Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Supporting Cast

It recently occurred to me that although I've written at length about the casting process and the fantastic lead cast that we have, I've totally neglected to mention our equally fantastic supporting cast. In fact, they've been neglected to the extent that we've not even announced all their names on this blog. So that's something I'd like to rectify with this post! Without further ado, then, here they are:

Please click on photos for more info

Rachel Bright

Jason Croot

Vanessa Govinden

Andrew Hawley

Lachlan McCall

Joshua Osei

Niall Phillips

Alix Wilton Regan

Gillian Wisener

Anna Brook

As you can see for yourself, they're an incredible group and I feel very lucky to have had such high quality performers supporting the main cast.
- Alex

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Postproduction, Stage 1: Preparing for the Edit

Ahead of the first official Life Just Is edit session this weekend, I thought I'd write a small update on what Murat and I have been doing since the shoot. Although it was very tempting to jump straight into cutting the film, Murat and I both felt like it would be a mistake. As I'm learning more and more every day, making a feature is a complicated process, and it's important to prepare yourself accordingly if you want to try and get the best out of the project.

Right after the shoot I took a much needed break (or at least, I tried to), both to recover and to try and get some distance from it – I wanted to put the experience of shooting the footage behind me and approach the material with fresh eyes (if such a thing is possible). Murat, however, got straight to work transcoding, syncing and organising the files.

While Murat continued this process, I began to look through all the rushes. Before cutting anything Murat and I decided that we should know our material and get familiar with the rushes. So I started going through everything on a shot-by-shot, take-by-take basis, making notes (75 A4 pages of them in total!) on all aspects of the footage, working specifically under three separate headings: Performance, Visuals and Audio. Murat has used my notes, along with the comments from the logging sheets completed on set, to create a searchable database. That way, when we're three months into the edit and I suddenly remember that we have a take where Tom smiles a bit wider than he does in the take we're currently using, we'll be able to find it at the touch of a keyboard. We'll also know how many angles we have on each scene, what I thought of them all, and therefore what our options are if we want to change things around. Although creating all of this has been something of a lengthy process, it'll speed up the editing process no end and it's also provided me with the perfect opportunity to really get to know the material.

Watching playback on set.

While the focus on this period of postproduction has really been about familiarising myself with the rushes, I have also been making notes more specifically related to the edit. I've spoken before about my attempt with this film to reach something approaching a synthesis of form and content, and what this means practically is that we're trying to use the language of filmmaking in a way which goes beyond the illustrative. To this end, then, I've been noting down editing schemes for the scenes based on, for want of a better expression, the conceptual ideas that I had in mind when planning the coverage for each scene (now that the rushes are in front of us, it's important not to lose sight of these ideas, even if we ultimately discard them during the editing process). An example of such a 'concept' would be a scene featuring the characters of Tom and Pete. At the beginning of the scene they are arguing, approaching something from two different sides with no common ground. For this part of the scene the idea would be to keep them apart visually by using single shots featuring only one actor at a time. Then, when the emphasis of the scene shifts and becomes about their friendship and support for one another, we would begin to use shots featuring both actors within the frame. Whether these ideas will work practically remains to be seen, but they certainly point towards an editing pattern for the rough cut (which, incidentally, we are still hoping to have done by the beginning of the New Year).

Despite the heavy workload all of this has been, I have been working on other exciting Life Just Is related things, as some of you may have seen. Firstly, we're running
a competition to design our poster. Special mention has to go to Justine and Roland here for their hard work in helping make this happen. Personally, I'm really excited about it because we've always wanted to involve people in what we're doing and make them a part of our process. All the entries will be compiled into a free e-book that we'll give away for download on our site, and we'll also be running a public vote as part of the judging process, so I hope that you'll all get involved even if you don't want to enter the competition directly.

The other big piece of news is that our hiatus is over, and
Life's Just Networking will be returning to The Duchess on January 11th 2011. Can't wait to see you all there!
- Alex

Friday, 19 November 2010

Taking the Plunge

A piece by Alex about the experience of directing his first feature has been published on Directors Notes. Check it out here:

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Director's Portraits

While on set writer/director Alex Barrett took some 35mm portraits of the cast and crew. Here are some of those images. To see the full set please visit:

Jack Gordon - 'Pete'.

Fiona Ryan - 'Claire'.

Nathaniel Martello-White - 'Tom'.

Will De Meo - 'David'.

Paul Nicholls - 'Bobby'.

Jayne Wisener - 'Jay'.

Niall Phillips - 'Ollie'.

Rachel Bright - 'Anna'

Andrew Hawley - 'Nick'.

Alix Wilton Regan - 'Zoe'.

Jason Croot - 'Walahfrid'.

Gillian Wisener - 'Beth'

Christine Hartland, Executive Producer

Alice Caronna, 1st AD

Niina Topp, Production Designer

Yosuke Kato, cinematographer, Alice Caronna, 1st AD and Tom Stuart, producer.

Alex Barrett, writer/director, as photographed by Jayne Wisener.

Tom Stuart, producer.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Wit and Wisdom of Charmaine Parram

One source of constant amusement on set were the statements that our costume designer Charmaine came out with. Here are some of her classics, reproduced for your reading pleasure...

