Archive | April, 2012

Football night for #TKTKM with @jack_mcmullen and the boys…. #livingthedream

30 Apr

20 of us are staying over at the accommodation at the Studios and have been joined by 3 more of the cast tonight to watch the Manchester Derby

A lively event indeed…

I cooked some pasta an we sent out for some vino…


Day 15 #TKTKM @charlesdmnene on the green….

30 Apr

It was great to welcome Charles Mnene onto the floor today. We first worked together on Sing Yer Heart out for the Lads at Pilot Theatre – so good to be able to work together today. He is here all week with Reece Douglas and Tom Collins who are playing his gang mates Mickey and Tariq

We are on fight week – and as I mentioned the first rule of fight week is that you don’t talk about fight week…

All good stuff…

Why we are using a greenscreen for #TKTKM

28 Apr

I have been asked on several occasions – why are we working and making ‘The Knife That Killed Me’ entirely in a green screen studio?

Not all scripts would work in this environment. So why this one?

We have adapted the screenplay from Anthony McGowan’s novel – which is a brilliant first person narrative structure.

This lends itself to the whole piece to be about the central protagonist, Paul Varderman – and his memory.

So not only is it all seen through his eyes, it is from his memory of the events that lead to his current situation…

So we are able to create his vision of events, as he remembered them. This is important in the artistic and directorial vision of what we are creating with Kit Monkman and Thomas Mattinson.

There is a sculptural and almost painterly interpretation of the scenes that we are able to create, as the images we are seeing are being drawn from his head and memory about what happened.

So for this film the green screen allows us to place images in post production with the VFX team that help Paul Varderman to piece together the chain of events.

When you think of your own recollection of events – what do you remember? What stands out in the foreground? What sounds do you remember? What incongruities are there too? Who else was there? What were they wearing? Are you sure? Do some other images find their way into your memory and cut across your picture?

This is why this is the perfect piece to explore the potential of working with a live key, multiple passes on the same shot. As what we are shooting is not the frame that you will see. It will form part of the frame later. What else will be in the frame? Images that help to underline the narrative – that again have all come from Paul’s head as he stumbles and tries to identify the salient points…The clue is in the title…

So this is an amazing adventure and it is allowing the whole creative team to input into the project as the ideas around lighting, camera movement and design to work with the post visual effects team.

So not all movies would work in this way, but this is what we have been planning and the technology available is now allowing us to develop the process and the project.

We have two and a half more weeks of shooting – we are half way through the live shoot. The VFX team are keying the footage and at the end of each day – with a rough assembly edit we can not just check the rushes – but the coverage and story of each scene we have shot that day.

The locations, images and worlds we are able to live key and ‘ghost image’ check positions of actors in multiple passes on the studio floor as we shoot.

So lots of work to do. But very exciting times – and in other news, I am learning shed load of new stuff…which is a real privilege and I am enjoying working with the whole team immensely.


Day 14 #TKTKM

27 Apr

End of week three – all going well – a night off – a rest – for all – is needed – back on Monday

It is fight week. The first rule of fight week? You know the answer…

So I am not going to talk about it…

Have a good weekend all


Day 13 #TKTKM with @oliverlee1 @reecedouglas1 and @tomcollins_uk

26 Apr


The boys are back in town – well at least for today as they were put through their paces with Stunt co-ordinator Philip d’Orleans and his team.

Having shot the sick-bay scene Oliver Lee (Shane) joined Reece (Mickey) and Tom (Tariq) for a break. It was great to have them back on board again, and also to catch up with Charles Mnene too who is playing Goddo.

Here is a picture of Charles on his first training session with the stunt team in the the new studio we have now called the Ninja Lounge…


We are now at the halfway point in the shoot. Hard to believe in many ways I know. We are gearing up for a big week next week and an even bigger day tomorrow, This will be our busiest so far with over 70 people in and working tomorrow.

I am also looking forward to welcoming Mandy Smith, Katie Posner and Tom Bellerby from Pilot Theatre in – it will be great to see them when they join us for lunch.

So, homework done, shot lists gone through on the database, and an early night for me.

The rest of the team have gone out either playing football or bowling or both. There are a few of us back here in A block who are taking advantage of a quiet night in…

For those new onto the blog here – you can catch up with the whole backstory on here

til tomorrow…


Day 12 #TKTKM and @tktkmfilm – Is it still Wednesday?

25 Apr


Well, it must be, as there are sausages on the menu…

Only, ths time. quality leek and pork – high quality bangers. Hence Haruka Abe’s firm and positive grin on set today as we broke for lunch.

It was great to have Maddy (Rosie Goddard) and Serena (Haruka Abe) back in the studio today. We managed to get finished on both the Mr Boyle and Mrs Eel scenes today.

