Yesterday was the first day’s shoot. Other slightly difficult production things, fear of the weather, and also concern because Humphry (cinematographer) couldn’t come to the location until lunchtime on the shoot day, and we couldn’t delay the call time (it would have created chaos).
I therefore had to make sure we were as occupied as possible yesterday morning whilst we waited for Humphry. I didn’t want to start shooting without him, as it turned out correctly, because when he did arrive, he was an absolute genius. So we had a tour of the various locations in Merthyr Mawr including the castle ruins, which is a bit of serendipity, as it will be great for Zeus’s and the nymph’s “bit of rumpy pumpy”. Then, a quite big small crew went up the mountain to film the sea, a general view of the dunes from the Gods’ point of view. This was the equivalent of the first shot of the film, which everyone is told to make sufficiently difficult and challenging to get the crew into a solid group. It wasn’t a difficult set of shots, but climbing the mountain (sand dune really) was a real bugger. Everyone was extremely well intentioned and Tim even carried the jib half way up before we decided to leave it behind. When the crew saw the view they all said that this would be the “money shot”, (derived from the term used in porn films where gratification occurs!). We came back exhausted but happy.
We got back just in time for lunch (although I realised I should have redesigned one of the shots and made a tilt up from the dunes to the sea – c’est la vie), which was great. Humphry arrived, the art department, and also Alan Cridford (sound consultant) and we went to film Amenius and Narcissus’s scenes, by some purple flowers on a hillside.
The shooting of the scene seemed really fantastic to me. The combination of the experience of Humphry and Alan and young crew, and the performances of the actors meant that I may have actually not paid enough attention to details that could crop up in the edit. Perhaps there is too much variation between takes, and maybe I could have been harder on the performances, but I was a bit worried of over directing and taking away the actors’ energy. I realised once again that I’m not a cameraman’s director, but that this doesn’t seem to matter if you’ve got the right crew and done the preparation. Humphry found the shots and happily got stuck in to making sure they matched and also that the background was as interesting compositionally as possible. There was quite a lot of movement in the frame, even on the close ups, as the actors freely rolled over and used the gestures from rehearsal without constraining them too much for the camera, and this looked edgy and interesting. There was some cheating on the close ups, but again, Humphry was happy finding the correct angle, and I didn’t have to worry. As a collaboration, it is a joy when people come together and match each others skills. Not for the first time, I saw that film making actually works when one negates ego completely, and allows for people’s contributions, and is the opposite of imposing one’s will, and I found myself incredibly grateful to the crew and cast for doing this.
We did a jib and this seemed really luxurious to me. I’m a bit concerned about the cutting here, as this is about multi-screens and a bit unknown. Amenius has to leave screen 3 and enter screen 2, and I’m not sure whether we’ll still see Narcissus on screen 3. I think I may not have got the absolute coverage right, and this is down to inexperience. However, it’s not critical, and we’ll just work with it.
The costumes did seem a little rough, and I might take along an iron today, in case they get creased. This, I realise again, is through a lack of communication and time. We really needed a bit more time for the art department, and I should have been a bit more proactive. However, on screen whilst the actors were moving, everything seemed fine, and the costume designer obviously has a sense of how the fabric flows and getting a kind of Greek effect.
We then went on to shoot Amenius’s death, which he did very well (even keeping his eyes open on the sand – a painful thing to do). One mistake I made was not ordering tomato ketchup (blood) as I thought it would be tasteless. I should have given myself the option. Also the point of view of the knife coming into the body didn’t work very well (maybe the angle was too wide for the knife to come in close enough to camera), so we may have to shoot this again.
Today, I’m hoping for a bit of rain for Echo’s scene with Hera, and also that we catch up on the schedule and have time for all the cutaways of the Mawr which will really bring everything to life.
Enough for now