Following our successful pre-Christmas crowd-funding campaign, we proceeded to shoot "Reply To All" on the weekend of 18th/19th January 2014.
The venue was The Richmond Hill Hotel, situated at the brow of Richmond Hill - a bona fide London beauty spot on the edge of Richmond Park (local residents include The Who's Pete Townshend and Sir David Attenborough). I personally selected the venue as I felt its suites offered a bridal feel, and I was aware that these had suitable balconies which we would require for a key scene.
* The film runs in almost real-time, meaning that light conditions must be consistent throughout. All of the action occurs during daytime, so evening and night scenes were a no-no. With daylight hours being at a minimum at this time of year, this cut our hours of possible filming considerably.
Fortunately our Director Josh Westbury compiled a meticulous shot-list which enabled us to make the most of the limited daylight hours and ensure we shot the key balcony scene accordingly.
* For much of the film, the central character "Becki" sports a mud-pack on her face. Now these things set and dry fairly rapidly, but given the film's real-time duration (approx. 10-12 minutes) we needed to keep that mud-pack looking freshly-applied.
Hats off then to our hair and make-up artist Cat Corderoy for her endless supply of mud-packs and diligence in removing and re-applying it identically to Tracey's ("Becki") forehead time and again.
...Oh, and we nearly had a disastrous start on Saturday when Anne - one of our Sound Recording team, and who was carrying most of our audio equipment, got knocked down on her way to the shoot.
By an ambulance, of all things!
Right outside Northwick Park Hospital.
Now, one can be flippant and say if you are to get knocked down at all, you're best off doing so via such a vehicle and at such a location - but Anne did remarkably well to dust herself down (thankfully unscathed) and put in a full shift like nothing had happened.
Anyway, the shoot got underway more or less on schedule, and pretty much to plan.
In the role of "Becki", Tracey Pickup put in a tremendous comedic turn in what is essentially a one-hander role. Throughout the two days, her performance levels never dipped and nor did her patience as we put her through multiple variations of the same scene to ensure we had the maximum amount of footage to pull from in the final cut.
We selected Tracey from a field of 450+ applicants, and she lived up to the billing - pitching the role just right to measure up against the animated elements we will add in post-production.
Another individual whose patience and energy levels are to be applauded is Director of Photography Oliver Cross. Oli had just flown back from a trip to his native New Zealand 48 hours prior to shoot, and yet the inevitable jet-lag never showed as he adjudged each take on its merits, never skimping in his quest for the best shot at all times.
As with all film shoots however, the clock - or more specifically the fading daylight in our case - will always run against you, and despite our superb progress over the tight 2-day shoot, we had to rally to shoot the final scenes as time dwindled away. This led to a high-pressure final scene. Now I'm not going to give away any spoilers here, but let's just say it is a ONE-TAKE ONLY scene - get it wrong, and we won't be able to go back and re-do it...
Could we pull it off?
We all held our breath as Tracey ************SPOILER....NOT TELLING YOU!!!*************** .......and then, slowly pulled away to reveal.......
YES! WE DID IT!!!!
Huge - silent - grins broke out around set, until Director Josh finally called "And Cut!" - leading to a spontaneous outbreak of applause and relief from all involved.
And that was it - our location shoot was done. Fantastic work by all.
Must also mention: Producer Sophie Caramigeas for her tireless co-ordination of the whole shoot and acquiring the kit; Art Director Jeremy Hay who was integral to the shot composition and operating the clapper-board; Location Photographer Stuart James Hall, who took 800+ invaluable snaps which will help us market the film when completed; and Music Composer Ian Roullier for his Sound Recording work.
Official Photographs will follow soon.
NEXT UP: Voiceover recordings for our animated characters on 1st February....