We welcomed onto the green Andrina Carroll as Mrs Eel – and she was brilliant today – and brought the scene with Paul’s fall to the floor to life today. So a big thanks to Andrina.

Again,  we are now almost halfway through our shoot schedule. It is great fun and following on from the rather splendid fajitas cooked by Masterchef Jack McMullen, ( who was trending on twitter tonight as Waterloo Road went out…) we were treated to a a Wexler Balti house special. So the communal cooking is really working out well. Although at some point we got waylaid into a certain Producer’s obsession with trying to find 80’s music on his ipod, when really his eclectic tastes spanned frm the 70”s to the 90’s and beyond…

A full on day with a great supporting background cast – who fitted in and worked with our cast so well today. So again again a big thanks to al 70 of you today who helped us make some serious shift happen…

More tomorrow, as ever, and we are looking forward to welcoming Goddo’s gang onto the greemn and to work with our stunt team in the – what has become known as – The Ninja Lounge…

Again, a full day tomorrow – bring on the treadmill / bed / fight shots…



Day 11 #TKTKM – Hazard Tape Kick Ball Tennis…with @Jack_Mcmullen and Kerron Darby

24 Apr


You can tell how well a company of actors is working by he games they create – off the ball. What I mean is that in the downtime moments, off set or off camera the games and rituals that are made can help define a project.

Here in the dance studio – which is our rehearsal room adjacent to the Green Screen Studio the actors rehearse and wait bewtween takes and set ups. It is our space and, apart from anything else – it has daylight, windows and fresh air.

I came in today – as I always do at some point in the afternoon, they all pointed out, and flopped on one of the many prop sofas in there. But this time, instead of chatting I was suddenly aware of a serious shift of focus. ‘Hazard Tape – Kick Ball Tennis’ – was now in full flow. And as you can see both Jack McMullen and Kerron Darby (Paul and Miller) are in full flow –  at 30 all.

Winner stays on – of course. But I now know that that this game is a serious challenger to the famous game of ‘wingball’ that was perfected over many tours by the numerous ‘Lord of the Flies’ casts.

Today was a long day. I felt like a teacher. Not because I was teaching. But because we were shooting the classroom scene with Mr Boyle (Andrew Dunn – who is fantastic) 

So, we had a full class of 16/17 year olds to work with in a scene that includes spitting chewing gum, shouting, mayhem and general disruption. And we had to pass this several times with multiple takes, as each row of pupils had to be shot separately. So, it is with great respect to the actors and crew that we managed to pull this off today. Hence I was very pleased to see the ‘playtime’ continuing in the form of this new and vital ‘off the ball’ game of ‘Hazard Tape Kick Ball Tennis’

In other news – the fnal shot of the day, it is safe to say that Andrew Ellis, who is playing Bates – seriously ‘cracked the scene…’

The company are working so well together and producing not only great work on the floor – but it is looking amazing on camera, and the footage and coverage we have already got looks really special when we view the assembly and rushes each night in the edit suite with Josh – who puts together the work we do each day. (He is a genius by the way)

On top of this busy day – we also welcomed into the team our stunt co-ordinator Philip d’Orleans and his stunt artists who have begun to work on teaching the actors the fight moves. exciting times indeed. Fights? yes of course. The clue is in the title. – The Knife That Killed Me…

And we are looking forward to having the novel’s author, Anthony McGowan on set next week as we shoot our 4th week into this adventure…

More later – So, come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough – as an open invitation to any of the 67 members of the cast and crew who are with us tomorrow – ‘Hazard Tape Kick Ball Tennis’ is harder than you think. We will be warming up from 8am…so don’t be late…

Game on!


Day 10 #TKTKM – Happy Mondays…

23 Apr


Well an early start. A 5am alarm call to be precise. Heading to the studio for a long day. It is about 8pm now and it feels as if i have been up for ever. One of those days where were were turning the action through 180 degrees, mirror imaging the action and moving the camera and working out where and at what point where we had crossed the line. We found a good solution. Take a photo of the original action from the camera point with a digital camera. Flip the image horizontally, then turn the resultant image upside down. Et voila – the solution as to where the actors need to now stand. Unless we have moved the camera more than 180 degrees from its original position…

Got it? Well our brains did ache a bit – as of course in an all green space, with the set then removed…it all becomes a mind puzzle. But – we did finish the shot schedule today, and we did pick up an extra shot. So all in all a happy Monday…even if at times it was also a manic one.

Tomorrow we are having our stunt co-ordinator up again. We are setting up a new green studio for him to rehearse with his stunt actors to prepare our cast later in the week.

