The Making of Two Little Words
“Then the e-mails started coming in”
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Cassius Clay is now known as Muhammad Ali. Ceylon is now known as Sri Lanka. Marathon chocolate bars are now known as Snickers. For a small group of brave (or foolhardy, take your pick) members from OVFM Good Friday is now known as Freezing Friday!
On March 29th 2013 when most people were safely tucked up in doors in the warmth, lasciviously eyeing the Easter eggs they were told not to open until Sunday, the intrepid quartet of Reg “Bomber” Lancaster, Lady Annabelle, Simon “Snapper” Earwicker and yours truly, along with my loyal chauffeur and father Tony, tackled the chilling winds and inclement temperatures head on in the name of film making. The production in question was my film Two Little Words, my entry into the Two Words project, the results of which will screen to the rest of the club at the meeting on April 30th.
Naturally, I hadn’t intended on shooting on such a cold day but when I began to set the wheel in motion for this project the settlement on the date for everyone involved was paramount and the only date upon which we were ALL agreed was Good Friday. There is also the small matter of not being in a position to have any control over the weather; if I had that there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately for me and the shoot, 2013 was proving to be a VERY unpredictable year weather wise, with two bouts of snow already under our belts and the pre-Spring tease of lighter skies and less chilly temperatures that usually peeps it head out from behind the frosty clouds in early March was presumably staying in bed to keep warm.
When the temperatures remained low and the snow was refusing to let up with the threat of more coming to Orpington on Friday, I was rather apprehensive that things wouldn’t work out for the shoot. Thankfully everyone agreed that the weather be damned and the shoot should go ahead. This warmed my heart tremendously.
However twenty four hours before the shoot, not only did it start snowing again but I still didn’t have a key prop, a rosette for one character. Now, I had the chance to buy a set of rosettes from E-bay the week before but I believed everyone when they told me I could get one in a number of shops. Was this true? Was it hell! Not ONE single shop I tried had them! Really! Card shops, hobby shops, joke shops, costume shops, trophy makers, even a saddlery didn’t have one. In the end I found some “Small cheap “Birthday boy” ones which had to be sewn together and patched up to become more akin to what I needed. Thankfully it came out all right.
Then the e-mails started coming in.
The partner of my leading lady, the talented writer and actress Vanessa Chapman, was due to take one of the roles but when their son became ill, he opted to stay home and look after him, leaving me an actor down. Thankfully Vanessa offered to fix this by asking someone she knew who was going to be in Orpington for a while and agreed to help out, Rob Bushell, son of legendary TV critique Gary Bushell who was a fixture on Saturday night TV back in the 80’s. However he was out driving and we had to wait for a reply. This was about 22:30pm!! Then there was some confusion about the directions to my house when one person got the house number wrong! Then one person asked if they could be gone by four as they had an engagement in Whistable at 7:00pm! Now she tells me! Finally, being so engrossed in getting the actors, I forgot to acquire my crew and at this late stage I was unable to secure any further help. As it turned out, we managed with the four of us.
I knew something like this would happen but I didn’t expect it all happen with the space of the same half hour. I seriously expected to look out the window and see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse hovering outside with Pestilence saying, with a gleeful twinkle in his eye “See you in the morning!”
With no edition of Question Time on TV it was my nerves that kept me awake this particular Thursday night rather than my usual residual anger at the sanctimonious, ignorant bile spewed forth on said panel debate show. With the temperature having taken a noticeable drop I feared this would be prescient to more snow overnight. No matter how often I turned my body in my bed, I could not find a comfortable enough spot or position that would tempt my cognisant senses that shutting down for a few hours would be not just a great idea but a prudent one.
During this restless period my mind was buzzing with a paranoia I’m sure many a filmmaker has experienced the night before a shoot. Will the weather hold up? Will the cast show up? With they be good? Will they be lousy? What if we overrun so badly that we end up rushing crucial scenes or forget and fall short on others? What if the camera breaks down? What if the outdoor filming is hampered due to people trying to ruin the shots? What if a giant atomic fish headed chicken bodied hybrid beast that can shoot lasers from its eyes and lay toxic egg bombs were to rise from the ground and eviscerate Orpington to the point that it is completely uninhabitable? You can laugh but cameras do break you know!
Eventually I must of have dropped off (I don’t remember, I was asleep) because I woke up fresh and early (well, early). I was chuffed to mint balls to pull back my curtains to see that the God had not spilled any more of his Columbian nose powder across the garden and that the faint glimmer of light was present in the sky. It actually gave me a sliver of hope that we may have a successful day after all, but I am a pessimist by nature thus I’m not in the nature of hatching any chickens before the I’s have been crossed and Peter has been robbed so the pounds can look after their oysters.
So how would the actual shoot go down? Find in Part Two.