s arm.
The problem with leaving wider shots and any other extra shots until the last is continuity. With Mairead having to leave by 7.30pm I wanted to get the most important story telling shots out of the way and cover any extra shots at the end. As we coloured the bath water and the water evaporated, we were getting a residue from all the materials used on the sides of the tub. It was hard to just refill the tub and get it to how it originally was and clean the sides. Each time we tried to clean the sides we’d smudge it again.
That’s the problem when filming scenes in reverse order.
With all of our shots completed, and filmed rather creatively, it was time to end for the night.
Day 5 and the weather was miserable and chucking it down with hailstones and rain. This made it impossible to film establishing shots of the house as the weather didn’t match any of the previous outdoor scenes.
We went straight to the factory where owner Bob awaited us and filmed the beautiful hand crafted plants made from scratch by Sammm. It was nerve racking transporting them as they were made from wire and plastic, with every decorative piece hand sewn on.
Charlie came all the way from the Midlands again and we filmed his scenes before he had to jump back on a bus and travel four and a half hours back home.
Hours later and a couple of orgasmic horticulture macro shots in our bag, we were packing the equipment away and battling against the wind and rain. The day wasn’t kind to us and we were all so knackered.
All that is left now is my establishing exterior house shots, to be arranged once the weather prevails. It will be worth it once done, but in the meanwhile I’ll be delivering the drives to my friend and Editor James Burt as he makes a start on Newborn.
Thanks for reading and I’ll keep you all posted on the film’s progress. It’s been a journey that’s for sure with a talented group of professionals that I have loved working with.