The Last Day – A film shot on the last day of 2011
Yesterday was New Years Eve 2011 and we decided to shoot a new short film with Sophie Atkinson and Lewis Jobson, two actors who we thoroughly enjoying working with on Live Theatre’s 24hr Shootout. We all met up a few days before the end of 2011 and decided to shoot a new film together. Due to everyone’s conflicting schedules the only viable date was New Years Eve and we thought why not?
We set our own self-inflicted set of rules to create a completely improvised film. We weren’t allowed to think of any ideas beforehand, we would meet at 9am and finish by 6pm and we would all bring a few random props. We met up and pulled over in the car to check out all the props we had brought. Within a few minutes we had created our first character, Neville, an end of the world nut obsessed with radio waves.
Since we were filming on the last day of 2011, why not set the film then? We quickly drove to a supermarket to build a survival kit for Neville. We decided to film in some nearby woods and location scouted for about an hour. We had the entire camera kit packed into a rucksack so we could travel light and shoot fast. We didn’t bring a tripod and intended to do everything handheld. We knew we needed to be fast as the sunlight would be gone by 4pm.
By now we had come up with a basic story and what the relationship was between our two characters. We had an idea for the first scene and just went for it. Sophie and Lewis are absolutely exceptional at improv and the dialogue is completely off the top of their heads. Generally we all decide what action is happening in the scene, a few points the characters must touch upon and how the scene will end. Sometimes we planned out where the cuts would go and other times I just moved the camera around the scenes as they happened.
Generally this is how the day went, coming up with ideas and just letting them play out in-front of the camera. By around 4-5pm it was getting very dark and without any extra lighting we had to the shoot the final scene by torchlight at 6400ISO and the lens at F1.4-F2. Luckily we had just got our new 5Dmkii a few days before which handled these conditions quite well considering.
Another thing worth mentioning is the radio that plays a big part in the film. We liked the idea of using the actual sounds from the radio rather than dubbing in something later. The radio can get medium and short-wave broadcasts so we made use of the foreign broadcasts in the plot and found some pretty entertaining German stations that provide an interesting soundtrack!
The edit is nearing completion and the film should be ready tomorrow if everything goes to plan. Making this film was the best way I could have spent the last day of 2011, working with a fantastic cast and crew. Look out for the completed film soon!