‘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



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.


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.


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.


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!:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Stuart and Cerith share a laugh on set.

The Fitzroy: Recce Mission

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.

The Black Widow submarine

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:


Approaching The Sub

Shooting The Hull

On Approach

Listing Sub

Please Don't Touch


Up Top

Down Below

Forward Missile Room

Red Loo

Angled Meeting

Righting The Boat


Ironic Bernard


Exit Hatch

Beach Scene

Beautiful Sub


Rear Missile Room