I will be putting the History lesson to the test as we shoot the Mr Boyle classroom scene – I have marked out the chaisr in the dance studio and the real desks and chairs are on the green.

They are all numbered and we have a good shot list plan on the database. So we will build the whole sequence up in layers.

Now, where did I put all those post it notes as they are vital to the action? Oh yes on the back of the rehearsal chairs. Wish me luck….!


Joining up the dots…family DNA #shifthappens #blogpost

22 Apr


This is a picture of my Grandfather, Joe Romer’s  Leyland Van and caravan in the late 1950’s.

He used it to travel to events, and in particular weddings. He would park in an adjacent street to the church where the wedding was taking place, and on cue, as the bride and groom came out of the church he would press play…on his reel to reel tape machine. This would mean that the loudspeakers on the caravan would play the sound of church bells. – You could have had the peals from Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, York Minster or even Chartres Cathedral played at your wedding.- Even if your wedding was in Accrington, Blackburn or even Rishton, where his company was based.

This was because many churches had sent their bells to be melted down as part of the war effort a decade earlier. So seeing a ‘livestreaming’ gap in the market he set off to do things that no-one else was doing, or even thinking of doing…

I started researching into his life and work after a visit to Liverpool Playhouse in January this year. The reason? When I arrived at the Stage Door to meet Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon I saw that the tannoy system used for calls was a very early model made by Romer’s of Rishton…

My Grandfather sold the business in 1968 and retired back to London where he was originally from. It is not something I had really thought about until this moment, the roots and DNA of his vision and passion.

He was born in 1904 and died in 1973. He set up the firm in Rishton in 1925 when he was just 21. In a small town in the Ribble Valley in Lancashire he made extraordinary stuff happen that still has a legacy today.

He moved up from London to marry my Grandmother who was a teacher in the town. Their house had a recording studio and he would make and produce records from his studio in his house in Rishton. In fact that is how my mum met my dad. She came to record a piano session at his house and my dad was the studio technician…

He always had the latest ‘technology’ in his house. I saw a tape cassette recorder when I was 4 years old – they were not in domestic use for at least another 10 years, and he told me that digital was going to be the future. I didn’t understand what this was. He was the first person I ever knew to have a digital watch, and he taught me to count in binary when I was 9.

He was always recording people, sounds, images and was fascinated by the then changing world of television. He used his love of recording and transmitting all his working life. Even in his retirement he devised and produced a marked playing card deck of cards for children called Magic Miniply that encouraged times table learning and counting.

So, when I saw the tannoy system at Liverpool Playhouse I set about some googling…

The company has put in the PA systems for Liverpool FC, Newcastle FC, Manchester Stadium and hundreds of others…

So as Steve Jobs was quoted as saying we join up the dots in retrospect, so I now realise that in some small way that his pioneering spirit has in someway filtered down through the DNA and is now making some more noise with what I now find myself doing…our livestreaming programme as we well as work with TED and Shift Happens – and the new work we are making with the greenscreen movie project #TKTKM

So thanks to Joe Romer who would have been 108 today. This was the world he told me about when I was little. He would have embraced it all and made some serious shift happen…Things we share? Exactly the same male baldness pattern and a love of making new stuff happen. What we don’t share? He wore a toupee – that was the 70’s I will forgive him. I will not be making the same hair faux pas… 🙂

For more info about the history of Romers of Rishton who are still delivering sound to people…



Day 9 #TKTKM end of week 2…

21 Apr


Lining up the shot on the screen – in the VFX line behind the set – a scene with Alfie Stewart as Stevie, Jack McMullen as Paul, Josh Brown as Billy, Richard Crehan as Kirk, and Rosie Goddard as Maddy.

We were able to complete all the shots and I have to say that the cast have been amazing all week. As the whole process is like being in a permanent technical run – where decisions about costume, make-up, continuity, shot positions and multiple passes and takes are taken all the time. – and all this in a studio with an infinity curve – which means you can’t see where the wall starts and the floor ends – means that brain orientation and focus are paramount – and in a room where there are sometimes upt to 35 people – is a big ask.

The whole effect is extraordinary and the perfromances and images and footage we are getting are really looking very exciting indeed.

We are able to see a rough assembly of the rushes each day as we have an edit suite above the studio. This means we are able to check the coverage and the work we have done almost instantly.

The VFX team are on the floor the whole time and we are able to work in some live keys from the green screen straight away as you can see in the lining up shot here. These act as guides for us on the floor and we can ensure that angles and positions are covered when we shoot each section.

I am learning loads. We all are. This is new stuff. Not just for the actors, but for the whole team. So again as we enter our third week we have been able to find our way of moving through the complexities of the shoot with our ever growing knowlege that comes from working on a new creative project.

Wer have had some press in this week as we are building the EPK