Behind the Scenes - PRODUCTION DIARY
A chance to view some of the locations that will be used during filming, all based on the campus of York University.
Well that's the end of July's filming. It's been the biggest roller coaster of a month. A huge learning experience for everyone involved. I think that there's been a lot of stuff gone wrong this month. One of the best things about this project has been that it's given young people starting out in this industry the chance to experience roles and responsibilities that we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to do. Consequently a lot of what we were doing was trial and error: basically a huge learning curve. We've been fortunate enough to have had guidance from people who have been doing this for a long time. This advice has been invaluable, but I think it's the mistakes we've made that have taught us the most. The general feeling towards filming in September is the plan to utilise all that we've learnt this month and put it into practise. It would have been a lot more productive I think if we'd shot the September stuff first, and then gone onto do the exterior shots afterwards. It would have benefited the actors to have filmed in sequence a bit more, and the difficult bits we would have been much more prepared for. However, set building wise this was the only way we could have scheduled the shoot. But that is something to bear in mind in the future. August should be used well now to be fully prepared for September, as well as give everyone a well-deserved rest! Greatly looking forward to everyone being back together again in September.
We wanted to hire a crane to get a really really cool reveal for the final shot of the film. But it cost a lot of money and Chris wasn't happy about parting with so much. Also, we needed to tow said crane all the way to the location in Halifax and did you know that NO cars nowadays are fitted with tow bars? Seriously, I'm talking two full days of trying to track one down - how crazy is that?!? Anyway, we found a suitable truck mounted crane that we could hire but micro budget over ruled our enthusiasm and we used a jib shot instead. Interested to see the scene once it's had all the CGI done to it. Made for a brilliant last day of filming anyway. Up on a random hill looking out over the whole of Halifax (quite possibly the windiest place in Britain making jib functioning and our mini BBQ a bit of a challenge!).but good fun.
Have a lot to fit into the shoot today. Last night, Mike, Kate and Stoff spent hours being unsociable and planning it down to the last minute, but seriously - you can really tell the difference today. It really is worth doing the extra work despite the amount of time it takes. It's been hard to be this precise this month due to the producers having so many areas of production to take care of than usual; but we've definitely leant the approach that is worth taking this month. We were back at the water tower today, a location we filmed at earlier in the month. We re-shot some scenes that we weren't happy with and got the rest done. Had Jez and Kurt down a teeny hole with Damian the Creature for a good hour, which made for some hilarious behind the scenes footage. Then we moved to the woods and filmed the sequence with Wallace Abby and Caroline and a big attack. Cheated Caroline up a tree using foliage and the roof of a car, which was rather ingenious and, surprisingly, worked very well! Most of the cast and crew have finished for the month now, only minimal crew needed tomorrow.
Filmed with Caroline and Neil today, entering the tunnel. Used one of the locations featured in the trailer, which looked really creepy and was exactly what we needed. Kate and Stoff left in the afternoon to go secure a field above Halifax to film the final scene on Monday. The problem with York and the surrounding area is that it's just way too flat. The city of Halifax is the ideal size for the shot that we want and it's only an hour away. The owner of the field we wanted couldn't have been more helpful, gave us access to his land with no worries at all and shared loads of info about the area that he thought we might find relevant. As the month is drawing to an end and today is Adrian's birthday we had an early finish today and had a BBQ at Rachel's house to mark it.
Another really hot day. Campus was very busy and we struggled a lot to get the shots we needed because there were so many people in the background. And kids screaming and feeding the ducks, which made sound recording a bit of a challenge as well. Oh for the luxury of closed sets. How cool would that be? However we got through eventually after some sneaky re-angling, and after 5pm most people disappeared and we could press on. We went on to film Caroline and the creature on the bridge. We ended up using the bigger, wider bridge rather than the smaller one. Managed to get the library roof location again to finish the sunset scenes. The reflection of the sunset in the windows behind Caroline, Wallace and Abby looked absolutely awesome.
Damian's death scene. (Again) Much better this time, the creature looked good. Liam was balanced rather precariously up on a concrete step and everyone was constantly harassed by hundreds of wasps who appear rather partial to our homemade blood. It's very very hot and we're a little concerned that everyone is filming in direct, hot sun with no shelter for hours at a time. Working hard to keep everyone well hydrated and give them breaks regularly whilst still sticking to schedule. It's not easy, but surprisingly the crew are mainly happy to just keep pressing on despite the heat. Really pleased and proud about how everyone keeps pulling together when it gets tough without complaining. We're very lucky with the team we have. The month is drawing to a close and everyone realises just how important it is to work quickly and efficiently.
