Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, February 2005
On an icy Saturday evening we descended on the home of Melvin and Sue ... kind and inviting owners of a tree perfect for the filming of BTCC Part i. After weeks of fruitlessly searching the woodland areas of Leeds, we got a call from our South Yorkshire location scout, John Dean, who had noticed a suitably sized, sturdy looking tree that was close to a bedroom window. Whilst Dave practiced his stop-motion miming (and kept his feet warm) in the car, Guy and Simon wrestled to keep the real star of the video under control.
Tug had been constructed a few weeks before using coat hangers, gaffer tape, papier mache and some basic electronics (which turned out to be too basic as the lights in Tug's head weren't visible on film). But despite my efforts to make him light and sturdy (and with a failed ambition to make him stand on his own two feet) he turned out to be a totally uncontrollable unwieldy lump. So the first nights shooting consisted of me up a step ladder, trying to keep my hands warm enough to press the shoot button on my flimsy digital camera. Guy puppeteering Tug and trying to stay out of shot, and Simon running in and out of the house swapping over batteries for the camera. We retired at 1am when my hand was shaking too much to be of any use. (you may notice that Dave's hands aren't in shot for any of the in-tree shots as he was designated one of the two pairs of gloves we had between the four of us.)
After a hearty breakfast provided by caterers Janet and John Dean, a failed (due to faulty super8 light metering) shooting of a video for THEACCiDENT and a photoshoot (with photographer John Dean) at some nearby follies, we got back to the set. We met aspiring actor Andrew Dobson (found by casting director John Dean) and his friend Becky ... and ran through the (very rough) script. We shot their gloriously warm indoor shots without a hitch, both of them adapting well to the situation and each other. Then I got to have fun with special effects, using 3 different kitchen knives, cut off at different lengths along their blades (thanks to Martyn Dean of our special effects department), and lots of red marker ink (carefully trying not to get any on Melvin and Sue's sheets), to create the effect of the knife being plunged deep within Andrew's innards. I wish i had shot from a more head-on angle so that the tearing of the knife through the rest of the body could have been more gratuitous, but i was reasonably pleased with the results. After that it was time for the acting talent to go home and for us to once again brave the bitter, bitter cold. The car's thermometer read -2ºc, at least it wouldn't rain.
The first outdoor setup of the night almost spelled the end of iLiKETRAiNS. It was a complicated drainpipe shot; I was getting pissed off with Tug's inability to grip anything other than himself and had managed to lodge him and his 9 inch kitchen knife between the wall and the pipe that he was supposed to be climbing. Guy was stood below holding the ladders, (whist Dave and Simon toasted themselves in the car) when Tug's hand dislodged itself, his blade slicing through the air and missing Guy's forehead by a matter of centimeters. Visibly shaken he went and warmed up in the car whilst I abandoned the shot and made Dave crawl around the garden, hangout in the undergrowth then get back in the tree for a final 2 hour stint of menacing looks and very slow movement.
By 10.30pm our joints and brains had seized up, but we had captured our last frame and were full of relief that we hadn't died from pneumonia or from knife attacks to the head. Soon we were merrily on our way back up the M1, safe in the knowledge we had completed a solid weekend's worth of work and it was one of us that had another solid week of editing left to do.
Broken Pixel, 2006.