Why Does Everyone Want To Go Back To Jakku?!

Why Does Everyone Want To Go Back To Jakku?!

The day had finally come. We were to finish the short film Guilt And Denial.

Two months had past since we last filmed in the derelict building of Holton Heath. This time however, we were prepared. We had surveyed the area in advance, mapped out our entry and exit routes, and devised a foolproof plan. We were ready to return.

Of course, we were all nervous, but that would not stop us. But why did need need to go back to this location? The weather was different to when we first filmed, the crew were smaller, and the time was shorter. So many things could go wrong. Hell, we could even be caught once again! But as said, nothing would get in our way of finishing this film.

That was one of the greatest things about returning to Holton Heath. The crew had so much energy and positivity to finish the project. Those negatives were vastly outweighed by thoughts of completion.

The plan.

We would be divided into two groups, Group A and Group B. Group A would be the Director Hamish, Producer-Actor Alex, and myself and Group B would consist of Cinematographer Dan and the second Actor, Sam. Group A would get to the location first for 06:30 with the majority of the equipment – that meant we had to meet up and be in the car are for 05:45! Again, the adrenaline and excitement to get this finished did not slow anyone down and we were all buzzing that morning. Group B would arrive later to the location with the rest of the kit. Hamish drove Alex and me to the location while making a quick detour to his girlfriends house to collect the stepladder. 06:30 we rock up at our predetermined parking space and walk with the equipment to the location. We (Group A) were carrying props and costumes, audio equipment, food, documents, and the ladder. So far so good; we had a pleasant and quiet drive to the location, we were on time, and feeling confident about the day ahead. However, only a few paces to the fence we would climb, I saw car headlights coming from the road that leads from it. I warned Hamish and Alex and threw the ladder into a ditch the side of the pavement – the ladder was the most obvious thing we were carrying that screamed we would be up to no good. Hiding that, Hamish, Alex and I turned around and walked in the opposite direction – having been at the back of the line going to the location, I was now leading the line. It was funny, I kept asking if we were in the clear and could turn back around – we had basically walked back to the car. We were safe, for now, and walked back along the pavement. I picked up the ladder and propped it against the fence for us to get over. Nice and quietly, we wouldn’t want to disturb any neighbours around. We kept our torches off whilst we climbed over, and only turned them on for brief moments to get our bearings in the dark.

We are now in the derelict building. Things have changed since the last time we were here.

We make our way into the building and drop our gear in a doorway. Hamish and I then take our torches and do a quick search of the building for anyone or anything that may still be in. We find nothing, and wait patiently until the sun rises. Stood in the doorway and lit only with a slither of light from the outside world, we look into the shadows of the building. Nothing is there, but the sense of the unknown plays tricks on all of us. We think we hear or see things in the distance. It puts us all on edge but it’s a tremendously fun feeling. And one that can be exploited; for Alex got really jittery – so much that Hamish and I would play tricks on him whilst we passed the time. As the morning got lighter, every now and then we would do another search of the building. Soon, it got light enough for us to set up what things we had and block out the shots in preparation for Dan and Sam’s arrival.

Dan and Sam arrived and it was all systems go! I took the cases off Dan and begun setting up the camera and lights while Hamish talked through the blocking with him and Sam. After initial set up and the first few takes, the day went nice and smoothly – almost identical to the first time we filmed together. And just like before, I got to do a couple shots. Though there was one shot I was tasked to get which was nearly impossible; this was to pan and track a bottle being thrown at a wall, whilst moving from full blur on the thrower to sharp focus on the glass impact all in one go – and only one go to get it (due to how many prop bottles were available to throw). It took so long that the shot was simplified to just an over-the-shoulder shot of a bottle being thrown at the wall.

There were some cool treats we came across while filming at the site again, and one was stumbling upon an old prop bottle which had aged beautifully. During our first shoot at the site we had two prop bottles with printed Flirt and Mallard labels, strategically placed on the window ledge as an Easter Egg to one the crews first ever short film. When we had to cheese it the first time around, there was no time to save any of the props so they were left there – little did we know they would still be there and remain intact on our return months later. It was great seeing this little prop naturally weathered and remind us of the our first visit to the site. It was so sentimental, in fact, that Alex took it home with him.

Our final shot was one which could only be done once, but it was a good one. I set up the camera low on the ground, propped up by Hamish’s skateboard, with a dripping puddle in the foreground. Sam and Alex had to fall to the floor at the same time and stay there long enough for end credits to roll over. In relation to the story of Guilt and Denial it’s quite poetic as both must face each other and accept their fates for their pain to end. The shot could only be done once however as Sam’s suit would become wet and muddy and unusable for a second take. As Hamish called “cut” that marked the end of Guilt and Denial.

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