Last day filming in the studio. Got everything that we needed, plus some extras. And then got everything cleared away and back to how it was in bags of time. It's been a well organised few days I think, not half as stressful as the exterior scenes and moving around here there and everywhere. But then not as exciting either.
Think Adrian and Arin thoroughly enjoyed their little mini fight over Marcus' knowledge of the experiment today. They managed to get Chris to film it from every possible angle! We wanted to get as much as possible done today so that we can finish early tomorrow. It's going to take a fair bit of time to get the studio back to how it was. Just found out that the tunnel we had in mind for filming in is no longer a tunnel! So back to square one again. Trying to get hold of Tim about some caves he was chasing up a couple of months ago, maybe they'd work?
Today was really difficult. Sebastian had to explode which was, obviously, a difficult, time consuming effect that totally didn't go according to plan. And poor John spent the day wired up with all these pipes, covered in latex and absolutely dripping with sticky blood to film footage that we may not be able to use much of. (but we shan't tell him that!) 'Cup of blood' has become a motto of the shoot - it seems to be the answer to most problems. Get someone to chuck a cup of blood at the actor and the job's a good'un! But overall another good day. We're getting almost twice the footage we usually do, flying through DV tapes. Which is a positive change.
Working in the same location every day makes such a difference to filming! It just runs so much smoother. Made us a lot more confident about the interior pod scenes in September, which will work in a similar way. It's the little things that make a difference - the time that's saved through storing equipment in the studio instead of in the office, having a base, not having to depend on weather, not constantly changing location, being able to light the scenes exactly how we like. These four days in the control room are a big chunk of the film, where the pod mates discover more about what's going on, watch video diary footage, arguments arise, they see one of them die right in front of them etc. Because there's so many important scenes being shot I think generally everyone feels as though we're making a lot of progress so everyone seems in a really positive mood.
Well Ed, our tree-hanging corpse survived the day! So basically a success! It was really difficult to co-ordinate how it was going to work. We had to put the safety of our actor first, which meant sacrificing at times on how the corpse looked and fell. Haven't yet watched the footage back so unsure whether it looked ok, but a definite ten out of ten for effort on Ed's part. Stoff and Kate then went to meet Jaimie, the production designer, and help her turn the small YSTV television studio we're using into the facility control room. Looked pretty good, thanks to a very obliging station manager letting us do with it what we like. Should be a nightmare getting everything exactly back to where it was!
Rehearsals all day for the control room scenes. Stoff, Kate, Mike and Chris spent the afternoon carefully selecting the perfect tree for tomorrows filming, which involves a corpse caught up in netting in a tree, exploding and falling on Sebastian. Now as far as stunts go we're not exactly experienced so it should definitely be an interesting day. We all quite enjoyed climbing trees for a few hours however as we worked out how best to do it. Also came across the most fascinating box half buried beneath our tree of choice full of half suicidal German love letters. Forget Human Residue: there's a romantic mystery documentary film that seems much more intriguing! Think Chris benefited well from getting away from directing for a few hours and doing some basic location stills and idea developing in the woods. He seemed a lot calmer and happier by the end of the day. Hope it stays.
Apparently today was the hottest day recorded in 100 years. Good to work in! Fortunately we were filming in the medical ward, which was relatively cool. It is a Clinical Stimulation Unit for training the university medical students - basically a ready-made hospital set. You could film a full medical drama there no problem. Today was directed by Team Mike. We got to play around with some interesting shots, focusing on the look of the scene as opposed to the characters and dialogue as usual. This is the opening scene of the film so it's important to be attention grabbing etc. The guy who let us in there was really obliging, and carried out simple injection procedures etc for us to film. Think the scene can look really cool if edited together well. Used the evening to get a couple of pick ups.
