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“Locke” 85 Second Movie Challenge – Production Update

Setup began at 1pm on Sunday. Not only had Josh Davies come on board at very short notice to act as DOP, but also generously allowed us to use the FXHome office in central Norwich. The scene we were filming was of a character being interviewed in front of two doors – this location both gave us the necessary office vibe and miraculously enough even had two adjacent doors with plenty of space for us to film (once we had moved a few people’s desks out of the way – apologies to the FXHome development team for any signs of disturbance they noticed on Monday morning!)

Josh sets up the initial camera angle whilst Nigel reviews the script
Josh sets up the initial camera angle whilst Nigel reviews the script

 To help with the lighting we had to improvise various methods of blocking the natural light reflecting off the glass walls that would be in shot. Luckily being in an office meant that there were plenty of sofa cushions, whiteboards, unassembled bookshelves and the like that could be pressed into service.

Our actor Tom Butterworth arrived shortly after two o’ clock and got to work learning the lines that had been hot off the press only two hours earlier. Fortunately he had written some of them himself which must have helped, but even so it was a big ask – an eighty-five second time limit seems very short to everyone involved with the exception of the actor who has to memorise the script…

How difficult can memorising a page and a half of dialogue at short notice actually be?
How difficult can memorising a page and a half of dialogue at short notice actually be?

The scene was filmed from a face on perspective and then from an angle to both left and right – for reasons that will hopefully become stylistically apparent in the final edit. With such a small crew on set we all had to pitch in most of the time – for example when we realised that two of us were needed to be in position behind the doors during a shot Nigel found himself directing whilst also wrangling the microphone boom.

 Director, sound engineer and apparently make-up artist
Director, sound engineer and apparently make-up artist

 Josh was filming on a Sony Nex FS700 which gave us beautiful picture quality but also imposed another time limit in the form of camera battery life. We also realised fairly early on that battery drain was also greater than it would normally be as our Rhode boom mike was drawing its power from the camera as well. Consequently we were slamming the battery into the charger whenever we had a break in shooting to gain a few more vital percent of power.

Our attempt to power the camera through the power of Christopher's mind didn't succeed
Our attempt to power the camera through the power of Christopher’s mind didn’t succeed

 We remained very conscious of the film time limit all the way through – often Nigel would re-shoot a line minus a couple of words that weren’t vital; saving mere seconds but seconds that might make the difference for coming in under time in the edit. Perhaps an extravagant three minute long director’s cut might appear in the future – watch this space…

Hand-held close ups
Hand-held close ups

With all the “must-have” shots in the can we made use of the final few minutes of camera battery life to try a couple of glide shots on a wheeled camera dolly – another advantage of working in the office of a visual effects software company! By seven o’ clock the battery was down to 1% and Nigel called the wrap – after six hours of solid work we were all pretty tired but hopeful that we had everything we need to edit together a nice looking (very) short short.

  • […] resulting in two very different versions of the same film. We’ve covered pre-production and production on the blog already and now it’s time to take a look at post-production in a bit more […]

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