We're hurtling towards the finish line, of course there are still a few things that need to be completed before we get there - a few shots need tweaking in the grade and we still have the sound mis to go, but the sound edit is 90% there.
I've spent the last ten days looking at potential venues for the WORLD PREMIERE (woooo) and the cast and crew screening - as ever these things take forever and I'm still awaiting final confirmation - but things are looking good. Talking of looking good (what a fricken' segue - I should be on the telly, me) James and I spent yesterday looking at and making decisions on Stagg Do merchandise! You know T-shirts, mugs, keyrings and such like… I'll be putting up a store on here in the next couple of weeks and you can all start preordering your "merch" as the cool kids say. In many ways that's what this particular post is about - what sort of merchandise would you guys like to buy - if any? DVDs, CDs and T-shirts are a definite - but what else would float your boat? Fancy emailing us? Or just bunging an answer in the comments below?
Also if you know anybody who might be interested in sponsoring our release or advertising with us then please send them our way. And finally if you a spare quid or two that you can sling into our Paypal account we'd be most grateful.
Memes, memes, memes
And finally - check out our meme contest - the entries are currently here and our our tumblr. Why not visit a meme generator and knock some up for us? You can submit them on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr or if social media doesn't appeal, you can email them to us. There will be EXCLUSIVE prizes and discounts for the winners, including a pair of tickets* to our WORLD PREMIERE this summer.
Memes are also a great way for us to spread the word about the film and to help us bring people to the website - so feel free to share any you like along with a link, to us here, on any platform that you use. I think I'll be setting up a Pinterest and Instagram account soon - so any pointers you might have will be appreciated. And one last thing - would you be interested in signing up to our newsletter for exclusive updates and offers?
*WORLD PREMIERE will be in North East England - transport not included
This was our first feature film. It was for James and I, for David (the editor) for Richy (DoP) for a few of the cast and most of the rest of the crew. As it's a self-funded micro-budget we are missing lots of positions who would be on a bigger film - and so certain things haven't been prepared correctly. Including the reels - when one department's assistant hands over to another departments assistant then things generally run smoothly. When the producer (muggins here) is both departments' assistant - and everyone else's assistant too - things go wrong. Again and again and sometimes again!
I spent 3 days re-locking the reels last week - THREE days to do an assistant's job - and I STILL got it wrong! Jeez what an embarrassment - in the end Aris had to get a mate of his to do the job… Ha, I really think this film is cursed sometimes - and the fact it hasn't driven anyone to drink or drugs yet is nothing short of a miracle!
Anyway it's not all bad - Therase, lovely Therase, who plays Charlotte has emigrated to Australia and we needed to get a few of her lines re-recorded… Clearly a trip to Rich's studio in Newcastle was out of the question! Finally after nearly a month of near misses, unreturned phone calls and scheduling SNAFUs we managed to get her into a great little studio Down Under - The Sydney Sound Brewery - check it out if you need to record an album or even just a few lines of dialogue. Tell John I sent you - hopefully that won't make him run for the hills!
Our poster is just about done and I'm currently looking at DVD and CD packaging options as well as merchandise design.
What else??? We're going into the sound mix in April - woo! AND we have our first screening booked. It won't be the first screening we have, but it's the first one booked in!!! Details here soon.
Finally we're looking at dates and venues in Newcastle for our WORLD PREMIERE… Again details here soon.
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?
So I lied… what you gonna do about it? I really wasn’t going to do another blog about ADR, but we had so much fun earlier this week in the sessions with Si, Staggy and Pob that I just had to mention them.
Tuesday morning was Staggy - he got a bit lost on the way to the studio and rang to say he had just gone past the “Middle Club” -- took me a few seconds to remember that St Peter’s is the bottom club (ask Pob about the time they had strippers in there on a Sunday!) Anyway by the time I put 2 and 2 together Staggy and his daft big red car showed up. It’s been months since we all last saw each other - so 10 minutes of catch ups before he headed into the booth to do his lines. He had a fair chunk to redo, but he did remarkably well - after a shaky start… His first line was “I spoke to Pob today” - but he said “I spoke to Bob today” - haha!
