Block 1, Episode 1, 8am, Barrack Lane, Cardiff
After an absolutely mammoth day of filming on Saturday... we did it all again on Sunday!
Sunday's first shoot was for Episode 1, which is set in a queue for a book signing. It's an introduction to our four main characters and their dynamic and also sets up some future storylines which are explored in further episodes.
For this shoot, we left the cosy confines of my flat and took to the streets, filming on Barrack Lane in Cardiff city centre. As you can imagine, filming outdoors presents a few unique challenges (especially for a no-budget web series).
We had permission from the manager of Coastal Galleries to film outside their shop front (a huge thank you to James for that!).
However, Barrack Lane is a public thoroughfare and was used by pedestrians and shoppers as the morning wore on. Everyone who passed by were very accommodating and a few even stopped to watch some of the set-ups and filming!
One of the main issues that presented itself was sound. Ambient street noise is one thing. Pneumatic drills, angle grinders, seagulls, reversing cars, church bells, and radios blasting 'Let It Go' from Frozen are quite another. We had to work around any sudden or extended noises, which caused a few delays and caused several takes to be abandoned. A little frustrating, but a lesson in no-budget film-making.
Another issue that we particularly had to be aware of was reflections. We had to ensure that the camera operators and the boom mic were not visible in Coastal Galleries' windows during a take. This wasn't easy at the beginning and we took a lot of time to ensure that we were able to shoot without being seen.
At one point in the episode, one of the characters returns to the queue with coffee. We have to thank The Little Man Coffee Co. for their generosity in providing those drinks for free. They are an independent coffee shop based on Bridge Street, their coffee is fantastic and their customer service is impeccable. If you fancy supporting a local business, give them a try.
We put out a call for background artists to come and stand in the queue and we had 11 people turn up which has really helped us out. All of our background artists were really enthusiastic and helpful, so a huge thanks to them all: James, Charlotte, Daniel, David, Craig, Richard, Vetri, Carwyn, John, Aimee and Stephen!
Our guest cast for the episode- Chris, Tom, Emily, and Elena- were also on top form. I do have to give special thanks to Tony, Isabelle, and Harry who were all quite last-minute additions to the cast (due to various scheduling issues) and who all did an excellent job- especially Isabelle who had less than a week to prepare whilst also studying for her exams!
Due to time constraints and the way that we filmed the episode- which is essentially one long scene in one location, albeit with many different sections and sequences within it- we were able to release most of our background artists and guest cast at about 11.30am. So we were able to wrap Chris, Tony, Emily, Elena, Isabelle, Tom and Harry. We continued with the main cast for a little while after this to get a few scenes that just involved the four of them. It was getting close to 12.45pm when we finished and it was declared that Episode 1 was wrapped!
Now, wouldn't you think that, after doing two episodes- a third of the total project- in one weekend, we'd go home and put our feet up?
Well, we didn't.
After a much-needed break, we headed up to Llandaff to do some filming for Episode 2.
Here we filmed one of the major scenes of Episode 2 - Steph's date. We were very fortunate that Mulberrys Restaurant volunteered their use for this scene, so a massive thank you to Philippa for that!
After the issues of exterior shooting earlier in the day, interior shooting was relatively straightforward. Lights were rigged up, cameras positioned and our two brilliant actors- Victoria and Matt (who plays Steph's date Ross)- performed. This scene contains one of my favourite moments of the episode (if not the entire series) and Victoria absolutely nailed it every time. I think the editor will have a difficult time picking the best take for it!
When we cast the series, we thought it would be good to put Matt in the role of Ross, the guy who takes Steph on the date. He really impressed us with his reading of the character at audition and we thought he had good chemistry with Victoria when we paired them together. We didn't realise at the time- and only found out later- that Matt and Victoria are a couple in real life!
We also have to thank our two background artists, Rebekah and Brya, who travelled a very long way to join us for this scene (and who, but for Cardiff's treacherous road layout, would have also been in the queue).
There is a short scene after the date where Steph makes a phone call. We attempted to film this on the street outside Mulberrys but traffic noise made this incredibly difficult. We decided to try on Llandaff village green (used as the Leadworth green in The Eleventh Hour). However, there was a garden party going on which again made this a little tricky. Eventually, we got the shot required just outside the archway to the gardens.
With that scene done, the weekend was wrapped.
It has been said before and will continue to be said throughout the shoot: a massive thank you to all the cast and crew for their hard work, their dedication and their enthusiasm. Every single one of them went above and beyond on this incredibly tough weekend and there aren't words to describe just how grateful we are for that.
Again, massive thank yous to Coastal Galleries, The Little Man Coffee Co., and Mulberrys Restaurant for their help over this weekend too.