Tag: Guilt And Denial

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.

I’m Endangering The Mission. I shouldn’t Have Come.

I’m Endangering The Mission. I shouldn’t Have Come.

This was one of the best film shoots I had ever been on, and is an example I constantly go back on for how things should be done. However, like most projects, this one does come with complications – which only adds to the story.

Guilt And Denial is an independent student short film written by Dan Tonkin, directed by Hamish Gough, produced by Shelbourne Productions, and stars Sam Klein and Alex West.

The split egos of an offender are forced to confront each other in a nightmare where only one can survive.

Planning was key for this project to be a success, for this film had a fare few risks involved. Namely, being caught. The location the crew had chosen was fantastic – it was an old, derelict warehouse factory in Holton Heath on the outskirts of Bournemouth – but not open to the public. I think four recces were conducted before filming to make sure this location would work. The two who conducted the recces (cinematographer Dan, and Director Hamish) were very open with what they saw, posting and informing us with potential risks, possible entrances and exits to the site, where set ups would be and how ultimately this location would work for the film. Numerous photos and videos of of the location came in – telling us where rooms had collapsing roofs, broken doors, or uneven floors. They were thorough in their findings – because they knew the risks, and we knew the risks. If a wrong step were to be made, there was a potential danger of injury and destruction to the site. But we knew what we were going in for and they were transparent in what this location was. As such, in a meeting further down the line, we discussed what we would wear to the location – and I ended up wearing my steel toe boots and clothes I did not mind wrecking.

Many more meetings were conducted before filming to finalise everything and make sure everyone was on the same level. A script, shot list, and call sheet had been made and amended numerous times to get everything to a level of coherence and reduce the amount of alterations when shooting would come round. Time would be a definite factor at this location, for we could be caught and thrown out at any time. The people in charge had even gone out of their way to secure a hire van to transport all of the equipment and most of the crew so when it came to the day, only a van and small car would arrive at the location.

Spacious Van

Unit Call: 07:45

Van loaded, crew strapped in, and all systems go. We are now on our way to the location. I am in the smaller car with the rest of the crew and as such arrive before the van. We park in the lot near the site and eagerly wait for the van to show up but we see something go wrong, we see the van go up the location road, then exit the other side. What has happened? The van got caught going in. The road the location is on happens to also be a private residential road, and one resident sees it strange a van driving up it, so questions the driver thinking he might be lost – thankfully, their swift reaction was to lie and say their GPS took them off course. The resident buys it, and the van drives off, kills some time, and makes a second attempt to getting to the location.

We’re in.

It’s a scramble to get all the equipment over the fence. Alex and Sam jump over first and take the equipment from us as we pass it over. We then hop over and run through no mans land (an open area between the fence and derelict) and enter the building and immediately begin setting up. The hard part is now over, all we need to do now is shoot the film. And that’s what we do.

It was such a lovely experience being on this project. Everyone knew what they were doing and how they were to do it, we all new the story and we all liked each other and get on well. It’s a really pleasant time we all had.

Besides the thought that went into the recce, the attention towards the script and shot list, and the constant communication; there is one reason why I continue to use this project as my example of good filmmaking and my best experience in the field so far – and that is what I was handed when we all met for the unit call… Like a good guy I am, I had printed myself the script and call sheet ready for the shooting day, but when I arrived for the unit call, I was given a personal production pack with my name on it. The folder was new and had my name on a printed label. Inside was not only another copy of the script and call sheets, but finalised shot lists and to my surprise, MAPS and floor plans of the derelict. No production I had ever been on before or since has ever provided me with maps and floor plans of the filming location – and as such, is now a technique I use on my productions. A floor plan is (and was) incredibly useful. It allowed me to know not only what rooms and areas were inaccessible, but also where and when each set up and shot would be. Example, shots 14, 15, 16, 32, 40 take place in the corner by the door etc. But what really struck home was that these guys cared for their each other and it was so nice seeing everyone respected.

That’s me on the right operating the camera (C300)

Filming had finished, lunch had been eaten, and it was time to pack up and go home. But this story plays out like a real film as there’s conflict inbound! We’re plain sailing, everything has gone to plan, we’re golden – which in a film can only mean the heroes are going to face another challenge or spout of conflict – for us, it was capture again. We had packed up and removed everything from the building and we were now at the fence quickly passing kit over to get out of there. The driver had already jumped to grab the van but before it could collect us, another resident of this road came driving up. He got out of his car, with his dog, and questioned us being there “you know you shouldn’t be in there, that’s private land” – all we could say was “sorry” and “we we’re just leaving actually”, I think we came up with some excuse like “we actually couldn’t get further than the fence, it’s all locked off”. What I do remember though, is that the man got back in his care and drove off but forgot his dog! The dog followed behind as he drove further up the road. We were just grateful that he had caught us at the end of the shoot whilst we were leaving – rather than halting production during.

Shaken, we regrouped at uni and discussed what had just happened and he possibilities of future filming. Having been caught twice, everyone was now concerned as to whether or not it would even be possible to continue filming the next day. It was put to a vote, and sadly, postponed until further notice. We all felt that we were lucky to get away how we did, and that it would have been to risky to return the next day. For all we knew, the people who had caught us going in and out could have informed their neighbours to keep an eye out or even the local authorities. In retrospect, it was good we let the heat die down before returning to the site.

But even with being caught going in and coming out, it was still an amazing experience and a fun film to shoot. As always I wish these guys all the best for the future and hope to work with them again.

Guilt And Denial Clapperboard

Continue the story here as we return to the site in the winter.