‘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
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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A while back (January 2013) I supported a Kickstarter project to fund a feature film called “The Fitzroy” (I get a GAS MASK from the movie as one of the perks for being a backer!). To quote the Kickstarter website; “The Fitzroy is an independent, live action, feature film; a black comedy set in a post-apocalyptic 1950’s Margate. The world is covered in a poisonous gas and the Fitzroy Hotel (a beached submarine) is the last place for a traditional holiday. The hotel is sent into chaos when one of the guests murders the hotel’s owner. It is left to Bernard, The Fitzroy’s hapless bellboy, to keep the hotel from falling apart as he struggles to hide the murders from the other guests and the ever-suspicious authorities.”
When the project was funded I emailed the Production crew to offer my services with camera and recording kit on top of the funds I had already donated. I was pleased when they got back to me, asking if I could film some behind-the-scenes footage during the recording of the movie’s soundtrack with the Green Rock River Band. So in February I ended up in North London and got some great cut-away shots. After sending that footage off to them, they contacted me again to ask if I was free to shoot some more, and visit the actual submarine!
I’m not one to turn down that sort of chance-of-a-lifetime, and so I agreed. On Tuesday I travelled to Rochester to meet up with some of the production crew who were on a recce for the film. The submarine, an ex-Russian Foxtrot B-39, is 92 metres long and only 7.5 metres wide. It used to dive to 250m below with up to 77 souls onboard and stay submerged for up to 30 days at a time. It also carried 20 missiles…
I’ve been given permission to share some screen grabs from the raw footage, so here’s some shots from the day:
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: