It was in August that I interviewed Fergus Thom, the director of a new Scottish feature that was fuelled more by the enthusiasm of its young cast than by cash. Now, Brocken Spectre, the debut film from 19-year-old Thom, has completed filming and is in the post-production stage.
Having come to Brocken Spectre so late in the day, I wanted to know more about the cast and crew’s work over the course of 2011 and so I asked Fergus if he was willing to compile, retrospectively, a production diary of some of the film’s key stages.
While this isn’t an in-depth look at the making of the film, it does offer a glimpse behind-the-scenes at a year in the life of a Scottish film…
This was a month of finalising the screenplay and starting to sort out locations as well as beginning to put together some kind of production schedule. There was a lot of things going on and it was tricky to stop thinking ahead of myself – I was sorting out locations when really I should’ve finished writing what we were filming at these locations!
By the end of January the screenplay was more or less done. We had our first shoot in the middle of February, before we were due to begin filming to our schedule in March. It was a windy, and cold, one but we got the footage and then spent the rest of the month preparing all the fine details ready for March – when our lead would return from Australia.
We launched into March full of positivity about wrapping before the end of the month. However, our lead told us she would be going to New Zealand a few months later – and obviously needed some savings to do so.
So, work commitments on her part, and all our parts, meant that wrapping this month wouldn’t be possible. Having said this, we did manage to shoot a good chunk of the film – battling snow storms and all sorts of other random little problems along the way!
April – June 2011
We managed to squeeze a few shoots into these months but as before we were all very busy with either school or work and it quickly became apparent towards the end of May that no amount of organisation would make it possible for us to finish the film before the lead set off to New Zealand at the start of June.
It was time to rewrite.
It was pretty daunting being thrown back into pre-production and also having to rewrite the majority of the screenplay. My mind, at that stage, was still so set on the story that had been created that it was very difficult to imagine taking it in any other direction. The challenge was to try and rewrite the film to still incorporate what we did shoot with the former lead.
The story for this new film was still not sorted when we started shooting with our new lead, Elizabeth Pirie, on the 26 June, but things had to start moving fast because we would only have Elizabeth for so long before she would have to return to University.
Eventually the screenplay and plot line was finished and I’m pleased now, looking back, to say that we certainly have something more interesting that what it originally would have been. Nothing like a challenge at the eleventh hour!
July – late September
These were busy months on the shooting front. It was also busy in pre-production, because while we were shooting I’d also be sorting locations for this ‘new film’ and trying to plan ahead to allow us to “wrap” before Elizabeth went back to Uni.
Lewis, Elizabeth (the two leads) and myself would shoot as and when we could in between our work commitments, often during the evenings and often in some nasty conditions – be it weather or midges!
Tuesday 27 September 2011
The day we officially “wrapped.” It was a strange, but positive, feeling. We had reached a pretty momentous milestone in the production. It was a time to think back over everything that had happened, and it’s only when I did this that it actually became clear just how far we had come – we really had finished filming this film!
The next stage involves putting the film together. While we were filming I had put small scenes together just to get an idea of whether what we had been filming would be useable but know it’s really the time for getting my teeth stuck into it all.
As with the rest of the film it’ll very much be a learning curve, never have I edited a feature length film before, but I’m looking forward to giving it my best shot!
To Be Continued…