Tuesday, 8 October 2013

I Shot Jenny Ringo...

Previously published (with pictures) on the blog Writer by Night!! Part 1 & Part 2

On the weekend of 13th/14th of April 2013 I shot Jenny Ringo!
Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spell book to be more specific.
Over two days we hoped to bring to life the most ambitious Jenny Ringo film yet. A film with dinosaurs, killer clowns, hellish landscapes, 'Tron' style in game escapades and bizarre monsters from other worlds...and so we did.
Director Chris Regan and Producer Andrea Regan had strategically planned everything down to a t so we could fit everything in, so I grabbed my camera, batteries and memory cards and dived into the car to get underway.
Day One - 13th April 2013
First stop, Under-cliff.
There were a number of scenes that took place outside and it looked as though we had been blessed on this bright and sunny Saturday morning in April.
This was the first issue I had. Having an inability to see properly I need the use of spectacles to see properly. Also suffering from migraines in bright sun, I had adapted these spectacles to "react" to the harsh UV rays, creating a darker lens protecting my eyes. Had I known that this combined with reflectivity of the LCD screen on the camera, would result in an inability to see what I was filming properly, along with a lot of guess work relating to the focus, I may have re-thought my previous eyeball solution.
Anyway, we managed to get through the first few scenes well enough. The bright weather was holding up and we were still on track.
We had one final shot to make in Brighton, overlooking Madeira Drive for a giant pizza. Unfortunately it was decided that the best place for me to film was next to a playground. Now I know I was there to film Jenny Ringo. Chris and the cast knew I was there to film Jenny Ringo. However I couldn't shake the feeling that anyone else passing by may have thought I was there to film children playing.
Luckily we got the shot we needed and moved down to Madeira Drive for close ups, and to prove to all those questioning onlookers that I was in fact making a Jenny Ringo film.
However someone still wasn't happy and the heavens began to open. With the first few drops of rain. Rain that would decide not to stop as originally forecast and later forces the well planned schedule to be reassessed and split into multiple shots.
So back to Worthing we went to continue the adventures of Jenny Ringo and to Lime Café to battle the evil clowns.
It's always a bit of a struggle on films with few crew members when faced with a room full of extras. You're trying to plan a shot but also make sure everyone knows what’s happening and will be ready when the director calls “Action”.
Saying that, on this occasion there wasn't really any major difficulty. Everyone who arrived seemed quite happy chatting until it was time to get transformed into clowny evil-ness.
I don't think I'll be forgetting anytime soon, having to film close up after close up of menacing clowns, especially when it seemed it was me they were after.
Unfortunately that was where day one ended. The rain continued to pour, light was beginning to fade and we still had a couple of exteriors left. These would have to be moved to the next day. A day of monsters, babies and sea foxes.
Day Two- 14th April 2013
Day Two began as any normal day on a Jenny Ringo shoot begins. There were bandages, fake blood and lights in tiny cramped spaces.
We started with a scene that was eventually cut for time. Time in the film, and lack of time to create the effects needed. However all I remember was sitting on the bathroom floor, squashed up against the wall trying my hardest not to break down into laughter. I failed. How unprofessional of me.
Despite my failings, the scene was shot, and after getting the feeling back in my legs we moved on to the monsters outside ready for their close ups.
Once again the sun had got his hat on. However lighting a dark, interior corridor when you're outside is a pain in the back side unless you are the proud owner of some massive bright lights. Unfortunately I am not.
However we managed to get a happy medium and grab the shots we needed. As soon as the monsters had finished it was time to film the babies.
How does one direct babies I hear you ask? Well simply put, you don't. Instead you wave lots of things around, blow bubbles and eventually turn the TV on in a hope to distract them long enough to get the shot we need. It eventually worked and resulted in a 10 minute out-take of pure cute anarchy.
The beach was next. Originally the script called for the beach discussion to be at night. However in case this didn't work, a back-up would be required. Day time beach...no issues here. It was sunny, we got the shots, we moved on. We would be back later for the night time which came with a few surprises.
No off to space to space for us to crank the F-stop.
Space was located in a barn. The result of a friend’s short who still had a set up for a couple of days. Now I'm new to filming things for myself and when told to crank the Fstop to make sure we had a smooth green screen, I couldn't help but stare blankly before nodding in agreement (something I've learned more about with more night shoots). However we managed to get the space we needed. Everything was in focus that needed to be and we packed up and left.
And then we had to wait....
...finally it was dark.  We could now reshoot the earlier beach scene but in darkness.
"But if it's dark, how are you going to film anything?"
We had a plan. A plan involving plastic folders, LED lights and camping lanterns. A plan that gave us the desired effect or a burning magic flame. A plan that came at a deadly cost. The cost of being attacked by millions of  bugs.
Evil beach dwelling creatures that crawled up out of the pebbles to attack their prey. Had I not been tired and grumpy, some of those bugs may have survived to tell the tale of how they saw the filming of Jenny Ringo 3. However, at times I am not a patient man. It was survival of the fittest. I won.
However had I had to face the sea fox alone, I'm sure I'd be telling a different tale. It's never a good sign, when your back is to the sea and everyone start looking over your shoulder at a "dog" coming out of the sea. Not a dog my friend, but a fox. A fox that each night rises from the briny depths to wander Worthing looking for easy prey. A Sea fox...I would guess.
Anyway, we got through the last location shoot. We each went our separate ways, back to the safety of our houses and beds, to dream of the adventures of sea foxes and beach bugs.
We still weren't finished. There was still animation that I had to complete, the construction of a monster and trying twice to get the perfect night time shot of Brighton Pier.
This is another tale for next time...