"I think I have... but I don't think I have used this yet"

"Oh my God. I'm so cold, even my boobs are cold!"

"I got loads of overtime pay but kept eating pies. So basically, it was like getting paid in pies."

"Ding,ding, ding! Hello everyone. My name is Charmaine and I am very clever."

"I feel like I have never eaten before. Can someone teach me how to chew?"

(Crawling into the room...) "Oh! I am DONE with walking!"

"I hate this part, but I love this part where you have to eat all the food"

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Jayne's Vlogs

For those of you who haven't been following Jayne's Vlogs during our shoot, here's a full roundup:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

And we're wrapped!

Yesterday we wrapped, finishing the shoot with a day of scenes in which Pete (Jack Gordon) is alone in his bedroom. It was a great way to end. Jack gave us some heart-wrenching moments, and the crew was all on top form. I think the shoot has been something of an emotional rollercoaster for all involved, but we got through it and we came in on time and on budget. It's going to be strange not being on set anymore, and I'll miss my cast and crew, but now is also an exciting time. After a couple of weeks off to get some distance from the shoot, I'll start looking through the footage and then work closely with Murat to get the best out of the footage we've got.

But before I get carried away talking about our postproduction plans, I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank all the cast and crew for their hard work. It's been an amazing experience and certainly one I'll never forget.
- Alex

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Week Two

Week two has been tough. We've all had to work very hard to stay on schedule and the hours have been long for the last couple of days. But as well as being tough, it's also been another enjoyable week. The team is working well and we're getting what we need. Our camera went down on Wednesday, the day we were doing one of the script's longest scenes, so we lost some time and had to drop some shots, but we did a rough cut of the scene that night and know that what we have works. Yesterday we did our house-party sequence, which involved thirteen actors on set. The fact that we managed to get through the whole sequence in one day is a testament to the hard work that the cast and crew are putting in. Despite the pressure, we managed to keep the mood light, and some great ad-libs from Andrew Hawley and Jack Gordon had the rest of us in stitches (yes, I admit it, I'm guilty of ruining an otherwise decent take by not keeping it together, but it's really Jack's fault when you think about it...). As yesterday was Jayne, Fiona and Paul's last day we decided to take our group photograph. Just two more days to go now...
- Alex

The cast and crew of Life Just Is. Back to front, left to right: Mali Rosen-Rawlings (continuity), Louis Tarbuck (runner), Emily Lomasney (production manager), Lisa Smith-Milne (makeup), Jason Creasey (sound), Harpall Kaura (gaffer), Niina Topp (production design), Charmaine Parram (costume), Alice Caronna (1st AD), Niall Phillips ('Ollie'), Yosuke Kato (cinematographer), Tom Stuart (producer), Paul Nicholls ('Bobby'), Jack Gordon ('Pete'), Will De Meo ('David'), Nathaniel Martello-White ('Tom'), Joshua Osei ('Vince'), Andrew Hawley ('Nick'), Jayne Wisener ('Jay'), Alex Barrett (writer/director), Fiona Ryan ('Claire'), Gillian Wisener ('Beth'), Dean Hilton (focus puller), Tom Ruddock (DIT), Rachel Bright ('Anna'), Lachlan McCall ('Lawrence').

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Shooting Week One

Week One

As I write this I'm sitting in the production office we've set up in the basement of our first location. In an hour Tom will be coming over and we'll be shifting everything over to location number two. It's quiet being here alone – quite a different feeling from what it's been like over the last six days. The first week of our shoot has flown by in a flurry. We started with perhaps the two most ambitious days of our schedule. Day one consisted of six scenes in seven locations, and day two was five exterior scenes, all of which were covered in single, continuous Steadicam shots. It was a tough start, not helped by the heavy rain on Tuesday afternoon. But we got there, and we worked through our issues. On Wednesday evening we shot the film's ending – also exterior – and luckily the weather held (as late as last week they were predicting snow, so I have to admit I was pretty worried for a while...). On Thursday we settled properly into the location, but we had a couple of tracking shots which slowed us down and which, naturally, brought their own problems with them. On Friday and Saturday we hit our stride and had our best two days. I'm very excited by the footage we got. Our biggest issue this week has been sound, largely due to the flight path over the location, and time has been tight. The schedule and budget we have dictate that we have to shoot quick. In some ways it's nice as I like to work fast and it keeps the momentum going, but time is always the greatest premium on a film set, and an extra few hours here and there would not have been missed. But luckily for me the entire crew has been extremely hard working and made it happen. We've run a little late a couple of times, but everyone has shown great patience and understanding and there's a real community vibe on set. The cast has been fantastic, both on and off screen. They're a great bunch of people and they've delivered some truly spell-binding performances so far. I'm very touched by the dedication to the project that the entire cast and crew have shown this week, and I'm looking forward to continuing the shoot tomorrow (but not so excited about the location move this afternoon...).
- Alex

Friday, 22 October 2010

Screen Daily

Very excited that we made Screen Daily earlier this week! The shoot is going well - more news and more photographs soon!

Photographs - Shoot Days 1 & 2