The Culling: Day One

Alternate title: The Day I worked with Vikings… and zombie cannibal Vikings at that.

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Sometimes I say ‘yes’ to things I don’t fully understand, just to push on my comfort zone that liiiiittle bit more. This time, without any prior knowledge of the role, I agreed to help out a fellow freelancer with a film promo, and be a ‘script supervisor’ for a weekend. I’ve had dancing and drama lessons as a kid, but I had no idea what this would involve. A quick search on Google, and I discovered that the supervisor is in charge of continuity and has to concentrate on all the little differences between takes. They’re the person who makes sure make-up is the same, that everything is in the same place when the camera starts running, and that if actors change their shoes, the editor knows about it for later. It’s one hideous ‘Noises Off’ fiasco. And for two days, it was my job.

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Day one began in a cemetery, where the main characters are searching for the homeless of Nottingham – just to check they’re okay. I quickly learnt that the tool of the trade for a script supervisor is a camera. I took snaps of all the characters and their costumes, the sets, and a few as we set up. I stuck closely to the hair and makeup crew, snapping all their hard work and special effects.

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‘Concentration is key’. Did I say that before? Because I’m repeating it again, because it needs to be. Never have I been so stressed about the appearance of an orange jumper. Or changing locations. Three hours late we moved to the caves under Nottingham Castle… and promptly the vikings climbed onto the kiddies’ slide/climbing frame. They were brilliant. Despite the heat and boiling inside their metal chainmail, they were cheery and happy to run and fight on cue.

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I spent the day behind the monitor with the director, looking important. It’s clear that despite the audience’s eye being trained on the actors, there’s a lot going on behind it. Photographers, art directors, production assistants, all poised to help.

The filming conditions were difficult. It was dark, cold, and to get into one to one of the caves we had to climb through a gap in a gate. We were constantly altering the lighting and angling large plastic reflectors. After nearly twelve hours, I was given a lift back to Beeston by Black Stump Films. P1050595

A group of students from Nottingham University, they write, act and film their plays. And last weekend they were tasked with behind the scenes footage. Their car was crammed with equipment, but I was assured they are ‘travelling light’. James and Mel are lovely, as is everyone who works with them. I recommend their films ‘Tea Leaf’ and ‘Geek Love’. Take a look at http://www.blackstumpfilms.co.uk/

Incidentally, we started talking between takes, and I might be writing something for Black Stump. Watch this space!

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