A cracking start
The start of a film shoot is always a tentative affair, with a large group of people – some unknown to one another – coming together to work in a high-stress situation. Our first day involved shooting six scenes in the one location, which more than passed as four different settings, thanks to vastly different rooms throughout. A massive shout out to Paula and Noel Shepherd of Finance for supplying these perfectly suited offices spaces.
With all crew arriving on time and in fifth gear, it was apparent from the outset that the film was in great hands. Our cast, led by Tom Wilson, Jamila Hall and Steven Tandy, also instilled a great deal of hope in producers Oakley, Katie-May, and Aaron.
It’s always a great thing to be able to shoot a film in sequence, as it gives the actors a real sense of continuity, and provides the crew with a schedule that remains in order and non-confusing. It’s also great if the actors have a wardrobe that is separate from their own. Unfortunately, none of these luxuries were available to us, so we needed to work extra hard to keep continuity errors to a minimum. Aaron – also our director – knew it was also necessary to keep performances congruous with what the relevant characters were experiencing in the prior scene. Failure to do this could be fatal to the narrative’s overall flow.
Our first scene involved Tom, Jamila, Steven, and Katie-May (yes, our Producer/First A.D.), who doubled as a receptionist (her nod to the main players during the scene is extremely natural, I might add). Everything went off without a hitch, with Shaun Pettigrew, our DOP, setting a great flow for the crew to follow. Given that the location was in Kelvin Grove (near Brisbane’s enormous and thriving CBD), sound did become an issue, namely traffic light ‘walk’ signals. So much so that Aaron and Shaun started to berate innocent people for simply wanting to stay safe whilst crossing the road. It was unfortunate to watch, as they castigated any poor soul that even thought about pressing that button. Still, they did, and time ticked away. Our professional actors did an amazing job of experiencing the text between the long periods of loud beeping.
The next two scenes were in an office away from any such constraints, which pleased the crew – and Shaun’s cardiologist – no end. Being quite a titchy office space, all the crew, bar Aaron, managed to somehow fit into their desired positions. Aaron was forced to sit atop a small box suspended above the ground, crouching like he was hiding from attacking vultures. It was a delight to watch him squirm into position and bark orders like a hunched-over slave. It was difficult for anyone – including himself – to take him seriously whilst talking from this position. He was left chuffed, however, with the performances rendered by the cast. The crew were far happier with the constantly clear sound afforded to them in this space, too.
The three actors were wrapped for day one, and after a filling lunch of hot chicken butties and green cordial, veteran actor Sandro Colarelli came to set for his first scene with Aaron. Their characters are quite off the wall, to put it mildly. The devil inside both of these men clearly relished the chance to bring them to life. Sandro did a great job, and landed exactly where Aaron wanted. Aaron, on the other hand, ended his first take with “Well, that was woeful”, but a half-grunt at the end of his takes makes me feel he was happy in the end. It was difficult for the crew to remain stoic throughout the scenes, as both these men’s characters are so different from who they are in reality. Oakley joined the men for the final scene, with her character catalysing an utterly absurd situation for our lead actor, Tom, to deal with. Lots of absurdity, yelling, and disgust was offered by all on the screen.
Unbelievably, Katie-May managed to keep us on track for a 17:30 wrap time. The crew struck the set with expedience, and were sent home wondering what sort of asylum they’d signed up to. Katie-May and Oakley high-fived as they discussed the successful nature of the first day, and Aaron shook Sandro’s hand, certain he’d found an eccentric, odd-bod brother in arms.