Pre light and set build.
The day before the day….
In a total zombie daze I picked up Hugo and drove to the set still with that awful feeling in my stomach. I realised I couldn’t think or dwell on it I just had to crack on with the shoot itself.
We arrived and had our first breakfast from our catering van setup but I want hungry. We headed over to the set Mike, Martin and myself along with the gaffers,
I looked around…and thought it wasn’t as bad as I remembered…
The technocrane arrived and it started to get loaded up, everyone was buzzing and I stood staring at my set trying to see it through different eyes.
We were turning over by nine a.m. and doing our first setup; Mason on the bed whilst the technocrane zoomed into him. We went through several takes because it was all our first shoot and getting focus on that one shot was a PAIN but we got it. We then re-rigged the crane to be parallel with the main set. We shot our master wide and shot craning up from the Gramophone to Mason and then to profile. Whilst waiting for a makeup change we started shooting the hallway shots without Hugo in it and by the time we were done… I loved the set, I couldn’t believe how different I felt. I was stoked and couldn’t wait to nail everything.
We spent the rest of that day creating our technocrane shots with the magnificent John Head but working with Dave Bardsely from Media Dog and Mike Staniforth controlling the head. I was amazed at how quickly we were getting the shots so we had performance based takes instead of technical ones. The day was zipping by fast but we were doing tons of setups A camera was permanently mounted to technocrane with B camera on legs and sliders ready to grab what it could before the crane got into shot.
From a purely directing standpoint I was having a ball and working with Hugo was great we would make micro adjustments on the fly and I saw just how sophisticated an actor he was. Mike and I stood with our mouths hanging open at some of his notions, which were so clever. Mike Keogh and acting coach kept commenting on how good of an actor he is and the amazing stuff we were shooting that was great to have that positivity around.
The only issue I was having was dealing with the continuity of each scene. We had multiple makeup changes and doors open then closed and chasing that was a headache we were constantly going back to the script. We had a great continuity person though in Lauren Brown who asked all the right questions and we managed to keep on top of it.
For several of the shots we pumped out of a bluetooth speaker captured audio of women begging for their lives from several feature films for Hugo to react to, this didn’t please the sound guys but we gave them a dry take afterwards but it did help with Hugo reacting to the sound coming from underneath the house.
Everyone was stoked by what we were shooting including John Head a veteran who was amazed by what we had pulled off, I was feeling it myself and totally back in the game,
By 4pm the crane was done and we moved onto the scariest bit of the filming…; the monster stuff. The movie would live or die by it.
We got Rick Wiltshire into makeup who was having his feet made up the same colour blue as his monster hands so everything would match. We setup the vibrating plate. My idea was if he rested his arms on a vibrating exercise plate and stiffened up his whole body, he would shake. It was a great idea on paper but until we got off shots we wouldn’t know for sure . We tested it with Jack Casey, our miraculous AD.
Another quick note. Its amazing what you can achieve with a perfectly planned set good people and the right AD in charge. We were flying through it.
We slathered lube onto the monster to make him shine a little and applied ultraslime and blood to the maw which was damn tricky, Ultra slime sticks to people really well but not to the monster, eventually we got it on there and ran a few shots out. They looked perfect, it was going to work! We also shot Hugo’s reaction scenes with the monster head on a pole for him to react to. The sequence changed a little from Mason looking to his left and seeing the monster to the monster appearing behind him, between him and the bed,
The next and last stuff to tackle was the monster coming down the hallway caught in flashes of lightning. We set up two Arri Skypanels on a lightning sequence at both ends of the hallway and again prepped Rick. This involved me setting him in position and posing him like an action figure as he was supposed to remain motionless in each flash as he got closer. The camera was locked into place while we took these as well as some empty plate shots but we were done for the day. The only thing we didn’t have time for was some promo shots with the photographer.
I had also rubbed myself raw and decided cycle shorts would be needed that following day… holy shit it was hot in there with all that tungsten.
I dropped off Hugo at his apartment and headed home and I was on air and full of adrenaline, I didn’t sleep at all that night….