Next up was Si - what a bloody find Si was. So glad we cast him - what a coup for a casting session in the Royal Quays! He had the least lines to redo and every one he managed in 1 or 2 takes - amazing, really. Talking to Si about the film’s release also gave us some interesting ideas about screenings - for the summer… stay tuned for more info.
Then came the main man, Pob, the next day. Pob had LOADS to do, mainly because he also has the opening voice over and what we had in place there was always temp. Also Pob has this crazy knack of not actually moving his mouth in a way that resembles what he’s saying when he talks! We really worried it might end up looking like a badly dubbed Japanese film. Plus, to further complicate things he speaks at a million miles an hour and rolls all of his sentences into one another. GREAT. Anyway we cranked through it all and managed to finish early, which is always a bonus, plus James, Rich and I were absolutely howling with laughter during the session. It was Pob and James who came up with the idea for the film you see, so in many ways it’s a part of him like it’s a part of us. We’ve come a long way since their pissed afternoon in The Cluny.
Anyway enough about ADR - seriously the end… well maybe a sentence next week when we have Ian Mac from the Suggestibles in! This week has also been full of digital delights getting WAVs (a high quality audio file) for all of the songs in the soundtrack. Got the last ones through on Thursday and I spent Friday afternoon listening to a playlist called The Stagg Do - and I LOVE it. More about the music in the next few days - it ROCKS and just goes to show how many talented musicians there are in this part of the world.
And so onto the next ADR sesh… This one was going to be way more tricky! You see Craig Conway (Radgy) isn't based up here in the North East anymore, he's now permanently Darn Sarf. He reckoned he could get into a studio in Soho and do his lines there, and as a veteran of TONS of films we knew we wouldn't have to worry about his ability to match his lines and performance.
BUT… There's always a bloody "but" isn't there? As regular readers of this blog know, we used three different sound recordists with three different sets of kit for the shoot! Poor Aris' ears are bleeding with all of the sound irregularities. Anyway, Craig has been rehearsing a theatre extravaganza at the CAST theatre in Doncaster - which is two hours south of Tha Toon. I decided it might be better for the ADR if we recorded it with Aris' special microphone which is what we're using for the rest of the sessions at Rich's East Wing Studio.
Aris was free, Craig was amenable - and so we booked in the session for Friday; Craig only had a short window but he was up for it and so we were all set. Until a pencil in Aris' diary became an official booking, and he suddenly was no longer available! Jeez this film feels cursed sometimes!!! So some frantic rescheduling took place and finally at 9:30 on Wednesday night we were finally rebooked for Thursday lunchtime.
Aris and I set off for Sunny Donny first thing in the morning made it there on time, after nearly being run off the road by some awful drivers on the A1 and then being confused by changes to the Doncaster one way system that were not on the sat-nav.
What a beautiful theatre, the CAST is - a beautiful, modern, multi-purpose space with fancy fountains outside. We hooked up with Craig, took over a meeting room and then Aris set up his portable ADR system - what a pro.
Craig was an absolute trooper - considering he's been rehearing dance numbers for 3 weeks… He even managed to wangle an extra half an hour to finish off his lines. He said watching the clips made him remember how much the lads laughed their arses off throughout the filming. We showed him a few other clips and the outtakes and then it was time to head back to Geordieland after a quick pitstop in Tesco for a sarnie and a bag of crisps.
I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to Craig and Aris for busting their balls to make sure we got the lines rerecorded and also to the staff of the CAST theatre and the people involved in Craig's show for helping us along the way.
More ADR coming soon… Including - what do you do when one of actors had emigrated to Australia???
