Production Diary Day 15 Saturday 13th August 2016 8am - Various locations, Cardiff
Our mission for today? Complete the lion's share of Episode 3. As such, we only had two actors on set- Ben Wilson and Matthew Fisher- as it is the conflict between Andrew and his brother-in-law Rob which is the main focus of the episode.
As Craig was still recovering, Rhys took over directing duties for this shoot, ably supported by Teddy on camera and Matt Ford on sound.
The morning started at 7am with a quick rehearsal at Rhys' because the first thing we were filming relied on the actors knowing their lines and their marks and getting the scene shot quickly and as unobtrusively as possible. You guessed it, an exterior shoot! But not just any location - oh no, we finally managed to get the Ianto Jones shrine into an episode of Whovians!
The scene itself is quite short but very important within the episode as you start to learn more about Rob as a character. Luckily, it was very quiet and nobody asked us to move on, and in less than 30 minutes, everything was done.
We had another exterior scene to shoot- the very end of the episode- but there was a distinct feeling of moisture in the air as we finished shooting at the shrine, so decided to go and have breakfast and wait for the clouds to clear. A good job we did as no sooner were we tucking in than the heavens opened and it absolutely lashed it down. Luckily, as the last scene is set on a different day, we didn't have to worry about the ground being dry to match shots up.
The next scene was shot at the small park by the Doctor Who Experience and set the scene up. Again, a relatively short scene but a nice way to wrap up the episode. Filming outside can bring with it a myriad of issues (as we found out last year) but luckily, some high wind and the occasional beeping of an automated traffic bollard aside, there was nothing to rival a builder's radio blasting 'Let It Go'. We finished off the external shoot with some shots of the bay and then headed back to Rhys' house for the afternoon.
There were a number of scenes to film and it was decided to start with the most intense scene- a literal face-off between Andrew and Rob. It's supposed to take place in the evening so, whilst crew were setting things up and the actors were going through their lines and blocking, a few of us blacked out the living room, kitchen and bathroom windows as well as the window on and above the front door. How did we do this? Lots of electrical tape and a few rolls of black bin bags. It worked - the room was very dark by the time we finished.
With the blocking in place, we started. Ben and Matthew know each other well and have played opposite one another in previous stage productions so they have a very good working relationship. But this scene was something else. Everything comes to a head in this scene and there was a palpable tension between the two which was at times powerful and (literally) breath-taking.
The confrontation scene also has a long monologue by Rob where he discusses a painful memory, which is key to how his character has come to be where he is. Rhys' powerful writing combined with Matthew's equally powerful performance- full of rage, guilt, and regret- was enough to cause a couple of lumps in throats and more than a tear or two. Matthew really went through the emotional wringer in this scene but he pulled it off brilliantly.
Luckily, there was nothing else that intense to film for the rest of the day.
We then moved on to shoot a short scene where Rob wakes from a nightmare and we attempted to get a shaft of blue light to illuminate his eyes (an homage to Paul McGann). It took a few attempts to get it just right- experimenting with gels and filters and eventually using a couple of pieces of cardboard to get the right kind of shape. With this in the can, we were able to take down the bin bags and let some air into the room.
From here, we filmed a short scene where Rob gives his impressions of some of the Doctors after watching The Five Doctors and The Day Of The Doctor. It's a short scene but there's some wonderful writing in it and Matthew's very deadpan reaction to David Tennant had us all biting our lips to stop laughing. We did realise, however, that we missed one Doctor out- John Hurt- so Matthew ad-libbed something that was very in keeping with Rob's opinions.
After this, we had to move on to do a few reshoots due to a few lighting and framing issues. This involves Rob coming out of the shower in only a towel and going to the fridge. We've thrown quite a bit of stuff at Matthew throughout his time on set, but he's been a consummate professional, never once complaining and throwing himself into everything with real enthusiasm.
The last shot of the day was again a short scene but not without its technical difficulty. It involved Rob throwing a can of beer at Andrew. At one point, Rhys and Teddy were stood behind Ben with a large towel to try and catch any cans that went awry. Luckily there were no major accidents, no spillages, no explosions, no cans in the crotch. We got the shots needed and were able to wrap for the day at around 5.30pm.
It was a long and busy day with a lot of travelling and a lot of emotion. However, it's all going to be worth it when Episode 3 hits the screen.