Rehearsed all morning for the control room scenes that begin shooting this weekend. There's a lot to get done and has some of the most important plot reveals in those scenes so it's important we get everything done within those four days. Glad that things are looking prepared. Kate and Stoff went looking for another bridge and some hilltops. Searched high and low, almost ended up falling in the river, and nearly got a bit lost, but didn't have any success. Feel a bit disheartened, almost like a wasted afternoon, but we have ruled out York as a location for the final scene. We'll have to go further afield. This evening we shot the scenes up on the roof of the facility as the sun goes down on Caroline, Wallace and Abby. Cinematically looked amazing, the sky in the background had such amazing colours - was really clear. Only problem was we started shooting as the sun started to set, and then we had about an hour or so to get everything done before we lost the light. We'll have to go back another night and finish shooting. Don't know if it had something to do with it being cold so high up on the library roof, so late, or so pressed for time or what, but spirits are pretty low tonight.
We are struggling to find a tunnel that works for the final few scenes of the film, which emerged in a recent rewrite. Really want to get the sense of fear as Caroline and Neil head away from the devastation behind and try to escape from the approaching creature. It could be a really tense and dramatic scene if we could only find a tunnel the right size that we can access easily. Trying to use location stills from other feature films to track down somewhere we could use for free. Toying with the idea of building one if we don't find one close by. Changed the original plan of shooting that scene today and had a day of rehearsals instead.
Filmed the 7 characters emerging from the pod. Using a small soundproof chamber as the location. The first time we showed it to the actors we closed the door after them and left them in there for a little while to try and give them a sense of what it would feel like to emerge from the claustrophobic silence into the bright daylight outside. A little mean perhaps but hopefully they were able to remember that when they delivered their performance. Nice idea on Chris' part.
Have been watching back the footage as we go and trying to figure out what works and what doesn't. The shoot is turning into an amazing learning opportunity for all involved. Although it is frustrating when we encounter problem after problem, it's great to have to work through it all with such an enthusiastic bunch of people. July is flying by though and the list of pick up shots is getting longer. Need to work really hard to use the time well.
Late shoot today, we filmed the night scenes. Being July and darkness not setting in until about 10pm we were shooting late into the night. Got a lot of good footage of the characters exploring the facility. Marcus' death on CCTV. Got access to some cool locations. We're very lucky to have the campus at hand like this. It looks great and doesn't cost us.
Kate, Mike and Liam went to check out the medical ward we are filming in next week and get some storyboarding done. We're so so lucky to have a ready built medical set at our disposal. And it looks great. Then this afternoon we filmed with John Hoyle for the first time. John is the newest member of the cast; we replaced the female character of Sarah with a male character - Sebastian. It was shame we lost Kate Cox, who featured in the trailer, from the project. However John seems happy to be on board and works well on screen so everyone feels quite positive about the change.
Originally planned to film at the Water Tower again today but Chris wanted to make sure everyone got a day off today so there's been no filming. Instead we spent some time planning the rest of the month a bit more carefully, then had a night out together in the evening - It's Ivania's birthday tomorrow so we all went out to celebrate with her. And Chris graduates in the morning as well, so it felt right to mark the occasion.
We filmed at the water tower all day today. It was really good, Mike coped well without Chris, and Kate got to fill Mike's usual role, which she enjoyed. Think we are going to get a bit firmer when it comes to sticking to the schedule. We ran out of time today, which wasn't a problem fortunately because the guy at the location didn't mind us staying an extra hour or so, but if he had minded we'd have had to leave without all the shots we wanted. Anna Drake came today to help Robin with the make up, which I think was a great help, and the two creatures looked ace. We have a young work experience boy, Oli, from a local high school working with us for a couple of weeks. Within a few hours he'd been made into a creature and shoved up a tree. Think he was scared to say no! But he seemed to enjoy it.
Filmed another corpse discovery today. The poor guy was absolutely freezing; he could barely keep from shivering on 'action'. Good job though, think it looked effective. We were pouring lukewarm tea all over him afterwards in an attempt to warm him up and get some make-up off before sending him home. Have visions of Residue team depleting day by day as they make sacrifice after sacrifice. Ah the dedication. Kate and Stoff went on another location scout and found some pretty great places to use. Big bridge or little bridge? We have disagreed with Chris on that one. Chris is a bit stressed out I think, bit worried about him. He's asked for some time off. So Team Mike is taking directorial responsibilities tomorrow.
We've used up most of the free food Kate blagged last week now so we are concerned about catering for everyone. It's always the little things you don't really think about that end up crippling your budget and causing problems. Currently it's a case of buying stuff when it's needed which is really expensive and falls to individual producers, which we can't personally afford. That problem needs addressing before we go into next week. We sweet-talked Liam, one of the camera ops, into being a corpse today! Which was very good of him. I do love the people working on Residue. No-one just sticks to their own thing, every single person mucks in and does anything and everything. It's such a team effort. I love that, it makes it so much more pleasurable in the long run and alleviates pressures all round.