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
Yesterday we shot the credits sequence for the film, and once again by all accounts a laugh was had by everyone on the shoot. We started out in Deep Nightclub in Whitley Bay, and really massive thanks must go to Johnny and all the people there for giving us the run of the place... Also thanks to Sarah Tennick, our second unit make up and art department queen for putting us in touch with the people at Deep. Our crew for this shoot was teensy weensy and somehow this enabled us to crack through a ton of stuff quite quickly. Tina Frank was back helping out the art and production departments, Aris handled sound-recording and Richy Reay DoP'd and op'ed which seemed to work well. Clooney (Nic Pringle) rounded off the team and was his usual versatile self. James and I made up the rest - so you can see when I say teensy weensy I'm not exaggerating in any way!
Another crap photograph by me
There's probably two things you can tell from the pictures - I am a totally crap photographer and the scenes yesterday were all about a hen do. As someone who has only every been on one hen do I had to do a far amount of asking around to help with this scene - as it happens my mate Stephanie who plays Elizabeth in the film is in her own words "the Hen Do Queen" so most of this research involved trawling through her many hen do albums on Facebook - LOL!
After Deep we had one more shot to get - of the hens outside, mid pub crawl. We decided in a rather impromptu fashion to shoot this on the Newcastle Quayside. We'd just completed the first take when two security guards asked us to move on... Who knew that the section near Malmaison and La Tasca was private property? Ho hum. We got the shot and you can't tell where it is - so that's all that matters. It's only the third time in 10 years of shooting that we've been asked to bugger off - and it's always been by private security guards! What is it with these over-zealous uniform wearers that makes them want to shunt filmmakers on? Nevermind - like I said - we got the shot!
Not by me (by Simon Herdman)
With the wrap on that sequence it means we have only one little bit of the film left to shoot - the opening of the movie - a flashback sequence. This is proving a bit of a mare to cast - I mean where the hell can I find two kids who look like Pob and Staggy as kids??? ===>
So if you know anyone who knows anyone who may have access to two kids who look like these two reprobates then please do drop us an e-mail info AT fnafilms DOT co DOT uk
In the meantime - keep coming back here for updates and if you like what you see please spread the word! We will soon be at picture lock and then comes the fun of the grade and sound mix; once these are completed we will be doing a few screenings to test the water and see if this film has any appeal beyond the North east of England.
Thanks once again to everyone who helped yesterday, especially the girls who showed up to be the hens (Jo Dutton, Sophie Blacklock and Naomi Mayfield), Therase Neve (Charlotte), Stephanie Gray (Elizabeth) and the wonderful Will Stevenson who played "the entertainment".
Finally a special thanks to Jamie at Picture Canning North and Ashley at Pinball Films.
Today is 13 weeks to the day since we wrapped principle photography on The Stagg Do. It seems as good a time as any to reflect on the shoot, enough distance has passed to dull the raw emotions that we experienced during those mad, mad 8 days in the summer. And now that Lucas has finished serialising the shoot and all of the mishaps and mistakes that almost resulted in our first film being a clusterfuck, I think it’s a good time to look at the positives - because as much as this was a NIGHTMARE shoot, and it really was, there was a ton of great stuff, too. As ever, the great stuff doesn’t always make the best drama or get talked about, so in an attempt to redress the balance, here goes.
Yep, full disclosure, even though it ended badly, Jennifer was a massive plus point in preproduction and her enthusiasm for The Stagg Do was a big help in getting the film made. Without her initial belief in the project and without her cheerleading from Bristol - we probably would have bottled it and pulled the plug before we even started. She also brought Ben Moseley and Jen Saguaro with her, and they filled valuable crew positions on the film, not to mention her help in sourcing our bordello room location on Couchsurfing.
The Sound Department SNAFUS
We had a disaster in prep (which I blogged about here) when Dave, our original sound recordist, had to drop out a few days before the shoot. At the time it felt like a major problem - but as is often the case - the cloud had a silver lining. We couldn’t find one recordist who was available to cover at short notice - but we did find two who could split the shoot between them - Xander and Jerry who both brought so much to the table. Especially Jerry who has a big old white van full of all sorts of weird stuff that you always find yourself needing on a film shoot. Dave’s injury and Xander and Jerry’s unavailability for the big reshoot night brought us into contact with yet another locally based recordist - Aris who was great on that night. Hopefully sound will never be a department where we are lacking in talent ever again. Three mighty finds - all because of a mishap to the original incumbent.
