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.
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
I was just looking at our Google Analytics data just now, checking the search terms that brought people to the website. What I saw amused me, among the usual "stagg do", "stagg do trailer" etc was "bensham is shit" - this made me laugh! Not because it is shit, you understand, I mean I do live here!!! But it made me laugh because I knew I had the photograph above - and I've been waiting for a context to use it for ages! Isn't it class? A photo of the writer and director looking like he's gonna lick some poo???
The thing that gets me with seo is this: I feel like I'm tricking people. I mean I don't want someone finding this site when they are looking for stuff about Bensham being shit. Or do I?
No picture on this blog - sorry to offend the purists! It's always difficult to write a ton about editing because it's a long and technical process and probably not even vaguely interesting to the hardened fan let alone the casual enthusiast. This week and a half has been really interesting to me (as a first time producer) though - you see our editor, David, is based in London these days. This means our edit has consisted of him working on the film there and then sending us the Final Cut Pro project file and us watching it here then chatting and exchanging notes over Skype - YAY modern technology. This is great and we have made some outstanding progress using this method - but nothing beats time spent in an edit suite sitting with your editor.
It's this time together that can produce the really spot on moments in a film. This "magic" (yes I vomited a little in my mouth there too) happens when a group of creative individuals have time and freedom to experiment. At the end of the day so much of filmmaking is about experimentation - it's art daaahling after all. That statement may sound odd coming from somebody like me who lambastes the artistes and their arty-farty award-winning shite which so often goes on to win major prizes but is seldom seen by the public at large, but really it isn't. I may not like arthouse cinema generally and often the films aren't my cup of tea, but I can and do admire the singular vision, courage and experimentation that goes to create it. What disappoints me most is why more mainstream cinema can't be more edgy and experimental (and I don't mean that in a Hollywood marketing - quirky way) what I mean is why the fuck has mainstream cinema become so derivative? It wasn't always this way - Godfather, Goodfellas, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot - all felt fresh at the time they came out and were al made by a Studio... what happened?
This obsession with comic books, remakes and sequels has to stop - it's driving me mad. And it drives me even more mad that this obsession with "playing it safe" is bleeding into the independent world too! You know what I'm saying: shoot in one location, use only a few actors don't take risks with framing or shooting style, don't shoot outdoors... Fuck that - on this we took a ton of risks some backfired spectacularly - but most of them didn't; but if we hadn't taken the risks, if we'd played it safe we wouldn't have those little "bits of magic" (VOMIT) that I'm so proud of. Tell your story, your way - fuck them - life's too short to do it any other way.
This is something BIG JIMMY DEMARCO and I have been thinking and talking a lot about lately and he wrote a little blog about the same subject from a writer's perspective last week - maybe it all goes back to the gurus?
Will try our best to keep this busy during the shoot and post-production.