This past week has seen the 4-day production shoot of ‘Autumn Leaves’ come to its conclusion. First of all I have to say, it’s the first film shoot that I’ve personally been involved in that has passed without any incidents, though I’m not sure if British Airways cancelling our actress Tracy Wiles’ flight from London on the morning of our 1-day rehearsal passes as an ‘incident’, as she still managed to get to Glasgow on time. What luck we had!!
As mentioned, the day before filming began, myself and my main cast of 5 actors (Sean Scanlan, Ruaraidh Murray, Barbara Rafferty, Tracy Wiles and Samantha Shields), gathered at the location for a read-through of the script followed by run-throughs of pretty much every scene involved. Being that the film is centred in the one location; this made for an easier task.
Like all moments before filming begins, nervous excitement and pent-up energy is at a maximum level, so it was really great to have this rehearsal time with the actors, so we could iron out any problems with dialogue or misunderstanding of character motivations or intentions etc, so that when it came to filming, we all knew what was happening and what needed to be done.
The first morning on set is always a killer because the environment is all new to each other and people are meeting for the first time, so time delays and racing against the clock is more than the order of the day. But, admittedly, everything seemed to go like clock-work.
The first scenes to be shot were from Scene 3 of the script, in which the McMillan family come home and wake up Old Andrew (Sean Scanlan) who pretends to be asleep. I wanted to spent some time on this scene because it is vital that I got across the notion that Old Andrew has moved in with them and that he’s invading their privacy, but it was also just as important to establish the character dynamics and relationships to each other.
For the scene to work,in regards to the overall film, I had to show sympathy for Old Andrew, whilst at the same time, show the ‘tough love’ and scrutinisation he goes under from his son-in-law Sandy (Ruaraidh Murray).
Their relationship within the film is the core to the whole piece.
The scene plays out as the two dominant male characters argue and bicker about life and politics!! Oh and why ‘Old Andrew’ hasn’t got a clean cup of tea…?! This creates a moment of respite for our poor female characters who have to sit and suffer the constant barrage of comical abuse.
In the kitchen, ‘Jean’ (Tracy Wiles) and daughter ‘Fiona’ (Samantha Shields) share a moment to reflect on the whole Scottish Referendum Debate and on what ‘Old Andrew’ was like in his younger days, before he turned in to “a crabbit old git”!!
With a clean cup of fresh tea, the girls head back to the living-room where ‘Sandy’ and ‘Old Andrew’ continue their petty grievances. It is only with the arrival of Mrs. McBride (Barbara Rafferty) from upstairs, and her invite to her party, do they allow themselves time to relax.
Scene 7 of the film, in which Mrs McBride comes down and invites them to the party, had me slightly worried, as we filmed this on day 2, of which there would be 8 pages in total to cover that day (meaning to film and get finished). The general rule of thumb is that 1 page of script = 1 minute of duration time, and that filming any more than 4 or 5 pages per day can be suicide. But working with consumate professionals who bring so much to, not just their own character roles, but to the other’s and to the film in general, just makes things happen so much faster and for the better. This was such a great day and a joy to be a part of.
Working with Barbara Rafferty for the one-day was so much fun, as she is humour incarnate and likes to bring more to the role than just what’s on the page.
Once filming had been completed, then it was cast and crew photo time as this was the day when everyone who was involved in some capacity was all involved together.
After Barbara had left, it was time to focus in on the meat and potatoes of the film; the clash of personalities between Sandy and his father-in-law Old Andrew.
This was were we had to build the emotional relationship between them both up to a crescendo; where at it’s climax, came the overall ‘heart’ of the film and it’s purpose.
Both Ruaraidh and Sean gave performances that I could only have dreamt of!! To say I was pleased is the understatement of the century. It was rather moving….!!
So as to not spoil the ending of the film, I shall resist and say no more!!!
So to end, I just want to thank everyone who got involved – to all my cast and crew, and to all who contributed and helped finance ‘Autumn Leaves’. Every single one of you worked tirelessly and I’m proud of each and every single one of you. It is a team effort and I am truly humbled by this experience and rank it as one of my favourite times ever.
Here’s to the editing process and to making sure I don’t let any of you down with that……!!
Here’s to you all:
Stay tuned for more updates!!