We Broke Lots Of Rules
I’m not talking about those rules, the ones that breaking can (and almost did) destroy the film, rather I’m talking about the unwritten rules that often result in the safe and sanitary fare that is available in cinemas these days. So what do I mean exactly?
Well, first off we used non actors. Loads of them. Pob and Staggy, our two leads, aren’t actors. Pob, who has been in a few of our films before, works in the public sector full time. And Staggy has only done one little thing with us before - he works in the oil and petroleum industry, and is out of the country for half the year. I know that their on-set difficulties in remembering lines was frustrating for the crew at times - but looking at their performances in the edit, I think it was a risk that more than paid off. There is an honesty and rawness in their acting that I haven’t seen for years, and personally speaking I find that both exhilarating and refreshing.
Also we shot in the middle of Northumberland, outside in the middle of nowhere. In the night. This was almost our undoing as the weather decided to be even crappier than usual - and although for the most part there was no rain forecast, it did rain. A lot. Except of course on Day 7 when we were filming indoors… Ha - just typical really, the result is worthwhile though I think - as the film has a real outdoorsy feel to it. It’s not constrained by the usual ethos of one location in natural light (or better still indoors) with only a couple of actors.
Not A Near Mutiny
I’m not sure there ever was a near mutiny - from all of my conversations with crew during and after the shoot, other than the defections that you’ve read about - nobody was close to walking. And actually, as a direct result of the shoot I have found a whole new group of colleagues and mates - people whom I’d never have met if not for the film.
I'm sure the whole shoot reads like a total balls up where the press ganged crew narrowly averted disaster and somehow managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But in reality I think that other than the disgruntled couple, everyone on the shoot learned something about filmmaking. The thing with this film was for most of the crew it was a first feature, James has directed a few shorts but this was his first feature, same with Richard, our DoP, who is primarily a director and me - I’ve produced a TON of shorts and corporates but this was my first feature film. So apart from giving them a fully rounded introduction in the ways of filmmaking - the tantrums, the drama, the tears - I think most of them really enjoyed the shoot - at least that's what they told me LOL.
And of course you’ve already read how a few of our cast were noobs too. We had two runners who had never been on set before - they were half decent runners by the end of the shoot. It was a small crew, but still the biggest production many of them had been on, also I have to say, we discovered a couple of real diamonds in Simon Herdman and Tina Frank.
The Generosity Of Others
Filmmaking is always a team effort and in that respect The Stagg Do was no different from any other shoot, where it might differ though is in the sheer levels of generosity that we experienced from friends, family, colleagues and crew - and actually even people we don't really know well at all. So many people and businesses went above and beyond the call of duty to help us get this film made. That for me is the real story of this shoot, whether it was Dawn Furness who so kindly let me house about 10 people in her 3 bedroomed semi (we were originally going to camp) or whether it was Andy Simpson's mum and dad who didn't kill me when I turned up at their house at midnight with a load of Tesco ready meals. Then there's the locations - people letting a film crew take over their house (and toilet!!!) - I think I still owe Chris and Deanna about 2 dozen rolls of Andrex! Anyway look around the Special Thanks Page - everyone on there went an extra mile to help James and I get this film made. So thank you... We owe you man.
We made a fucking film man
Yep - the most important positive of all! It’s only taken 9 years - but we FINALLY MADE A FUCKING FILM! And that can never be taken away from us. We had a film (Pissheads) that we were supposed to shoot last year - but thanks to some dodgy politics - the financing fell apart… If we’d waited to refinance Pissheads or tried to raise money for one of the other films on our slate, I reckon we’d still be waiting! But through a series of fortunate breaks and a bit of great timing we came up with The Stagg Do and managed to put it together in about 3 months. James and I are still chuffed to bits that we managed to pull it off - and I really hope you all like the finished film.
So all in all it was a mixed bag of a shoot - but you know what? We made a fucking film! Did I tell you that???
Will try our best to keep this busy during the shoot and post-production.