‘The clothes make the character’

The Fitzroy (feature film)

 ‘The clothes make the character’ is a famous quote I’m probably misremembering by a famous actor. Well it’s true and I would include make-up in that mangled quote.

‘The clothes and the make-up… er… make the character’ – Andrew Harmer

Pithy!

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One of the real pleasures I had when shooting The Fitzroy was watching the actors come in in the early hours of the morning, often tired, occasionally grumpy, only to emerge a little later from the make-up and costume room as laughing, smiling, characters, completely transformed. It was a joy to behold.

Make-up and Costume are so important to a film, especially when the film is a period piece. We’ve been blessed on The Fitzroy to have a great team creating the look. Spearheaded by Poppy Bell (costume) and Karen Evans (make-up), they have worked wonders on a minuscule budget.

But enough of me waffling on. I’ll let…

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The Fitzroy: Principal Photography

Something special happened this week. I became part of a film crew, helping shoot the feature film The Fitzroy. Normally I’m a freelance TV Director and a Vision Mixer and not a Camera Operator, so getting to be involved in something like this was an absolute dream.

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Back in December 2012, at the beginning of their crowd funding adventure, I offered my camera kit and services free-of-charge to the producers of The Fitzroy to help bring their idea to life. Since that offer I’ve shot gigabytes of footage for them, including the Green Rock River Band as they recorded the film score, filmed the production crew on a recce to the derelict submarine, captured the script read-through and rehearsals, shot some costume fitting, covered some of the studio build, and squeezed into ridiculously tight corners to capture behind-the-scenes footage during Principal Photography on the actual Black Widow submarine.

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Before I go any further I should thank some people for accepting my freebie offer; Director Andrew Harmer, and Producers Liam Garvo and James Heath. Without them saying yes and having confidence with me, none of this journey would have happened. I’ve learned loads, and re-learned things I thought I already knew! They have all been incredibly accommodating and for that I am eternally grateful.

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Part of the deal with shooting for free was that I’d be learning ‘on the job’, with no promise of perfection! A few years back my original passion for photography stemmed into shooting HD video using DSLR cameras as a hobby. Since then I’ve accumulated a shedload of kit (literally) but hardly had the time or opportunity to use it. Helping on The Fitzroy came around at just the right time, allowing me to use the kit practically and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

All this footage will eventually be collated and edited into behind-the-scenes clips for the website, social media and the DVD/Blu-Ray release. These videos will be similar in style to the following video released just this week (with my shots in!):

I’ve been given permission to share some of these raw screen grabs from the behind-the-scenes footage I’ve shot so far. So here they are!:

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At 10.42am April 15th 2013, Director Andrew Harmer calls “ACTION!” on the first shot!

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Actors Cerith Flinn and David Gant (Braveheart) discuss the scene with Andrew.

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DoP Ciro Candia shoots David Schaal (The Inbetweeners) in 4k resolution (Ultra HD!) with a “RED” camera.

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Who will be visiting The Fitzroy hotel? I could tell you…

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Cerith and Carol Robb check the script, preparing for the next scene.

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Carol (playing Mildred) shouts at David (playing Cecil). This pair are hilarious!

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Camera Operator Ciro perfects his shot, walking backwards through a submarine!

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Stuart McGugan (It Ain’t Half Hot Mum) and Cerith discuss the shot.

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Cerith (playing Bernard) and Stuart (playing captain Hunt) perform their scenes.

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Stuart and Cerith share a laugh on set.

Crowd Funding The Future

I’m a fan of “Crowd Funding”. If someone is passionate enough about an idea, it’s possible to bypass corporate red tape and make that idea come to life with the help of others. Websites such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo allow people to show off their ideas and have people contribute money towards their project. And if the crowd-sourced contributions hit an amount set for the project within an allotted time, they get the money and the project goes ahead. As a way of getting people involved, some projects give something back to their contributors such as a finalised item, a limited edition version of their project, a signed copy of a DVD, etc. It’s a great idea.

“Why would you want to do this?”, some may ask. My answer is simple; we are an incredibly creative bunch, and not everyone gets their chance to shine. I’m a firm believer in giving people a helping hand if I feel it’s likely to give them a positive outcome.

I’ve backed a few projects in the last year, all of which I thought were worthwhile as standalone ideas. Furthermore I looked at the potential these folks had and the impact their projects might have on their future. I’ve backed a photographer looking to showcase his stunning images, a software team creating a fantastical futuristic arcade racing game, and a technology company who want to get people active with their stylish button-sized activity monitor (who were looking for $100k and ended up with over half a million!).

One project I missed out on was a feature film called Least Among Saints by Marty Papazian, a feature length portrayal on the life of an injured soldier who moves next door to a single mother. It went on to become an award winning feature shown around the world. As an independent filmmaker Papazian wrote, directed and starred in it. He now has a solid future ahead of him, something I wish I had been part of.

My latest discovery is a UK based team looking to fund an independent film. Writer and director Andrew Harmer, producer James Heath and Liam Garvo of Dresden Pictures have put together a winning press package which deserves attention. Their Kickstarter project, The Fitzroy, is a feature length 1950’s style post-apocalyptic comedy based on a beached submarine being used as a hotel; The Fitzroy Hotel. That idea alone was enough to get me wanting more! Having seen the artwork on their Kickstarter video and the detail of their website and blog it’s a no-brainer for me to have pledged something to their project. At the time of writing this blog they had 246 backers and 65% of their goal funding (£39’403) with 10 days to go.

I truly hope they make it.

I mentioned before about their “press package”, and it’s something worth mentioning separately. Gaining exposure is essential in such a venture, and what these guys have done is create a team of people skilled in what they do and a detailed and enticing way of getting people involved. They have a regularly updated blog of the project, they keep in touch with their backers, they have a well designed website, and the perks they offer in return for targeted pledges is something I haven’t seen before. Fancy a download of the movie, or maybe a physical blu-ray version? How about your name in the credits and an invite to the premiere screening? Maybe a gas mask prop from the feature? What about a post-apocalypse survival kit? Or, how about becoming an animated character as part of the opening titles? These are all brilliant ideas to which other projects should take note.

As a side-line to their feature idea, and the reason I initially found the project, they created and uploaded a short film called “Choke Mate”. Although based on the world of The Fitzroy, where earth is engulfed in a poisonous gas, they state that the result is somewhat of a darker world. What got me interested is that they took ideas and suggestions from their supporters and in just over 48 hours turned around and uploaded their creation.

Stellar work, worth applauding. And funding…

If you feel like you’d like to donate something towards their goal, you can contribute to the project by clicking here. In the meantime, here’s the team’s over-the-weekend short entitled “Choke Mate”:

As an update to this blog, I’ve since discovered some other work from Andrew Harmer. This comedy short is also worth a watch: