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
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.)
Sound people are like hen's teeth up here and as we have a mini-boom happening in production at the moment, any sound crew worth their salt is booked up way in advance. So when my AD (WonderJen) from Bristol suggested a sound recordist local to her I say "hell yes". All was great with this arrangement - Dave our recordist had got his buddy Nick to boom operate and they were coming up from Bristol together on Friday. Then last night I got the text that any producer dreads...
Now to put this in perspective up until yesterday things had gone fairly smoothly with no major crises to report. So that was kind of a blind side to say the least. Started panicking this morning - WonderJen started panicking last night!
So finally this morning I get the news - Dave has bust his little finger. And when I say bust I mean smashed to buggery! He's in a full arm cast and therefore incapacitated. Crap! Time to start ringing around.
Lots of panics and tweets and calls and texts and emails later I'm sorted - sort of. Two sound recordists are splitting the detail as neither is available for the full shoot due to prior engagements. Aaahh SUHWEET - sort-ed. Now I can relax. Not so fast sunshine... Now the boom operator is unavailable!!!
This role has proved even harder to fill - but finally at 10 pm tonight I have a boom op. Well two boom ops filling one role because - you've guessed it neither is available for the entire shoot! So numbers have doubled - but never mind. Please welcome:
Jerry, Xander, Paul and John - it's like the Beatles without Ringo and George.
Will try our best to keep this busy during the shoot and post-production.