Saturday August 8th: Shoot Day 15
Block 2, Episode 5 - Bute Park, Cardiff Centre, All Day.
I’ve loved helping behind-the-scenes and being there when we’ve filmed Whovians, but this weekend was one I was really looking forward to. This is when we would be getting three of our cast together – Rob D. Mealins (during filming so far, he’s shown just how talented he can be with physical and off-the-cuff comedy), Helen Cuthbert (who impressed all of us at the auditions with how good she is at drama: she’s convincing, emotional, and knows just how to get across what you want from a scene), and AJ King (he’s our Doctor. There’s no other way of putting it, he’s Whovians’ Doctor) – for episode 5: Bradley’s episode.
Two years ago, when me, Rhys and Tez were brainstorming for Whovians, Rhys and I came up with two totally different ideas. Rhys wanted to write an episode about a young man who was stuck in a rut, who had a thankless, demeaning job, where every day was just like the next: monotonous. Me, I wanted to write an episode about a man who genuinely believed he was the Doctor. It was Tez who suggested that the two of us co-wrote an episode, combining the two ideas. After much creative discussions (usually with alcohol involved) and bashing of keyboards, I like to think that the series’ director and myself came up with one of the strongest of the six episodes (sorry to boast!).
We got off to a brilliant start with the weather, which hasn’t always been kind to us during filming (we’ve had to cancel a shoot and re-cast one of our guest stars due to Cardiff’s notorious sideways rain): a virtually cloudless sky and twenty-two degree heat. Back when we were writing Whovians, Rhys gave clear instructions: we have no budget for this thing, so let’s make the episodes as easy to film as possible. So far we’ve filmed a queue in the middle of the Welsh capital, faked a comic-con, and today our shoot all took place in Bute Park. It’s bizarre, because the day’s filming should have been burst a blood vessel stressful, with cyclists, dogs, seagulls, car engines, helicopters, vuvuzelas, small children and drunk people all managing to ruin our shots. I think it’s down to our cast – Rob and AJ – and how much fun we were having watching them perform, that we never felt hassled or pressured. AJ must be practicing some form of witchcraft; it’s the only thing that explains why someone in black trousers, suit tie, and a long heavy jacket can have so much energy on a swelteringly hot day. You could do a hundred different takes with AJ, each one would have that same unwavering energy, and every one of them would be different. Rob is a natural at subtle, well-timed comedy. Pair AJ and Rob up and you get footage that funded productions (or productions with a budget, full stop!) would struggle to come up with.
Today also featured our youngest guest-star, Megan Lloyd. Rhys’ mum has already had a cameo in Whovians – her performance as a pensioner who repeatedly smacks one of our main cast, Ben Wilson, with her handbag a little too good – now it’s his niece’s turn. Expect an appearance from Rhys’ maths teacher in another episode…
They say never work with children or animals, but Megan was a pro, doing exactly what cast and crew asked of her, and was so patient. Thanks to Megan, we’ve got another scene in Bradley’s episode that will have viewers chuckling at what’s going on.
The highlight for me was Rob climbing up a tree. Poor Rob has had to put up with a lot whilst filming
Whovians: we’ve stuck a camera in his face, demanding he do some unscripted, improvised comedy;
we’ve also filmed him in just his boxers. Today we got him to clamber up a tree (a drunk koala bear
is the best way to sum it up…). Rob is a trained acrobat, but it was tense watching him take
directions from Rhys whilst clinging to a branch.
What was virtually a whole day’s filming ended just in time for us to dodge the crowds leaving the
stadium (it was the Wales v Ireland friendly), the only damage being one drunk woman who
threatened that, if we need her, we’ll find her behind a tree (none of us went looking for her, or
went behind said tree).
I reckon I speak for everyone involved in the day’s filming when I say it was everything we were
expecting and hoped for. That was all the fun, madcap scenes from episode 5 wrapped, tomorrow
will be totally different; this is the intense, poignant moments. We’ve seen one side of AJ and Rob’s
acting, a day later and we’ll see something totally different. There’s no doubt they will be just as