For this film firstly I would straight up like to introduce Antony Harvey, who's work you can find here. I met Antony at University back in 2003 when we were put in halls together. When I first saw Antony I did not think we were going to get along! He was wearing a baseball hat and I'm not a big fan of hats! It turned out that we were in halls together because we were on the same course, so we would be spending a fair amount of time together, like it or not.
Antony and I got on great. We worked together all throughout the three years and today he is the only person from University that I keep in contact with. So a lesson learned; I now give people who wear hats at least one chance.
One of the biggest influences Antony had on me (aside from the film making) was his love of Whiskey. This has now switched to rum, but during University we drank a lot of Morrisons’ own brand Bourbon (which you can't get anymore...shame). We would drink in conjunction with the game Soul Caliber 2. If you lost you drank. Not healthy but at least providing inspiration for April’s film.
Wanting to experiment with actually being on camera I put Antony and myself front and centre of this one. Combining our love of Whiskey, the drinking scene from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, bits of the ‘The Deer Hunter’ and slow motion, we would stage an elaborate drinking competition.
Not at all serious this one...I brought loads of shot glasses and bottles to dress the set, found an incredibly small village hall in which to shoot and asked a bunch of friends if they would come and be spectators. When asking what they would need to do I just responded 'sit, drink, watch me and Antony drink and shout!’ The main event of this film would be a super slow motion shot, the kind that looks like the camera is moving though a still. This is why I wanted more people than just me and Antony. We would be able to create a snap shot of a moment during the film. There is a lot going on in many action scenes and the action generally happens fast! In film the slowing down of time allows the audience to take in a lot more of what is happening, giving them a moment to understand just what is going on. It also allows them to see the expressions people make. Expression is something that is often lost during the action. Stills exist to record the moment better but there is no reason that can't be incorporated into a film.
To do this, once again Paul Hellard of ShootHD came to the rescue, allowing me to shoot on the RED EPIC (again). He even came to the shoot as a focus puller, which was awesome. On top of all that he also introduced me to Chris Stephens. I needed someone to shoot this, it was quite stylised and a little out of the ordinary, so Paul suggested Chris and I'm very glad he did. Explaining this to Chris over the phone went well, I was expecting someone to perhaps say, "What the hell?!" but all I got was, ‘Yeah we can do that.’ No hesitation that this was possibly a stupid idea (I think he was being polite). It wasn't until the shoot day that we met and it was like we had been working together for a long time. Chris is now a very good friend and he even came back for another film (October).
The slow motion shot is reminiscent of what most people will have seen in ‘The Matrix’. We were not doing it to that level of complexity, but still an effective way. What did we do? Well, we shot at as high a frame rate as you can, then we got every one to freeze! The camera moves through the scene as fast as it can and when played back looks like it is moving through a still frame, with only a hint of movement. That’s the idea any way. Was it successful? You will have to wait and see.
Probably the most important thing about this film was the fact that it was all about a drinking competition. The tile of this post is ‘Whiskey Substitute’ and to those that don't know how filmmaking works, you basically end up doing the same thing over and over again. All day. Now I think despite our obvious fondness of Whiskey the thought of drinking it all day (in shot form) would probably mean the end of both our lives. So a substitute was needed. For that Gemma and I experimented with various non-alcoholic liquids: Apple juice, Tea, food colouring. We ended up deciding on Rooibos tea, which when diluted a certain amount was a pretty good match for Whiskey. The substitute was not the worst tasting thing in the world but it did have a certain 'taste'. I am thankful that it was a pleasant day shooting as the smell of Roobios tea will forever remind me of this film.
It is also very possible that a few real Whiskey shots made there way into the film. But that’s just called method acting.
A film inspired by drinking at University, but also a way to create a film with friends. Hopefully those involved appreciate it as much as I do.
Another big thanks to Gemma for helping me buy all the props, set dress, prepare all the food and for also appearing in the film. This is not the first time she has appeared in something i have shot. You can see her in this short film. A few shots were selected from this short to appear in the Ridley Scott produced and Kevin Macdonald directed film 'Life in a Day' which you can buy here. She was even on the front cover and the posters for the film! She is the one in the middle.