accept no substitutes.
35 months ago Pob and James went for a pint to The Cluny, there's nothing in that - at the time we were talking about working together on some comedy sketches. Anyway, when I when to pick them up, they were like a couple of kids on Christmas Eve.
"We've come up with an outline for a feature film - something we can do on NO money" they babbled. "It's Pissheads Go Camping - but it's not just a camping trip, it's a stag do. We've even got a title The Stagg Do." You see one of our characters in Pissheads is called Staggy… he'll be the one getting married in the film!
I was instantly on the hook - "yeah this is possible" I thought - it was finally an opportunity to take what we had around us and craft a story and film from that - we already had the characters, they had the plot - we had the kit… what were we waiting for?
Fastforward 3 months, and 6 drafts later, we entered principle photography… which was HELL. Proper old fashioned hell, I could go into detail - but what's the point in raking over old ground? If you're really interested, read the archives from July and August 2011 as it was all blogged about at the time.
Anyway we got through it and then some. I had my right knee reconstructed - we shot new scenes, scenes we dropped and scenes we fucked up the first time around. David (our editor) busted his balls to get us a decent cut, James and I spent hours and days shooting extra footage. Richy corralled some mates to help with a big reshoot/ shoot night and on we went. Ashleigh and The Kid (Chris) slogged their guts out on animations and visual effects, music was found and replaced, musicians were contacted.
We edited, reedited, experimented - laughed, cried, pulled our hair out and generally got stuck in… And finally in December 2012, we had "picture lock". Then we ran out of money. Literally. James and I were flat broke and everything in the house decided to die at the same time.
We had had so much momentum and then we stopped - dead.
We didn't give up though, determined to get it finished and get it out there. As much for our own sanity as anything else. Stephen at Fantomeline kept grading - we kept praying for a lottery win and then came another kick in the teeth. An Irish film - The Stag was premiering in Toronto and it sounded remarkably like our film. How was that possible? What could we do? Without money not a lot… So we cried to ourselves (swore a lot) gritted our teeth and went on with our lives. In January though we learned that The Stag was getting a UK release in March… And we decided - let's beat them. Get out before them.
But there was still too much to do. I reckoned we had 5 weeks, Aris (our sound god) said we needed 6 to sort out the sound - which of course was recorded by 3 different people! He wanted to ADR - I didn't think the lads (Pob and Staggy - non-actors) would ever be able to do it… We STILL had no money.
Anyway a load more favours were pulled in, Richy agreed to finesse Chris' VFX (he'd now moved to Leeds), Aris persuaded Rich to help us with the ADR sessions and to let us use his studio for the mix - and so the madness resumed…
We're going into the mix next month, and we'll be going for our BBFC soon after and then finally we will be ready to release the film. It's rude, it's crude, it's insanity to the max. It's experimental both in storytelling and in filmmaking - if it were a drama we wouldn't need to explain ourselves - but apparently you can't make experimental (almost arthouse) comedies if they are chockful of low brow nob gags! Who knew?
Sorry I’ve been gone for so long - 14 months or so I reckon… so what’s shaking people? I really must apologise again for going radio silent for sooo long and I’d really struggle to explain what happened. Safe to say, we ran out of money - came close to raising investment twice, only to be disappointed at the final minute - and then as John Lennon said “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”. In other words while we’ve been scheming ways to get this film finished - 14 months went by and a shitload happened.
Anyway so sorry for being so crap people. We haven’t forgotten and we haven’t quit - it’s just that 2013 was a total clusterfuck of a year… We even discovered there’s a new Irish film (shot last year) - remarkably like ours called The Stag (I know - WTAF) that’s coming out in mid March. All I can say is DON’T GO AND SEE IT, especially not thinking it’s ours… Remember ours is authentic Geordie cinema - not Irish. And really sweary. Really, really sweary in fact. These delays could help us out though - on February 24th, 2014 the BBFC’s new certification guidelines kicked in; meaning we might yet get a 15 certificate!
So enough preamble and daft slavvering on - let’s do an update of where we are up to:
The grade is just about there - thanks Fantomeline (Steve, you ARE a trooper).
The bits of VFX that The Kid (aka Chris Nicholls) was undertaking have been finessed by our DoP, Richy Reay - without the graft of Chris though we’d’ve been stuffed ages ago.
Richy Reay has also created a couple of other VFX spots for us AND a really FANTASTIC opening credits sequence - seriously he’s a man of many talents!
Next up: the man, the legend, Aris has undertaken the mammoth task of sound post-production. Not an easy feat when you consider that we have 3 different sound recordists on the film! Anyway GIVE THE MAN A MEDAL - he’s cracking on with it.
Last Friday we had our first ADR session - with Sir Billy of Fellows (The Judge) at The East Wing Studio in Byker. It was a great success thanks to the skills of both Bill and ADR Supremo of the North East: Rich McCoull… Now how’s that for a cracking name???
FINALLY: I will be updating frequently over the next few weeks as we hurtle towards our release date (TBA ASAP) and the poster (created by the immensely talented Mark Jobson) will be available for your delectation shortly.
