47. The Highs and Lows of Unit B

If the 72 experience could be summed up in one hour, it would be the hour endured by unit B on the first day of filming. After a solid 5 hours of filming, news came back from the editing suite that one of Unit Bs shots needed to be re-shot. The reason was over exposure and poor sound quality.

So John Bradburn, who is the director of Unit B, and his team went straight out to reshoot the footage. If only it were that simple… The shot required the characters of Ashley and Gary to argue while walking down the street. A simple concept, but to actually film the sequence was another story. A wide shot didn’t work because they couldn’t pick the sound up, and to follow the action with the camera proved too complicated to execute. If you want technical details, the picture profile they were using (REC709) is quite contrasty, which makes the editors job easier, but the dynamic range is compromised.

So on a very sunny, clear day, filming down a busy ally way in the middle of Birmingham which has dozens of reflective services can be extremely problematic. So they did take after take, and tried different angles, camera movements, and different mic positions but eventually that had to call it quits, still not happy with the footage.

That look of defeat is enough to break any filmmakers heart. Also, it was pretty hot today, which doesn't help in the slightest.
That look of defeat is enough to break any filmmakers heart. Also, it was pretty hot today, which doesn’t help in the slightest.

This isn’t where the story ends. John and his team went back into the library to film interior shots. Moral seemed to dip slightly, then John declared that they would film the next sequence in 10 minutes. A ludicrous claim, but he wasn’t pissing about.

With Dom, the assistant director, timing the team on his iPhone they got to work. At the risk of sounding anti climatic, they did it in 12 minutes (In the team’s defence, they did multiple takes and added an extra shot) but this is still an incredible work rate.

That’s how the 72 works. Lows followed by highs followed by more lows. I can’t help but admire the enthusiasm I’ve witnessed today. Where other film units would have slowed down and moral would have plummeted, the 72 team actually picked up pace. They got that shot later by the way, at a different location later in the day.

To cut a long story short: On Thursday, things went wrong, shots had to be re-done and shoots ran too long, but nobody expected any different- they just got on with it, and even had fun on the odd occasion. Will we make a film in 72 hours?

In the words of James Fair: “Ofcourse-we-fucking-will”

Take care, Mitch

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