Chris had a telephone interview for the BBC website recently and brought a copy in this morning. As far as P+P goes it's fantastic. The project came across very well. Arin arrived today at lunchtime, much better, thankfully. Now things can really get going. We also discovered an HD screen in one of the rooms we've been using and got to watch some footage on it. Wow.it just look so impressive, can't believe what a different HD makes. Another security hasslement today involving one of them getting on his high horse and being not too nice. Sorted everything out pretty quickly with a phonecall to the security centre and he went on his way but we weren't happy. He was really horrible, honestly, some people just don't get that we're trying to do something decent here. Pleh.
Today everything is much more relaxed. The actors seem happy with what we produced last night, and we heard from Arin - he is due to arrive tomorrow morning. This should hopefully get things back on track again. The problem we've now had to deal with is losing our production office, which we were lucky to have in the first place. We had strict instructions regarding what we could and couldn't do in there, which we were keen to abide by. It irritates me when you follow rules and get in trouble anyway - why bother?! We have to find another production office really quickly; we're a bit nomadic at the moment. Skilly had a make-up test and looked ok, but not exactly what we had in mind. We shot Damian's death scene whilst we had a creature ready, although this will need re-shooting at a later date. Took Kate and Stoff forever to clean up the fake blood we'd chucked all over the wall. Think a cleaning programme should be talked about. We're gonna go right off Golden Syrup before the Summer's out!
Arrived at the production office this morning to a bit of a mutiny. The approach taken with the actors so far - character development and improvising around scenes - isn't going down too well. The actors and producers had a long discussion about it all. It was quite difficult to take two completely opposite points of view about our approach to the project and come up with a compromise that suited everyone. But it was quite pleasing when we worked it out. The actors took the day off, and the producers worked through the night to iron out the problems.
Arin Alldridge, playing Marcus is scheduled to arrive. We are told he can't make it today due to illness. This changes tomorrow's plans unfortunately, but this cannot be helped. The actors rehearsed with the director all morning and we filmed some of the improvisation. We have a sneaky suspicion that we're going to get hassled a lot by security as the month wears on. Had our first encounter today whilst filming this afternoon, which took a great deal of explaining and permission proving but was worked out eventually.
Couldn't do much on the filming front today, as our set - York campus - was quite literally crawling with people on an open day. Poor Matt, playing Damian, spent the entire morning having a mould made of his arm and upper torso for use in his death scene. Though he said it was uncomfortable and his arm must have ached like hell, he was still stroked and plastered by the girls for a couple of hours. Which I think he secretly enjoyed. Finding it quite interesting helping with all these cheap attempts at effects - who says you need millions? It's all about creativity. We also had a great laugh at Chris' expense when he volunteered to test the tooth enamel Robin got to use on Rach and ended up with just one insanely white tooth and was too scared to smile for the rest of the day for fear of being laughed at. Spirits are quite high and the work with the actors looks promising.
Kate and the actors went into town early this morning to buy the right size costumes and find footwear. It was also a brilliant opportunity to hang out and get to know one another. Brilliant bunch of people; very excited about working together for a month - it's going to be a great shoot. Back to business this afternoon, rehearsed in costume and are looking pretty good.SATURDAY 1st
We met one of our creatures today- Skilly. Whilst the actors and Chris rehearsed and did some test footage, Kate took Skilly to film his creature-like abilities. Think she nearly killed him a couple of times and discovered the joy of no-obstacle-too-big directing. Well, the footage looked cool - Skilly's brilliant, he must be half animal we don't know how he does it. He can scale up pretty much anything and leap like you wouldn't believe! Can't wait to see him in make-up.
Producers and actors met and discussed course of action for the coming month. Was really good to get to know to actors better. Had to figure out where we were going to put them all up. Obviously we can't be affording to put them in hotels for a month so each actor is assigned to one of the York based people with a spare room.
Ivania Elena arrived. Playing the part of Abbigail.
The University of York campus provides many stunning, large and bizarre visuals, which makes it the ideal location for the majority of exterior filming on Human Residue. Today we scouted a number of locations, taking pictures and video as we went, including a strange soundproof room and a eerily lit greenhouse.