Thanks for not quitting on us.
Zahra, James and the Stagg Do team. x
We've had a further week and a half or so's editing since I last posted and all in all we're very happy with how the film is coming together. We are picture locked bar a few After Effects shots and the animation - so that's amazing! The rest of the week has been spent working on a trailer for the film and after a couple of false starts I'm happy to say that the trailer is just about done too. Pob came by today to record his voice over, which David and James will position on the edit tomorrow. I'm just trying to get some branding done for the film to incorporate into the trailer then we'll release it for your delectation - or not.
The next major phase of post production will be the sound edit and mix. James and I went to Jerry's (pictured above) studio in the shadow of the Stadium Of Light last week. He showed us his set up and talked us through the way he prefers to work. So I have been creating the exports he needs from us to make this work - David commented that I was doing a 2nd assistant editor/ assistant editor's job by undertaking the exports and up-rezzes that I'd done the other week! Such is a producer's job on a nano-budget film! We left Jerry's feeling very confident that the sound post will be in good hands - Jerry didn't seem overly concerned about the sound edit and he had some great ideas for the music too!!!
The third part of my week involved hooking up with Amazing Ashleigh the Animator and getting my grubby little hands on the animation. Now if you've been keeping up with Ashleigh's blogs you'll know that she has had a technology nightmare on this project with snafus left, right and centre, if you haven't been - then why the hell no? Because of the aforementioned snafus we still have to composite the shots - but that shouldn't take too long, and we need to edit the animation to get it to flow exactly how we want within scenes 50 and 51.
Altogether a rather busy but ultimately very satisfying week or so. Onwards and upwards (and a little bit of sideways.)
More animation test updates. Just 8 seconds long but it gives you an idea - the Judge running into a tree! Thanks Ashleigh - we're getting excited!!! Read Ashleigh's blog updates to find out all about the trials and tribulations of this kind of animation
All of the elements of the animated sequence seem to be coming together really nicely and our animation genius, Ashleigh, has uploaded another couple of tests. If you thought the last one (7 seconds see 24.12.11) was short then you'll be gutted to know these two clips are 2 and 3 seconds long! But bear in mind this is stop-frame animation - one frame (individual picture) at a time and there are 25 frames in every second! Anyway James and I are really happy - check the clips out below. Ashleigh says this,
"The first test piece is a quick close up scene of where the judge first comes across the rabbit- they stare and blink at each other before the judge breaks into his chase of the rabbit. The test just shows a still image in the background of the ink but the final version will have the ink drop footage flowing behind it throughout."
"The second is another test piece this time of where the rabbit sticks his fingers up at the judge, mocking him in his effort to catch him. Again this just has a still image in the background which was composited in using a green screen effect on Adobe After Effects. The final will have the proper ink footage with a range of colours. From doing the test, its obvious the hand needs change for when he's sticking his fingers up, it didn't work quite as planned but I know what changes need to be made as well as changing his facial expressions."
Really early in the process of prep for the film James and I decided that the sequence in the film that describes the Judge's trip should be animated. There were a number of reasons behind this decision - some pragmatic (we wouldn't have time to do this justice in principle photography) and others creative (stylistically how would we shoot this to show it's a dream/ trip?)
Because we had such a short amount of preproduction time, we didn't even look for animators or discuss styles of animation until after principle photography. But once we started asking around we came to our decision quite quickly. Our animator for the Judge's Trip is Ashleigh Hutchinson who I met a few years ago when she did some work experience with us. We're going for a hand drawn 2D cut out stop motion style and Ashleigh has come up with some great drawings for the Judge character.
Judge Character Design by Ashleigh Hutchinson
Here is one of the images showing what he will look like! A proper little pocket rocket! I just hope Bill Fellows (who plays the The Judge) is as enamoured with his cartoon self as I am! It must be quite odd to see an artist's impression of you/ your character in a film.
I think I might ask Bill to write a little blog about it! Anyway I've put a gallery together that you can watch from this page by clicking below. I'm really enjoying seeing this segment come together and I can't wait to see the finished sequence and then actually put it in the edit timeline!
The edit itself is coming together really well and we are just about to start the compositing, there are no visual effects as such - but there were a few sequences that we shot in front of a green screen and that's what we're about to start working on. As for filming, we have another scene that we have decided to reshoot basically because of where we set it up last time.
It's the scene in the Cock's Inn when Pob is booking the stag do; due to time constraints and key crew being off set, the scene was set up in front of a wall. So instead of seeing the scope of the location and getting a real feel for what the Cock's Inn is like inside, you just see a wall! Haha - hardly ideal. We will then have only two scenes left to shoot - the opening flashback scene, which again like the Judge's trip was always going to happen outside principle photography as it involves two kids and we wanted to take our time casting them. And finally we have a new scene that we have devised that will go right at the end of the film and will hopefully provide a really nice bookended coda.
Will try our best to keep this busy during the shoot and post-production.