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Christmas 2016

We're getting ready for the cast, crew & collaborators's screening on January 5th @PenarthPavilion - which can only mean one thing - the film is very nearly finished! It's taken longer than we imagined, we've learned more than we hoped & it's been a great journey. While we put on the finishing touches, here's our Christmas message from last year - well 'tis the season of repeats right?

Setting the Scene

We had a simple concept; to film all the main action in one location - the interior of a space capsule cockpit. We could use a plane (it looks a bit like a space ship with all those lights & switches) put some green screens at the windows (before we knew anything about green screen), a couple of space suits in the background & boom, we'd have our science fiction film in no time right? Wrong.
First, find a plane – that we could afford. There's a company in Surrey that hires out aircraft interiors for filming, but their prices started at £2K per day, about the budget for the whole film. Cotswold airport were very helpful, but their offer of a dilapidated 737 at the end of a windy runway gave us more problems than solutions.
Cardiff Aviation seemed to come to the rescue with an offer to film inside a working A320. But when it came down to it, the costs & logistics were still prohibitive.
Whilst looking around for alternatives I came across a group of people who did a funny thing – they built airplane cockpit simulators in their spare rooms – could I use one of those? Probably not, they were built for simulating landings in international airports, not simulating a trip to Mars.
Then I saw a great little film called Russian Roulette (https://vimeo.com/157273454) by Ben Aston with a terrific behind the scenes (https://vimeo.com/90733534) where they made an interior of the international space station out of MDF.



Three stars aligned at this point:
1. Cardiff Aviation had allowed me to measure up the interior of an A320 cockpit, so I had some realistic measurements.
2. I had met Graeme Johnson by this time, & Graeme had a laser cutter.
3. My daughter was going away to university, so I had a spare room in which I could build a space ship designed to go to Mars - just like the airplane cockpit simulator guys!

I promised my wife it would take a couple of weeks to build & the same to get the filming done – a month tops then the room would be free for my remaining daughter to move into. That didn't quite work out & in the end the bedroom was devoted to the film for around six months. BUT, it gave us a freedom & flexibility that we just wouldn't have had if we'd filmed anywhere else AND once the main filming was done & the base edit was being laid down, the set was still available for pick-ups, helping the edit enormously & getting us out of a couple of holes.

All in all it reminded me of something a producer said to Francine Stock on the Film Programme once – if you're making a short film, you have to use whatever assets are available to you, & if you have a house, that's a big asset, use it if you can.
The costs of re-decorating the room after filming didn't make their way into the film's budget, perhaps they should have, but even bearing that in mind, we got the cockpit scenes done for way less than £2K per day AND we got to make our spaceship interior look more like a spaceship than an airplane interior ever would have.

Sound development

We're putting the finishing touches on the Behind the Scenes film. In this extract, musician Jason Staddon talks about composing the score, & there's a taste of what it's going to sound like:

One Shoot Wrapiversary

A year ago today we wrapped on phase one of the 501 Days shoot. We've still got a little way to go, and we may end up with the record for the longest gestation period for a short film (3 years this month), but the closer we get the more excited we are…