Morning shoot

Knowing that this morning I would have to get up at 4.30, I have been waking up at 3.30 every morning for the last four mornings. Great. That’s the way my metabolism works under stress. No doubt, you are asking yourself why I had to get up at 4.30 at all? This is the reason.


I had to shoot a scene for a film which has its premier next Tuesday. A bit late, you might think, but it was an easy scene. …come out of the front door of a large suburban house and head off into the dawn…an academic taking his morning run. Easy. Yes, it should have been and would have been had we filmed in late summer when we did the rest of the film. It would also have helped if this had been a normal spring morning.



As it is, yesterday the crew had to clear away the snow. This morning the equipment truck got stuck in the mud outside the location and had to be towed out by heavy equipment. Having run out of money, even more so since she had to pay for the vehicle assistance, the director was doubling as sound engineer. However, after trying to get a female cable plug to mate with a female input socket on the recorder she exclaimed, “I don’t think the sound is going to connect with the camera” and leaving the recorder and cable on the car seat headed off to get help from the technician sitting in the beleaguered van in a river of mud. To fight the cold and keep my brain active I decided to check out the sound equipment. Every cable has two ends and most have a different plug at each. This cable proved to be no exception. When she returned empty handed I did not rub in the fact.



The day had begun inpropitously for the director. A very kindly, usually intelligent and thoughtful girl she had bought me a bottle of Chianti as a reward for getting up so early and in lieu of payment…the production has no more money for this scene. Sadly, this good intention had not made it to the car: it lay smashed on her kitchen floor where the bottle had fallen waiting for her boyfriend to clear it up when he got up, at a civil hour. The cameraman whom we picked up on the way to the location also almost came without something vital: the mic boom. “It’s not usually my job to remember booms” he announced cheerfully. Fortunately, we had hardly moved from the curb before he realised.


This brought to mind what happened when Maureen Murray came to Poland to make a road documentary about me. Armed with her little video camera and an external mic, we shot in the deep south east of Poland. On finishing, we got into the car and had been homeward bound for 100 kilometres when suddenly she uttered a string of expletives. No sound! For the last hour of filming she’d forgotten to switch on the mic!  I had to drive fast to get back to our location and grab the last hour of light. Since she was returning to England the following morning we had no option. So I did, and we did. There is probably a moral here: leave it to the robots? Soon we will have no choice, anyway.



The shot I had to do this morning and which I have already described was much more difficult than I had anticipated. “Try not to look cold”…I was in a sweat shirt, fog surrounded the house, there was ice underfoot and the temperature was minus 4. “Try to look as if you do this every morning!”, “Don’t wave your arms about; keep them close to your chest.” “No, that’s too much”. “Try again”…and I didn’t even have a line.


Oh yes, and I have forgotten to add that Friday, as a result of sitting for three hours in a meeting where I was supposed to be talking in Polish, something I cant do, I sprained my knee. Don’t ask me how. Stress? Possibly. So, altogether, and despite the knee support I found I had by chance in my bathroom cupboard, it was not an easy morning.


Thankfully, the director’s driving, yes, she provided the transport, was more fluid on the return journey. Heading out into the unknown suburbs, she had insisted on holding her GPS in her left hand and doing the driving with the right. Despite claims to the contrary, some women cannot multi task. Going home, she was more instinctive. Not to worry, soon we’ll have robots doing almost everything. Roll on the day.


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