Between Day 7 and 8 of THE STAGG DO was a day off. Being filmmakers, we obviously all got drunk the night before the off day, then spent that day hung over. This will surprise no one in the film world.
On the day off, I get up late and the house where we’re all staying is mostly empty. Ben comes downstairs after a bit. Neither of us has any clue where people are, but things are clearly gone. There’s no note. Nothing.
After a bit, Charlotte (our clapper) and Tina (our Art Director Assistant) come back. They seem to think that our former AD Jennifer Hegarty and our Production Designer Jen Saguaro have gone home to Bristol.
Again, there’s no note. No email. Nothing.
Like I said, nothing on a film set happens in a vacuum, but…well.
Day 8 starts and still no sign of either of them. Zahra says they told her they weren’t coming back, only it’s not that simple. Jennifer has defected to G&E, which means that she’s under me and Richy. I used to work in middle management. If you didn’t show up one day without calling your immediate manager, you were pretty much fired. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but not telling the people you’re working for that you aren’t coming in, is kind of a bullshit thing to do.
But beyond that, it’s really impressive to quit twice on a film shoot that only lasts 8 days. In the corporate world, they’d put you on the list of people to never hire again, which I’m guessing is where she is now for several people in the greater Newcastle area.
For Day 8, we’re filming the wedding scene that the stagg do leads up to. Everyone’s dressed up and the lighting is much, much easier. For one thing, we’re inside, so essentially we’re shining our big moon 2K (which is now a sun) through a window and using a kino bank to light the rest of the room. It’s a tiny scene, just a couple of lines, then we move outside where it’s overcast and threatening to rain (big surprise).
We’ve got the 2K going, mostly just to throw a little more light into the shadows, but that’s pretty much it. The great thing about overcast skies is they provide a soft box that’s ideal for filming. You can literally point the camera at something and be lit. It makes our jobs a lot easier.
It’s a wide shot, with lots of moving parts. Since we look like s**t from being in the woods, we aren’t usable as extras, so other than running a few cables through windows, we don’t have a whole lot to do other than just stay out of the way.
And so we do what any crew members do during down time: we work on a practical joke. Charlotte Bagshaw is easily the most innocent person on the crew. She’s a student, working on her first film, and she’s really too sweet of a person to be working in film. Like any crew member, she’s been drafted into the cast, playing a bridesmaid. She’s never acted before, obviously. So when this happened around Day 5 or so, Ben and I started talking about that one scene in an earlier draft where Pob has sex with a bridesmaid during the wedding. Tina picked up on it right away, as did Richy. The scene doesn’t exist, but Charlotte doesn’t know that. Around Day 7, I pull Pob and James aside and tell them about the joke.
On Day 8, Pob starts winking at Charlotte, says something about the big scene. Then James walks through the holding area and I ask him when they’re going to film that. He pulls it off with a perfect deadpan and a wave of horror washes over her face.
“Guys, I’m only 18.”
“That’s kind of the point.”
We also made her watch TRAINSPOTTING, so I’m sure we’ve scarred her for life. Proof: she’s really excited to work on more films.
At some point during the day, I get an email from Jennifer that’s intended as a “proper goodbye”. I’m not going to run any of it here, as it’s a private correspondence, but she’ll have an opportunity to publish a counterpoint if she wants.
The wedding ends and we film a scene of Dawn, our host and trained opera singer, singing the musical portion of the ceremony, then a few cutaways of the cake made by fellow filmmaker Richard Purves and that’s a wrap on THE STAGG DO (well, at least this portion of it).
Like any good Brits, we retire to the pub.
Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.