Help! The actors are dying!

Help! The actors are dying!

The first day’s shooting went quite well. The sun shone, everyone seemed to know roughly what they were doing, and we ripped through 3 scenes with relative ease. Then our lead actress starting getting sick…

Not just a sniffle. Properly sick. Bed-ridden sick. Sick sick.

In a schedule that was already re-defining the meaning of optimistic, we were suddenly having to tear it up on day two. Hmmm… No problem, we’ll move day three to day two, give Emily 24 hours to recover then proceed as normal. On we go.


What the schedule definitely did not have room for was just sitting around marking time. We had a cast, crew and equipment, we had to be shooting something for the film at all times. So, with none of the interior locations camera-ready yet, we were left with only one option: Going underwater.

In one of the script’s more surreal scenes, the Sparks brothers have a summit underwater to discuss what to do next. Mid-summer it may have been but on a drizzly English day the unheated pool was more death trap than sun trap. I’d read somewhere in a “How the F*ck Do You Direct A Movie” book that you should never put an actor through something you’re not prepared as director to do yourself. So, whilst Mark and Shenoah were inside psyching themselves up, I jumped in. Expletives turned the air blue as the water did the same to my skin. My testicles pulled the emergency ripcord and sought temporary shelter in my lower intestine. This was going to be a challenge. Staying in was just about bearable if you kept moving, but holding your breath underwater for any meaningful length of time was a different matter altogether.

But with some sterling endurance work from our leads, some rather crude weights, and a little help from some high frame rates we managed to get what we needed from the scene and salvage something from the schedule.

That night, I put my head down on the pillow. We had got through the day. Nothing was derailing the Sparks Express. We’d faced a problem head on, adapted, and kept going. That’s what low-budget filmmaking is about after all right? I could sleep soundly.

Until 3am. Pitch black. From the warm embrace of a pleasant dream I awoke to a nightmare – the sound of somebody wretching their guts up repeatedly. I was sharing a room with 2 people – the Producer and the Director Of Photography – two fairly crucial individuals to the filmmaking process. One of them was seriously ill.

The virus was spreading…

In the next instalment, find out who was next to drop and what happened when water started coming through the ceiling…

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